|Route Map for Grand Tour Summer 2001|
The slightly blurred map above shows the route Tessa and I drove with our Caterham in the Summer of 2001. We had owned the car for about a week - during which we went to Scotland with it - and set off with camping gear and no particular route, except that we would get to Italy.
We drove down through France, along the Riviera, into Italy via Monaco. Onwards to Florence, Venice and Maranello, we then drove north into Austria, on into Germany up the Rhine Valley. We then stopped off at the Nurburg Ring (Norschleife) for a few laps before calling in on friends in Antwerp, Belgium.
Amazingly, we had no rain throughout the whole trip. We usually used camp sites - we took a largish tent, small chairs, cooking equipment etc, or stayed in B&B if we had too. Venice we splashed out on a still reasonable small hotel. We also stayed with some parents of one of Tessa's school kids, who had invited us to pop in too their Villa just outside St Tropez.
The car performed perfectly. We drove quickly - often trying to get somewhere along way away - cruising at 90mph on motorways, but usually blatting along the largely empty A and B roads. Almost every night at a campsite involved taking someone for a ride!
We had only two mechanical problems. A slightly cracked exhaust was welded up perfectly by a farmer in Auvergne region of France, and in the same region one over-heating moment was probably caused by a faulty thermostat, which was removed for the rest of the trip with no further issues.
We were very lucky in that Tessa is a teacher, so had the summer holidays, and I was 'between jobs'. This meant that we had a decent amount of time to do the trip. Route planning was minimal - we just went pretty much were we felt like each day. Main cost was fuel obviously, but we kept the budget necessarily low. Camping in France is usually less that £4 per night, B&B less than £25, and our most expensive hotel, not surprisingly in Venice, about £70 a night. We figured this was worth it for Venice though!
Three months after buying our car it had done 11,000 more miles than when we got it, thanks to tours of Scotland and Europe - and every mile a smile!
I cannot think of a better car to do this trip in - enjoy the many pictures, and if it inspires others to do a similar trip, or perhaps simply take their car to France for 5 days, then great....