A Busy Week in Briancon - Touring Or Getting to Know An Area?

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Thursday 24 September 2015

A Busy Week in Briancon - Touring Or Getting to Know An Area?

It's hard to believe, as we come to the end of an incredibly active, outdoor 6 days in Briancon, that it is more than a year since we first visited the city on our motorhome adventure. Despite planning to visit only 'new' places when we left the UK once more, our decision to go back to Briancon has not only given us a fantastic week, but really opened our eyes to how much one place can offer, emphasising the big difference between touring and immersing ourselves in the places we visit.

After we arrived last summer to spend a couple of nights in the car park of the ice rink, along with so many other motorhomes, before heading into the Ecrins National Park at Vallouise and then returning for a single night and to explore the city itself before heading on we left feeling we had 'seen' Briancon. We had wandered through the old town and done a few hikes nearby and  confidently told people we would later meet that we had enjoyed our time there.

When we set off again from the UK this year we had resolved to try and avoid revisiting places we had already been to as we felt it might take something away from the excitement of the adventure or mean we were missing other new things on offer. We didn't want to drift back to places we knew we'd e joyed just because they were safe and comfortable. We wanted the excitement of the unknown again. Yet having spent so long in the nearby Queyras Regional Park and feeling like we needed some time away from the farm it was Briancon we had chosen, primarily since it was so close, we knew there was a free aire and believed that there were still a few bikes rides we could try.

Yet now looking back we have just enjoyed one of the most active, exciting and enjoyable weeks of cycling and hiking we have had on our adventure. We have cycled up the Col du Lautaret, Col du Galibier, Vallee de la Claree, Col du Granon, Col d'Izoard and Col de Montgenevre plus taken a fell run to the summit of Mont Prorel to enjoy magnificent views of the area and all of which we wouldn't have enjoyed if we'd 'stayed away'. Briancon, situated at  the confluence of several beautiful valleys and all offering countless rides and hikes for anyone who likes to be in the great outdoors, really is a fantastic base for adventures and we're so glad that we chose to revisit and see more of the wonderful area and take up the recommendations of some of the people we have met in recent weeks.

In fact what this past 6 days has really emphasised for us is that there is a big difference between touring through a village, town, city or area and really visiting it and getting a real sense of an area beyond the tourist feel. Briancon has so much to offer for longer stays and the same is almost certainly true of any place we have visited so far.

Plus we have learned that even now we have only just scratched the surface. There is so much more to do such as major trails like the GR5 heading through Briancon both north and south or the countless local trails threading all over the surrounding hills. A special mention has to go to the Vallee de la Claree here which was especially stunning and without personal recommendations we wouldn't have even visited ourselves. Yet having picked up some information in the tourist office in Nevache we learned of the GR57 Tour du Mont Thabor and could easily spend a couple of weeks or more in this tiny village alone. All of this is without even considering the winter season!

In the end what we are realising is that you just have to make a choice, do you want to tour through lots of different places and areas or do you want to really visit just  a few?  Or what sort of balance do you want to strike between the two? Many people we have met move every single day and cover vast distances. We get emails from people we have met who are in a different country every couple of weeks! Last year we didn't even feel like we were 'touring' because we still stayed in places for 3-7 days at a time before moving on and 'only' moved 50 miles or less on most occasions.

However, the truth is that there is no right or wrong way to motorhome tour. There is simply a spectrum of infinite possibilities that can be chosen to suit anyone depending on how the mood takes them. For us, unlike our journey last year which still covered quite a lot of ground, this years adventure has been much more about getting to know this region of the Alps and enjoying as many of the activities on our doorstep as we can. Perhaps in the future our touring muscles will want to come out once more, but for now we're very happy to be immersing ourselves in one area. All we have really decided to do is to not make plans. In making a plan and trying to stick to it we felt we were less open to new opportunities that might arise or even feel disappointed if things didn't go 'to plan'. Now with no plan we may move on, or we may not, but we just do what feels right every day and at the time a decision needs to be made.

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