Switzerland. The home of cheese, chocolate, cuckoo clocks and…. the highest proportion of James Bond film sets anywhere in the world. Combine this with the adrenaline rush that every self-respecting supercar owner experiences every time they get behind the wheel, and you’re all set for one of the world’s ultimate driving holidays.
So grab a map (and Google) and get inspired for an amazing driving adventure that takes in some of the best James Bond roads amongst the awesome backdrop that is Switzerland and the mighty Swiss Alps.
With Calais a mere 510 miles from Geneva, the alpine country is an easy hop when you have some decent horsepower beneath the bonnet. When you cross the border from France into Switzerland you’ll need to purchase a vignette to pay the autobahn tolls. However, the highlights of Swiss driving isn’t about blasting down an empty motorway – far from it. This adrenaline rush is about sweeping curves, mountain passes, steep climbs, glinting glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks… In short, this is the driving playground every supercar owner dreams of.
The following are some of the highlights you have to include on this 007 driving spectacular.
Furka Pass: Car chase, Goldfinger
The 2,431 metre road that takes you over the Furka Pass is a bucket list location for Bond fans. Immortalised in the 1964 film, Goldfinger, this is a drive to enjoy in summertime (it’s closed in the winter), and is delightfully unchanged since the movie was made. Make sure you take a pitstop to walk the Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto (it’s surreal!) and take some time to admire the somewhat spookily abandoned Hotel Belvedere that also took centre stage in the movie.
Piz Gloria: Blofeld’s hideaway, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
A simply breath-taking place to visit, you dangle thousands of feet above a rocky vista as you’re whisked by cable car to the dizzy heights of the Schilthorn mountain and Blofeld’s ‘allergy centre’ that perches precariously at the summit. But, vertigo aside, there’s no cause for alarm. Today it’s home to a revolving restaurant and some rather impressive Bond memorabilia.
Top tip! It’s not frowned upon if you take one of the restaurant’s paper menus home as a souvenir.
But this is simply the cherry on the cake of a day’s 007 driving delights. Begin by visiting Blofeld’s Goldfinger smelting works, the Pilatus Aircraft factory in Stans,. Nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne, this is the very factory that manufactures the pilotless plane that skydiving Pierce Brosnan intercepted during the opening sequence of GoldenEye.
From here it’s a mere hour’s drive to Murren and the Bond World Museum, from where you board the cable car for the white-knuckle ride to Piz Gloria itself.
The Simplon Pass (& Tunnel): From Russia With Love
One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Simplon Pass connects the canton of Valais with Domodossola in Italy. Stop along the way to snap a selfie at the infamous Simplon Tunnel, the planned killing ground for Bond and Tatiana Romanova in the movie, From Russia With Love.
The pass itself has been a travellers’ route since the 13th century, becoming more important when Napoleon built a carriage road here at the very beginning of the 1800s. From then on its status as an alpine pass rivalling others in the region was without question. But we love it for the jaw dropping views, sharp bends that beckon as you approach and the roar of your engine as you boot it out the other side…
Geneva: a city of 007 importance
Did you know that Ian Fleming studied at Geneva University? Avid viewers of Skyfall might remember that Bond’s mother, Monique Delacroix, was mentioned, and she came from a canton close to the city – Vaud. In Fleming’s books he tells us that Bond also studied in the city and honed his ski skills on Swiss slopes.
So, if that doesn’t make the city worthy of a visit then we don’t know what does. The home of Patek Philippe watches, the city boasts the enormous lake of the same name, and has a plethora of things to see and do that’ll keep you busy for at least a day or two of your 007 tour. Oh – and let’s not forget that it’s the location of one the most important annual supercar shows in the world, Geneva Auto Salon.
And While You’re In the Area…
There’s three other passes of note that you shouldn’t miss the thrill of driving. These are the Great St. Bernard Pass, one of the most famous routes through the Alps, the cobbled St. Gotthard Pass (pack spare pants!) and the Bernina Pass, another film location from the classic Goldfinger.
Whether you favour an Aston, a Mustang, a Bentley or any other supercar (Bond wheels or otherwise) we guarantee that hitting Swiss mountain tarmac will test both your driving skills and your vehicle’s potency to the limits.
The only other question you’ll need to ponder is whether to order your Swiss sundowner as shaken, or stirred…