Licence to Thrill: Swiss James Bond roads you have to drive

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.

Getting There

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…


Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

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The Highs and Lows of Supercar Driving: Head to Europe’s mountains

Supercars are, quite simply, made for the mountains. Hairpin bends, steep inclines and, of course, when heading to mainland Europe, those wonderful German autobahns to traverse on your way to the hills where you really can let rip. What’s not to love?

However, Therein lies a quandary. With so many European mountain ranges in easy reach, where on earth do you head to? To help with inspiration we’ve put together some of the most tempting elevations throughout the continent. 

But the choice of which to select? Well, that’s completely up to you…

The Peaks and Troughs of Mainland Europe

The first major topography of altitude that probably springs to mind is The Alps. Stretching across 750 miles of France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria and Slovenia, enjoying their delights could well take up the rest of your driving days.

But Europe’s behemoths certainly aren’t your only option. In fact, for supercar drivers, the welcoming arms of the lesser known uplands are perhaps even more appealing. The following are some awesome natural ranges that are well worth the effort it takes to reach them.

The Pyrenees: Forming a natural barrier on the border of Spain and France, the Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. 

Three reasons to visit:

  1. A petrol head’s paradise playground stretching from coast to coast. Blast up your way up steep inclines, share the landscape with cows and goats as you cross high altitude passes, and head back down multiple death defying descents into verdant valleys. But your biggest challenge will be working out whether to speak French or Spanish… 
  2. Stock up on duty free goods in the tiny principality of Andorra.
  3.  Soothe away the stresses of everyday life at incredible natural spa towns, such as Baños de Benasque in Spain and Bagnères-de-Bigorre in France.

Feast upon:

  • Locally produced duck and goose dishes.
  • Chilindrones – a deceptively delicious side dish of sautéed peppers, tomatoes and onions.
  • An incredible array of local cheeses.

The Carpathians: Central Europe’s third largest mountain range stretches over 900 miles through Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.

Three reasons to drive there:

  1. Relatively undiscovered by those outside Eastern Europe, you can be guaranteed your supercar will attract plenty of admiring glances.
  2. Visit the real legend of Dracula – Bran Castle.
  3. Drive the 90-odd miles of Romania’s most famous road, the Transfagarasan Highway. Made famous by Jeremy Clarkson (something that’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective) who proclaimed it to be, ‘the best road in the world’. 

Feast upon:

  • Traditional shepherd food, such as the classic Bohrach – a mouth-watering combination of different meats, spices, potatoes, tomatoes, carrot and sweet peppers. Beware, a touch of chilli pepper gives it a bite…!
  • Rokot Krumpli, hearty fare that combines potato, sour cream, eggs, sausage and cheese.
  • Smooth, wild mushroom broth. Sounds simple – tastes incredible…

Sierra Nevada: Andalucía’s best kept mountain secret, the Sierra Nevada is a mere 20 hour blast through France and Spain if you drive straight through, or a mere 9 hours from Santander (take the 24 hour ferry from Portsmouth).

Three reasons it should be on your radar:

  1.  See the famous white villages of Las Alpujarras – tiny congregations of centuries old houses that gleam against the rocks and vegetation.
  2. Virtually deserted mountain roads to drive, and all in surprisingly great condition.
  3. Star gaze to your heart’s content in a true dark sky location – perhaps one of the best in Western Europe.

Feast upon: 

  • Migas: Salted bread crumbs fried with green peppers, olive oil and garlic, garnished with satisfying chunks of chorizo and morcilla.
  • Honey and jam – all locally produced and on sale in restaurants and roadside stalls
  • Cured ham, or jamon, served alongside your beer in local bars (gratis). The region is famous for it.

We could go on (and on) about great European mountain locations to enjoy your supercar. Others to discover include:

  •  The Balkans: Stretching from the Bulgarian-Siberian border to the Black Sea, the perfect driving location if a few days by the sea is a satisfactory conclusion to your supercar mountain adventure.
  • The Urals: A natural boundary between Asia and Europe, this Western Russian range is a place where you’ll see little evidence of outside visitors…
  • The Caucasus: If you fancy heading to the wilds of Georgia then you’ll love the Caucasus mountains. Home to friendly locals and travellers with an adventurous streak.
  • Owl Mountains: This Polish mountain range hides 90,000 cubic metres of concrete tunnels created and used by the Nazis during WWII.
  • Highlands: Yes, Scotland’s rugged, often harsh, landscape is still on the continent of Europe and offers an incredible driving experience close to home.

Mountain Driving Skills

No-one’s disputing that you know how to drive your car. But when heading to a terrain different to that which you normally enjoy it’s always worth re-visiting a few key driving skills. And you will, undoubtedly, have to adapt a little to account for steep mountain conditions.

  •  Be prepared: Mountains equal altitude equals snow and ice – even when it’s balmy and warm at sea level. We all know that winter brings such conditions (check out our blog on driving your supercar in the winter), but the real danger times are spring and autumn. At this time the high mountain passes might sport unexpected amounts of the white stuff or dangerous black ice. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Visibility is key: The reason for taking your supercar to the mountains is to enjoy the testing driving conditions. But, exactly the same as on flat roads, don’t attempt any manoeuvres where your line of sight is impaired. In the mountains, rock walls and other natural geographic features can prevent you from seeing ahead. So be sure to keep to your side of the road (and that’s on the right, once you cross The Channel).
  • Adapt to the terrain: When descending steeply you’ll need to use lower gears and ensure the revs don’t red line. The general rule of thumb is the steeper the gradient, the lower the gear (and that applies to going uphill as well). The brakes and clutch are likely to take a bit of a hammering, so be aware of any smell that could indicate overheating.
  • A word about fuel: Petrol stations are often few and far between, so carry out due diligence as to where your next fill up point is if you’re planning a long drive.

But above all, enjoy. Mountain roads and supercars are a match made in heaven, so get out there and drive… 


Image by xuuxuu from Pixabay

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