MTN/PASS 43°58’42”N 7°23’28”E
Col de Turini
31 km of demonic, twisting, asphalt
The Col de Turini is a legend in the World Rally Championship, with massive crowds gathering on its iconic summit. Starting at Sospel, deep in the French Maritime Alps, it’s 31 km of demonic, twisting, asphalt leading to La Bollène-Vèsubie that takes in the 1170 m Col de Turini.
The Col de Turini is best known for its part in the Rallye Monte-Carlo and the dramatic, ‘Night of the long knives’. This crepuscular special stage gets its name from the lights of the cars cutting through the trees and slits in the walls.
The Rallye Monte-Carlo was inaugurated in 1911 and was designed to promote Monte-Carlo as a tourist destination, which seems to have worked going by today’s traffic.
The Turini on this sunny April day was quiet as a mouse. A choice of routes take you from Monte-Carlo to Sospel, the quickest gets you there in 40 minutes. Sospel is far from the high life of Casino square but you can grab a coffee and panini before the drive, if you’re lucky.
Heading out of Sospel on the D2566, the habitation starts to thin and speeds start to rise. Soon you enter the Gorges of Piaon and home to the first hairpins.
Passing under Notre-Dame de la Mènour you arrive at Moulinet, minding the speed bumps on the exit. After Moulinet the roads surface become more, well, rally like. Your suspension is now tested with surface changes every few kilometres as the road twists and turns onwards and upwards.
The Col de Turini is best known for its part in the Rallye Monte-Carlo and the dramatic, ‘Night of the long knives’.
It feels much more of a rally stage than the Swiss passes. It’s tight, bumpy and twisty with small walls and a big drop on one side, and steep cliffs on the other. Not sure I’d bring an Aventador up here but some brave souls have.
The road enters pine forest as you head to the top and the cliffs and walls give way to become equally unforgiving coniferous trees.
The top of the Col is an anti-climax. It’s such a famous area, but devoid of the cheering crowds, snow and spinning of tyres, it’s just a wide bit of road with a couple of hotels. Not even a decent view.
Hitting the descent you are now on the M70 and into fast forestry turns, hammering the brakes.
You soon emerge from the pines into the classic maritime alpine scenery with rock walls, steep drops, ravines and of course twisty asphalt, and yes some of it is very decent indeed. You can imagine the helicopter tracking your progress on the descent.
Before you know it you are in La Bollène-Vèsubie, a sleepy hamlet with even less to offer than Sospel.
Crack open a Red Bull while the engine ticks and cools and then back up and over.
Col de Turini is one of the more unusual passes if you are used to the alpine classics like the Furka or St Bernard. For a start it’s quiet, at least in April, due to its location and lack of any major roads or towns. It certainly comes as a surprise after the Côte d’Azur.
The road surface and tight nature make it different from the Swiss, if not the Italian passes and its lack of altitude robs it of a spectacular view from the peak.
On this April day though. it was one of the best drives, with the return to the coast still to enjoy.