Italy_ Col de L'ISERAN

Article & Gallery: That place between Milan and Paris

A small detour on my Grand Tour from Milan Fashion Week to Paris Fashion Week - with the Mercedes GLS 500 ->


With a car, which makes driving so pleasantly you tend to drive as much as you can. I stayed with my team an hour out of Milano – in a Castello directly at Lago Maggiore. Which was probably one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. Let’s be honest: a commute of one hour in true big cities (London, Paris, New York…) is quite normal on a day-to-day basis for most people. Applying the same level of time consuming travel to the area of Milano transformed my business trip into an unforgettable joyful experience. By also saving money! Even eating in the adjoined Gault-Michelin-mentioned restaurant could not produce higher accommodation costs than a dull business hotel in Milano during Fashionweek. The joy I found in this pleasantly sleeping arrangement gave me an even more brilliant idea: skip a day of Fashionweek Paris and take a detour over the highest pass route in the Alps: Col de l’Iseran.

Again: I consulted the nifty Restaurant guide from the tire manufacturer, to find a place with an attached Hotel. I assume that once this sort of usage was the initial idea behind the Michelin Guide: a motorist’s guide to accommodation. After few minutes, I found one close to Lyon with a jolly star attached, set its address as goal for the sat nav and even used the “interim destination” function for the first time – set with the GPS coordinates of the highest peak of Col de l’Iseran. And it worked simply marvellous.

It wasn’t just the sat nav which did everything as I hoped for, it was the entire car which did more than I could have imagined to be possible. Yes, it does have a lot of Power – equal to 455 horses. There are numbers which incline that it takes 5,3sek from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mp/h). But you can’t be prepared for the moment when you push the pedal to the metal. The 4,6-litre petrol V8 might have two turbo chargers – but there is no turbo-lag. It instantaneously gets fast at any time on any surface. At any decline. Which is good news, when you are about to climb to 2764 metres (9068 ft.) It also gets slow anytime you want it to. The brakes on this car are just superb. Hit them hard and it just gets slow very fast. It resembles the notion to lower its nose, since its air suspension is keen on keeping it level. This is also true for any leaning movement while driving through bends: there is close to none. Which is such a strange thing, when you are sitting as high as a lorry driver. It gets even stranger, when you are able to shoot up and down the serpentines way faster than all the motorcyclists.

Fearing that I might be impartial I decided to let crew members drive the GLS as hard as they can. After nearly dying about half a dozen times the verdict was still unanimously: brilliant brakes, ridiculously sporty. Christina (21) put it this way “I’ve never experienced a car with such great braking – and the way it goes is just crazy”. Christina normally drives a BMW 1 series. She singlehandedly managed to crunch the fuel efficiency from 19 MPG down to 12,3 MPG… on bendy country roads. Chapeaux!

Driving over the alpine pass was a marvellous experience. It was the first time I encountered these rocks of which signs try to warn you. To be honest: I still don’t know how to react properly: should I speed up to be in an unsafe spot for a shorter amount of time – or should I slow down to see falling rocks and be able to brake? Unclear about what to do, I decided to do neither but park close by the biggest rock I could spot… for reasons and stuff. And obviously: selfies. It’s fair to say that I have neither a sense for alpine dangers, nor any shame in my body.


The full trip is here:

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