As we drove the course, my mind wandered. In some ways, our three-day jaunt from Paris to Monaco was nothing more than a stunt, yet I felt as though I had accomplished something—if nothing more than proving to myself that driving 125 mph is stupid and scary and lots of fun. But we still had one final task: to return the Jag to Paris within 48 hours.
"We could drive up the A7 through Lyons," David said, turning our Michelin map book from side to side. "Or we could go through Italy and cut back into France near Chamonix. How do you want to do it?"
I leaned back in the driver's seat and gunned the engine. "Fast."
DAY 1 Take the A4 motorway from Paris past Reims, then the D994 and the N4 to Nancy for lunch at the Taverne de Maître Kanter (61 Rue Pierre Semard; 33-3/83-35-47-13; $27 for two), which specializes in Alsatian cuisine. In Mulhouse, the Hôtel du Parc (26 Rue de la Sinne; 800/223-5652 or 33-3/89-66-12-22, fax 33-3/89-66-42-44; www.hotelduparc-mulhouse.com; doubles from $118) is a four-star built in (and recently renovated in the style of) the 1930's.
DAY 2 Start with a visit to the Schlumpf Collection: National Museum of the Automobile (192 Ave. de Colmar, Mulhouse; 33-3/89-33-23-23; www.collection-schlumpf.com). Then take the A36 west to Besançon. Follow the N57 and D67 through the Loue Valley. Lunch at Le Courbet (34 Rue Pierre Vernier, Ornans; 33-3/81-62-10-15; $27 for two). The N57 becomes the Swiss N9, which goes all the way to Lake Geneva. End the day in Évian-les-Bains at the Hôtel Royal (33-4/50-26-85-00, fax 33-4/50-75-61-00; www.royalparcevian.com; doubles from $277) and dine at the hotel's La Véranda Rôtisserie ($96 for two).
DAY 3 Follow the D902 south from the lakeside town of Thonon-les-Bains. In Cluses, signs point to the A40 motorway, which leads to the southbound A41. Join the Route Napoléon and follow it to the sea; then take the A8 autoroute to Monaco. Sleep at the Hôtel Columbus Monaco (23 Ave. des Papalins; 377/92-05-90-00, fax 377/92-05-91-67; www.columbushotels.com; doubles from $230).
A DAY AT THE RACES
The Monaco Formula One Grand Prix is held the last weekend in May on the streets of Monte Carlo. You can buy a bleacher seat on the route ($40—$340) or pay several thousand dollars to rent a private terrace overlooking the circuit. Tickets go on sale as early as February; contact the Automobile Club of Monaco (377/93-15-26-00, fax 377/93-25-80-08; www.acm.mc). Unlike Grand Prix racing, the Coupe des Alpes and other road rallies aren't spectator sports. Car rallies range from speed contests to competitions that resemble scavenger hunts rather than wheel-burning races. To learn more, get in touch with the Sports Car Club of America (800/770-2055 or 303/694-7222, fax 303/694-7391; www.scca.org).