N140, Pamplona, Spain
Spain is a fine destination for your Porsche. Away from the costas and big towns, traffic is light on the major roads and sparse on the extensive secondary route network.
If having the road to yourself is a pleasant surprise, then an even bigger one is the quality of the Spanish blacktop. Over the last two decades there has been massive investment in the highway system, the result being that even obscure routes are wide, smooth and well designed.
It truly is motoring nirvana, a fact not lost on car manufacturers who increasingly use Spain for product launches.
To single out just one of thousands of routes is a difficult task, but we found one 32km stretch that is worth driving, 20 miles south of the French border in the Western Pyrénées. Off the main route between St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Pamplona, the N140 shows as a yellow road on the indispensable regional Michelin map number 573.
Latitude: 42.695440N, 1.676010W Length of drive: 32km (20 miles) Points of interest: Food and accommodation:
Views from the summit (1,040m)
Parador de Sols del Rey
Latitude: 42.695440N, 1.676010W
Length of drive: 32km (20 miles)
Points of interest:
Food and accommodation:
If you take the west-east direction, the route begins at Auritz Espinal, and the first 7km are fast as the road advances across the Pyrénéan upland over open pastures, before heading through Garralda, the first of five villages en route.
Clear of the houses, a challenging series of uphill bends through a narrow valley brings you to Arribe, followed by several short straights and a couple more hamlets before a fast rising straight lifts you out of the valley to the route’s highest point – 1,040 metres – just after Abaurrea Alta.
The descent to the N140’s largest village, Jaurrieta, comprises several half-mile straights and an assortment of testing bends. Immediately after, the road falls away into a series of tight hairpins. Finally, the valley widens and the road straightens out for the final run into Ezcároz.
Turn left here for more of the same, or right for a blast through the gorges of the valley floor towards the Pamplona-Zaragoza highway.
Traffic is thin, views are at times spectacular, and there’s plenty to keep the driver busy.
Spain is a long drive from Britain, but you can shorten it by taking the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, which is near enough to the Pyrénées to decant you almost directly into the action, and takes no more time than driving across France.