The Most Scenic Driving Routes in France
The French Riviera/Côte d’Azur
Everyone knows James Bond always has the coolest cars. But he always seems to have the best places to drive them, too. One of the most recognizable locations for 007’s famous drives – indeed for many car chases and scenic drives captured on film – is the French Riviera, in the Côte d’Azur region. This area offers warm convertible-top-down weather along with roads that cling to the sides of cliffs bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The sight of the sparkling blue water, the colorful towns perched above it, and the sun in your Ray-Bans make for a great drive, but they can also be very distracting. This region has one of the highest accident rates in France, so keep your wits about you and drive carefully.
For ocean-view drives, stick to route A8 from Cannes all the way to the Italian border. Or, head inland to discover narrow, hilly, curving roads that will take you through old fishing villages. In Monaco, you can also drive most of the famous Grand Prix route (which does not mean you can race it; local police like to make sure that’s left to the professionals).
Driving and wine may be a bad combination, but driving and vineyards go together like croissants and espresso. Whether it’s in Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, or any of France’s many wine regions, a drive through the vineyards provides some of the best scenery around. While designated drivers on these routes should leave the fun of wine tasting to the passengers, only the driver will get to experience the thrill of downshifting while winding through the leafy vineyards and rolling hills. Your passengers will want to stop frequently to visit the charming wineries and taste the fruits of the local labor, but you may find all you want to do is get back on the road.
La Route des Grandes Alpes
Yes, driving through the French Alps is a challenging proposition, but also a rewarding one. Created in 1911, the historic Route des Grandes Alpes covers about 460 miles and reaches elevations of more than 2,300 meters at some points, giving you panoramic views of forests, glaciers, the foothills of Mont Blanc, and the peaceful Alpine towns of France. The route actually begins near Lake Geneva in Switzerland, but the bulk of the ground covered is in France. Your journey ends in the gorgeous French coastal city of Menton near the Italian border, and allows you to stop in any of the mountain towns you find along the way. The Route des Grandes Alpes reopens every year at the end of spring (when snowplows have taken care of any remaining snow on the roads). It is completely open from the beginning of June until October, and can also be toured by bicycle or motorcycle.