7 Scenic Drives in France You Need to Experience
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If the Eiffel Tower and croissants have become too cliché for your next trip to France, or if you've "been there done that" and it's time for something new, it's time to hit the road, literally!
France is not just about iconic landmarks and gourmet cuisine; it's a country that beckons to be explored by car.
From the towering Alps to the sparkling Riviera, these scenic drives in France will take you on a journey like no other. So grab your map, (or GPS), and let's take a trip through some of the most scenic drives in this France travel guide.
Route des Grandes Alpes
Distance: 435 miles
Imagine driving through a postcard, only without the stamp. Welcome to the Route des Grandes Alpes, Europe’s highest road and probably the most famous France road trip, where mountains meet the sky and the views are nothing short of breathtaking.
Starting from Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva and ending at Nice on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, this route takes you through the French Alps via famous passes like Col de l'Iseran, the highest paved pass in the Alps, and Col du Galibier.
Stop by charming alpine villages, and if you're lucky, you might even spot a marmot or alpine wolf or two. It's a drive that's high on altitude and even higher on beauty.
You can also visit Annecy, the Venice of France, on the shores of Lake Annecy. The lake is one of the cleanest in Europe and is an excellent spot to spend a day or two admiring the stunning scenery of the alpine region.
Alsace Wine Route
Distance: 100 miles
Warning: This scenic route through eastern France may lead to a sudden appreciation for fine wine and charming villages.
The Alsace Wine Route is a toast to France's renowned wine region. Winding through vineyards and medieval towns like Riquewihr and Colmar, this route offers a taste of history, culture, and of course, wine.
Don't miss the wine-tasting opportunities, and remember, the only thing better than a glass of Alsace wine is enjoying it with a view of the vineyards.
Distance: 24 miles
Sunglasses required, not just for the glare but for the glitz. The Corniche d'Or, or Golden Coastal Road, is a drive that sparkles in more ways than one.
Stretching along the French Riviera in southern France, this route offers sparkling sea views, hidden coves, and a chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Start or end the route in the glamorous city of Cannes and feel like a movie star, even if it's just for a day.
To extend the trip, continue to Saint Tropez for some exploration in one of France’s most glamorous locales.
The Corniche d'Or is easy to confuse with the three Corniche roads that connect Nice with Monte Carlo and Italy along the côte dAzur. Also worth a trip, the Basse Corniche, Moyenne Corniche and Grande Corniche all follow roughly the same route, but at different elevations allowing for different views of the towns and coastline.
Distance: 60 miles
A route so rich in history, even your car will feel cultured. The Dordogne Valley takes you on a drive through history and prehistory.
Explore ancient caves, majestic castles, and indulge in the culinary delights of foie gras and truffles. Whether you're a history buff or a foodie, this route has something to offer. And with landscapes so stunning, even the most seasoned traveler will be left in awe.
To see the beautiful Dordogne Valley from multiple angles, consider combining your scenic drive with a leisurely boat ride down the Dordogne river in a traditional gabarre.
Gorges du Verdon
Distance: 70 miles
Not for the faint of heart, or those afraid of heights. The Gorge du Verdon is France's answer to the Grand Canyon.
With turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs, and outdoor adventures like kayaking and hiking, this route is a thrill-seeker's paradise. Drive along the edge, if you dare, and witness nature's grandeur at its best. It's a drive that's as exhilarating as it is beautiful.
The Loire Valley
Distance: 155 miles
A drive so scenic, even Cinderella would trade her carriage. Welcome to central and western France's Loire Valley, sprinkled with châteaux and Renaissance elegance.
Begin in Amboise, winding your way along the Loire River and past the many chateaux that stand along the riverbanks.
Between Tours and Orleans you can stop and explore architectural marvels like Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau, and stroll through lush gardens that seem straight out of a fairy tale. Romance, history, and beauty – the Loire Valley has it all.
The Champagne Route
Distance: 70 miles
The only route where getting lost leads to more bubbles, not troubles. Starting in the historic city of Reims and ending in Épernay, the heart of Champagne, this route takes you through the Montagne de Reims' vine-covered hills.
Along the way, you'll discover picturesque villages, ancient forests, and, of course, the world-renowned Champagne houses. Don't miss the chance to tour the cellars and indulge in a tasting or two.
After all, life's too short not to enjoy a glass of Champagne, especially when you're in the very place it was born. It's a drive that's bubbly in every sense of the word, and a must-add to any trip through the Champagne region of France. Cheers to that! 🥂🍾
The bottom line: The best scenic drives in France
From the Alps to the Riviera, from vineyards to canyons, France's roads are more than a means to an end; they're a journey to remember.
These scenic drives in France offer a unique way to explore the country, each route with its own charm and character. So why settle for the ordinary when you can experience the extraordinary?
Let the road lead you to places you never thought you'd discover.