City Breaks

Take to the road: Les Corniches

In the first of our European road trip series, we’re taking a look at Les Corniches.

One of the views from Les Corniches. © Valdiney Pimenta

As an adventurous kind of person, a road trip is one of my favourite types of holiday. Whether I go with friends, family or by myself, I love getting out on the open road, driving through beautiful countryside and stopping off at interesting places along the way. When it comes to road trips, it doesn’t really matter where you’re headed, it’s all about the journey.

Over the next couple of months, I’m going to introduce you to some of the best road trips in Europe. In this post, the first in this series, I’m taking a look at Les Corniches.

A bit of background…

Les Corniches (The Cliff Roads) are found in the south of France, in the beautiful Côte d'Azur. Often known as the French Riviera, the Côte d'Azur is home to golden beaches, turquoise waters and enough countryside to keep you busy for weeks. There are also plenty of great towns to explore, many of which are dotted along the three roads that make up Les Corniches. These roads run parallel to each other and the Mediterranean Sea, with the Corniche Inférieure hugging the coast, the Grande Corniche further inland, and the Moyenne Corniche smack bang in the middle.

Grande Corniche

Built by Napoléon I, the Grande Corniche follows the Via Julia Augusta (an ancient Roman route), from Nice to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. This clifftop route is, on average, 500 feet above sea level, giving it some of the best views I’ve ever seen.

Don’t miss… The Col d'Èze stretch

If you’ve seen the James Bond film Golden Eye, then this stretch of road is bound to look familiar. Walk (or should I say drive!) in the footsteps of 007, as you travel along this breath-taking mountain pass.

Take a break in… La Turbie

Perched high above Monaco, La Turbie is most famous for its Trophy of Augustus, a must-see monument for anyone road-tripping along the Grande Corniche. The stone monument, which was built for Emperor Augustus, stands at 35 metres high and is a magnificent sight to see.

Stop by Trophy of Augustus in La Turbie.
Stop by Trophy of Augustus in La Turbie. © John M

Moyenne Corniche

In between the Grand Corniche and the Corniche Inférieure is the Moyenne Corniche, one of the world’s most famous and most scenic roads. My favourite bit of the drive has to be crossing the viaduct, a huge bridge with amazing views, which takes you into Èze.

Snack on… socca

Any good road trip needs some snacks, and nowhere are the snacks more delicious than in France! Socca, a crispy pancake made from chickpea flour, is popular in Nice and the surrounding area.

Take a break in… Èze

Picturesque village? Check. Sea views that stretch for miles? Check. What more could you want? If the Moyenne is your Corniche of choice, you have to make a stop in Èze. Take in the views, explore the winding streets and enjoy a café au lait

The hilltop village, Èze.
The hilltop village, Èze. © Campus France

Corniche Inférieure

For a coastal drive you’ll never forget, choose the Corniche Inférieure. Running from Nice to Menton, alongside the Mediterranean Sea, the Corniche Inférieure offers seaside serenity in the form of pretty beach towns, as well the glamour of Monte-Carlo.

Go for a dip in… Beaulieu-sur-Mer

If you’re driving during summer, which I’d highly recommend, a dip in the beautiful blue is a must. While there are plenty of places to stop for a swim, Beaulieu-sur-Mer is my favourite, as there are facilities for jet skiing, water skiing and windsurfing.

Cool off at the lovely beach in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
Cool off at the lovely beach in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. © Tim Gage

Take a break in… Monte Carlo

Luxury shops, amazing restaurants and a huge casino – just three things which make Monte Carlo a fantastic place to take a break. Even though I’ve been to Monte Carlo many times before, the buzzing atmosphere gets me every time. If you haven’t visited yet, it’s certainly time you did!

Start your road trip…

...with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. You can travel from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, so you can spend more time exploring France and beyond.

Driving in France

Before setting off on a road trip, have a read of our tips for driving in France.