3 of the Most Scenic Drives Close to Monaco
Monaco is truly blessed when it comes to its climate and location. These two factors combined create some of the most aesthetically-pleasing scenery in the world with verdant vegetation atop hills and craggy rock faces. It is the gateway to the French Riviera and Provence, whose scenic roads have been immortalised in numerous films. With luxury car hire in France, you can travel along these same roads in a fabulous convertible or sports car and experience the beauty of the French Riviera and Provence for yourself. Here’s a selection of some of the most scenic drives around Monaco.
La Grande Corniche
It is roads like this that make you realise that the South of France should be experienced from behind the wheel of a car (preferably a sporty soft top) rather than looked at through the window of a tour bus. “Les Trois Corniches”, which translates to “the three cliff roads”, consist of three routes following the mountainous stretch from Nice to Menton.
The High Corniche (La Grande Corniche) is the highest of the three and has arguably the most dramatic views as it is 500 metres above sea level. It dates back to Roman times when it was called the Via Aurelia and used to conquer the West. From the Grande Corniche you not only have spectacular views of the Mediterranean but you also see the enormous wealth of Monaco’s inhabitants in the amazing mansions and villas on display.
La Grande Corniche can thank Hollywood for its worldwide fame as it featured in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Perhaps more famously, it is in GoldenEye where Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond is involved in a car chase while driving an Aston Martin DB5. The hairpin turns and sheer drops don’t make it the most relaxing drive, but it rates highly on the beauty scale.
Gorges du Verdon
Biker and sports car drivers love the windy roads of the Gorges du Verdon in Provence. It takes around two hours to reach from Monaco, but it is worth it for an enjoyable weekend trip. There are two panoramic roads that run along the north and south rims of Europe’s largest canyon. The gorges stretch for 15 jaw-dropping miles and plunge to depths of 700 metres; so give the keys to someone good with heights.
This is the closest thing Europe has to the original Grand Canyon in the USA. The roads bisect forest-line slopes and skirt sheer cliffs that drop into the river below. Stop for lunch with panoramic views right on the edge of the gorge at the Auberge du Point Sublime.
The road out of the gorges passes pretty villages like Moustiers, which is famous for its pottery and Les Salles-Sur-Verdon, which sits beside Lac de Sainte-Croix, an artificial lake where the Verdon River empties out. After enjoying the serene lakeside view, you might want to head for the Sillans-la-Cascade, an impressive waterfall in the foothills of the Alps, just along the D22, an 800-metre walk from the road.
Col de Turini
The Col de Turini in the Alpes Maritimes is an iconic road, and it is one of the most popular stages of the Monte-Carlo Rally. The punishing road has also featured in the Tour de France three times (1948, 1950 and 1973), but what’s hard on cyclists limbs is definitely easy on car passengers’ eyes.
Hugging the mountainside, the view is beautiful but the 35-kilometre road becomes progressively more challenging. The spaghetti-shaped mountain pass is about 45 minutes north of the Principality and is recognisable for its steep incline and numerous hairpin bends. It was featured on Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson and his co-hosts searched for the world’s best driving road. The road is certainly an eye-opening experience and something everyone should visit, perhaps with a luxury car rental in Monaco for a more precise and powerful drive.