Favorite Scenic Drives in France

By wasatch | Dec 18, 2022
Europe > France

THE COASTS: Roughly 20 km on both sides of St Malo on the English Channel. The road to Quiberon. The Mediterranean coast road from Cannes to le Lavandou. These are all good examples of cliffs, rocks, and the sea. The Moyen Terrace on the Cote d'Azur is a fine case of mountains meeting the sea.

THE MOUNTAINS: One of the best in France is from A9 in Switzerland to Thonon les Bains by D22/902. Another top trip is from the A9 to Thonon via Chamonix (Mt Blanc, Europe's highest peak). I much like the Col de la Croix de Fer (look for the iron cross at the summit, off to the east of the road), although the views are probably more impressive on the Col de Galibier, Col de Iseran, (at the summit is the easiest Alp to climb), and Col du Petite St Bernard. The road on the east side of Lake Annecy. The most spectacular of the French Alps are between Briancon and Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). South of Briancon to the Mediterranean, the mountains are not as tall nor as rugged. Still, it is good scenery after you have visited the grand Alps. The Oratory at Chazelet has a Michelin *** view.

The Route de Vin Alsace (see Tip) is the perfect combination of quaint little villages and rolling vineyard covered hills. The Route de Vin Alsace(see journal on) is the star of Alsace. The road runs north-south along where the Vosges meet the plain through a chain of little villages full of remarkably quaint pastel painted half-timbered houses from the 16th Century. The seemingly endless vineyards climbing the foothill of the Vosges form an attractive setting for the villages.

Route de Vin  Alsace

Route de Vin Alsace

The Massif Central, more or less between Clermont-Ferrand and Le Puy, is an unusual high plateau broken by odd shaped volcanoes.

The road to L'Alpe d'Huez, made famous by the Tour de France bicycle race, is not especially scenic until the summit, unless you add in the twisting, turning road itself as a sight.

We have not yet got to the Pyrenees, but by all accounts, there is much grand scenery there.

These are the great scenic drives in France. Less impressive, but still nice, are the Route De Cretes in the Vosges Mountains just west of the Route de Vin Alsace and D 991 and D 437 in the Jura, just north of Geneva. These mountains are somewhere between rolling hills and real mountains like the Alps and Rockies. We lived for several decades in or near the very similar Appellations, and I am no longer impressed by this kind of scenery.

I also liked the yellow rock cliffs of the Gorges of the Ardeche, D 290, just north of St Esprit.

The Camargue, the flat swampy grass lands of the Rhone Delta in souther France are most unusual for Europe, but if you want flat grass lands, they don't hold a candle to Kansas. If you want a swamp, they don't come close to the Everglades. But if you going to visit Aigues Mortes, the best approach is across the Camargue from Arles.

Road Trip France Europe Things to do Scenic

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Written by wasatch
1st international trip: 1965. ~57 EU vacations. Visited 6 continets. Extensive USA travel. You can email me at kb1942@yahoo.com

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