The experience of driving in France can vary from the simple pleasure of being surrounded on both sides by seemingly endless fields of purple lavender to the exhilaration that comes from a sky-high alpine drive. France is a patchwork of geographic contrasts and cultured communities that offer rewarding experiences for almost any type of road thirsty traveler. These varying regions are connected by a sophisticated system of highways known as the autoroute. The autoroute is efficient for crisscrossing the nation, but stringently protected by speed cameras and undercover patrols. However, when you finally reach the exit for your scenic routes nationales or bison futé of choice, you are in store for some of the most picturesque landscapes in Europe:
La Route des Crêtes - Lorraine/Alsace
The historic supply routes through the Vosges mountain range are responsible for the crest road that begins in the quaint village of Colmar on the eastern edge of France. The locally maintained D417 roadway runs through the legendary cheese producing town of Munster then slopes south at the D430 to form the signature crescent through the Vosges that affords its travelers a up-close view of the lush hardwood trees and firs that have made this mountain range such a popular retreat. On clear days, a view of Germany’s Black Forest is visible on the horizon.
Suggested Auto France Location: Mulhouse-Bale
Col de la Bonette - Alpes-Maritimes
This mountain pass in the French Alps is the highest road in Europe and boasts one of the most breathtaking panoramas in the world. The pass tops off at 9,400 feet and a view that includes a seemingly endless view of the snow covered peaks. Sharp turns and narrow roads abound, but the challenge of the French Alps’ mountain passes are half of the fun, and these come with exceptionally well-maintained roads.
Suggested Auto France Location: Nice Cote d'Azur
Route Napoleon - Alpes-Maritimes
This alpine road is legendary both in its history and its drivability. It was the course taken by Napoleon Bonaparte in his famous 1815 march from Elba to Grenoble. Napoleon chose the extensive 200 plus mile road for ease and speed of travel, and the inspiring geography in its vicinity. The Gorges du Verdon, just 24 miles off of the main route, is a lush green canyon and riverway that makes for stunning photography. Open valleys and the sloping foothills of the French Alps make this a spirited drive.
Troyes to St. Etienne - Champagne/Burgundy
This oft-traveled road begins in the Province of Champagne amidst stunning architecture in the way of cathedrals, museums, and cobblestone alleyways that give way to charming picturesque towns encompassed by rolling hills and world-renowned vineyards. The path goes through Dijon, a fairytale town in the province of Burgundy, and the famous Côte d’Or region. The final leg of the trip to St. Etienne is a smooth ride through colorful fields and hills peppered with charming wineries.
Los Routes de la Lavande - Haute-Provence
The lavender routes of scenic Haute-Provence light up with stunning purple hues during the months of June and July. The winding scenic roads of this province make for leisurely drives of varying lengths filled with historic locations like the popular village/castle of Simiane la Rotonde.
Suggested Auto France Location: Marseille Provence
These roadways vary in difficulty and accessibility, but they offer a singular way to experience a landscape that has seen a lot of effort in the way of maintenance and preservation. Driving in France can be very simple to adapt to as it is oriented very similar to the American system, sometimes with higher speed limits, which can translate to a little more fun.
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