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Travel bucket list idea:

Drive the Grande Corniche

  • Eze, Cote d'Azur, France

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 10 March, 2024

Feel the wind blow through your hair along the spectacular Grande Corniche, the clifftop Cote d’Azur road where Hitchcock filmed Grace Kelly driving her roadster in To Catch a Thief.

Built 500m above sea level by Napoleon and following the old Roman road Via Julia Augusta, it has incredible views of this sought-after stretch of French coast, with mountains on one side and sea shimmering on the other.

You can drive the length of it in under an hour, but half the fun is stopping at the coast’s highlights along the way: picturesque towns such as La Turbie and Eze. From La Turbie, take the road to Monaco, but turn off at Les Hautes de Monte Carlo for the incredible views from the promontory by the France Telecom dome.

Part of the Grande Corniche is a park, with a network of footpaths: get there on the Route de la Revere, west of the Col de Eze.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-4 hours

Getting there & doing it

There are actually three ‘Corniches’. The Basse Corniche is a clogged coastal road; the Moyenne Corniche is at mid-altitude; and the Grand Corniche is the highest of them all, running from Nice to Monaco. After Monaco, it continues all the way to Menton on the Italian border, but lacks the big thrills along this section. However, there are lovely hill towns to visit around there, such as Gorbio and Saint-Agnes.

If you don’t have a car, hire one for the day. For Cary Grant and Grace Kelly glamour, make it a convertible: Platinium Rent offers open-top Aston Martins, Audis, Bentleys, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Jaguars and Masseratis. You could opt for a guided self-drive in a Lamborghini or Ferrari, that will also include a spin around the streets of Monte Carlo, and the Monaco Grand Prix race track.

Take a picnic: have it where Grant and Kelly did, below the Grande Corniche on the D53 No.1009 Beausoleil – in front of a mechanic’s atelier. There’s a picnic table.

When to do it

In July and August, when it’s busiest, it can be a bit crowded, with a sometimes alarming mix of cyclists, speed demons and people driving slowly and stopping for the views – so consider spring or autumn for this drive.

Go on a clear day if you can, or risk finding the wonderful views shrouded in mist, especially around La Turbie. Plan your return to Nice just as the sun sets: it’s pure romance.