Take to the road: Les Corniches

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 5 min read
Take to the road: Les Corniches

If you love the feel of the open road and seeing the countryside roll by your window, head to Les Trois Corniches

If you are an adventurous kind of person, a road trip is one of the best types of holiday you could take. Whether you go with friends, family or by yourself, get out on the open road, drive through beautiful countryside, and stop 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 and a drive along Les Trois Corniches is quite the journey! With a touch of vintage sophistication, they even featured in Alfred Hitchcock's "To catch a thief" (1955) where one of the most memorable scenes is of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant driving a blue convertible along the Corniches.

This is great roadtrip at any time, but if you’re planning the drive in the warmer months, be sure to plan stops at some of the best beaches in the south of France.

What are Les Trois Corniches?

Les Corniches (The Cliff Roads) are a trio of coastal roads found in the south of France, in the beautiful Côte d'Azur. They hug the cliffs between Nice and Monaco and all provide stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

These three 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 in the middle.

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, making them easy stops.

A view of the French Riviera from a road up in the cliffs that surround a bay of clear blue water and sandy beaches

Where do the corniches start and end?

Les Corniches are parallel, so they all start in Nice, and run past Monaco and Monte-Carlo to Menton, with the three routes merging into one.

The Corniche Inférieure (D6098)

Sometimes referred to as he Basse Corniche, this is the road that runs closest to the coast. It takes you past some gorgeous seaside resorts and although it can get traffic-clogged during rush hours, you’ll be easily entertained by views of elegant 19th century villas and gardens, not to mention views of the sea.


Villefranche-sur-Mer is immediately east of the city of Nice and cascades down the hillside to the sea. The bay’s sandy 1 km-long beach is a wonderful stop for sunbathing in the summer or gazing out across the water at any time of year.


Translating to ‘beautiful place on the sea’ this miniature coastal town between Villefranche-sur-Mer and Èze has a quiet glamour about it. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Queen Victoria both visited and spoke highly of its charm and Gustave Eiffel made it his winter home from 1896.

Be sure to spend time on La Petite Afrique, Beaulieu’s mini-stretch of coast and a palm-shaded beach.

People standing on a ledge cut into a cliffside watching the sea swirl around the rocks below


The coastal counterpart to the hilltop village of Èze, Èze-sur-Mer is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and look out over the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Cap d’Ail

The commune of Cap d'Ail is a quintessential reminder of the Belle Époque past of this region. It is also the last rampart before the Principality of Monaco with a coastal path and the magnificent Mala beach nestled in the heart of a cove.

Monaco and Monte Carlo

Monaco has long stood for affluence and luxury, not to mention it is often drenched in sunshine. Meanwhile, luxury shops, amazing restaurants, and a huge casino are just three things that make Monte Carlo a fantastic place to take a break. The buzzing atmosphere captures you every time. If you haven’t visited yet, it’s certainly time you did!

A white Fiat500 driving along the waterfront of a picturesque French town in the sun

The Moyenne Corniche (D6007)

In between the Grand Corniche and the Corniche Inférieure is the Moyenne Corniche, one of the world’s most famous and most scenic roads. A highlight of the drive is crossing the viaduct, a huge bridge with amazing views, which takes you into 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 must make a stop in Èze. Take in the views, explore the winding streets, and enjoy a café au lait at one of its cute cafes.


A little like Montmartre in Paris, clinging to the slope Beausoleil has views of the Mediterranean Sea. If you love the Belle Époque you’ll be in heaven at Beausoleil as much of the architecture is from this period. You must visit the Riviera Palace, a magnificent residence designed by the architect Georges Chédanne.

a long road stretching uphill with two decorative buildings each side with palm trees and balconies

The Cap Martin peninsula

Cap-Martin is a wooded peninsula on the Mediterranean, sitting in the commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, just below the perched Roquebrune village. Along with a beach, some campsites and shops, the peninsula is largely covered with the walled estates of the affluent residents, some dating back to the 19th century and the Belle Epoque.

A group of red tile roofed buildings atop a hill overlooking the villages below and the sea in the distance

The Grande Corniche (D2564)

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 you’ll see on your trip.

Col des Quatre Chemins

Col des Quatre Chemins is a climb popular with cyclists and hikers that takes its name from the four roads that meet here, It’s around 3.3 km with its peak 330 meters above sea level meaning, you guessed it, more beautiful views.

Col d’Èze

If you’ve seen the James Bond film ‘Golden Eye’, then this stretch of road is bound to look familiar. Drive the route 007 took, as you travel along this breath-taking mountain pass.

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 rather magnificent.


Around 2 km from Menton and Monaco, this historic seaside resort slopes up into the cliffs to 300 metres, starting at the water's edge and going all the way up to its perched village that includes an 11th century castle and Museum of Medieval times.

If you decide to stay awhile pack your walking shoes as there are plenty of walks and hikes on the 14 km long coastal paths.

Drive Les Corniches with LeShuttle

If you want even more clifftop views, the coastal walks of the Calanques of Cassis are another gem in the south of France.

So, start the engine and get ready for the road trip of a lifetime. Travel with LeShuttle from Folkestone, UK to Calais, France in just 35 minutes and begin your journey to Les Trois Corniches.


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