Europe’s highest road, the Route des Grandes Alpes, built in 1920, is one of the region’s absolute must-dos. Running from Thonon-les-Bains to Nice, it spans around 720 km and crosses majestic Alpine landscapes and mountain passes. Truly breathtaking!
Col du Galibier
The world-famed Col du Galibier mountain pass forms the first stage of the Route des Grandes Alpes. One of the highest mountain passes in the Alpes French South, it is also a classic on the Tour de France. Revel in the exceptional natural scenery of Écrins National Park before heading to Briançon Fort and the Jardin Botanique Alpin du Lautaret, where you will learn all there is to know about Alpine plants!
Queyras Regional Nature Reserve
From Briançon, head to the Queyras Regional Nature Reserve via Col d’Izoard, also featured several times in the Tour de France. If you fancy a novel excursion, don’t miss Casse Déserte – a series of rocky mountain slopes resembling a lunar landscape. Wind up your tour with the beautiful Gorges du Guil or nearby Cascades de Ceillac waterfalls.
Vallée de l’Ubaye
The third stage leads you to Vallée de l’Ubaye. On the way, Col de la Cayolle unveils an exceptional landscape of rocks and pine trees. You might even hear the local marmots whistling! Stop off in the picturesque town of Barcelonnette on the Route des Grandes Alpes: the history of this town has been intimately linked to that of Mexico since the 19th century, as witnessed by its multitude of colourful house frontages.
Vallée de la Vésubie
Marking the entrance to Mercantour National Park, Vallée de la Vésubie – nicknamed the Switzerland of Nice – is a genuine paradise for outdoor sports fans and the perfect place to get your fill of the French Alps, with activities ranging from fishing to mountaineering. If you’re travelling with the family, head to Parc des Loups du Mercantour for a close-up encounter with the legendary and bewitching Alpine wolves.
Vallée de la Roya
For this last stage of the Route des Grandes Alpes, we invite you to tackle the aptly-named Vallée des Merveilles on foot or by mountain bike, offering an endless choice of walks and hikes across the most stunning landscapes of the French Alps. This area is famed for its many cave paintings, so don’t miss a stop-off at the Musée des Merveilles retracing 5,000 years of Vallée de la Roya‘s history. If you’re more of an outdoor buff, the Roya river is a fabulous playground for white water fans!