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The Corniche Roads of the French Riviera consist of three routes following the mountainous stretch from Nice to Menton. The Corniche offers dramatic coastal views which can be discovered by car through three scenic routes: the Grande Corniche, the Moyenne Corniche and the Corniche Inférieure.

 

What is a corniche?

A ‘corniche’ means a cliff road. The three Corniche roads all run somewhat parallel to each other following the Mediterranean coastline.

Driving the Corniche Road - Stock Photos from Valery Rokhin - Shutterstock
Driving the Corniche Road – Stock Photos from Valery Rokhin – Shutterstock

Each route has its own charm and is an invitation to discover medieval perched villages, Roman ruins, elegant 19th-century villas, and exotic gardens.

Map of the Corniche roads by French Moments
Map of the Corniche roads by French Moments

 

Where to stay in the Corniche roads region

Click here for a list of accommodations to plan your trip.

Or check out this map (zoom in/out) to get more options of hotels/guest houses/campings, etc.


Booking.com

 

The Corniche Inférieure (D6098)

Starting in Nice, the Corniche Inférieure or Basse Corniche (Lower Corniche) leads to Menton following the coast.

The road is approximate a length of 30 km and crosses several famous sea resorts:

The seafront of Villefranche - Stock Photos from EQRoy - Shutterstock
The seafront of Villefranche – Stock Photos from EQRoy – Shutterstock

 

Beaulieu-sur-Mer - Stock Photos from gevision - Shutterstock
Beaulieu-sur-Mer – Stock Photos from gevision – Shutterstock

 

  • Èze-Bord-de-Mer
Eze-Bord-de-Mer - Stock Photos from RAndrei - Shutterstock
Eze-Bord-de-Mer – Stock Photos from RAndrei – Shutterstock

 

The principality of Monaco - Stock Photos from Aleksandar Todorovic - Shutterstock
The principality of Monaco – Stock Photos from Aleksandar Todorovic – Shutterstock

 

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Stock Photos from Margarita Hintukainen - Shutterstock
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin – Stock Photos from Margarita Hintukainen – Shutterstock

Along the road, you’ll admire numerous villas built during the Belle Époque era.

The Corniche Inférieure was laid out in the 18th century by the Prince of Monaco.

 

The Moyenne Corniche (D6007)

The Middle Corniche Road - Stock Photos from Pack-Shot - Shutterstock
The Middle Corniche Road – Stock Photos from Pack-Shot – Shutterstock

Possibly the world’s most famous scenic road, the Moyenne Corniche was built between 1910 and 1928 when aristocratic tourism on the French Riviera was already causing too much traffic on the Corniche Inférieure.

The Moyenne Corniche is a very frequented road and was the preferred route from Nice to Italy before the construction of the A8 motorway.

The scenic driveway passes through the perched village of Èze, follows the border with Monaco at Beausoleil before descending to the Cap Martin peninsula.

The perched village of Eze - Stock Photos from LongJon - Shutterstock
The perched village of Eze – Stock Photos from LongJon – Shutterstock

My advice: drive along the Moyenne Corniche from Nice to the direction of Menton to enjoy the views. Stops at lookouts are made possible by numerous car parks.

 

The Grande Corniche (D2564)

The Grande Corniche (Upper Corniche) was built by Napoleon I.

It follows the ancient Roman route known as Via Julia Augusta.

The road often runs 500 metres above the sea, offering spectacular views over the Mediterranean coast.

Eze by night - Stock Photos from LongJon - Shutterstock
Eze by night seen from the Grande Corniche – Stock Photos from LongJon – Shutterstock

The Grande Corniche passes through the Col des Quatre Chemins, the Col d’Èze (512 m) above the perched village of Èze, La Turbie above Monaco, before descending to Roquebrune.

La Turbie - Stock Photos from Inu - Shutterstock
La Turbie – Stock Photos from Inu – Shutterstock
A stunning view of Monaco from the Tête de Chien mountain - Stock Photos from Ingo70 - Shutterstock
A stunning view of Monaco from the Tête de Chien mountain – Stock Photos from Ingo70 – Shutterstock
The perched village of Roquebrune - Stock Photos from EQRoy - Shutterstock
The perched village of Roquebrune – Stock Photos from EQRoy – Shutterstock

One of the most dramatic stretches of the road is around the Col d’Èze, a mountain pass 512 m high above the perched village of Èze. The road was featured in the James Bond movie “GoldenEye” (1995).

 

English-French Vocabulary

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Stock Photos from M_Ilie - Shutterstock
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin – Stock Photos from M_Ilie – Shutterstock

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • bay = baie (f)
  • border = frontière (f)
  • cape = cap (m)
  • cliff = falaise (f)
  • French Riviera = Côte d’Azur (f)
  • harbour = port (m)
  • hill = colline (f)
  • marina = port de plaisance (m)
  • Maritime Alps = Alpes Maritimes (f,p)
  • Mediterranean Sea = Mer Méditerranée (f)
  • mountain = montagne (f)
  • mountain pass = col de montagne (m)
  • peninsula = péninsule (f)
  • port = port (m)
  • road = route (f)
  • Roman = Romain (m) / Romaine (f)
  • sea = mer (f)
  • villa = villa (f)
  • view = vue (f)

 

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Discover the Corniche Roads of the French Riviera

Featured image: Jimi Magic (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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