Shades on, music turned up loud, cruising along an empty road – it’s without doubt one of the best experiences for car lovers all over the world. But that pleasure is increased ten-fold when the road in question traverses some of the most breath-taking scenery on the planet, such as the high mountain paths, which cross the French Alps.
From highways which hug the Californian coast to winding mountain top roads in China, there are eye-popping drives in almost any country you cross, and to tackle them all would surely take a life time.
Our Top 5 Drives in Europe
But for those of you who dream of taking a car on an adventure in Europe this year, below are five of the ultimate drives to consider. Alternatively, you could elevate the experience even further by renting a luxury car in France, from Luxury & Services Rent, and taking it on an alpine adventure, secure in the knowledge that it will be the drive of a lifetime.
1. Col de la Bonnette, Alpes-Maritimes, France
The Col de la Bonnette is one of the most famous roads in the Alps. At 2807 metres, it is also the highest. Motorists really will feel top of the world cruising along these sweeping roads where the scenery is stunning. As you reach the summit, the backdrop almost looks volcanic but as soon as you start the descent, the vista changes again, transforming into a road that looks like a racetrack with 5km of hairpin bends. At times the drive can be fairly testing, but that’s the beauty of routes like this.
2. Route de Gentelly, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Our second choice is also in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France, and starts within 30 minutes of Nice and Cannes, on the French Riviera. To reach the dramatic Route de Gentelly, drivers must head out of the picturesque town of Vence, where Matisse chose to spend his last years, and up to the Col de Vence. This is a 19.3km pass with stunning views over the Cote d’Azur, from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Cannes. From the Col de Vence the road continues through Gréolières and then takes you to the Route de Gentelly, a winding precarious stretch of road that leads motorists through arches, around sharp bends and passed perfect vantage points for the ultimate photo.
3. Furka Pass, Central Alps, Switzerland
The next drive on our list may seem familiar when you finally get to the top, as the Furka Pass was used for the filming of the famous Aston Martin DB5 Ford Mustang car chase in James Bond’s Goldfinger. The Furka Pass is part of the “Big 3” interconnected passes near the Andermatt and is within a few hundred meters of the Rhone Glacier. For us, the best part of this pass is the long sweeping road, which runs along the rock-face of the valley, where you can see for miles ahead and really put your foot down.
4. Route Napoleon, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Back again in the South of France for our fourth choice of ultimate drives in Europe which follows the route taken by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. The drive begins in Grasse, the perfume capital of Europe, and continues all the way to Grenoble, nearly 300 km away. Along the route, the scenery is stunning and the roads are very smooth, making it a dream to drive. This is a great road to take one of the supercars, like Ferrari California, out for a long spin.
5. Stelvio Pass, South Tyrol, Italy
This pass is officially the third highest in Europe, at 2757 metres, and holds the accolade of being voted the best driving road in the world in 2008 by Top Gear. There are 48 switchback turns as you approach the north face and the scenery is extremely dramatic. But beware; it can get busy due its popularity. We recommend you try to tackle the pass outside of the peak periods of July and August. This would also be the perfect place and time of year to hire the new Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, with a soft top that can electronically disappear discretely in less than 17 seconds. Despite the scenery, all eyes will be on you.
Guest post by Luxury & Services Rent, at the forefront of supercar hire in France and Monaco, providing both self-drive vehicles and chauffeur services, since 2006.