THE CÔTE D’AZUR’S THREE CORNICHES
Roll down the roof, slip on the shades and enjoy France’s most cinematic drive, from Belle Époque Nice all the way to the Italian border – and back again.
Weave through sunny hilltop villages and glitzy seaside towns via a trio of southern-French roads
It’s early morning on the clifftops of the Côte d’Azur, and today, the coast is living up to its name. I’m standing at a roadside viewpoint on the Grande Corniche, and my gaze is fixed out to sea, trying to work out where the sea ends and the sky begins. The horizon is a rainbow of blues. From pale duck-egg to bright turquoise through to deep aquamarine, it’s a blue symphony; a meditation on blue. I find myself thinking of the many artists who’ve been inspired by this coastline – from Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso to Yves Klein, who even patented his own colour, International Klein Blue, in 1960. I stand for a while, breathing in the scents so characteristic of Provence: sweet lavender, pine sap, salty sea air. Then I hop back in my car and set off again along the clifftop road, heading higher into the crimson hills as sea birds hover and the blue Mediterranean shimmers below. I’ve come to Provence to tackle France’s most famous trio of roads: the Three Corniches, which zig-zag along the Côte d’Azur between Nice and Menton. Named Basse, Moyenne and Grande (Lower, Middle and Upper) after their respective elevations, each road has its own character. The Basse Corniche is the one for hedonists and high-rollers, winding through a