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.

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Travel Quiz -

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

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