From Mont Blanc to the Côte d’Azur. Route GR5 – a drive through the French Alps

Journey through the Great Alps by car – Itinerary with map

If you are looking for one of the most beautiful routes to do in France So, here is my map on route des grandes Alpes by car . This journey covers 436 km through the Alps (from Lake Geneva to the Côte d’Azur) and follows a route that traverses part of the ridge line, crosses 6 departments and no less than 16 passes!

To discover these breathtaking landscapes, typical mountain villages and local cuisine, here is a detailed itinerary with an interactive map and my tips on how to make the most of this legendary route: The Route of the Great Alps whose original 700km route was discovered in 1937!

Also learn for each stage of this route the route of the day with its Google map and my recommendations for perfectly located lodging.

Route des Grandes Alpes by car – How many days?

My trip is 5 days long. So it is perfect for a 1 week holiday or perfect for including in a grand tour of France by car.

5 days is the minimum time needed to follow the stages of my trip, but if you are lucky enough to have more time, you can use this route and better enjoy the stages by staying longer.

Route des Grandes Alpes by car – When?

The best time for this trip is spring and summer . Indeed, given the altitude of some of the passes that need to be crossed throughout the route, it is quite difficult in winter .

Route des Grandes Alpes by car – What route?

Here are the highlights of my Route des Grandes Alpes route by car :

  • Tonon-les-Bains
  • Col de Gé.
  • Col de la Colombière
  • La Clouse
  • Pass of Aravis
  • Beaufort
  • Bourg Saint-Maurice
  • Lake Chevrille
  • Lake Chevrille
  • Col de l’Iseran
  • Modane
  • Saint-Michel-de-Maurien
  • Col du Galibier
  • Col du Lautaret
  • Briançon
  • Col d’Izoard
  • Cross of Toulouse
  • Guillestre
  • Col de Var
  • Pont du Châtelet
  • Barcelonet
  • Col de la Caillol
  • Guillaumes
  • Walberg Pass
  • Beuil
  • Gorges du Siens
  • Puget-Théniers
  • Col du Tourigny
  • Muline
  • Sospel
  • Piaon Falls
  • Monaco

Map of Grande-Alpes by car

Click “Show Map” to follow the route with the arrow to the right.

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The Upper Savoie-Savoie Mont Blanc Road Trip

1 From Lake Geneva to Beaufort : Wild beauty, grandiose natural sites, postcard-perfecting – this is the 1 DAY program

Autotravel Upper Savoie - Savoie Mont Blanc

My tour begins in the beautiful resort town of Tonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva . If you arrive the day before, take a walk on the highest lake in Europe!

DAY 1 – Day itinerary map

Le Day 1 route on the Grande-Alpes circuit departs from Tonon-les-Bains and arrives in Beaufort. Here is a map of this 152-kilometer route:

Click on the map “Advanced Options” to switch to GPS mode.

DAY 1 Morning – From Tonon to La Clouse

To begin your Grande Alpes tour, you will need to turn in the direction of Col de Jeu , which will allow you to enjoy the scenery of the Valley of the Dranse .

Then you will continue to Col de la Colombière (1 m asl) and follow the Col des Aravis.

You can take a short break at Lake Confines . Then you will need to continue until La Clusaz .

DAY 1 afternoon – From La Clusaz to Beaufort

After lunch in La Clouse you will set off again for 1 hour 30 minutes (just over 50 km) and ride the very famous Aravis Pass (well known to Tour de France riders). This pass represents the border between Haute-Savoie and Savoie. It is from this pass you have a magnificent view of the Mont Blanc !

Then you will make another very high pass: the Col de Saisy is situated at 1650m. Thus, you will reach the magnificent Beaufortin valley.

At the end of the day you will join Beaufort where you will spend the night.

If you don’t have much time left and want to make the most of it, head to Roseland Lake just 13 km after Beaufort.

Lake Roseland on my tour of the Alps

DAY 1 – Where to stay in Beaufort?

For this first overnight stop on the Grande Alpes Trail, I recommend that you stay the night in a beautiful mountain chalet.

This chalet is very close to downtown Beaufort and a few kilometers from the ski slopes, in a quiet location and in an ideal geographic location!

Trip from Savoie to the Upper Alps

2 From Beaufort to Briançon : The most beautiful views on the Grand Alps piste, breathtaking panoramas… Here’s what awaits you on DAY 2

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DAY 2 – Map of the day itinerary

Here is the route of DAY 2, which is the longest (over 5 hours), but also the most beautiful!

Click on the map “Advanced Options” to switch to GPS mode.

It is très to le matin that I advise you to drive on the road to be able to enjoy each stage and arrive in Briançon at the end of the day.

DAY 2 morning – From Beaufort to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne

On the way to stage 1 of DAY 2: Col du Corme de Roseland (1m). It will take you an hour to cross this pass and then discover the Vallée de la Tarentaise continuing to Bourg Saint-Maurice .

The road to the villages of Modan and Saint-Michel-de-Maurien

Then you will pass Lake Chevrille La Station de Valle de l’Iseran and continue until Col de l’Iseran . More beautiful and high pass in the Alps, you will climb one of the most beautiful passes in the Alps, but especially the highest (2m).

Then my circuit continues to Modane et Saint-Michel-de-Maurien where you will enjoy lunch in a nice little restaurant.

DAY 2, noon – Mythic Peaks and Parc des Ecresnes.

You will traverse the day’s route through Telegraph Pass . It is located at an altitude of 1,566 meters in the heart of the Sears Massif.

Then continuing for a little over 20 kilometers, you will arrive at the Col du Galibier and the Col du Lautaret at an altitude of 2,058 meters.

There, turn by turn, you will discover some of the most beautiful panoramas of the Alps.

From the Galibier, you have a splendid view on very high peaks such as the Ecrines (4,102 m), Pelva (3 m) and Mont Blanc (4 m).

And since Col du Lautaret , you will be able to see the massif of La Maillée in the southeast, as well as several peaks of the Massif des Ecrins .

The mythical peaks of the Parc des Ecrins

The road continues in the heart of the Ecrin National Park to arrive at the end of the day in Briançon.

DAY 2 – Where to stay in Briançon?

For this second night stop on the Great Alps Route, I recommend that you stay overnight at a very nice hotel in a beautiful location in Briançon.

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This boutique hotel is located in a gorgeous 19th century building, 200 meters from the free shuttle stop to the Serre Chevalier and Monetier-les-Bains ski slopes, which are 1 km away.

This hotel is at the foot of restaurants, stores, a park and a cathedral, it is certainly a very good address. Especially since it has a small parking lot, and another free parking lot right across the street!

A trip from the Upper Alps to the Alps of Upper Provence

3 From Briançon to Barcelonnet : Rocky landscapes, rivers and typical little villages… This is the program of DAY 3

DAY 3 – Map of the day itinerary

Here is the route of DAY 3, which is the shortest (about 130 km) of my route, but also the most varied in terms of scenery.

Click on the map “Advanced Options” to switch to GPS mode.

BRAYANCON ON THE GRANDE-ALPES ROUTE BY CAR

DAY 3 morning – From Briançon to Guilleur.

The city of art and history with its Vauban fortifications is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I recommend that you spend 2 hours in the morning visiting Brianson.

Then you can follow the road north of Briancon to get to the viewpoint of Croix de Toulouse .

After taking some photos, you will return by car to Servières and then continue along the Col d’Izoard . Here the scenery is less green, very rocky and almost lunar .

The circuit continues to the village of Queyras , where you can admire the Gorge du Guil. Impressive, narrow and deep, they are carved in blackish cliffs contrasting with the emerald color of the River Guille .

For lunch I suggest continuing to the charming village of Guillestre . If you are not a vegetarian, I recommend you try the local delicacy: Sisteron lamb.

DAY 3 Afternoon – Ubaye Valley

After eating you will go to the Col de Var located in the Ubaye Valley .

The Ubaye Valley and BARCELONET

Do not miss the stunning Châtelet Bridge that overlooks the Gorge of Ubaye from the top of its 108 meters.

Then you can join the Barcelonette early enough in the afternoon to fully enjoy this beautiful place in the Alpes de Haute-Provence. A 10-minute drive from the Mercantour National Park and 30 minutes from the Italian border, Barcelonette is a small town with a laid-back atmosphere conducive to walking.

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Stroll through Manuel Square and its beautiful fountain, admire the colorful facades and narrow streets and enjoy the beautiful cafe terraces in silence .

DAY 3 – Where to stay in Barcelonette?

To combine the useful with the pleasant, here is the Hotel Spa Azteca which can serve as a stop for this tour, but where you can also pamper yourself .

Indeed, this beautiful hotel in the center of Barcelonette has a wellness center with sauna and balneotherapy bath. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to relax during a massage or beauty treatments.

Travel from Mercantour to Provence

4 From Barcelonet to Puig-Tenier : The Alps soften, the lakes sparkle, the cliffs turn red… This is my program for DAY 4

DAY 4 – Day itinerary map

This 4th day is less busy in terms of number of stages, and that’s a good thing, because when you arrive you can do what I tell you about below!

Click on the map “Advanced Options” to switch to GPS mode.

This morning you will leave Barcelonetta and turn towards Col de la Cayol which is on the edge of Mercantour National Park . Once you get to the top, I recommend you take your time to take the main road to enjoy the sublime scenery and go to the Little Lake Cayollet .

Drive from Mercantour to Provence

Then you will continue in the direction of Guillaumes , and approach Walberg Pass . Before reaching the village of Beuil , you can descend to the Gorges du Siens . You can thus enjoy the grandiose panoramas of the canyon between the Upper and Lower Gorges, which are painted a magnificent red. You can even make a stop to get off and visit them!

Gorges du Cian-Alpes

Finally, you will join Puget-Théniers is the last stop of the day.

A Puget-Théniers , since you will probably still have time, I recommend a short train ride. This way you can discover the wonders of the high country of Nice and Provence aboard a 1925 steam locomotive.

DAY 4 – Where to stay in Puget Tenier?

A charming hotel with a pool, garden, terrace and parking that I recommend for this night in Puget Théniers.

Road Trip Provence – Nice

5 From Puget Théniers to Nice : Garrigues, cicadas, hilltop villages… Here is the DAY 5 program

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DAY 5 – Map of the day itinerary

Here is the route of DAY 5 on the last day of my tour along the route des grandes Alpes by car . It ends in the beautiful country of Nice from which you can flutter around if you have time for the next days. See my journey to Provence !

Click on the map “Advanced Options” to switch to GPS mode.

DAY 5 – Mythical passes, blue sea, Mediterranean sunshine

To begin the last leg of this beautiful road trip, you will need to travel to Roussillon, then St. Dalmas before arriving at Paul St. Martin .

At the exit of the pass, turn in the direction of Saint-Martin de Vezuby and drive to the resort town of Bertemont located almost 1 meter above sea level.

Then you will continue to the very popular Col du Tourigny which is known for the Monte Carlo or Paris-Nice Rally. After passing the pass, you have to continue towards the small village of Mouliné and Sospel ! But before you get there, I suggest you stop at the Falls of Piaon .

After Sospel go towards Menton located where you can walk between the alleys of the city or to the old port.

MENTON STAGE OF THE ROAD ROUTE DES GRANDES ALPES BY CAR

Finally, to complete this trip on the Route de la Grande-Alpes , you will follow the magnificent coast of the Mediterranean Sea towards Nice . Why not take the opportunity to take a tourist break in Monaco or swim in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean beaches?

When you’re in Nice, I recommend you visit this beautiful city by following my walking tour: Visit Nice in 1 Day .

DAY 5 – Where to stay in Nice?

To finish in style, I recommend you spend the night at the Mercure Nice Flower Market . Ideally located on the Promenade des Anglais , next to the Flower Market , its location is convenient to visit Old Nice , In addition , parking lots are located next to the hotel . In short a good hotel at a great price in Nice !

If you liked the Grande Alpes itinerary, my Week-long Tour of the French Alps may also appeal to you.

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