Balcony roads in France

The best balcony roads of France

In France there are a few balcony roads: hair-raising lanes cut into the sides of sheer cliffs. It’s a kind of road not for those who fear heights. There is little room for error on these roads. It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos, imagine what it must have been like before the barriers. Dramatically carved out rock on the side of mountains, the balcony roads are a unique experience for any rider.

Route Napoleon

Route Napoleon is one of the best drives through France

Route Napoleon is a 325 km (200 mi) stretch of modern road winding through the spectacular mountains of Provence, in France. The road follows the route taken by Napoleon in his 1815 escape from Elba to Grenoble.

Gorges de la Pierre-Lys

Gorges de la Pierre-Lys, a balcony road in France

Gorges de la Pierre-Lys is a very scenic canyon located in the Aude department in southern France. The gorge is accessed to the south of Quillan, itself south of Carcassonne (Languedoc-Roussillon region). Quillan itself is a pleasant town, but with little in the way of great monuments. It is however well placed to explore both the Cathars castles to the east and the dramatic gorges to the south. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Col du Chaussy

Col du Chaussy, an improbable road with 17 hairpin turns

Col du Chaussy is a high mountain pass, at an elevation of 1.533m (5,029ft) above the sea level, located in the Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. The road to reach the summit starts with the famous “lacets de Montvernier”, a special 3 km stretch with 17 hairpins as the road virtually climbs a cliff. It's an improbable road clinging to the edge of the cliff. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Col du Mont-Cenis

Col du Mont-Cenis, a hors-catégorie climb in France

Col du Mont-Cenis (Colle del Moncenisio) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.094m (6,870ft) above the sea level, located in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the Alps.

D219

D219, a scenic balcony road in France

4 unlit tunnels, 10 hairpin turns, severe dropoffs and narrow (very narrow) parts make the 219 one of the scariest roads in Europe. Impassable for two cars at the same time, driving this road becomes a challenge. Located in southeastern France, the road is carved into the sheer rock face. The drive will take some skill, some patience, and some tolerance for vertigo. It’s just 9km long. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Passage du Gois

Passage du Gois, a road flooded twice a day

Passage du Gois is a natural passage with a length of 4,3km (2.58-miles), located on the Atlantic coast of France in the Vendée department. This stretch of the D948 road is periodically flooded leading to the island of Noirmoutier in France. It is flooded twice a day by the high tide. Pack an inflatable boat for driving this 4.3km road because just say for some crazy reason you mix up the tide times, then – like vehicles in the past – you might disappear beneath the salty brine. Located on France’s Atlantic coast, the road floods twice daily with incoming tides and as the tides go out slippery seaweed is left all over it.

Col de l'Iseran

Col de l'Iseran, the King of the Alps

Col de l'Iseran is the King of the Alps and the holy grail for many motorcycle and bike tourers. It’s the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps, at an elevation of 2.764m (9,068ft) above the sea level. The pass is traversed by the D902 road. It's one of the highest roads of Europe.

Col du Télégraphe

Col du Télégraphe, a scenic Alpine road

Col du Télégraphe is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.566m (5,138ft) above the sea level, located in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. The pass is traversed by the scenic Route des Grandes Alpes.

Col de Turini

Col de Turini, a drive that needs to be ridden with respect

The Col de Turini is a mountain pass at an elevation of 1.607m (5,272ft) above the sea level, locaed in the Alps in the department of Alpes-Maritimes in France. It's one of the most scenic drives in the worldHelter skelter corners and changeable weather conditions mean this road is far from safe. Lethal in bad weather, this road can often be covered in snow and ice making it one of the most treacherous roads in the world.

Col du Galibier

The impressive road to Col du Galibier

Col du Galibier is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.645m (8,678 ft) above the sea level, located in the southern region of the French Dauphiné Alps, on the border of Savoie/Hautes-Alpes departments. It’s one of the most impressive climbs in all of the French Alps. High peaks, glaciers and over two kilometres of vertical climbing from the northern side. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the Alps.

Les Ecouges Road

Les Ecouges, a balcony road in France

Built in 1833, this windy wild road of Les Ecouges zigzags up to the village of Rencurel, in the Isère department in south-eastern France, before crossing mountain pastures until the Col de Romeyère. This is not a road for people that fear heights. Of all the routes into Le Vercors, ‘Les Ecouges’ is the most vertiginous and the most stunning. It’s one of the French balcony roads. With provocative verticality and derisory barriers, the balcony section is as hair-raising as it is short and narrow.

Les Grands-Goulets

Les Grands-Goulets, a balcony road in France

Built between 1844 and 1851, Les Grands-Goulets Road is a superb route that links the Royans area to the Vercors Central (France). The road was closed to vehicles and pedestrian in 2005. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Gorges de Galamus

Gorges de Galamus, a balcony road in France

Located at the heart of the Fenouillèdes massif, on the border of the departments of Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales, in France, the Gorges de Galamus are a real challenge for drivers. It’s an amazing drive along a balcony road that is so narrow in places that two cars could not possibly pass. If you can cope with nausea inducing narrow roads with sheer drops, then this is the place for you! It’s one of the French balcony roads

Clue de Barles

Clue de Barles, a balcony road in France

A short but dramatic stretch of the D900a road, from Verdaches to Digne-les-Bains (France), goes through the Clue de Barles, a narrow road going among deep canyons. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Combe Laval Road

Combe Laval, a scenic balcony road in France

Frequently recognized as the most magnificent road in the French Alps, this road through Combe Laval was constructed between 1861 and 1898 and originally served for the transportation of timber from the Forêt de Lente to St-Jean-en-Royans (France). It’s one of the French balcony roads. The road was carved out here (with the end of the work in 1898), not for the view, but to make the forestry activity profitable.

Gorge du Cians

Gorge du Cians, a balcony road in France

Gorge du Cians is located on the East of Gorge de Daluis. A circuit linking both gorges makes an excellent day out, passing through tunnels, past ravines and waterfalls cut into the stunning red rock, and is a photographers dream come true. It's situated in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France and belongs to the Alpes Maritimes. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Pic du Midi de Bigorre

Pic du Midi de Bigorre, one of the highest mountain roads of Europe

Pic du Midi de Bigorre or simply Pic du Midi, at an elevation of 2.877m (9,439ft) above the sea level, is a high mountain pass in the French Pyrenees. It's famous for its astronomical observatory, the Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre (Pic du Midi Observatory), part of the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrénées Observatory). It's one of the highest mountain roads of Europe.

Route de Presles

Route de Presles, a balcony road in France

Route de Presles is a stunning mountain road located in the Isère department in southeastern France. The road is 7 km long carved into the mountains. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. It’s one of the most spectacular balcony roads in the country. 

Clue d’Aiglun

Clue d’Aiglun, a balcony road in France

The road through the Clue d’Aiglun is a very scenic drive following a narrow ledge cut into the rock. It’s one of the French balcony roads. The road (D10) runs as a single track road along the mountainside for some distance with nowhere to pass another vehicle. Here one says a prayer that nobody is coming towards you until the road widens a kilometre further westward.

Col de la Traversette

Col de la Traversette, Hannibal's route across the Alps

Col de la Traversette (Colle delle Traversette) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.398m (7,867 ft) above the sea level, located in the Cottian Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps, on the French-Italian border.

Route des Grandes Alpes

Route des Grandes Alpes, a lifetime driving experience

Route des Grandes Alpes is a legendary mountain road running from the mountains to the sea, across the French Alps. This fabulous route takes you from lake Leman to the Mediterranean climbing 16 passes that are among the highest in the Alps.

Col du Jandri

Col du Jandri, one of the highest roads of Europe

Col du Jandri is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 3.165m (10,383ft) above the sea level, located in Rhone-Alpes in the French Isère département. It follows the R1-2 trail. It's one of the highest roads of Europe. This runway forms the highest trafficable road in the Alps and includes very steep ramps.

Col de la Machine

Col de la Machine, a balcony road in France

Col de la Machine is a mountain pass at an elevation of 1.011m (3,316ft) above the sea level, located near the tip of the remote Combe Laval in the Vercors massif, and is situated in Rhone-Alpes and belongs to the Alps. Even if you’ve cycled a lot of mountain roads, and a lot of extreme mountain bike trails -this is the only road you’ll feel exposed enough and you’ll make sure that you’re in the centre of the road just to avoid that feeling of vertigo and the drop calling out to you. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Col du Parpaillon

Col du Parpaillon and the scary tunnel at the top

Col du Parpaillon is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.780m (9,120ft) above the sea level located on the border of the Hautes-Alpes department and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Europe.

Gorges du Nan

Gorges du Nan, a balcony road in France

A short section of the D22 road, through the Gorges du Nan, with a length of 5.5 miles only, links the towns of Malleval-en-Vercors and Cognin-les-Gorges. This road is located in Vercors national park (Rhone-Alpes), south of Grenoble (France). It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Clue de Saint Auban

Clue de Saint Auban, a balcony road in France

Clue de Saint Auban is a spectacular gorge created by the Esteron River, located in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. It’s one of the French balcony roads.

Col de la Bonette

Col de la Bonette is not the highest road in Europe

Col de la Bonette is a high mountain pass at a an elevation of 2.715m (8,907ft) above the sea level, located in the French Alps, near the border with Italy.

Col de Braus

Col de Braus, all the hairpins in the world

Col de Braus is a mountain pass at an elevation of 1.002m (3,287ft) above the sea level, located in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France. The wide road to reach the summit, called D2204, has a good surface, plenty of hairpins and 180 degrees turns and includes some beautifully engineered stacked hairpins with some amazing views. It’s one of the most famous hairpinned roads in the world.

Highest roads of France

Highest roads of France

Located in Western Europe, France is the largest country in the European Union. It’s a very mountainous country. The two most important mountain ranges of the country are the Alps and the Pyrenees.

NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.