Route des Grandes Alpes is the name of a legendary trip 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.
How long is Route des Grandes Alpes?
The true classic trip is 684 km (425mi) long, running from Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lac Léman (also known as Lake Geneva) towards Menton, on the French Riviera, climbing up some of the highest and most beautiful mountain passes of Europe. The construction of the scenic drive started in 1909 and was opened in 1913. In that period, the Alps still were an isolated region of France with poor access possibilities. In 1937 it was totally paved. It was then renamed “Route des Grandes Alpes” in 1950. Today, the roads are totally paved and the quality ranges from excellent to patchy. For the most part the road surface is smooth. However, featuring mountain roads there are inevitably going to be some areas that have suffered from freeze thaw action.
Is Route des Grandes Alpes open?
Set high in the French Alps, this drive enjoys a legendary status. It tops out at 2.802 m (9,193ft) above the sea level. The route is totally open between June (after the snow has melted) and October. Most of the passes are open at the end of May. But the highest ones – Iseran, Galibier and Izoard – are clear only after mid-June, at the earliest. The highest mountain passes generally close when the first snows arrive.
List of the mountain passes:
How long does it take to drive the Route des Grandes Alpes?
Plan a couple of days by car to complete the stunning route from the mountains to the sea. This is a remarkable tourist itinerary plunging into the heart of grandiose landscapes through an exceptional natural and cultural environment. This legendary route across the Alps provides an excellent way of meeting locals, nature and having a look at the high peaks, along Alpine villages and historic monuments. Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way. It is the most renowned tourist route of the French Alps, winding its way over mountain passes and secluded valleys all the way.