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.
The road is 684 km (425mi) long, running from Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lac Léman towards Menton at French Riviera, climbing up some of the highest and most beautiful mountain passes of Europe. It's an exceptional natural and cultural environment. This legendary route from the mountains to the sea, 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. The road tops out at 2.802 m (9,193ft) above the sea level. It can be covered in a couple of days by car.
The construction of the scenic road started in 1909 and 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. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Route des Grandes Alpes is 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. They highest mountain passes generally close when the first snows arrive.
List of the mountain passes:
This is a remarkable tourist itinerary. Remember to bring your camera. The winding road crosses spectacular mountain landscapes. 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 from Thonon-les-Bains to Menton on the Mediterranean coast.