Classic Car Road Trip: France
Summer is in the air and it’s a great time for taking your classic car on a road trip. There are plenty of places in Europe to visit, with France being one of the most picturesque. A popular driving route is Route Napoleon, which follows the path taken by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. You’ll drive through the Alps and see lots of beautiful scenery. Here are some of the best sights to watch out for.
Historically, Napoleon disembarked at Golfe-Juan, but a good place to start out would be in the southeastern resort of Antibes. Close to the sea, the city features beautiful beaches. For anyone who’s looking for a bit of culture, there’s an archeology museum that’s housed inside a 17th-century fortress. You can also visit the Naval Museum of Napoleon, which has several historical paintings of his reign.
Head up from Antibes to the town of Grasse, which is considered the world’s capital of perfume. There are three perfume factories in the area offering daily tours. The other main attraction is the 11th-century cathedral dedicated to Notre Dame du Puy. If you arrive in August you could catch the La Jasminade festival that features decorated floats and garlands of jasmine.
The next stop is the rugged area of Castellane that is surrounded by forest. The town has a long history that can be seen in the architecture. You’ll find Romanesque and Gothic buildings mixed together. The most famous place to visit is the Notre-Dame-du-Roc, a chapel built at 903 metres on top of the Roc. Nearby landmarks include the Gorges du Verdon, a stunning river canyon, and the Lake of Castillon.
When you reach Digne, you’ll be deep in the heart of the Alps. You’ll be able to take in the fresh mountain air and explore a town that’s known for its spa treatments. Dignes is dominated by the Saint-Jerome cathedral, a national monument and the seat of the Bishops of Digne, Riez and Sisteron. The Gassendi museum is a must-see attraction, featuring 17th, 18th and 19th-century art. Before you leave, be sure to spend some time at one of Digne’s renowned spas for some R&R.
Gap is significant because Napoleon arrived on the 5th March 1815 with 40 horseman and 10 grenadiers. When he left the city, the entire population came with him. The city isn’t a major tourist attraction, but it’s still worth checking out the Domaine de Charance. The chateau is surrounded by 220 hectares of mountain scenery.
Continue driving until you reach your final destination of Grenoble. Called the ‘Capital of the Alps,’ the city has plenty of culture and history. The main place to visit is the Bastille, a fortress suspended 476 m above sea level. On average, the Bastille is visited by 600,000 people each year.
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