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Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Hi,

I need some advice please. My family will spending a week on the French Riviera for a week and will then be hiring a car from Nice airport in the first week of October.

Our plan is to drive to Chamonix from Nice and to go via the most scenic route possible. We are not worried about the time spent driving and are not concerned with a 2 day car journey either way. We will have to be back in Nice to return the car and catch our flights home (allowing for a night's rest in Nice before the flight.) The total car hire days from collection to drop off at Nice airport will be 7 nights however my full driving itinerary needs to start and end in 6 days.

I have seen from other forums that the quickest and most scenic route is via Italy. On Google maps there seem to be 2 routes, which one is the correct one? I know we will have to drive through the tunnel. If we overnight, where do you suggest?

We will be travelling on Schengen Visas so I assume that this won't be a problem entering Italy from France and vice versa. I will confirm with my car hire company (Alamo) that it is ok to drive the car into Italy before setting off.

Is it best to do the same route on our return to Nice, or is there another route? Again, we are happy to overnight along the way provided the town is pretty and somewhere worth stopping for.

We would like to spend a day or two in Chamonix itself.

Your suggestions and advice would be most appreciated. Tips on route safety or road quality issues would also be welcomed.

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13 replies to this topic
Champlon, Belgium
Level Contributor
9,067 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

This website gives the MOST scenic route - grande route des Alpes - moveyouralps.com/en/route-des-grandes-alpes

Although the website is actually intended for (mad?) cyclists, all the roads used are perfectly drivable during the high summer (the passes are closed by snow at other times) and the website does give some useful information on places en route including accommodation. Don't reckon on an average driving speed of more than 40 km per hour. You don't have to use any tunnels en route and the route is entirely within France. I would drive it south to north as you won't being driving into the sun but the mountains should be well illuminated. You will want to return by the simplest route, there is enough mountain driving in this trip to last anyone a lifetime.

Marlow, United...
Level Contributor
5,675 posts
26 reviews
2. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

In the first week of October the mountain passes (cols) may well be closed by snow so it is likely you will have to take the Mont Blanc tunnel. Road signs will advise which cols are open at the time, so you could keep your itinerary flexible and decide on the day.

Grenoble, France
Level Contributor
2,023 posts
92 reviews
3. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Early October is fine for all the mountain passes in the Alps. They may close temporarily due to snow, but they only close for the winter in November. It is a long route though, even for 2 days, and you'll wanna stop everywhere. Col du Lautaret has the view towards the Meije, col de L'Izoard has the rock formations, in Maurienne you'll wanna stop to visit Bonneval sur Arc, in Beaufortain you'll wanna stop at the lake de Roselend etc... Don't hesitate to take 3 days, or to take shortcuts via highways and bypass some of the passes to spend more time in some areas you fancy.

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Thanks so much, this info gives such peace of mind.

My brother is one of those mad cyclist types - an IronMan athlete several times over. He'll probably want to get out the car and run alongside us! Madness! Thanks again! :-)

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Thanks, I have read that. Will definitely check out the route reports a day before we leave and hope for the best.

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Thanks, I am so looking forward to seeing everything! Will study the route in much more detail to plan overnight stops. We have decided on 3 full days and 2 overnights along the route to really take in a and appreciate the views.

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Hi Nicolas,

You seem very familiar with this route.

What do you think about this itinerary?

1. Depart Nice for Embrun- Overnight Embrun.

2. Depart Embrun for Briancon - Overnight Briancon.

3. Depart Briancon for Bonneval Sur Arc - Overnight Bonneval Sur Arc.

4. Depart Bonneval Sur Arc for Chamonix - overnight 2 nights in Chamonix.

5. Depart Chamonix for Nice (highway all the way) - Overnight Nice.

6. Airport and flights home.

Suggestions?

Grenoble, France
Level Contributor
2,023 posts
92 reviews
8. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

I am mostly familiar with the Alps North of Embrun.

Embrun is nice if you want to see the Serre Ponçon lake which is really impressive. From there, don't miss Queyras, i.e. on your day between Embrun and Briançon you wanna visit Château Queyras, Saint Véran, and go to Briançon through col de l'Izoard.

From Briançon to Bonneval sur Arc (which is a great village), go to La Grave first and do the cable car to the Meije glaciers. Then backtrack to col du Lautaret and drive to col du Galibier. Then you can go to col du Mont Cenis if you have time.

From Bonneval sur Arc, you'll have col de l'Iseran, and then you wanna visit the beaufortain, via Cormet de Roselend.

That's only if it's a pure driving trip. If you wanna add some hikes, it would need twice that number of days. There are superb hikes along the way, like Lake Saint Anne in Queyras, Refuge du Carro near Bonneval sur Arc, Lac Blanc and refuge du Plan du Lac North of Termignon, lakes of the Emparis plateau North of La Grave, etc...

Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
1 post
11 reviews
9. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Hello, I'm wondering if you ended up doing this trip as we're about to set out on the exact same Nice to Chamonix drive. I'd love to hear what you ended up doing, which route you took, and any highlights you'd like to share!

Port Elizabeth...
Level Contributor
10 posts
2 reviews
10. Re: Driving from Nice to Chamonix - round trip

Hi there,

Chamonix is still definitely on my bucket list, but I feel that particular route definitely needs up to 2 1/2 to 3 weeks to really enjoy it at leisure and as we had already booked our flights which allowed only 10 days drive time, we decided to put the idea on hold and will be travelling from Nice to Florence instead.

Please let me know if you do this trip though - I'd be very interested to know how it went!

Happy travels! :-)

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