The French Riviera Feature

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Route Napoléon

One of the most famous and panoramic roads in France is the Route Napoléon, taken by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 after his escape from imprisonment on the Mediterranean island of Elba. Napoléon landed at Golfe-Juan, near Cannes, on March 1 and forged northwest to Grasse, then through dramatic, hilly countryside to Castellane, Digne, and Sisteron. Commemorative plaques bearing the imperial eagle stud the route, inspired by Napoléon's remark, "The eagle will fly from steeple to steeple until it reaches the towers of Notre-Dame." Nowadays there are some lavender-honey stands and souvenir shacks, but they are few and far between. It's the panoramic views as the road winds its way up into the Alps that make this a route worth taking. Roads are curvy but well maintained. The whole 314-kilometer (195-mile) route from Golfe-Juan to Grenoble takes about 14 hours, but you can just do part of it and still take in the lovely scenery. In fact, if you like scenic drives, follow the Route Napoléon to Trigance and on to the spectacular gorge called the Grand Canyon du Verdon. You can then continue on to the heart of the Var and in a mere 30 minutes be swallowed up in the beauty of the spectacular Gorges Country.

Updated: 2014-04-18

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