France isn’t always a lot of fun to drive in. Most of the major autoroutes are toll roads, the traffic in the big cities can be awful, and the gendarmerie can be particularly strict (top tip: the speed limit on roads drops if it’s raining).
But if you’ve decided to drive to Euro 2016, it doesn’t have to be this way, because France features some of the most enjoyable roads in the world to drive on. With a bit of planning, you can leave the congested autoroutes behind and find some lovely country roads, winding mountain passes and plenty of great scenery.
Want a few examples? We’ve picked out three stunning roads to provide a bit of inspiration.
Col de la Croix-Morand
Welsh fans looking to spice up the long drive to their opening game in Bordeaux should consider a detour to the spectacular and challenging Col de la Croix-Morand. It’s a slightly lengthy detour, we admit, but worth it if you fancy honing your mountain-driving skills.
Located south west of Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central, the road over the Col de la Croix-Morand features plenty of hairpins, and gradients as steep as 8.2 per cent. As you’d expect from a mountain that’s featured in the Tour de France, it’s quite popular with cycling types. Naturally, it’s much easier in a car – and you won’t be out of breath when you stop to take in the incredible views from the summit.
The summit road over the Col starts from the junction of the D983 and D996 near Le Mont-Dore, and runs to the town of Chambon-sur-Lac.
When Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile in Elba in 1815 and began his march towards Paris (history buffs will know this as the Hundred Days War), his route took him from Golfe-Juan on the French Riviera through the foothills of the Alps to Grenoble.
Given the motor car was still decades away from being invented, Napoleon probably didn’t realise that he was also creating what would become one of France’s most acclaimed driving roads.
If you’re driving to any of the Euro 2016 group games in Nice, it’s definitely worth seeking out the 200-mile Route Napoleon: it’s full of winding and twisting roads, and there are plenty of lovely villages to stop in along the way. It’s also easy to navigate: gilded eagle statues mark the route (because, well, why not?).
It took Napoleon and his army of 1000 men around a week to tackle the route. We reckon you can do it in about eight hours – but add in a bit of extra time to stop and admire the views.
Col de Turini
All right, this 24km mountain pass from Sospel to La Bollene – less glamorously known as the D2566 – is a bit of a detour from most of the Tour de France stadia (it’s reasonably handy for the games in Nice, but that’s about it). But it’s totally worth it.
Picture the Monte Carlo Rally in your mind, and you’ll imagine the Col de Turini: a dramatic, winding stage featuring a string of 34 terrifyingly tight hairpin turns. The stars of the World Rally Championship tackle the Turini at night in January, so they have to contend with snow and sheet ice – thankfully, that shouldn’t be a problem in July.
That said, reaching 1607 metres above sea level, the Turini is a challenging road whenever you tackle it - but worth it for both the driving thrills and the amazing views. Plus, if you get one of your mates to read out some pacenotes, you can briefly pretend you’re a world rally star…