France // The Côte d’Azur //

The Corniches

Three corniche roads run east from Nice to the independent principality of Monaco and to Menton, the last town of the French Riviera. Each provides a superb means of seeing the most mountainous stretch of the Côte d’Azur. Napoleon built the Grande Corniche on the route of the Romans’ Via Julia Augusta, and the Moyenne Corniche dates from the first quarter of the twentieth century, when aristocratic tourism on the Riviera was already causing congestion on the lower, coastal road, the Corniche Inférieure. The upper two are the classic location for car commercials, and for movie car crashes. Real deaths occur too – most notoriously Princess Grace of Monaco – a bitter irony, since the corniches had been the backdrop to one of her greatest film successes, To Catch a Thief.

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