Gorges du Verdon - France
The largest canyon in europe is a natural beauty in itself. But when you pair it with a road running right through it, something amazing is created.
We find ourselfs in the southern ends of the alps, close to places like Nice or Monaco. Here the landscape forms several unique places, all a beauty to look at. This is confirmed by the fact, that this is only the first of three stunning roads I have visited, all in close neighbourhood, but incredibly different in looks and feel to each other. But to the Verdon:
This is the largest canyon in all of europe, also dubbed simply "Grand Canyon" by the locals, and it is worth a visit in itself. But we are here for the road and drive, aren`t we? Starting point is downriver at the beautiful Lac de Sainte-Croix, an artificial lake created by a big dam. Incidently our finish-location is also a Dam, the Lac de Castillon at the very same Verdon-river. Following the D952 we drop into the actual canyon in the most spectacular way. Wouldn`t there be so many tourists, the corners into it would also be quite amazing.
But they get amazing shortly after, when the viewpoints are gone and you only have the drop on your right side. Here the roads works beautifly with the terrain, limiting tunnels and bridges to an absolute minimum. We work our way up the gorge, to some sort of midway-relax once we cross the small village of La Palud-sur-Verdon. If you`re fancy for some more canyon views, this place is the starting-point for a narrow backroad showing even more canyon-awesomeness.
Continuing on the D952, we now drop down to river-level again in some amazing bends, we get to the most amazing structures of this road. Several times the rock is just carved away enough to fit two lanes of tarmac there, leading to curves, that have a big chunk of mountain hanging over them from one side and a view to the river on the other. If you encounter one of these corner-chains without to much traffic, it might become your highlight for this drive.
Following the river upstream, we eventually reach the forementioned second dam (It`s actually the third, we just circumvented the second). After crossing the damwall itself, we encounter yet another change of character on this road. The corners are open and there`s much more brightness than in the canyon. You see an island on your left, while you pass through some tunnels with eargasmic acoustics for your exhaust note. And this will slowly fade this experience out to an end. Afterwards you might want to drive it again in the other direction. Or you could try the two other Stunning Roads in the area, which are both less than an hour drive away.
Cheers, 7 Skyrex