Offering extraordinary panoramas, the Corniche de l’Esterel deserves its nickname of Corniche d’Or. Running along this magnificent reddish massif whose highest point is Mount Vinaigre (617 meters or 2025 feet, about sea level). In fact, it’s a succession of amazing winding bends.
The Maures Massif will reveal a unique panorama. Indeed, the red colors of the Esterel are present everywhere and blend harmoniously. This is sure because of the different blues of the sky and the sea.
Crossing some charming seaside resorts, this magnificent road is bordered by turquoise Mediterranean waters. And also, the red rocks of the Esterel massif. The road links Fréjus/Saint Raphael to Cannes.
Where is the Corniche de l’Estérel located ?
The corniche d’Or, or corniche de l’Estérel, is a road that runs along the Mediterranean coast along the Esterel massif. The road is linking Fréjus (Var) and Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes).
You can locate the road on the map below:
Enlarge the map
Facts about the corniche d’or :
This road is paved. The road is a two-lane 45 kilometers long highway.
The Corniche d’Or, a coastal road linking Saint-Raphaël to La Napoule, was built in 1903 under the impetus of Abel Ballif, President of the Touring Club de France, who wanted to show tourists the exceptional beauty of the Estérel coast.
He received the support of the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerrannée (French Railway company). The route is crossed by railway bridges on numerous occasions.
Previously the only way to connect the two cities was to take the road from the interior through Les Adrets.
Another scenic drive in the south of France is the Verdon Gorge road.
In fact, the Corniche d’Or follows the route of the old customs officers’ path that closely followed the coastline and of which certain parts had been widened and leveled to serve the construction site of the railway line to Nice (1860-1862).
A preview of this legendary road:
You can discover the beauty of this road by watching the following YouTube video :
History of the road
Since Roman times and until the end of the 19th century, one could only go from Fréjus to Cannes by crossing the Esterel massif.
On April 11, 1903, a road was finally built on the seaside at the initiative of the Touring Club of France and with the support of the Railway Company of Paris to Lyon and the Mediterranean.
It is thus a tourist road, with many curves, which intersects several times the route of the railroad, but without any level crossing which was born along the coast.
In 1904, the road was integrated into the national 7. It replaced the route it had followed until then from Fréjus to Mandelieu through the interior of the massif.
In 1937, the traffic on this route has become too important, the national 7 takes back its initial route. The road of the cornice is integrated into the national 983.
Since 2006, the road was downgraded to a departmental road and took the name D98 in the Var and D2098. Then D6098, in the Alpes-Maritimes.
How to get to the Corniche de l’Estérel road ?
This road was integrated into the national 7 from 1904 to 1937. At that time, the importance of the traffic made it prefer the road to the interior via Les Adrets, which became the national 7 again. The Corniche de l’Estérel became the national 98, before becoming the departmental road D559 in the application of the decentralization law.
In fact, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful roads in France, which should be discovered at low speed by stopping at the many parking lots. They offer breathtaking views of the jagged rocks and creeks with crystal clear water.
You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:
Is the Corniche d’Or road open today?
The road is open all year round and is free.
If you want to limit the risk of having huge traffic on this dope road, we suggest you avoid the weekends and holidays. You can also choose to drive the road in the morning to avoid traffic.
If you want to stay in the area you can easily find some accommodation on the road, especially in Cannes or Fréjus.
Built between 1901 and 1903 on the initiative of the Touring Club France, the Corniche d’Or or Corniche de l’Estérel is a tourist route. The road is linking Fréjus and Saint Raphaël to Cannes. Its particularity comes from the beauty of the landscapes, in particular, the Massif de l’Estérel red which flows into the azure water. So don’t hesitate to drive on it when you are in the south of France!
Pictures sources: By Txllxt TxllxT – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61545862
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