My friend and I were thinking of renting a car and driving part of the coastline from Italy to France. We wanted to know if the route we were thinking of taking was scenic and safe to drive. We were planning on starting out in Florence, then to Pisa, then La Spezia, then Genoa, then Nice, and finally Marseille
Hi Debbie. It's definitely safe. As far as scenic - some parts yes, some no. Much of the way is freeway inland from the coast, and in Italy, there are many tunnels. On the other hand, some parts are along the coast and scenic (though slow). Also, check rental costs; if you drop the car in a different country, there is usually a large drop charge. Enjoy your trip!
Debbie, One point to mention - if you rent the car in one country and drop in another, there are often HUGE fees. Also, for driving in Italy, EACH driver will require the compulsory I.D.P., which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Cheers!
Other people will see it differently than I do, I am sure, so I will give my personal opinion. The drive between Genova (Genoa) and the French border I find not particularly wonderful; and with the venetian blind effect on the highway caused by the interminable tunnels I dislike it. The drive from the Italian border along the French and Monaco coast is wonderful but you do have to get off the Autoroute. Get up to the 3 different levels of the Corniches (carefully - the edges are non existent in places, that's where many accidents have occurred) and really drink in the magnificent views of the Cote d'Azur as you look over the cliff edges. We go as often as we can. West of Nice it is very built up and remains that way. That's where you would want to get up into the mountains if you don't like the built up area along the coast. Be prepared for narrow twisty roads.
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. Could you possibly tell me which are the most scenic stretches and maybe we could just plan driving a shorter distance and catching some of those.
I don't think there is a mile of your journey that is not scenic. The is ONE enormous safety concern = keeping your eyes off the scenery and on the road. This is the land of eye candy. As for safety it's like driving from San Francisco to Seattle as far as piracy or thuggery. This area of Europe lives and dies by tourism. It's as safe as anywhere in the civilized world.
It's all 4 to 6 lane freeway driving from beginning to end. The freeway runs at mid-mountain level (pretty high above sea level) and goes through dozens and dozens of tunnels and viaducts like this one http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2005_1017-Genova0027.JPG
That freeway is actually an engineering marvel. Safety depends on your driving style. Some stretches have spectacular views, others have no views because you're underground going through tunnels after tunnels. Some stretches you are not on the water, but somewhat in the interior (such as between Pisa and Sestri L.) therefore no view of the coast at all.