Driving through the Route des Grands Crus

France is quite well known for its beautiful scenic views and drives. The old films showed it much better than any photographs can depict, but the fun thing is to travel and visit for oneself. One of the most scenic places in France is the Route des Grands Crus. It is a must-have experience – a necessary item for any travel lover’s bucket list. Everyone likes vineyards, after all!

The region

The region is famous for its Burgundy wines and is filled with beautiful vineyards. Wine production in the region has been established since the times of Charlemagne, so the vineyard owners are justifiably proud of their little, or not so little, vineyards. This region is also very easy to reach from some of the main cities of France. Located at a distance of approximately 1.5 hours by car from both Paris and Lyon, the Route des Grands Crus is a major attraction of Bourgogne. For tourists desiring to make this trip, there are many popular car rental agencies in both Paris and Lyon, like Alamo and Avis.

Chambertin

The route

The Route des Grand Crus, situated in Burgundy is a scenic route stretching from Dijon to Santenay for 60 kilometers. This spectacular route has became a famous tourist drive over the years. Covering 37 villages and towns, this gorgeous drive covers many vineyards producing different kinds of grapes used in Burgundy wine production. Each vineyard is small, only about 10 – 15 hectares, so they are very well maintained and a pleasure to watch as they flash by. The road is well paved and there is also a cycling path for those who want to ride there in summer, enjoying the nice breeze, and feeling the warmth of the mild sun.

The experience

Not only are the vineyards beautiful to watch, but the small stops in the villages on this route are worth the experience. Each village has its own tradition of wine making and its own history, and the local people are quite proud to explain why their way is superior.

At times during the drive, the vineyards give way to beautiful hills, forests and cliffs. The drive passes through certain historical spots as well, the most famous among them being the Vosne-Romanée chateau, famous for the Romanée Conti wines. Another famous spot to check out along the way is the amazing steep coloured-tile roof of Château Corton-André. The Château de La Rochepot, also located on the route, is worth a visit. Many of the small villages have old churches and community buildings still standing.

For those preferring a more athletic experience, there are several hiking trails set in various parts of the route, like the Sentier des Roches which moves across the Baubigny cliffs.

For information and assistance in undertaking a trip to the Route des Grands Crus, the Burgundy Today website is an excellent resource. This is certainly an experience worth having!

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Overseas Driving Tips for Nervous Drivers

If the idea of a driving trip abroad terrifies you, you are not alone. The idea that right is right and left is wrong can be both confusing and scary. However, a driving tour can be very rewarding and with a bit of preparation, you will find it is a lot more manageable than you imagine. Here are some ideas other nervous drivers have found helpful:

Driving on the wrong side

Orientate yourself to the “wrong” side of the road by sitting behind a local driver during a bus or taxi ride. Imagine you are driving and you will very quickly adjust to the mirror image of what you are used to. Left turns are most perilous, as you can easily make the mistake of steering into the path of oncoming vehicles. A reliable co-driver can be your extra eyes and constantly remind you to stay on the correct lane. Exercise caution too when you are reversing. As you turn your head around, it is easy to lose your bearings, slip back into reflexive driving, and forget that the bulk of the car’s mass is now on your right, not on your left.

Crossing the street in Hanoi

Choosing your car

The familiarity of driving your own car can be comforting but your right-side driver’s seat is a major problem when overtaking along narrow European country roads as your view of oncoming vehicles may be totally obstructed. Rent a local car instead and choose one with automatic transmission. While a manual gives better control when negotiating bends and climbing hills, if you are unaccustomed to sitting on the left side you may find yourself reaching for the window winder each time you change gear. Rent from bigger companies like Alamo, Hertz and Avis, as they are all over the world and have better resources in an emergency.

Additional Insurance Coverage

Insurance paperwork for rental cars is less of a hassle compared to arranging for your own. Many first-time overseas drivers learn the hard way how expensive even minor repairs can be in a foreign land but taking up optional coverage will remove a load off your mind when you know you can literally walked away from an accident without having to pay for anything.

Plan ahead

Plan your route before you embark on your journey to reduce the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar place. You can then focus on driving carefully. Use a route planner like Michelin’s, which provides maps, information on hotels and restaurants, as well as the fastest, shortest, or most economical routes to take. A good satellite navigation device takes the guesswork out and gets you there with certainty.

When in Rome

Each country has its local idiosyncrasies. In France, you must carry a breathalyser. If you wear spectacles, have a spare pair in Spain, and if your car is dirty in Belarus you can be fined! Visit the AA website to get advice on local requirements and check what documents you need to carry with you before you venture overseas.

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