One Of The Most Dangerous Roads In The Entire World Is Also Impossibly Picturesque

For some travelers, the goal of getting away from it all for a while is to embrace the very best a peaceful and quiet destination has to offer. Others find more meaning in seeking out picturesque stops with a side of danger included. If you happen to be a part of the latter camp, you'll want to gather up your courage, ditch your fear of heights, and head for the Col du Chaussy on your next adventure.

Sitting in the stunning Rhône-Alpes region in the Southeast of France, Col du Chaussy is a breathtaking destination ideal for thrill seekers. It's a risky route that's most definitely not designed for the faint of heart. Nestled into the picture-perfect landscapes of the Savoie department, Col du Chaussy is a tantalizing and understandably terrifying mountain pass that motorists and cyclists alike can attempt to conquer. The route sits at a dizzying 5,029 feet above sea level, and from the onset, it's a road that requires stability, self-control, and self-assurance in the face of heart-pounding heights.

That's because this route is ultimately cut directly into the sides of cliffs, creating a winding balcony road along a sheer rock face to follow. It's fair to say the road doesn't leave much room for traveler error. The first challenge is a daunting two-mile stretch known as "Les Lacets de Montvernier." This impressive portion showcases no less than 17 impossibly narrow turns as adventurers wind their way meticulously up the mountainside.

Evaluate the dangers before you set out to explore

This winding mountain pass is conveniently paved for travelers, but the danger isn't so much about rough terrain as it is about the many dramatic drop-offs. If you're not prepared, you're likely to be startled by the underwhelming dimensions of the small concrete barriers separating you from the cliff's edge. One might mistakenly assume there would be more in the way of protection, but it's entirely up to travelers to evaluate the risks.

If you do decide to travel this route, you're in for a scenic experience and a challenge to match. Facing off with so many hairpin turns makes understanding the rules of the road vital. As cyclists and motorists round the cliffside bends, there's a chance there's not enough room for two vehicles to pass simultaneously. In this case, the only way forward is for the traveler heading up to take the right of way and carefully navigate around the other vehicle, even when that means getting precariously close to the edge.

Knowing what to expect before you explore this road is important. Col du Chaussy comes with a steep elevation gain of nearly 3,500 feet included, and that vertical drop-off you're facing is over 1,300 feet. If you're planning on driving this road, you're going to want to make sure to take the time to check your brake pads and fluid levels before you head out. This isn't a road that's well-suited for unexpected vehicle troubles.

Scenery along the way that's sure to inspire

Finding the courage to conquer some of the most dangerous roads in the world comes with scenic rewards, and Col du Chaussy is no exception to the rule. Once you've successfully made your way through those hairpin turns, you'll have sweeping views out and over alpine fields. This is also a route that treats travelers to panoramic vistas made up of beautiful cliffs, rolling green hills in the distance, and forested mountainsides that are sure to inspire.

According to Maurienne Cycling French Alps, this route was built between 1928 and 1934 to connect the village of Montvernier with the vast valley below. It's said that 36 men were responsible for completing the route by hand in the final year of construction. Today, that monumental effort provides travelers with a road to explore that passes through charming villages like Montbrunal, Montpascal, and Le Noirey along the way.

There are opportunities to view castle ruins from the road off in the distance if you're able to balance your concentration on the turns with some strategic sightseeing. The upper section of the route is the perfect place to finally pull over and soak up the sights of the scenic Belledonne Mountains in all their towering glory. Take your pictures from this vantage point, and feel free to find some relief in having completed this beautiful route that's never without its risks.