In the fifties, this legendary road was used by cars heading south, to the French Riviera and, especially, off on their holidays. Abandoned after the opening of the motorway, it now holds a nostalgic interest in the eyes of visitors seduced by the quality of Burgundy’s landscape
On the holiday route!
This great French national road "from Paris to Milan via Turin" linked Paris to Italy via Lyon and Savoy, and crossed Burgundy.
Having now become the D906, it invites you to take your time, to stop off in Pays Beaunois half way between Paris and Lyon, and plan a "retro" stop at the Bel-Air petrol station at the top end of the town of La Rochepot.
Bel-Air: retro petrol station!
This area was an absolute must on a driving holiday. In the 70s, the station where the "Relairoute" restaurant was located had its moment of glory with an iconic scene in the film by Jean Pierre Melville, Le Cercle Rouge, with Alain Delon and Bourvil.
Today, the Bel-Air service station is fully renovated: retro signage, repurchase of old garages with architecture typical of the 50s, advertising of the major brands of the time painted on the walls and creation of a clubhouse. Old car collectors and their clubs descend on the place once a month on weekends to chat and share experiences.
The Grands Crus of the Côte de Beaune in Chagny
After leaving the Bel-Air plateau, it’s down to La Rochepot, a route the truck drivers of old used to take, but soon we leave the multicoloured glazed tile roofs of the château as the village of Saint Aubin emerges amid a sea of vineyards. Then drive through the plots of the famous vineyards of Montrachet’s Grands Crus, "the greatest white wines in the world", towards Chagny, the gourmet town that’s home to the famous Lameloise restaurant with its 3 Michelin stars.
Here, you will discover other vintage reminders of the "Glorious Thirty": the Pont de Paris service station whose advertising which adorns one of its facades recalls the industrial heritage of the 20th century; while the monumental sculpture of Olivier Mosset for its part reproduces the welcome mat of its service station neighbour.
Did you know?
Another nice little story about the site of the "Bel-Air": in 1887, Louis Chevrolet, a young Swiss-born resident of Beaune, then a mechanic in a bike shop, had come to the assistance of an American millionaire. Back in the United States and after a career as a racing driver, he created the Chevrolet car brand. We like to tell how it's because Louis Chevrolet frequented the Bel-Air site in his youth that this would be the name used for the famous Chevrolet "Bel Air" car produced until 1975 in the United States by General Motors.