7 top road trips to see the best of France

Alexis Averbuck

Dec 17, 2023 • 6 min read

best road trips in france

Experience the best bits of France with these classic French driving routes © Justin Paget / Getty Images

France’s winding cobbled lanes and tree-lined rural roadways offer a straight shot into the heart of the country. Incredible countryside vistas merge into unique and highly wanderable villages, castles and coastlines that will etch your journey into your memories.

Grab a set of wheels and hit the road to embrace the best of this magnificent country. Here is a starter kit of fantastic road trips in France – drive on the right and embark on your own perfect French adventure.

Vergisson village surrounded by vineyards in France

1. Wine villages in Burgundy

Best road trip for wine and architecture Chablis–Beaune; 200km (124 miles), allow 2-3 days

Begin this wine journey in Chablis in the département of Yonne , leaving ample time to taste the seven grands crus (premium vineyards) of this well-known winemaking region. Then connect up with the exquisite Route des Grands Crus , which links many of central Burgundy’s most acclaimed vineyards.

You’ll meander through the vine-carpeted countryside from Gevrey-Chambertin to Puligny-Montrachet , exploring some of the most storied vineyards in the world. Enjoy detours into venerable wine-growing villages whose melodious names – engraved on labels or whispered during a romantic dinner – make oenophiles swoon. 

Pair your wine tasting with some of the country’s most memorable Romanesque architecture – for example, the grand Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d'Autun – and you’ll uplift both body and soul.

Planning tip:  When in Beaune , the town around which the vineyards circle, don’t miss the magnificent Hôtel-Dieu des Hospices de Beaune in the old city, with its exquisite 15th-century altar painting by Rogier van der Weyden.

A woman canoeing toward Chateau de Chenonceau in Loire Valley, France

2. Castles of the Loire Valley

Best road trip for grand châteaux Chinon–Chambord; 189km (118 miles), allow 2-3 days

The extravagant castles along France’s longest river have been the backdrop for royal intrigue for centuries. From warring medieval potentates to the kings and queens of Renaissance France, a parade of powerful men and women has left its mark on the lush Loire Valley.

This drive links up France’s most magnificent collection of castles, ranging from austere medieval fortresses such as Château de Langeais to ostentatious royal pleasure palaces such as Chambord .

Detour:  You can stop along the way and rent a bike to cycle when the weather is fair – don’t miss the graceful arches of Château de Chenonceau reflected in the Cher River near Tours.

3. Across the French Alps

Best road trip for dramatic scenery and family adventures Annecy–St Véran; 363km (225 miles), one week

France’s section of the Alps provides an incomparable setting for a summer road trip (from mid-June to mid-September, when mountain passes are snow-free). This Alpine drive combines awesome splendor with the charms of time-worn mountain culture.

Curve through the heart of the French Alps from Annecy , perhaps France’s prettiest lakeside city, to the slopes of 4808m (15,774ft) Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak. Then head over the high mountain pass of Col de l’Iseran to reach Bonneval-sur-Arc, a charming Alpine village, and St Véran – France's highest village.

Planning tip:  Amongst all these high points, take regular breaks to hike, mountain bike, white-water raft and ride vertigo-inducing cable cars.

Market at Place de la Clautre in the town of Perigueux in the Dordogne region of France

4. Dordogne villages and markets

Best road trip for food and fortifications Monpazier–Domme; 96km (60 miles), 1-2 days

The Dordogne holds two special distinctions – it's the home of many of France's top culinary delights, as well as being a land of fortified villages. Serenity may reign now, but during the Middle Ages, the area was often a battleground because the Dordogne River marked an important strategic frontier between English and French forces during the Hundred Years War.

The region’s châteaux and defensive walls remain – most distinctive of all are bastide towns such as Monpazier, encircled by fortified walls and protected by sturdy ramparts. Each village has a central market square, so if you time your drive right, you can hit a weekly market and sample the local specialties.

Sarlat-la-Canéda is famous for its market, but small villages such as Issigeac are sleeper hits. Over in the village of St Cyprien, you can indulge in another of the Dordogne’s great gastronomic gems – the perle noire of the Périgord, aka the black truffle. Wrap up with a turn along the windy road leading up to amazing panoramic views at Domme.

A lookout point at Pointe du Hoc, a historical WWII site in Normandy, France

5. The D-Day Beaches

Best road trip for WWII history Caen–Utah Beach; 142km (88 miles), 1-2 days

On this drive through Normandy , you’ll explore the events of D-Day, when Allied troops stormed ashore to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation in 1944. From war museums to landing beaches, it’s a fascinating and sobering experience. Before you hop in the car, spend some time at the Caen-Normandie Mémorial to get a full D-Day overview.

Several driving routes through the region connect the main battle sites. Look for signs for "D-Day-Le Choc" in the American sectors and "Overlord-l’Assaut" in the British and Canadian sectors.

Planning tip:  Maps of the D-Day beaches are widely available, and local tourist offices have created a helpful e-booklet outlining it all.

6. South of France and the Côte d'Azur

Best road trip for stunning coastline Cannes–Monaco; 62km (39 miles), one day minimum

Cruising the  Côte d'Azur is as dazzling and chic as road trips get. From glamorous Cannes to lively  Nice via the corkscrew turns of the Corniches, then on to the millionaire's playground of Monaco , this is a drive you'll remember forever. Filmmakers, writers, celebrities and artists have all had their hearts stolen by this glittering stretch of coastline – by the end of this trip, you'll understand why.

Aim to avoid the July and August high season when the roads are jammed. If you want more of the south, Provence offers an embarrassment of road trips – from the charming hilltop-perched villages of the Luberon to Arles and the Camargue with its salt flats and flamingos.

7. Breton coast loop

Best for rugged Celtic coastlines and fine seafood St Malo–Vannes; 642km (399 miles), one week

Devote a week to this sea-salty drive to fully experience the region's serene coastal towns, dramatic storm-lashed headlands and the world’s greatest concentration of megalithic sites.

Start at fortified St Malo and loop the entire coast of Brittany , standing on the precipice of the cliffs of the Pointe du Raz , walking through the profusion of prehistoric megalithic sites at Carnac, and wrapping up with a trip to the foodie paradise that is medieval Vannes.

Top tip for driving in France

France's toll road autoroutes are seductive shortcuts, but be aware that the scenery is much more magnificent on the smaller roads and the highways are packed with large trucks and virtually invisible speed-trap cameras. You'll have a gentler, more rewarding drive off the toll routes. 

The Via Michelin website  gives you the cost of routes with or without using toll roads. 

This article was first published September 2020 and updated December 2023

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15 Best France Road Trip Itinerary Ideas (+ Driving Tips!)

Chock full of storybook-worthy villages, beautiful castles, and incredibly epic and diverse nature–from the Alps to the beaches of the Riviera to the lavender fields of Provence and the cliffs of Etretat and beyond–it’s not hard to understand why taking a France road trip tops so many bucket lists around the world.

Throw in excellent roads, a great travel infrastructure, and enough exciting places to see that you could spend a lifetime traversing it without turning over every stone, there’s no doubt that a road trip through France is an amazing way to see the country.

We’ve rounded up the best France road trip itinerary ideas here, covering all corners of the country–plus included important France driving tips you’ll need to know before setting off!

Table of Contents

Logistical Tips for Driving in France

Other france road trip tips, 15 of the best road trips in france.

Jeremy standing to the right of a country road during our road trip in France. He's standing in front of a black rental car with the rear hatch open, and he's wearing a black jacket.

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Rent the smallest car you can.

Especially if you’re coming from the USA like us, you’ll likely find French roads–especially in small villages and in the countryside–are smaller than what you’re used to.

Save on gas, rental costs, and stress while driving in France by renting the smallest car you can manage to fit yourselves and your belongings into.

We recommend searching for your (tiny) rental car through Discover Cars , which will allow you to sift through all your options and choose the right car for you based on price, the reputation of the company that is renting it, and the terms of the rental contract.

Book your rental car for your France road trip today!

Château Chenonceau as seen from across the garden with pink flowers in the foreground. Château Chenonceau is one of the best day trips from paris france

Plan on renting a manual, or prepare to pay.

Like the rest of Europe, manual cars are the norm in France.

If you only drive automatic, you’ll absolutely be able to find a car to rent for your France road trip… but be prepared to plan ahead (especially if you’re traveling during the busy season when the cars get reserved quickly), and to pay extra fees for the privilege.

Always carry cash… just in case. 

While you can generally pay tolls (and they are pricey–budget accordingly!) with a Visa or Mastercard in France, you never know when you’re going to need cash for gas or small restaurants.

When taking a driving in France, it’s best to always have some Euros with you–and don’t forget to carry small coins for bathroom fees!

Photo of a small white car parked in Goult. There are stone buildings visible behind the car.

Plan your parking in advance.

This especially applies overnight–ie, look for hotels that include parking or have a plan for parking listed–but also during day trips. 

For example, our trip to Cassis would have been much easier if we had researched the parking situation beforehand and paid to reserve a spot in one of the parking garages in town.

For hotels, we use Booking.com and ideally look for places using the “free parking onsite” filter.

Depending on where you are going during your road trip in France, though, free parking may not be possible–in that case, carefully check and see what hotels have reasonably-priced parking nearby.

A hotel that is an extra 20 Euros/night may end up being an excellent deal if there’s inexpensive parking nearby!

Parking lot outside of Les Baux-de-Provence. Several cars are parked to the right and the city is visible in the background.

Strongly consider purchasing extra insurance.

Driving on unfamiliar roads in a foreign country is always going to be an exercise in risk-taking.

While driving in France is typically perfectly safe, if you’re not used to driving in congested urban environments or driving abroad, we’d recommend that you strongly consider purchasing additional CDW (collision damage) insurance for your vehicle–though going through the rental agency is often the most expensive place you can buy this coverage.

Check first to see if your credit card covers it (and in France specifically–not just in your home country), and if they don’t, some insurance policies do.

Get a quote to insure your France road trip today!

Vertical photo of a winding road in France. There's a dotted white line in the center and a large cliff to the right.

Not all gas stations are self-service.

We’ve come across both self-service and attendant-provided gas stations in France–when you pull up to get gas, take a quick look around to see what the other drivers are doing before jumping out of your car!

An International Driver’s Permit isn’t required. 

Unlike in Italy, an International Driver’s Permit isn’t required to rent a car or drive in France (though you do, of course, need to be licensed to drive–for example, driver’s licenses from our home country of the USA are valid for driving in France as a tourist).

However, if your license is written in something other than English or French, or you just want to make any potential communication easier, you may want to consider getting one anyway.

Buildings in front of harbor of Cassis France, their reflections are on the water in the bottom half of the photo.

Your life will be easier if you buy a French SIM card.  

This assumes your phone is unlocked, of course, but seriously: getting a local SIM card before taking off on your road trip in France will make your life so much easier!

Having access to everything from a GPS to restaurant reviews is a huge benefit of traveling in the modern age, and bringing those tools along with you as you explore France by car is a fantastic idea.

You can absolutely purchase a local SIM card once you arrive, but if you want to get everything set up before you go, you can also purchase a France SIM card at home in advance.

Pack toilet paper.

Rest stops along highways in France will generally have toilets, but toilet paper is far from guaranteed–best to bring your own just in case.

I usually carry a pack of these with me in my purse when I travel, and they’ve come in handy more than once when driving in France.

Photo of rows of lavender as seen in the Valensole Plateau on our France road trip. The lavender is not in bloom.

Brush up on your French.

Ubiquitous advice for traveling in France, I know, and not exclusive to a road trip in France, but I promise that at least being able to ask for (and follow) simple driving directions in French–not to mention reading basic road signs–will make your France road trip much better!

The first rule of road trips in France: leave room for spontaneity!

One of the best things about taking a road trip in France is that no matter how carefully you plan, no matter how much research you do, you’re still bound to show up in the country and be blown away by something you had never heard of before.

So, just roll with it… and leave room for new discoveries.

I’m a big planner myself, so I get the urge to organize every. last. detail. 

… But during our own trips exploring France by car, I’m also so glad that we randomly decided to spend extra time in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, that we gave Port Miou a chance when we saw photos of how lovely it was, that we delayed our departure from Annecy because its market was coming to town, and that we ended up cutting Roussillon from our Luberon Valley trip because we simply weren’t ready to say goodbye to Goult.

In other words: sketch an outline of your days and nights, yes, but be open to changes. Those stops may just end up being some of your favorite stops during your France road trip!

Kate walking down a narrow street in Goult during our France road trip. There's a pink building to her left and she's wearing a long blue skirt.

Pay attention to market days (and show up early).

Visiting local markets in all of France’s adorable villages is one of my favorite parts of taking a road trip in France: with a car, there’s no need to worry about managing train times or having to skip the tiniest villages.

If at all possible, aim to visit towns on their market days. Depending on the town, this is generally one, two, or three times a week. Many villages have a small daily market, with larger markets on certain days–those are the ones to aim for.

Also: show up early! Early in the morning is the absolute best time to visit markets on your France road trip. You’ll get to experience both the smallest crowds and also have your pick of the best products before they potentially sell out for the day.

Flower market in Aix-en-Provence. There's flowers underneath umbrellas on both sides of the photo. The umbrellas are pink and red.

Pack a picnic on travel days.

All those markets full of delicious bread, cheese, meat, and produce that you pass each day? Those are your future lunch!

Double up on practical purchases and fun experiences in France by using market days to stock up on picnic materials to use during your days spent driving in France.

Rest stops in France are plentiful along the highways (look for the signs for “aires”), and are generally very clean and well-stocked, with some even including restaurants.

Boxes of white and green asparagus in front of a cash register at the outdoor food market in Aix-en-Provence

Don’t change locations every day.

Packing your bags, checking in and out of a hotel, loading the car, unloading the car… all of these things may not seem like much, but by the fifth or sixth day in a row, you’ll be incredibly tired of doing it.

These kinds of transitions eat up way more of each day of your France road trip than the estimated driving time between whatever two towns you’re visiting–so do yourself a favor and limit the number of times you swap lodging.

Instead, set up a series of bases for at least a few days each, and use your rental car to take day trips from there.

For example, we used Avignon as a base to visit the Luberon Valley and Alpilles, and Aix-en-Provence as a base to visit Cassis!

Street in Aix-en-Provence with a red Vespa in the foreground and a yellow building in the background

Focus primarily on smaller towns & natural attractions.

Don’t get me wrong–we adore France’s cities, but places like Paris, Lyon, and Nice don’t require a car to visit–quite the opposite. A car is a hindrance there!

One of our France driving tips is to focus on the smaller towns, beautiful countryside, dramatic castles, and endless natural highlights (beaches, lakes, mountains–you choose!) that make up this incredibly diverse and beautiful country.

If you hope to include any of France’s major cities as part of your itinerary, we recommend visiting them at the beginning or end of your trip and only renting your car when you’re ready to leave and head to smaller towns.

Photo of Lake Sainte-Croix as seen while driving in France. You can see Kate holding a camera to her face reflected in the rearview mirror of our rental car on the left side of the photo

The slow pace is part of the fun.

Often, the best memories from a trip are the ones where you let go of the long wish list of towns and villages you hope to see, the markets you want to visit, and the tourist sights you can’t miss and just. breathe.

I learn this again virtually every time I go to France: some of my best memories in the country are of the day we did literally nothing but walk around Colmar and admire how beautiful it was, the day we lounged in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens all afternoon, the days we’ve sat at outdoor cafes for hours because the sunshine and people-watching felt too good to leave behind, and the long, leisurely lunch we ate in Goult .

Each and every one of those memories is something we exchanged for missing out on a piece of sightseeing or photo-taking or research we had planned to do–something that seemed important at the time.

I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

Photo of an empty street in Avignon, with brown buildings to either side. The road is curving to the left.

Write down where you go.

Sure, no one is going to forget visiting Nice or Aix-en-Provence… but that tiny town with the cute fruit stand you passed through that one afternoon? Yeah, that name will fade almost immediately.

You’ll want to remember the names of all the small villages you visited, pretty beaches you swam at, cozy restaurants you ate at, and hiking trails you conquered long after your France road trip is finished, so write them down as you go!

Jeremy loves to star the places we visit on Google maps, and I keep my own record in my One Line a Day journal that I’ve been keeping daily for years (and highly recommend!).

Jeremy in a blue shirt and black jacket, holding a beer while eating lunch in a square of Aix-en-Provence

Alsace Wine Route

From Arzo of Arzo Travels

A  fun road trip to take is from Strasbourg to Colmar (or the other way around) which is also known as the Alsace Wine Route .

Especially in the summer months (or early fall), it is a beautiful drive with scenic window views and many beautiful towns, villages, and cities along the way.

The Alsace Wine Route is one of the most famous road trips in France and besides being a beautiful place, it has a lot about…well, you guessed it, wine. 

Start your trip in Strasbourg (which is not officially part of the Alsace wine route), the beautiful main city in the region, and explore what it has to offer, including lots of half-timbered houses and many medieval buildings, and then plan in time for stops like Obernai, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, and Eguisheim.

La Petite Venise in Colmar on a summer day. Visiting La Petite Venise is one of the best things to do in colmar france.

These are all beautiful little villages, though Riquewihr is probably the prettiest of all. 

Then it is time to end your tour in Colmar where you can end your road trip and explore one of the cutest towns in the country.

If you are a wine drinker, you can visit the vineyards along the way and try out some of the local wines in the wineries or restaurants. They are supposed to be some of the best wines in the country!

Driving Distance

170km or 105 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

3 days is the absolute minimum for this road trip. 4 or 5 days are the better options if you do not want to rush and like to do some wine tasting.

Kate Storm in a brown coat in the Alsace village of Riquewihr with a clock tower in the background

Marseilles to Nice

From Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

After exploring Marseilles , why not head eastwards along the gorgeous coastal road to Nice? The drive is best done at a leisurely pace over a few days so you can savor the delights of Provence and the Cȏte d’Azur. 

The coastal road has many spectacular views and the first is as you leave Marseilles. Les Calanques are dramatic, sheer-sided coastal inlets that have been carved through the limestone and they can be found between Marseilles, Cassis , and La Ciotat. 

A little further on you will be tempted by the seven beautiful sandy beaches of La Croix Valmer.

The first main stop is St Tropez, a favorite with the international jet-set in the sixties. It is still popular for its beaches and nightlife. Those ‘in the know’ explore Port Grimaud- the Crêpes au Chocolat (chocolate pancakes) and cider are worth sampling. 

Cannes is another famous city, loved by the super-rich and known for its international film festival. Antibes lies close to Nice and is a delightful old town with ramparts and once Picasso’s home. 

There will be many other detours inland to make to Domaines (wineries) to sample the area’s superb rosé and villages like Maximin-Le-Sainte- Baume with its famous basilica and Grasse (north of Cannes) is world-famous for its perfume industry. 

St Paul de Vence is loved by painters and writers. When you arrive in Nice, you will be able to park the car and leave it, as there is a large traffic-free zone in the center.

235 km or 146 miles.

Suggested Road Trip Length

It takes around 3 hours to drive between Marseille and Nice but if you really want to enjoy the area explore Marseille, Nice and a few towns between I suggest you spend around 4 to 5 days on this South of France road trip.

crowded beach at a french calanque as seen from above

The Champagne Route

From Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too

Without a doubt, France’s Champagne Route is one of the most popular driving tours in the country.

When driving the  Champagne Route of France there are several routes to consider, including Massif Saint Thiery Route the northern route starting from Reims, Marne Valley Route from Epernay, and the Cote des Blancs Route from the south of Epernay. There are also others, or you can mix and match to create your own France road trip route!

If you only want to visit some of the major towns you can start from Troyes and head to Epernay, then onto Reims.

There are many small towns and villages around the Champagne region to visit.  The routes will take you past beautiful chateaux, quaint villages, churches, and many champagne houses.

The major champagne houses such as Mercier and Moet Chandon can be found in Epernay and in Reims you can visit Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, Taittinger and many smaller boutique champagnes houses as well.

The best months to visit are between May and October.

The Champagne region is easy to travel to from Paris.  The journey from Paris to Reims is only 45 minutes and from Paris to Epernay 1 hour 10 minutes.

The distance from Troyes to Epernay is 112 km or 70 miles, and Epernay to Reims is 29 km or 16 miles.

You can visit either town on a day trip and visit some of the Champagne Houses within walking distance of the train station.  The ideal time to enjoy all that the Champagne region has to offer is between 5 – 7 days.

vineyards of the champagne region in france, one of the best road trips in france

The Opal Coast

From Nichola of Globalmouse Travels

two people riding horses on a sandy stretch of the opal coast in northern france road trip

Paris to Normandy Road Trip

The following Paris to Normandy road trip is ideal for those looking to escape the city for a few days to a natural and verdant environment.

From Paris, go north to Mont Saint Michel (4-hour drive), where you should stay for at least 1 night. Consider taking the toll-free road which adds 30 minutes to your driving time, but gives you the chance to drive through Normandy’s charming villages and countryside. 

Once you’ve checked into your hotel, walk, bike, or take public transportation to the island that is Mont Saint Michel. When visiting Mont Saint Michel during low tide, go onto the island, grab a spot along the high stone wall and witness the rising of the tide as the sea surrounds the island, isolating it from the mainland.

The next day, drive east to Étretat. Consider spending half a day to a full day here.

While Giverny may have been home to impressionist painters, Étretat was their inspiration. Étretat sits on the Normandy coast and is home to where grayish-white limestone cliffs meet the untamed blue sea. The cliff tops are paved with dirt paths and staircases making them accessible for walking, hiking, and sight-seeing.

On your way back to Paris from Étretat, stop in Honfleur to aimlessly walk through the port and old town. The various architectures are beautiful in their own right: the medieval old town and the port with its tightly packed, vertical, colorful buildings. When you’ve finished exploring Honfleur, it’s an estimated 2.5-hours drive to Paris.

This road trip from Paris through Normandy and back can be comfortably done in 3 days. 

White cliffs of Etretat with bright blue water to the left side of the photo. Etretat is one of the best places to visit in France

The French Alps from Chamonix

From Whitney of Designs for Travel

One of the most incredible road trips in France is through the Frech Alps.  With the beautiful green mountains (or white in the snowy season), aqua blue lakes, and quaint chalets, the Frech Alps is one of the most picturesque areas in Europe. 

This Frech Alps road trip is a loop that starts and ends in the popular adventure town of Chamonix.  The closest major airport is Geneva, Switzerland.

Start in Chamonix, a beautiful resort town at the base of Mont Blanc.  It’s one of the best places to ski in the winter, but I recommend taking this trip in the summer, where you can take a gondola to the top, and enjoy the panoramic views and do some hiking. 

The next stop on this road trip is 1 hour and 20 minutes west, to the gorgeous alpine town of Annecy .  The pristine lake, river, cobbled old town, pastel cottages, and medieval chateau make Annecy a must-see town in the Alps. 

From here, head east to Le Grand Bornand, another beautiful alpine resort town.  Drive back to Chamonix for a raclette dinner, which is sure to be a favorite meal.

After visiting France, if you have more time, you can drive south to Italy to continue your road trip.

130 miles, 210 kilometers.

This road trip itinerary can easily be done in 3 days and if you have more time, a week is even better!

Bike leaning against bridge over a canal in Annecy, France

Gorges du Verdon + Valensole Plateau Road Trip

From Elisa of France Bucket List

This 2-day road trip in Southern France covers the Verdon National Park and some of the best  lavender fields in Provence . This French road trip starts in the city of Aix-en-Provence, and it takes two days. Aix-en-Provence is the quintessential Provencal city with many interesting things to see and do. Ideally, take one day or two to visit Aix-en-Provence before hitting the road.

From Aix-en-Provence, drive to Valensole, a pretty small town world-known for its lavender fields. Enjoy these never-ending seas of ‘blue gold’- it is not only beautiful to see, but it also smells very good!

Back to the road, drive to the Verdon National Park and stop at Esparron de Verdon and Lac Quinson de Verdon, two small lakes with absolutely no crowds. At Lac de Quinson, you can rent a kayak or an electric road and explore the Gorges du Verdon from the water.

Spend the night at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a picturesque hilltop village with the label ‘most beautiful villages in France’.

Day two visits Lac Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. This is the main lake in the area, and the perfect place to relax on the beach and have a picnic with a view. In the afternoon, visit the hilltop village of Aiguines, which is less touristy than Moustiers and with a more local atmosphere.  Have an alfresco dinner in one of the two restaurants on the main square before driving back to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for the last night of this road trip.

270 km, 168 miles.  

This road trip lasts two days. Add one or two more days if you want to visit Aix-en-Provence.

bright turquoise water in a gorge in verdon national park france

Bordeaux + France’s West Coast

From Kat of Wandering Bird

If you’re looking for a mixture of beautiful sandy beaches, cities, and dramatic scenery, head for the west coast of France. 

You can begin your trip almost anywhere along the coast, but let’s start in the major hub of Bordeaux. Here you can hire a car or camper van and set off on your adventure, but take a day or two first to explore this beautiful city.

If you only have one day, focus your time on the Cathedral and the mirror pool (you’ll need to wake up very early to nab photos here without the crowds).

Once you leave the city, you have some choices to make. Do you want wine, sea, or one of the most incredible natural wonders you’ve ever seen?

Bordeaux is surrounded by vineyards and they are all worth visiting. If you’re  touring France in a motorhome , you can even stay overnight at many of the vineyards (no worrying about drinking and driving!)

If you want to be wowed, head to Arcachon and the jaw-dropping Dune du Pilat. This natural wonder is the largest sand dune in Europe, standing at around 106m high and runs for nearly 3km. Walking up it is not for the faint-hearted!

Lastly, if you want to see more of the beautiful Atlantic coastline, head up to Île de Ré. This stunning island has some beautiful beaches and is a great place to witness the incredible sunsets you find on the French coast. 

From Dune du Pilat to Île de Ré (past Bordeaux), this driving trip in France is 276 km or 172 miles.

You can drive from Dune du Pilat to Île de Ré in under 3 hours if traffic is clear.

However, we recommend at least a day in Bordeaux, a day near the dune and Arcachon, and a day on Ile de Re, so allow at least 3/ 4 days for your trip. 

aerial view of dune du pilat in france

Calais to the Pyrenees Loop

From Jenny of TraveLynn Family

For those located in the UK, Calais is an obvious starting point for a France road trip as it’s a short crossing from Kent, either on the ferry or Eurotunnel. This Calais to the Pyrenees road trip  itinerary does a big loop down to the Pyrenees via the Auvergne and Perpignan, then back up again via Bayonne, Île d’Oléron, and the Loire Valley, returning to Calais.

Between each stop is about 4 to 5 hours of driving, although do note that this is along tolled roads (which can add up, but they are very efficient).

Staying at campsites, this summer itinerary steers away from main tourist sites and explores the French countryside, rather than the cities. It is advisable to take a bike to explore each stop further using the many cycle lanes and marked tracks. And don’t forget to pack your swimsuit , as there are lots of opportunities for a dip to cool off after a day of exploring.

From the peaceful wooded valleys of the Auvergne to the Catalan charm of the Western Mediterranean; the majestic peaks of the Pyrenees to the fashionable beaches of the Basque country; and the idyllic fishing villages of Ile d’Oléron to the chateaux of the Loire Valley steeped in history; each stop is notably distinct from the other, providing a true cross-section of cultures and landscapes across the French countryside.

2005 miles 0r 3225 kilometers (using toll roads).

Chateau de Fontainbleau in the Loire Valley of France

The French Alps From Grenoble

From Sasha of The Alternative Travel Guide

149  km / 92 miles.

Recommended Trip Length

city of grenoble france with river in the foreground and snowcapped mountains in the background

Gorges du Tarn

Gorges du Tarn  offers one of the most scenic landscapes in Southern France, which makes it the perfect destination for a road trip. This loop road trip will take you along the rivers Tarn and La Jonte in the Causses and Cévennes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The trip starts and ends in Millau, a sleepy Medieval town, famous for the tallest bridge in the world – the Millau Viaduct. After visiting the bridge, head to the hamlet of Peyre, which is literally glued to the rocks – a fine example of the so-called ‘ troglodyte ’ villages. The area abounds in this type of dwellings, where the backside is carved into the rocks and only the façade is at street level.

After Peyre, head upstream the Tarn all the way to Florac. The dramatic gorge, cut by the Tarn, is dotted with a string of cute little villages and hamlets: Les Vignes, La Malène, Hauterives, Saint-Chély-du-Tarn, Sainte-Enimie, Prades, Castelbouc, Ispagnac.

At Les Vignes make a detour (11 km/ 7 miles) to Point Sublime for the most breathtaking views of the gorge. At La Malène, you can take a boat tour on the Tarn with the famous flat-bottom boats of Les Bateliers.

Another village that deserves more attention is Sainte-Enimie. Together with Peyre, it’s included on the official list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

From Florac, take D16 across Causse Méjean and visit the incredible cave, Aven Armand. Afterward, take D986 to Meyrueis and continue downstream La Jonte, following D996 and Gorges de la Jonte. The last stop on this road trip, before you return to Millau, are the twin towns of Le Rozier and Peyreleau.

215 km or 135 miles.

Although you can cover the whole distance in one day, I highly recommend that you do this in at least 3 or 4 days. The best time to do the trip is in the summer – between June and September, as in the low season as most places will be closed.

village is gorges du tarn france with a waterfall spilling into the river

Cannes to Saint-Tropez

From Elena of Passion for Hospitality

The Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera , is one of the most breathtaking coastlines, lined with picturesque cosmopolitan coastal towns and villages, golden beaches, rich nature scenes, the southeast corner of France has been blessed by natural beauty.

Driving from Cannes to St. Tropez is definitely a good way for those seeking to discover the gems of the French Riviera while enjoying a relaxed hustle-free little trip. 

To get the most out of the road-trip make sure to start early in the morning from Cannes. The first stop is Theoule-sur-Mer, a small medieval town located on the Golfe de La Napoule. Enjoy breathtaking views of the bay La Pointe de l’Aiguille or grab a delicious coffee and croissant before departing for the next destination, the resort town of St. Raphael.

We recommend enjoying lunch by the harbor’s restaurants and later, losing yourself around the narrow streets of the colorful old town. The last stop before reaching St. Tropez, where an overnight stop is recommended, is Saint Maxime, a quiet small village which landscape has inspired and continues to do so for many artists and writers.

Depending on your budget there are many different accommodations options, from simple cozy apartments by the beach, to luxurious resorts. 

Alongside the coastal road, there are many little spots scattered, where drivers could take a quick stop to admire the dazzling views, take a few photographs or stretch their legs. 

85 kilometers / 53 Miles 

It is an hour and a half car trip from one city to the other. With the short and one overnight stop, we recommend 2 days enough for this trip.

harbor of st tropez in the south of france road trip itinerary

Toulouse to Andorra Loop

From Ucman of BrownBoyTravels

The tiny sovereign state of Andorra is a mere 190km from Toulouse and makes a perfect road trip back and forth which can be easily done over a weekend. 

Leaving Toulouse in the early morning, you will head in the southwestern direction to the highway. If you want a more scenic route head to Lacroix-Falgarde. The small rural roads will eventually lead you towards the Pyrenees. The Pyrenees appear shortly and the midi- Pyrenees towns and villages take over.

They are perfect for a coffee break or if you are going slowly, for a lunch break. These quaint little villages and towns offer a great insight into the southern french style of life. The streets are neatly trimmed and the everblooming shadow of Pyrenees mountain range dominates everything ever so lovingly.

The drive here is quite easy and simple but that changes significantly when you reach the mountain range. The roads become narrow and the sharp turns take over. The elevation also increases quite dramatically, make sure to take a break to pop your ears. 

The drive is really beautiful here especially in winter with the snow but also quite dangerous, black snow is a real threat here so drive with caution. 

If you drive fast you can cover this entire distance from Toulouse to Andorra La Vella in 3-4 hours but I’d recommend taking a day and going slow to enjoy the scenery. (Make sure to bring your passport although most of the time there are no border checks).

It is quite easy to drive around in Andorra from the ski slopes of Encamp to the quaint little town of Ordino or if you just want a relaxed weekend the beautiful spas of Andorra la Vella. If you like shopping, Andorra offers duty-free shopping , there something for everyone here.

The road trip to Andorra from Toulouse is a memorable and easy France driving trip.

120 miles or 190 kilometers.

2-3 days is enough to enjoy this France road trip itinerary.

stone village in the hills of andorra, visible on a france road trip itinerary from toulouse to andorra

Brittany Road Trip in France

From Victoria of Guide Your Travel

This driving route will be between 800 and 100 kilometres, 500 – 620 miles.

castle ruins of the coast of brittany france near saint-malo

Montpellier to Toulouse Loop

Carsaconne France, with the fortress visible on the left side of the photo and the village below it on the right

Finally, you should head 100 km to Toulouse. Toulouse is nicknamed “la Ville Rose” – the pink city – because so many of the buildings are made from pinkish bricks. Important sites to visit are Basilique Saint-Sernin, the largest romanesque church in Europe. It also has more relics in the crypt than any other church in France, many of which are from Charlemagne (9th century).

You should also spend time at Place du Capitole and the square in front of it. Some parts of the building date back to the 12th century. It has beautiful frescos and offers tours.

Montpellier – Carcassonne – Toulouse is 245 km or 150 miles.

It would take about 3 hours to drive this France road trip route straight through without stopping. However, to truly enjoy each location, I would give yourself a minimum of 5 days.

4 photos of france: castle, cote d'azur, etretat, lavender field. black and pink text on a white background reads "15 best france road trip ideas"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

10 thoughts on “15 Best France Road Trip Itinerary Ideas (+ Driving Tips!)”

hello 🙂 just finished reading your ” escape clause” and i found some great tips so just like to thank you for that first of all. I’m planning on travelling to France by car from west Yorkshire in the UK for a 10 day holiday in total, we would start of by a 5 hour drive to dover then get the ferry crossing to Calais and carry on from there. we will have a 3 year old and a 1 year old too with us so we want to see plenty of beaches and coastal scenery. i wondered if you could maybe point us in the right direction on places to visit/stay ( ideally 2 different locations on family friendly campsites with lodges or tents) and go off on day trips from there if that makes sense 🙂 look forward to hearing back from you guys iain

Hi Iain! Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to spend much time in northwestern France (we were supposed to this year, but alas, 2020 had other plans). I can tell you our personal wish list in that general corner of France, though, includes all the major hits: Etretat, Le Havre, Honfleur, Lille, Rouen, and if you get that far south, of course, Mont Saint-Michel. Etretat is ideal for the coastal scenery you mentioned!

Wish we had more detail to offer, but there are some stunning places up that way!

Staggering beauty here Kate. Wow. France surprises me with its range. Definitely a worthy spot for a serious road trip. Fabulous images guys!

thank you for this! we are planning visit in aug/sept 2022 x 21d staring our in paris and heading toward bordeaux, the sw coast, basque, french pyrenees, and andorra. Wasn’t sure how to finish up the loop back to paris but I would love to incorporate provence. I also love your focus on gorges! I just started following you on IG and will look out for more inspiration!

Thanks so much, Leigh! Sounds like an incredible trip.

We’re toying with a trip to Basque Country and/or Bordeaux ourselves this spring–it never stops being difficult to narrow down our options!

Hope you guys have a wonderful time!

Very good coverage of driving tours in France. One suggestion for drivers I don’t recall was mentioned. After you pick up your car rental stop somewhere and invest in materials to clean your windshield. We have driven thousands of miles on many car trips and estimate that most of the time gas stations don’t have squeegees, sponges, paper towels, or even water available. Well worth the small cost. France is a large agricultural country and bugs abound.

Thanks so much. Very useful

Happy to help!

Hello Kate. I am planning my trip to France. It is our first trip to France. We will fly from New York to Paris and we want to explore France as much as we can within 9 days. We want to rent car and use train if we need. My plan is to start from Paris and go to other nice places including small towns/villages and end up in south and fly back to US from other south city. We need your advice please. Thank you in advance.

With 9 days, the first thing I’d do is narrow down what general region of France you want to visit, as you can access a wide variety of beautiful small towns in that time!

Normandy and Provence are both popular regions for first-time visitors to France, though it sounds like you’re most likely wanting Provence. For Normandy, you might drive right from Paris, and for Provence, you’d likely want to take a train to Aix-en-Provence and then pick up a car. This itinerary covers Provence: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/south-of-france-itinerary/

If you want to stick very close to Paris, consider the Loire Valley.

Other options could include the Bordeaux area (we love St. Emilion: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/saint-emilion-france/ ) or Burgundy ( https://www.ourescapeclause.com/things-to-do-in-dijon-france/ ).

You obviously can’t cover all of that, but narrowing down where you want to go will be the first step. France has lifetimes worth of villages to explore. 🙂

If you’re wanting to fly home from the south of France, you’ll want to look at flights from Bordeaux (in the west) or Nice, Marseille, Lyon, or Toulouse (in the east).

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The Mindful Traveller

The Mindful Traveller

Eco Travel Blog & Photography

Most Scenic Road Trips in France: 12 Epic Routes

29 March 2024 · In: France , Road Trip

best road trips in france

Are you looking for the  most beautiful and scenic road trips in France ? Adventure lovers, you have come to the right place! This article walks you through  12 road trip ideas to add to your bucket list  for an unforgettable holiday, whether you are travelling for 7 days or 2 weeks.

France is a breathtaking country  which has much to offer! From charming traditional villages and stunning natural landscapes to emblematic landmarks and delicious local cuisine (and wine), you will find  plenty of things to do and places to see  on a French road trip in both summer and winter.

Even though France is my homeland, I am constantly discovering something new when I explore the country, as  each region truly has its own identity and culture . Whichever road trip you choose, I am sure you will have a wonderful time!

So, are you ready to discover the  top 12 France road trips that you must experience ? Let’s get started! And, of course, let me know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions 🙂

Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information, please  read our full affiliate disclosure .

12- Route des Grands Crus

Overview: 12 epic french road trips.

1- Provence Lavender Loop 2- The Loire Valley & Châteaux 3- French Riviera Coastal Drive 4- Alsace Wine Route 5- Normandy Coastal Escape 6- Gorges du Verdon Loop

7- Corsica Coastal Drive 8- Route des Grandes Alpes 9- Brittany Coastal Road 10- Pyrenean Escape 11- Champagne Route 12- Route des Grands Crus

best road trips in france

Best France road trips – Map

best road trips in france

12 breathtaking road trip routes in France

Here are 12 road trips to inspire your next French adventure. Each of these routes is easily accessible by car, campervan or motorbike. But also be sure to check road conditions, especially in winter, and book your accommodation in advance.

Best car rental options

Looking for the best car rental deals for your road trip in France?

Check out Rentalcars.com to search and compare which one is best for you. From affordable to luxury, they make it easy to choose and have a great selection of rental agents.

1- Provence Lavender Loop

best road trips in france

⏰  Duration : 4-5 days 📆  When to go : summer (June-July) 

The Provence Lavender Route, also known as the  Route de la Lavande , is a scenic journey through the picturesque countryside of Provence, renowned for its  vast lavender fields that burst into vibrant purple flowers . The perfect road trip for Instagram lovers!

Starting typically in Avignon or Aix-en-Provence, the route also takes you through  charming villages  like Gordes and Roussillon, where you can unwind and admire the lavender fields in  full bloom from late June to early July , creating a mesmerising sea of purple.

Whether you are driving or cycling, this itinerary offers an ideal blend of  cultural exploration, immersive experiences amidst the lavender fields of Provence and scenic drives  with panoramic views of rolling hills and ancient stone villages.

READ MORE: 20+ Best Places to Visit in The South of France

ITINERARY 

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering the most beautiful sites in Provence:

Day 1: Avignon

  • Start your journey in Avignon, a historic city known for its medieval architecture.
  • Explore the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) and Pont Saint-Bénézet (Bridge of Avignon).
  • Wander through the charming streets of the Old Town.
  • Enjoy a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2: Sault and Gordes

  • Drive to Sault, known as the lavender capital of Provence. 
  • Explore the lavender fields surrounding Sault. 
  • Take in the stunning views of the Mont Ventoux.
  • Continue to Gordes, a picturesque hilltop village with narrow cobbled streets and panoramic views.
  • Visit the Lavender Museum to learn about the history and cultivation of lavender.
  • Visit the Senanque Abbey, famous for its iconic lavender fields.

Day 3: Roussillon and Valensole Plateau

  • Explore the colourful village of Roussillon, known for its ochre cliffs and vibrant hues.
  • Wander through the Ochre Trail. 
  • Admire the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.
  • Drive to the Valensole Plateau , one of the most scenic areas for lavender viewing in Provence.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring the lavender fields and capturing photos of the stunning scenery.

Day 4: Aix-en-Provence

  • Head to Aix-en-Provence, a charming city known for its elegant boulevards, fountains and vibrant arts scene.
  • Visit the Cours Mirabeau, a tree-lined avenue lined with cafés and shops.
  • Explore its historic centre.
  • Discover landmarks such as the Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur and the Atelier Paul Cézanne.
  • Enjoy an afternoon stroll through the gardens or join a walking tour .
  • Browse local markets for lavender products.

Day 5: Return to Avignon

  • Drive back to Avignon and complete the Lavender route loop.
  • Enjoy the scenery along the way. 
  • Once in Avignon, spend your final evening exploring, shopping or relaxing.

PROVENCE LAVENDER MAP

Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.

2- The Loire Valley & Châteaux

best road trips in france

⏰  Duration : 5 days 📆  When to go : spring & summer (May-September) 

The Loire Valley road trip offers a captivating journey through a picturesque and historic region of France. You will discover a landscape dotted with  majestic châteaux, charming villages and lush vineyards  along the banks of the Loire River, a paradise for history and wine lovers!

From the  fairy-tale castles  of Chambord and Chenonceau to the  picturesque towns  of Tours and Amboise, this itinerary is a perfect blend of  cultural heritage, scenic beauty and culinary delights  and is the ideal way to learn more about the rich culture and history of France.

I feel lucky enough to say that  I was born in the Loire Valley , more precisely in Orleans. I loved the region and its cultural landmarks. It always felt great to be in the countryside whilst still being close to major cities like Paris. I am sure you will love exploring its many highlights. It is also an  ideal destination for families with children .

READ MORE: Most Scenic Road Trips in Europe: 16 Epic Routes

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering some of the most famous châteaux in the Loire Valley:

Day 1: Tours

  • Start your road trip in Tours, a city in the heart of the Loire Valley.
  • Explore its historic Old Town with half-timbered houses and Place Plumereau.
  • Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
  • Take a walk along the banks of the Loire.

Day 2: Château de Villandry and Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

  • Drive to Château de Villandry, famous for its superb Renaissance gardens.
  • Continue to Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, a fairytale castle set on an island in the Indre River.

Day 3: Château de Chambord and Château de Cheverny

  • Visit the iconic  Château de Chambord , a masterpiece of the French Renaissance.
  • Explore its massive double-helix staircase and its vast garden.
  • Head to Château de Cheverny, famous for its elegant interiors and well-preserved furniture.
  • If you have time, you can also discover the pretty village of Cheverny and its vineyards.

Day 4: Château de Chenonceau and Amboise

  • Visit the elegant  Château de Chenonceau , spanning the Cher River.
  • Explore the stunning gardens and galleries of the castle.
  • Drive to the town of Amboise, where you can visit Château d’Amboise and Clos Lucé, the former home of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Spend the evening exploring the quaint streets of Amboise.

Day 5: Wine tasting and back to Tours

  • Enjoy a wine-tasting experience at a local vineyard in the Vouvray or Montlouis-sur-Loire wine region.
  • Spend your last evening in Tours sampling local cuisine and wine.

LOIRE VALLEY MAP

3- French Riviera Coastal Drive

best road trips in france

⏰  Duration : 5-6 days 📆  When to go : spring & summer (May-September)

The French Riviera, also known as the  Côte d’Azur , offers a captivating journey along the Mediterranean coastline of southeastern France. Whether it is  exploring   historic sites, relaxing on pristine beaches or cruising along scenic coastal roads , this road trip promises an unforgettable experience.

Stretching from the glamorous city of Nice to the border with Italy, this itinerary takes you through  picturesque coastal towns, sandy beaches and stunning landscapes , where you will be treated to panoramic views of the azure sea and lush hillsides.

Along the way, you will also encounter  luxurious resorts like Cannes and Monaco , where you can indulge in exclusive shopping, gourmet dining and world-class entertainment. Have fun!

READ MORE: South of France Road Trip: 1-Week Itinerary

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering the main highlights of the French Riviera:

Day 1: Nice

  • Start your journey in Nice, the largest city on the French Riviera.
  • Explore the vibrant Old Town with its narrow streets, colourful buildings and bustling markets.
  • Visit the Promenade des Anglais, a famous waterfront promenade perfect for a stroll or bike ride.
  • Relax on one of its beautiful beaches and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine.

Day 2: Antibes and Cannes

  • Drive to Antibes, a charming coastal town known for its picturesque old port and historic ramparts.
  • Explore the Musée Picasso housed in the Château Grimaldi.
  • Stroll through the atmospheric streets of the Old Town.
  • Continue to Cannes, famous for its film festival and glamorous atmosphere.
  • Visit the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.
  • Take a walk along the famous Boulevard de la Croisette.

Day 3: Monaco and Monte Carlo

  • Drive to Monaco, a tiny principality known for its glitz and glamour.
  • Visit the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.
  • Explore the charming Old Town of Monaco-Ville.
  • Admire the stunning views from the Jardin Exotique.
  • Visit the Oceanographic Museum .
  • Continue to Monte Carlo, home to the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo and luxurious hotels.
  • Enjoy a stroll around the glamorous Casino Square and take in the sights of the city.

Day 4: Menton and Villefranche-sur-Mer

  • Drive to Menton, a picturesque town known for its lemon festival and beautiful gardens.
  • Explore the colourful Old Town and visit the Jean Cocteau Museum.
  • Continue to Villefranche-sur-Mer, a charming seaside village with a scenic harbour.
  • Explore the Citadel and enjoy a relaxing afternoon on one of its beaches.

Day 5: Return to Nice

  • Enjoy some last-minute exploration or souvenir shopping.
  • Spend your evening sampling local cuisine and wine.

Optional: Saint-Tropez

  • Drive to Saint-Tropez, a legendary seaside resort synonymous with luxury and style.
  • Explore the Vieux Port lined with luxurious yachts and charming cafes.
  • Visit the Musée de l’Annonciade, home to an impressive collection of modern art.
  • Relax on one of its beautiful beaches or enjoy water sports activities.

FRENCH RIVIERA MAP

4- Alsace Wine Route

best road trips in france

⏰  Duration : 5-6 days 📆  When to go : summer (June-August)

The Alsace Wine Route, or  Route des Vins d’Alsace , is a scenic journey through  one of the premier wine regions in France , stretching approximately 170 kilometres (105 miles) from Marlenheim to Thann. 

This picturesque route winds through  charming villages, lush vineyards and historic wine-producing towns , offering you the opportunity to explore renowned wineries, sample exceptional white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer and immerse yourself in the  rich winemaking tradition of Alsace . 

With its stunning landscapes, quaint villages and world-class wines, this Alsace Wine road trip itinerary promises a  memorable and delightful experience for wine enthusiasts  and travellers alike.

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering some of the most iconic stops along the Wine Route:

Day 1: Strasbourg

  • Begin your journey in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Explore the picturesque Old Town (Grande Île) with its charming half-timbered houses and canals.
  • Join a guided tour and discover the iconic Strasbourg Cathedral.
  • Visit the Alsatian Museum to learn about the history, culture and winemaking traditions of the region.
  • Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, sampling traditional Alsatian cuisine with regional wines.

Day 2: Obernai

  • Drive to Obernai, a charming medieval town surrounded by vineyards.
  • Explore its historic centre, featuring narrow streets, colourful facades and the Obernai Clock Tower.
  • Visit a local winery for a wine-tasting experience, sampling the renowned white wines of Alsace.
  • Enjoy lunch at a traditional Alsatian Winstub (wine tavern), tasting dishes like choucroute garnie and flammekueche.

Day 3: Riquewihr

  • Travel to Riquewihr, one of the most picturesque villages along the Alsace Wine Route.
  • Explore its well-preserved medieval architecture, flower-filled streets and charming wine cellars.
  • Visit local wineries for tastings of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and other Alsace varietals.
  • Take a stroll through the surrounding vineyards, enjoying panoramic views of the Alsace countryside.

Day 4: Colmar

  • Drive to Colmar, known as the Capital of Alsatian Wine.
  • Explore its historic Old Town, featuring colourful half-timbered houses, cosy cafés and the picturesque Little Venice district.
  • Visit the Unterlinden Museum to see the Isenheim Altarpiece and other works of art.
  • Enjoy a wine-tasting tour in Colmar and visit local wineries.

Day 5: Eguisheim & Strasbourg

  • Drive to Eguisheim, a charming village known for its circular layout and flower-decked streets.
  • Explore its medieval centre and visit the St. Leon Fountain.
  • Stroll through the vineyards surrounding the village.
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, perhaps indulging in Alsatian specialities paired with regional wines.
  • Return to Strasbourg, where you can explore any sights you may have missed on your first day or simply relax.

ALSACE WINE MAP

5- Normandy Coastal Escape

best road trips in france

The Normandy Coastal Route, also known as the  Côte d’Albâtre  or Alabaster Coast, winds  along the rugged coastline of Normandy  in northern France, stretching from Le Tréport to Honfleur. 

This picturesque journey offers breathtaking views of  towering chalk cliffs, quaint fishing villages and historic landmarks . You will have the chance to explore iconic sites like the cliffs of Étretat, enjoy fresh seafood in charming seaside towns and  learn about World War II history  at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. 

Whether you love  exploring historic sites ,  enjoying outdoor activities  like hiking or beachcombing, or simply soaking in the  stunning coastal scenery , the Normandy Coastal Route promises an unforgettable road trip experience. 

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering the main highlights of a road trip along the coast of Normandy:

Day 1: Le Tréport & Dieppe

  • Start your journey in Le Tréport, a picturesque seaside town known for its colourful cliffside houses and funicular railway.
  • Visit the Tréport Lighthouse for panoramic views of the coastline.
  • Explore the bustling harbour of the town.
  • Drive along the coast to Dieppe, the largest town on the Alabaster Coast, famous for its fishing port and historic castle.
  • Explore its vibrant Saturday market, stroll along the promenade and enjoy fresh seafood at a local restaurant.

Day 2: Étretat

  • Drive to Étretat, renowned for its stunning chalk cliffs, natural arches and pebble beaches.
  • Take a hike along the coastal path for spectacular views of the cliffs and the English Channel.
  • Visit iconic landmarks such as the Needle Rock and the Arches of Aval.
  • Explore the town of Étretat, with its charming streets, art galleries and beachfront cafés.
  • Immerse yourself in Les Jardins d’Étretat to enjoy a variety of gardens, sculptures and contemporary artwork.

Day 3: Honfleur

  • Continue your journey to Honfleur, a picturesque harbour town with colourful timber-framed houses and cobbled streets.
  • Explore the historic Vieux Bassin (Old Harbor), lined with cafés, art galleries and seafood restaurants.
  • Visit the Sainte-Catherine Church, the largest wooden church in France.
  • Wander through the charming streets of the Old Town and admire the maritime-themed architecture.

Day 4: Omaha Beach & Bayeux

  • Drive along the coast to Omaha Beach, one of the landing beaches of the D-Day invasion during World War II.
  • Visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where thousands of soldiers are buried overlooking the beach.
  • Join a World War II tour  of the key beaches and sites linked to D-Day.
  • Explore the nearby town of Bayeux and visit the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

Day 5: Mont-Saint-Michel

  • Head to Mont-Saint-Michel , a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic landmarks in France.
  • Explore the medieval abbey perched atop a rocky island, surrounded by tidal flats and salt marshes.
  • Wander through the narrow streets of the village, lined with shops, restaurants and historic buildings.
  • Enjoy panoramic views of the bay and the surrounding countryside.

NORMANDY COAST MAP

6- Gorges du Verdon Loop

best road trips in france

⏰  Duration : 4-5 days 📆  When to go : spring & summer (May-September)

The Gorges du Verdon Loop is a spectacular road trip route that will guide you through the  stunning natural landscapes of the Verdon Gorge  in southeastern France – a must for photo lovers and outdoor enthusiasts!

Often referred to as the  Grand Canyon of Europe , the Verdon Gorge is  one of the most impressive river canyons in Europe , carved by the turquoise waters of the Verdon River over millions of years.

This fascinating loop begins and ends in the picturesque village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, taking you on a  scenic journey along the north and south rims of the gorge , with plenty of outdoor activities, picturesque villages and unforgettable views along the way.

Here is an example of a  4-day itinerary  for exploring the Verdon Gorge:

Day 1: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

  • Start your journey in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a charming Provençal village nestled at the foot of limestone cliffs.
  • Explore the narrow streets, adorned with colourful facades.
  • Visit the Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel perched high above the village.
  • Enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant, sampling regional specialities such as truffle-infused dishes and goat cheese.

Day 2: North Rim & La Palud-sur-Verdon

  • Begin your drive along the Verdon Gorge Loop, heading west towards the Verdon Gorge.
  • Continue driving along the Route des Crêtes, a scenic road that winds along the rim of the gorge, offering breathtaking vistas at every turn.
  • Choose from a variety of activities such as hiking along the Sentier Martel trail, rock climbing on the limestone cliffs, or kayaking and canoeing on the Verdon River.
  • Arrive at the village of La Palud-sur-Verdon, where you can explore the Maison des Gorges du Verdon visitor centre to learn more about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.

Day 2: South Rim & Aiguines

  • Drive towards Trigance to reach the south rim of the gorge.
  • Stop at the Point Sublime viewpoint for panoramic views of the gorge and the turquoise waters of the Verdon River below.
  • Pause at the Balcons de la Mescla viewpoint to admire the convergence of the Verdon and Artuby rivers, and do not miss out on a stop at Pont de l’Artuby.
  • Continue your journey towards Aiguines, stopping at Col d’Illoire along the way, a stunning mountain pass.

Day 3: Outdoor Adventures & Lake Sainte-Croix

  • Drive to Lake Sainte-Croix, a stunning reservoir nestled amidst the hills of the Verdon Regional Natural Park.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch by the lakeside or at one of the scenic viewpoints along the gorge.
  • Relax on the shores of the lake, go for a swim or rent a pedal boat or kayak to explore its tranquil waters.

Day 4: Return to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

  • Drive back to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, taking the scenic route through the countryside.
  • Along the way, stop at viewpoints and picturesque villages to soak in the last views of the Verdon Gorge and the surrounding landscapes.
  • Arrive back in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the afternoon.
  • Spend your remaining time exploring any attractions or shops in the village, or simply relax and enjoy the Provençal ambience.

GORGES DU VERDON MAP

7- Corsica Coastal Drive

best france road trips

⏰  Duration : 6-7 days 📆  When to go : spring & summer (May-September)

The Corsica Coastal Drive offers a mesmerising journey  along the rugged and picturesque coastline of Corsica , the Mediterranean gem of France. It is the perfect destination if you are looking to mix sun and outdoor experiences. 

This scenic road trip winds through  charming coastal towns, pristine beaches and dramatic cliffs , showcasing the diverse landscapes and turquoise waters of the island. 

You will also have the chance to  explore historic landmarks, enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and soak up breathtaking vistas , making the Corsica Coastal Drive an unforgettable adventure along one of the most beautiful coastlines of Europe. 

Here is an example of a  6-day itinerary  offering a taste of the best that Corsica has to offer:

Day 1: Bastia

  • Start your journey in Bastia, one of the main cities in Corsica, located on the northeast of the island.
  • Explore the historic Old Town (Terra Vecchia) with its narrow streets, baroque churches and lively squares.
  • Visit the Old Port (Vieux Port) and enjoy waterfront dining at one of the local restaurants.

Day 2: Calvi

  • Drive along the coastal road towards Calvi, a picturesque town located on the northwest coast of Corsica.
  • Stop at the charming village of Saint-Florent along the way, known for its pretty harbour and Citadel.
  • Continue driving through the scenic countryside and arrive in Calvi in the afternoon.
  • Explore its historic Citadel, stroll along the waterfront promenade and relax on the sandy beaches.

Day 3: Porto

  • Drive south along the coast to Porto, a small village nestled between the mountains and the sea.
  • Explore the village of Porto and visit the Genoese watchtower overlooking the harbour.
  • Discover the Calanques de Piana, stunning red granite cliffs that plunge into the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean.
  • Optional: Take a boat tour to explore the Calanques de Piana and the Scandola Nature Reserve.

Day 4: Bonifacio

  • Drive along the rugged west coast of Corsica towards Bonifacio, located on the southern tip of the island.
  • Stop at the village of Cargèse, known for its Greek Orthodox Church and beautiful beaches.
  • Continue driving through the scenic countryside and arrive in Bonifacio in the afternoon.
  • Explore the historic Old Town perched atop limestone cliffs.
  • Visit the Citadel and stroll along the picturesque marina.

Day 5: Porto-Vecchio

  • Drive along the eastern coast of Corsica towards Porto-Vecchio, a charming coastal town known for its beautiful beaches.
  • Stop at the beautiful beaches of Palombaggia and Santa Giulia, known for their turquoise waters and white sand.
  • Continue driving to Porto-Vecchio.
  • Spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring the historic centre.

Day 6: Bastia

  • Drive back towards Bastia along the eastern coast of Corsica.
  • Stop at the Bavella Massif, a stunning mountain range with towering granite peaks and scenic hiking trails.
  • Continue driving through the scenic countryside and arrive in Bastia in the afternoon.
  • Spend your remaining time exploring any attractions or shops in the city.

CORSICA COASTAL MAP

8- Route des Grandes Alpes

best france road trips

⏰  Duration : 4-5 days 📆  When to go : summer (June-August)

The Route des Grandes Alpes is an iconic and legendary road trip route  spanning 700 kilometres across the French Alps , from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea.

Passing through some of the most  breathtaking mountain scenery  in Europe, this itinerary takes you through picturesque valleys and over high mountain passes, offering spectacular views of  snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows and charming villages .

You will embark on a journey of epic proportions, combining exhilarating driving experiences with opportunities for numerous  outdoor adventures, cultural explorations and gastronomic delights  along the way.

Here is an example of a  4-day itinerary  covering some of the highlights of the French Alps:

Day 1: Thonon-les-Bains & Chamonix

  • Start your journey in Thonon-les-Bains, located on the shores of Lake Geneva.
  • Drive to Chamonix, a famous ski resort town nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.
  • Pass through the picturesque Arve Valley and stop to enjoy the scenery.
  • Explore its charming streets and visit the Aiguille du Midi for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Take a ride on the Montenvers Railway to see the Mer de Glace glacier.

Day 2: Megève

  • If you have time, drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, crossing into Italy briefly before returning to France.
  • Head to Megève, passing through alpine villages like Les Houches and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.
  • Arrive in Megève, a charming alpine resort town known for its luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and scenic beauty.
  • Explore its historic centre, stroll along the cobbled streets and enjoy dinner at a traditional Savoyard restaurant.

Day 3: Briançon

  • Continue your journey southward through the French Alps.
  • Drive through the stunning Tarentaise Valley, passing by ski resorts such as La Plagne and Les Arcs.
  • Cross over the Col de l’Iseran, the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps, and descend into the Maurienne Valley.
  • Continue driving through picturesque mountain villages like Val d’Isère and Bonneval-sur-Arc.
  • Arrive in Briançon, a fortified town known for its UNESCO-listed Vauban fortifications and stunning mountain scenery.
  • Explore its historic centre, visit the Fort des Têtes and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Nice

  • Drive towards Nice, descending into the Ubaye Valley, known for its rugged beauty and outdoor activities.
  • Continue driving through the Alpes-Maritimes region, passing by picturesque towns like Barcelonnette and Entrevaux.
  • Arrive in Nice, the capital of the French Riviera.
  • Explore its vibrant Old Town, stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and relax on the beach.

GRANDES ALPES MAP

9- Brittany Coastal Road

best france road trips

⏰  Duration : 6-7 days 📆  When to go : summer (June-August)

The Brittany Coastal Drive offers a  picturesque journey along the rugged and diverse coastline of Brittany , a region in northwestern France known for its dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches and charming seaside towns. 

This road trip route will take you through  quaint fishing villages, historic ports and stunning natural landscapes , providing you with opportunities to explore the scenic and untouched beauty of Brittany.

From the medieval city walls of  Saint-Malo  to the wild beauty of the  Quiberon Peninsula  and the charming streets of  Vannes , this itinerary perfectly highlights the  diverse landscapes, rich maritime heritage and gastronomic delights  of Brittany, making it an unforgettable adventure for nature lovers, history enthusiasts and foodies. 

Here is an example of a  6-day itinerary  offering a great mix of cultural, historical and natural attractions in Brittany:

Day 1: Saint-Malo

  • Start your journey in Saint-Malo, a historic port city known for its impressive city walls and maritime heritage.
  • Explore the medieval Old Town (Intra-Muros), stroll along the ramparts and visit the Château de Saint-Malo.
  • Hop on a boat cruise to discover the Emerald Coast and local history.
  • Enjoy dinner at a seaside restaurant, sampling local specialities like moules marinières (mussels in white wine sauce) and galettes (savoury buckwheat crepes).

Day 2: Dinard

  • Drive along the coast to Dinard, a charming seaside resort town located across the Rance Estuary.
  • Explore its elegant Belle Époque architecture, relax on the sandy beaches and take a stroll along the scenic coastal promenade.
  • Visit the Pointe du Moulinet for panoramic views of Saint-Malo and the surrounding coastline.

Day 3: Perros-Guirec

  • Drive to Perros-Guirec and continue along the scenic Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast), known for its stunning rock formations and sandy beaches.
  • Explore the Ploumanac’h Lighthouse and the Sentier des Douaniers (Customs Officers’ Path), offering breathtaking views of the rugged coastline.
  • Visit the charming village of Ploumanac’h and stroll through its quaint streets lined with granite cottages.

Day 4: Douarnenez

  • Head to Douarnenez, a picturesque fishing port on the Bay of Douarnenez.
  • Explore the Port Rhu Museum and learn about the maritime history and boat-building traditions of the town.
  • Visit the Tréboul district and relax on the sandy beaches or take a boat trip to the Île Tristan.
  • Enjoy dinner at a seafood restaurant, savouring fresh catches from the local fishing boats.

Day 5: Quiberon

  • Drive along the coast to Quiberon, a popular seaside resort town located on a narrow peninsula.
  • Explore the beaches, cliffs and coastal paths, including the Pointe du Conguel and the Côte Sauvage (Wild Coast).
  • Visit the Quiberon Citadel and learn about the history of the town as a fortified stronghold.
  • Enjoy seafood specialities at a waterfront restaurant overlooking the harbour.

Day 6: Vannes

  • Continue your journey to Vannes, a charming medieval town located on the Gulf of Morbihan.
  • Explore the historic centre, with its half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and bustling markets.
  • Visit the Vannes Cathedral and the Château de l’Hermine, a medieval fortress overlooking the harbour.
  • Take a boat tour of the Gulf of Morbihan and discover its scenic islands and coastal landscapes.

BRITTANY COAST MAP

10- Pyrenean Escape

best france road trips

⏰  Duration : 7-8 days 📆  When to go : spring & summer (May-September)

Embark on a scenic Pyrenees road trip starting from Toulouse, where the journey unfolds amidst  historic charm, cultural richness and dramatic mountain vistas . 

From the medieval allure of  Foix  and the picturesque landscapes of  Vielha  to the spiritual sanctuaries of  Lourdes  and the elegant architecture of  Pau , you will not get bored on your adventure through the Pyrenees.

This itinerary offers a perfect mix of  scenic drives, cultural exploration and outdoor activities , allowing you to fully experience the beauty and diversity of the Pyrenees region, providing a unique experience in one of the most  spectacular mountain landscapes  in Europe.

Here is an example of an  8-day itinerary  covering some of the most spectacular parts of the Pyrenees:

Day 1: Toulouse

  • Start your journey in Toulouse, known as the  Pink City  due to its distinctive terracotta buildings.
  • Explore the historic city centre, including the Capitole de Toulouse, Basilica of Saint-Sernin and the Garonne River waterfront.

Day 2: Foix

  • Drive to Foix, a charming town dominated by its medieval castle.
  • Visit the Château de Foix and explore the narrow streets of the Old Town.
  • Optional: Hike or take a scenic drive through the nearby Pyrenean foothills.

Day 3: Andorra

  • Head to the Principality of Andorra, a small mountainous country nestled in the Pyrenees.
  • Explore the capital city, Andorra la Vella, known for its duty-free shopping opportunities and mountain scenery.
  • Visit landmarks such as Casa de la Vall and the Sant Esteve Church.

Day 4: Vielha

  • Drive through the scenic Pyrenean landscapes from Andorra to Vielha, located in the Val d’Aran region of Catalonia, Spain.
  • Explore its charming streets, lined with stone buildings and mountain vistas.
  • Visit the local markets and sample traditional Catalan cuisine.

Day 5: Saint-Lary-Soulan

  • Head to Saint-Lary-Soulan, a picturesque mountain town in the French Pyrenees.
  • Take the cable car up to the Pic Lumière for panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.
  • Explore the thermal baths or enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or mountain biking.

Day 6: Lourdes

  • Continue your journey to Lourdes, a world-famous pilgrimage site known for its Marian apparitions and healing waters.
  • Visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and attend a Mass or participate in the candlelight procession.
  • Explore the Grotto of Massabielle and the Basilica of the Rosary.
  • Drive to Pau, a historic city known for its elegant boulevards, Belle Époque architecture and views of the Pyrenees.
  • Visit the Château de Pau, birthplace of King Henry IV of France, and stroll through the Parc Beaumont.
  • Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant specialising in regional cuisine.

Day 8: Return to Toulouse

  • Drive back to Toulouse and enjoy the scenery along the way. 
  • Once in Toulouse, spend your final evening exploring, shopping or relaxing.

PYRENEAN ESCAPE MAP

11- The Champagne Route

best france road trips

The Champagne Route, or  Route Touristique du Champagne , takes you on a fantastic journey through the  picturesque vineyards and charming villages of the Champagne region  in northeastern France. 

Stretching approximately 500 kilometres, this scenic route offers you the opportunity to explore  prestigious Champagne houses, historic towns and centuries-old cellars , whilst enjoying tastings of the world-famous sparkling wine directly from the producers. 

With its  stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage and exceptional gastronomy , the Champagne Route promises an unforgettable experience through one of the most celebrated wine regions in France.

Here is an example of a  6-day itinerary  covering some of the most iconic attractions in Champagne:

Day 1: Reims

  • Start your journey in Reims, the largest city in the Champagne region.
  • Visit the magnificent Reims Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore the historic city centre.
  • Take a tour of one of the prestigious Champagne houses in Reims, such as Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger or Pommery, and enjoy a Champagne tasting.

Day 2: Épernay

  • Drive to Épernay, known as the  Capital of Champagne , located south of Reims.
  • Explore the Avenue de Champagne, lined with grand Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët and Mercier.
  • Take a tour of a Champagne house and cellar, learning about the Champagne-making process and history of the region.
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, sampling regional specialities paired with Champagne.

Day 3: Hautvillers & Ay

  • Visit the charming village of Hautvillers, known as the birthplace of Champagne, where Dom Pérignon perfected the méthode champenoise.
  • Explore the village and visit the tomb of Dom Pérignon in the local abbey church.
  • Drive to the village of Ay, another important Champagne-producing area, and visit Champagne houses such as Bollinger or Deutz.
  • Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the vineyards surrounding Ay.

Day 4: Montagne de Reims

  • Drive through the Montagne de Reims Regional Natural Park, a scenic area known for its vine-covered slopes and picturesque villages.
  • Visit the village of Verzy and explore the Faux de Verzy, ancient twisted beech trees unique to the region.
  • Stop at Champagne houses along the way for tastings and tours, experiencing the diversity of Champagne styles produced in the area.

Day 5: Marne Valley

  • Explore the Marne Valley, driving through vineyards and charming villages.
  • Visit the village of Châtillon-sur-Marne and enjoy panoramic views of the Marne Valley.
  • Stop at Champagne houses in the area for tastings and cellar tours, discovering the terroir-driven Champagnes of the Marne Valley.

Day 6: Return to Reims

  • Spend your final day in Reims exploring any attractions or Champagne houses you may have missed.
  • Visit the Musée de la Reddition, where the German surrender was signed in 1945.
  • Explore more Champagne vineyards surrounding the city.
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant, toasting to the end of your Champagne Route road trip.

CHAMPAGNE ROUTE MAP

best france road trips

⏰  Duration : 5-6 days 📆  When to go : spring & autumn (April/May-September/October)

The Route des Grands Crus is a scenic road offering a  memorable journey through the prestigious Burgundy wine region  in France, spanning approximately 60 kilometres from Dijon to Santenay. 

Lined with  lush vineyards, historic castles (châteaux) and charming villages , this route showcases some of the finest wine-producing terroirs in the world, including  renowned appellations  like Gevrey-Chambertin and Puligny-Montrachet.

You will have the chance to explore  prestigious wine estates , indulge in  wine tastings  and immerse yourself in the  rich viticultural heritage  of Burgundy along this iconic wine route.

Here is an example of a  5-day itinerary  covering some of the most popular attractions in Burgundy:

Day 1: Dijon

  • Start your journey in Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region.
  • Explore the historic centre of Dijon, known for its well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture.
  • Visit the Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne (Ducal Palace) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, one of the oldest museums in France.
  • Immerse yourself in a wine-tasting experience at La Cave du Palais .
  • Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, sampling regional specialities such as boeuf bourguignon and escargots.

Day 2: Nuits-Saint-Georges

  • Drive along the Route des Grands Crus whilst enjoying the scenery.
  • Stop at the picturesque village of Vosne-Romanée, home to several prestigious grand cru vineyards, including Romanée-Conti.
  • Visit a selection of wineries for tastings of the renowned Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
  • Continue to Nuits-Saint-Georges and explore the historic centre, including the 16th-century Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall).
  • Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, accompanied by a glass of Nuits-Saint-Georges wine.

Day 3: Beaune

  • Drive south to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy.
  • Explore the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th-century charitable hospital with a distinctive colored-tile roof.
  • Visit the Marché aux Vins de Beaune, where you can taste a selection of Burgundy wines and purchase bottles to take home.
  • Enjoy an immersive wine-tasting experience at Château de Pommard.
  • Explore the charming streets of Beaune and dine at a traditional bistro or Michelin-starred restaurant.

Day 4: Meursault

  • Drive through the scenic vineyards of the Côte de Beaune, stopping at prestigious wine villages such as Pommard and Volnay.
  • Visit the village of Meursault, known for its elegant white wines made from Chardonnay grapes.
  • Take a tour of a local winery and enjoy tastings of Meursault wines, known for their richness and complexity.

Day 5: Santenay

  • Continue your journey along the Route des Grands Crus, stopping at villages such as Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet.
  • Visit the Château de Santenay, a historic castle and winery located in the village of Santenay.
  • Take a tour of the château and its cellars, followed by tastings of Santenay wines.
  • Explore the village of Santenay and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

GRANDS CRUS MAP

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Plan and create an unforgettable road trip in France!

best road trips in france

Tips for reducing your impact on a road trip

Are you looking forward to your unforgettable road trip? I understand! 

Road trips are a fantastic way of travelling as they allow us to move freely and discover many incredible places at our own pace. 

However, they can also have negative environmental impacts. That is why considering our carbon footprint and adopting  eco-responsible habits  is essential.

READ MORE:  How to Plan an Epic (Eco-Friendly) Road Trip

Here are some  sustainable tips  on making your France road trip more eco-friendly and having a positive impact on the places you visit:

PREPARE YOUR ROUTE IN ADVANCE 

I know getting lost on a road trip can feel fun and exciting, but when trying to lower your footprint, it is best to plan your route to minimise driving distance and avoid unnecessary detours. The shorter the distance you travel, the less fuel you will use and the less harmful emissions you will produce. In addition, consider alternative transportation options such as public transit or carpooling for shorter distances. 

Tip: Get offline maps to stay on track even if you lose signal. 

PLAN YOUR MEALS

Another great way to reduce your impact on the road is to plan your meals. Throughout your journey, eat at local restaurants or wander through local markets to buy fresh produce. You will have the opportunity to try the local cuisine whilst contributing to the local economy. 

STAY IN GREEN ACCOMMODATIONS

Stay in eco-friendly accommodations such as eco-lodges, hotels with green certifications, or campgrounds with sustainable practices. Look for accommodations that prioritise energy efficiency, waste reduction and water conservation.

It is not always easy to determine whether an accommodation has eco-conscious practices, but try to look on their website for green credentials and ask questions. You can also use  Bookdifferent  or  Ecobnb  to help you decide.

MAKE YOUR TRIP PLASTIC-FREE

As you might know, plastic packaging is a significant environmental issue and causes concerns for wildlife and the preservation of natural landscapes. Therefore, avoid plastic as much as possible and bring reusable items instead. Choose  eco-friendly alternatives , like reusable tote bags, cutlery, plates and more. 

Tip: you can also buy  filtered water bottles  to refill your water anywhere. 

CHECK YOUR CAR AND DRIVE SMOOTHLY

Make sure your vehicle is in the best possible condition for the road: check the engine, oil level and tyre pressure before your trip. In addition, use the available features in your car, like cruise control, to help you maintain your speed and reduce excess emissions. And even better, drive an electric vehicle if possible! (Or a bike for the most courageous).

LEAVE A PLACE BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT

Aim to live by the principle: leave no trace. And even better, leave a place better than you found it. For example, dispose of your litter appropriately and pick up any trash you encounter. Be respectful of the land and do not drive over protected areas. Finally, stay on the marked trails when hiking, as going off can be dangerous for flora and fauna. 

ADOPT A RESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE TOWARDS WILDLIFE

Be mindful of your surroundings and adopt a responsible attitude towards wildlife, on land and in the sea. Do not come close to, feed or touch animals and corals. Remember that you are only a guest in their home.

ALWAYS RESPECT THE LOCAL HERITAGE

Treat people and their surroundings with respect. Sustainable travel is not only about the environment but also about the local communities. So, always be respectful and try to learn a few French words!

More inspiration for your green vacation:

  • Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
  • 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
  • Best Ecotourism Activities Around the World

Eco-friendly gear you might love:

  • 10 Best Sustainable Backpacks for Travel & Hiking
  • 10 Best Reusable & Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs
  • 8 Best Filtered Water Bottles for Travel & Hiking

Check out  this page  for more inspiration on eco-friendly products & gear.

best road trips in france

France travel planning guide + tips

Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your road trip in France stress-free with one of my favourite providers,  Nomad Insurance .

Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over France. However, I also recommend travelling with the  UltraPress Purifier Bottle , a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.

Yes, renting a car in France is easy and is a great way to explore the country freely. I recommend booking yours with  Rentalcars.com  – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.

The best way to book your accommodation in France is with  Booking.com  – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable guesthouses to luxury resorts.

I recommend booking your plane with  Skyscanner . It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.

The best road trip planner app I recommend you download on your phone is Roadtrippers . It will help you build your perfect itinerary with the top stops along the way.

Beautiful road trips in France – FAQ

Yes, France is a great destination for a road trip. With its diverse landscapes, charming villages, historic landmarks and world-renowned cuisine (and wine), France offers countless opportunities for memorable road trip experiences.

Yes, driving in France is generally easy. The country has an extensive network of well-maintained roads and highways, including Autoroutes (toll roads) and Routes Nationales (national roads), which make it easy to travel between cities and access remote places.

best road trips in france

And you, what is your favourite road trip in France ? Let me know in the comments below!

With love ♡ Lucie

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Your Complete French Road Trip Planner

Ahhh, France. A country so eclectic and beguiling, it is the most visited nation on the planet . A French road trip is the best way to explore the wonderful diversity and beautiful landscapes of this country.

A road trip in France showcases the dramatic landscapes, historic cities, abundant UNESCO sites and some of the most picture-perfect villages in Europe, like no other way to travel does.

As you road trip through France, you’ll find yourself stopping regularly for Insta-worthy images, and along the way you’ll find fantastic adventures to try like chateaux hunting, hiking in some of Europe’s highest peaks, kayaking and wild swimming in crystal clear rivers, and sampling the wonderful gastronomy across the country.

In this France travel guide you’ll find a round-up of all the best road trips in France by region, with France travel tips and information to help you plan and prepare. Come with us as we share our unmissable French road trip itineraries.

France road trip

Getting to France

Flying in and opting for car rental in France is a great choice, especially as France has so many easily accessible international airports, the perfect starting point for many of our road trip itineraries.

You can fly in to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Bordeaux and many other French cities to start your trip. We recommend booking your flights through Skyscanner for live deals and the best prices.

Driving to France from UK

If you’re planning to drive to from the UK to France , then you’ll find everything you need to know, including the best, fastest and cheapest routes, as well as driving tips, in our driving to France from UK guide .

Are you planning to rent a car in France? As one of the largest car hire aggregator companies in the world, we recommend Rentalcars.com because they have massive purchasing power which enables them to secure the best rental prices, which benefits you when you’re planning a road trip.

For a real adventure, hire a motorhome or campervan in Italy . We recommend Motorhome Republic , an aggregate booking site who pull together all the best deals from a number of rental agencies, to offer you a wide choice of options alongside an excellent English speaking expert motorhome Concierge Team.

Use the Park4Night app to find overnight spots and campsites, and sleep on a high mountain pass, next to a beautiful lake, or in a wildflower meadow.

Best Time to Take a French Road Trip

December to february.

The winter months can be very cold throughout France, even in the south of the country and rain is quite common at this time of year.  But, the roads and cities will be quiet and less crowded, although not all attractions will be open.

March to May

Spring is a wonderful time to visit France, with temperatures warming up across the country. Markets increase in size, restaurants start preparing different dishes and the countryside is glorious. You’ll still find the roads and cities less crowded, and most attractions will be open.

June to August

June and July are busier months to roadtrip France , with perfect temperatures for camping and outdoor activities. June is probably the best month, as schools have yet to break up across Europe and the family rush to the coasts has not yet started.

August brings the French annual holiday when many businesses close for the duration. If you’re planning on road tripping in tourist areas, then this won’t affect you too much, and you’ll have perfect holiday weather.

September to November

Autumn is a fantastic time for French road trips , especially in the south of France. The coast will be quieter but if you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy an Indian summer amongst the grape harvest and changing fall colors of the countryside.

Is this your first time visiting France? Get all the information you need in our France Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there, and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Road Trip France Planner by Region

France is such a diverse country, it can be hard to decide where to take a road trip, especially if you want to see the less traveled in France for a more authentic experience.

Whether you like coasts, mountains or rolling countryside, historic cities, elegant palaces, or wild landscapes, you’ll find your perfect road trip here, and there’s no dount that you’ll be ticking plenty off your France bucket list !

A road trip to France is an easy win for most Europeans and Brits, who are on the same continent, or just a hop across the English Channel.

For everyone else, Paris makes a great place to start any France road trip itinerary. Book with Skyscanner and fly in, pick up a rental car, or even a campervan, and you can be anywhere in the country within a day – that’s the beauty of a  voyage en voitre , or road trip in French!

France Road Trip Map by Region

French road trip map

Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes

A huge region, the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes stretches from the volcanoes and plateau of the Massif Central in the west to the highest point of the French Alps in eastern France, offering some of the best roads in France, with spectacular scenery, rugged landscapes, and historic cities.

Divided by the mighty Rhone river, and with the center of the region being the vibrant foodie city of Lyon, there is great diversity here and four distinct climates. The further south you head, the more you will notice the flora, fauna, and climate taking on a Mediterranean feel.

A UNESCO Road Trip

Lyon – clermont-ferrand – le-puy-en-valey – saint-etienne.

  • Distance 370km
  • Duration 7 days
  • Drive Time 5 hours

Start in the fabulous city of Lyon, the capital of the Rhone region. The historic heart, Vieux-Lyon, stretches across the base of Fourviere Hill and its grand basilica.

There are lots of things to do in Lyon , eating is one of the best! As you stroll the medieval streets and iconic traboules (or hidden passageways), stop in Lyon’s traditional restaurants, known as bouchons , and get up close to Renaissance facades and buildings that boast over a thousand years of history.

Next on your Auvergne road trip is one of France’s oldest cities, Clermont-Ferrand, known for its string of volcanoes called the Chaine des Puys. The dormant volcano Puy de Dome is one of the highest and has been a tectonic hotspot on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2018.

In the city itself, don’t miss the jewel of Notre-Dame-du-Port Basilica and the highly distinctive black lava stone Gothic Cathedral.

In Le-Puy-en-Valey, visit the imposing cathedral, the silhouette of which stands proud on the slopes of Mount Anis. The building, celebrated for housing the enigmatic Black Madonna, and one of the most beautiful cloisters in Europe, is a key monument of Romanesque art.

Finally, around Saint-Etienne, a UNESCO Design City, the site at Firminy hosts Le Corbusier’s largest European work. Visit the four buildings featured on the architectural walk, including the famous Maison de la Culture, where you can trace the legacy left by modern architecture.

Not far from Lyon, pay a visit to the Tourette Convent, the last great building by Le Corbusier in France, which will be a fitting end to your UNESCO road trip.

Road trip here if you like…

  • Mountains – if outdoor activities are your thing, start  hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc  from Chamonix at the foot of the country’s easternmost mountains, explore the medium-high extinct volcanoes of the Massif Central, or take a road trip on the Route des Grandes Alpes .
  • Gastronomic delights – There’s  so much to do in Lyon , not only one of the most beautiful cities in France, it is the food city of this gastronomic country. Regional dishes are influenced by the mountains and tend to be hearty and wholesome. 
  • Water sports – with Lake Geneva, Lake Annecy, and Lac de Bourget in the region, summer sailing, wind-surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking are on the doorstep.

Lyon river and skyline with historic and modern buildings

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting France . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comte

This beautiful region of France is famous for its rich history and viniculture. Sometimes abbreviated to BFC, this area is around a five to six hour drive from Calais on the A26, and just a few hours from Paris, making it a great option if you’re short on time. 

Part of this area is the old historic region of Burgundy, once the heartland of France and known for its wines, such as Beaujolais and Chablis.

BFC is sparsely populated and sees relatively little tourist footfall, making this cross-country road trip a joy for anyone looking to get off the beaten path. The route takes you through a mix of low agricultural lands to the fabulous mountains and lakes of the Jura.

RELATED POST: Off The Beaten Path France – 8 Unique Places

The Jura Route des Lacs

Dijon – marigny – thoirette.

  • Distance 350km
  • Duration 3-5 days
  • Drive Time 3 hours

Start in the beautiful historic city of Dijon, surrounded by the Cote d’Or vineyards where over 3,000 winemakers produce their world-famous wines in the heart of ancient Burgundy.

The UNESCO old center of Dijon is packed with half-timbered medieval houses and elegant Renaissance buildings. Make sure to try the wines from the region, and Dijon’s other claim to fame, Dijon mustard.

Head south to off-the-beaten-track Marigny for the deep navy and turquoise lakes of the Jura Massif, where you can explore museums, regional crafts, and local gastronomy, as well as remote places, natural sites, and plenty of waterfalls.

You might want to get in the water too, there are twenty lakes to choose from!

  • Great gastronomy  – the home of the unique Vin Jaune, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, Comte cheese, and Dijon mustard is a powerhouse of French cooking, particularly where the use of wine is required!
  • Atmospheric historic cities – Beaune and Dijon are just two gorgeous cities in this region, packed with history, Gothic and medieval architecture with a typical French ambiance.
  • Breathtaking castles – there are well over thirty well-preserved chateaux in the northern half of this region, you’ll see them literally on every bend in the road!

Pale turquoise lke with wooded hills and green fishing boat

The rugged peninsula of western France, Bretagne, is an ideal place for a one or two week northern France road trip itinerary.

With Rennes, the capital of the region, being just an hour’s drive from St Malo, it is literally a hop over the channel and the perfect place for a road trip from the UK to France .

With a wild and dramatic coastline and an undiscovered feel beyond the well-known tourist spots, this western France road trip offers a shared Celtic culture, ancient mysticism, and every type of beach imaginable!

Brittany Coast to Coast

Saint-malo – brest – quimper – vannes – rennes.

  • Distance 540km
  • Duration 10 days
  • Drive Time 6 hour

The peninsula of Brittany lends itself to a jaunt around its coast, enjoying the superb seafood and friendly nature of the locals.

Start in historic St Malo before taking in the endless sightseeing opportunities of the peninsula’s varied 1600km long coastline. 

There’s a beach here for your taste, from secluded coves and surfing hotspots to long white stretches, dramatic cliffs, and rocky outcrops.

Around Perros-Guirec is the Cote de Granit Rose with its pink beaches, one of the most interesting coastlines in France, and across to the west is the Finistere coast with its huge beaches and quaint fishing villages.

If you want to dip into every cove, explore every interesting finger of land that protrudes into the sea, and visit all the charming towns and villages en route, then allow at least two weeks for this magical road trip.

  • Beautiful gardens – also known as the Garden Coast, Brittany has some of the best gardens in France. From English-style cottage gardens to exotics, there’s something here for every green-fingered visitor.
  • Delicious cider – Brittany is the cider country of France. With more than 600 apple varieties grown in the region, there’s a cider to suit everyone’s tastes.
  • Customs and tradition – the pan-Celtic tradition is very evident here; the Breton language is spoken with pride and widespread cultural festivals celebrate Celtic music and dance.

Lighthouse on cliffs in France

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts , and road trip songs for the journey!

Centre-Val de Loire

Centre-Val de Loire is a landlocked region, located to the southwest of the French capital Paris. As the name suggests this region is all about the magnificent river Loire. Just four to five hours from Calais to the capital of Orleans, and three from Paris, this region is a popular holiday region and makes an ideal destination for a road trip.

This is a real France bucket list trip. Fine historical cities and towns, many of which stand on the banks of the Loire, offer superb Renaissance religious buildings and architecture and of course, the fabulous and extravagant chateaux the region is best known for.

Chateaux of the Loire

Orleans – blois – tours – angers – nantes.

The enchanting chateaux and picturesque towns of the Loire Valley make this historic region the perfect place to take a 10 day road trip in France.

Follow this Loire Valley road trip between famous cities and marvel at the natural wonders, opulent architecture, charming towns, and breathtaking castles of one of France’s best-loved regions.

You’ll visit the many chateaux on the route, including the famous Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Villandry, and explore the Loire’s historic towns, learning about French history, architecture and culture and you go.

Discover Joan of Arc’s legacy in Orleans and take a ride on a giant machine elephant in Nantes as you take in the beautiful Loire landscape.

  • Delicious white wines – Touraine, Vouvray, Pouilly-Fume, Sancerre, and Valencay are just some of the well-known whites produced in this region. Take a vineyard tour and make sure to enjoy a wine tasting afterward!
  • Historic cities – from gracious Orleans to Gothic Blois and Tours with its beautiful old town, the cities of this region are must-sees.
  • Bird watching – La Brenne Natural Park is the hidden gem of Centre-Val de Loire. To the south of the region, this huge park containing over a thousand lakes is a wetland paradise for birders. 

Fine French chateau with turretssurrounded by lush grass and foliage

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip.

Grand Est borders Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and a small part of Switzerland so it’s not surprising that this region has multicultural influences.

Grand Est is one of the most accessible regions if you’re taking a France road trip from Calais, a four hour drive will take you to the heart of the rolling Aube, and in six hours you can be in  Strasbourg , the capital of the region and home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. 

Previously known as Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, the region is home to typical French countryside with an eclectic mix of vineyards, the low-lying Vosges mountains, and some of the prettiest small towns in France, found along the Alsace wine route.

In some less-visited and remote wooded parts of the Vosges, lynx, boar, and wolves can still be found in the wild, making the rich nature and biodiversity of the area of particular interest.

RELATED POST: Europe Road Trip – 16 Incredible Routes

Route Touristique du Champagne

Reims – trigny – epernay – cumieres – essoyes.

  • Distance 285km
  • Drive Time 5 hour

The whole of the Champagne Route stretches for around 700km across the departments of Marne, Aube, and Aisne, with eight marked trails to authentic villages, ancient monasteries, imposing châteaux and churches, and of course, vineyards!

This bit of the route takes you from Reims and its world-renowned champagne houses to the massif of Saint-Thierry where you can enjoy beautiful views from Trigny, a flower-filled village with medieval ramparts.

Visit the Verzenay lighthouse, which watches over a rolling swathe of vineyards and now houses the Musée de la Vigne, where you can learn about the history of champagne before driving on to Epernay, and its famous champagne houses of Moet & Chandon, Perrier Jouet and Pol Roger.

From Cumieres, embark on the Champagne Vallee boat to discover the vineyards along the water in the Marne valley. 

Further south on the Côte des Blancs road, admire the panoramic view of the vineyards from Mont Aimé and enjoy the charms of the pretty village of Oger. 

In Aube around Bar-sur-Seine, with its half-timbered houses, make a stop at Essoyes where Impressionist artist Auguste Renoir lived for a few years, and visit one of the 28 champagne cellars in the area.

  • Champagne – of course! This champagne road trip is perfect for lovers of bubbles!
  • Medieval   cathedrals – Grand Est is home to some of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe, many are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • War history – the Verdun & Argonne battlefields and war graves cemeteries of WWI can be found in the region, along with the WWII Maginot Line forts. The Surrender Room in Reims is where German forces capitulated to Eisenhower in May 1945, bringing an end to the long war.
  • Accessible hiking  – easier on the heart and lungs, the hiking routes of the Vosges are a pleasure. With stunning rolling scenery and trails to take you through historic villages and make the most of the views, hiking in the Vosges is a real highlight. 

village vineyards France

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Hauts-de-France

This is is the most northerly region of France and home to the port city of Calais, meaning it’s on the doorstep of the UK and a perfect French road trip destination for those wishing to nip across the Channel for a weekend from the UK, or for anyone looking for a few beach days on a longer trip in Paris. 

Not a major tourist region, the area is known for the battlefields of World War I, most notably the Somme, a four month battle in which over a million people lost their lives, and many people come here for the memorials and war sites.

But there is more to see in this part of France, including the incredible beaches, elegant resort towns, and pretty fishing villages dotted along the unspoiled and beautiful Cote d’Opale, or Opal Coast.  

Explore the Opal Coast

Calais – boulogne-sur-mer – le touquet – etaples – montreuil – abbeville.

  • Distance 144km
  • Duration 3 days
  • Drive Time 2 hour

From Calais, head south and visit Cap Blanc-Nez (cape white nose), opposite the white cliffs of Dover, and Cap Griz-Nez, (cape grey nose), the closest point in France to England. Both headlands offer fine views across the channel and coast and some great walking opportunities.

Boulogne is the largest fishing port in France and is home to all things sea! Visit the excellent Nausicca Aquarium, full of fascinating displays, interactive exhibits, and sea life, before visiting the historic old town and port, where you can join an organized tour. 

Le Touquet is the jewel of the coast, known as Paris-Plage because this is traditionally where Parisians came for their long August break. Nowadays, it’s a lively resort known for its fantastic beach, water sports, and nightlife, including clubs and casinos.

Don’t miss the lighthouse, La Phare de la Canche, which rewards you with breathtaking views if you’re happy to climb the 274 steps to get to the viewing platform at the top!

Stop at the peaceful nature park of Baie de Canche, situated east of Étaples-Sur-Mer, a protected area of 45 hectares teeming with wildlife, before heading to Abbeville.

The capital of maritime Picardy and your final stop, Abbeville is a beautiful city and boasts rich historical monuments including the flamboyant Gothic style Saint-Vulfran collegiate church, with its magnificent carved facade.

  • Mining history – much of the infrastructure in the northern parts of the region has been shaped by mining, a now redundant industry in this part of France. Visit the UNESCO listed Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin for a fascinating insight into the industry and a miner’s life in the pits.
  • Beautiful belfries –  tall and often ornate clock towers attached to civic buildings, belfries are common in the region and were built to symbolize the power of the local alderman and councillors. The Belfries of Belgium and France is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles of architecture.
  • Battlefield tours  – the battles of Flanders, the Somme, Vimy, and Ypres were all fought on the soil of the Hauts-de France by French, British, Canadian, Australian, and African troops. The memorials and cemeteries marking these battles make for moving visits.

French fields, cliffs and sea

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Ile-de-France

Ile-de-France is the small region surrounding the beautiful city of Paris. Surrounded by cities and forests that prospered from the patronage of the Kings of France, the area is rich in royal history, elegant palaces, and medieval towns. 

A four hour drive from Calais and on the doorstep for those flying in, it is perhaps not the first destination road trippers think of, but it is the ideal opportunity to combine a five day trip to Paris with a road trip to see the best bits of this compact region.

A Road Trip Around Paris

Chantilly – provins – fontainebleau – versailles – saint-denis.

  • Distance 275km
  • Duration 5 days
  • Drive Time 4 hour

Start in Chantilly, a town obsessed with horses, and join the Parisians at the elegant Chantilly racetrack, home of the French Derby (or Prix du Jockey Club).  

Head along the pretty country roads to Fontainebleau forest for a spot of activity. Once the hunting grounds of French kings, and home to a beautiful palace, the area is dotted with massive boulders that attract anyone wanting to try bouldering. 

If hiking is more your thing, there are more than 500km of marked trails in the forest, with the 25 Bosses Trail being the most well-known. This challenging day hike will reward you with incredible views of the surrounding area. 

If you prefer to see it from the air, then hitch a ride on a hot air balloon, a popular way to see the forest.

From here, drive to the UNESCO site of historic Provins, a fortified city full of medieval half-timbered houses and cobbled streets inside the well-preserved ramparts. Built to accommodate an annual fair linking northern Europe with the Mediterranean, most of the buildings here are still in their original form.

Versailles is a once-in-a-lifetime visit and you must book online in advance as it can take five hours to queue in the summer if you don’t have a ticket. This shining, golden Baroque palace was once home to the Kings of France and spreads over 800 acres.

The inside is full of gold leaf, pink marble, and other finishes so opulent it almost hurts the eye. The formal gardens are beautifully symmetrical and soothing, with thousands of trees and water features – the perfect place for a picnic.

From Versailles, head north-east to the beautiful Basilica of Saint-Denis, one of the most important religious buildings in Ile-de-France. The first Gothic cathedral was built at the exact spot where Saint-Denis, the patron saint of Paris and France was buried.

  • Iconic cities – although driving in and around Paris is to be avoided at all costs, you can stay outside Paris and get the train in, just follow this perfect  Paris one day trip itinerary  to see top sights like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in one of the most cultured cities in Europe .
  • Theme parks –  meet all your favorite characters at Disneyland Paris , just three and a half hours from Calais and an hour from Paris.
  • Modern architecture – there are four Le Corbusier villas in Ile-de-France. Villa Savoye is in Poissy and Villa La Roche, Villa Jeanneret, and Immeuble Molitor are wonderful hidden gems in Paris.

best road trips in france

Normandy borders the English Channel and is easily accessible from all the channel ports, the furthest being St Malo around a three to four hour drive. Le Havre is in the region itself and a perfect arrival port popular with UK road trippers, as well as being close to pretty Honfleur.

The whole region was a significant medieval empire and controlled much of England and Wales, leaving a rich history for visitors to explore on a Normandy road trip.

The three huge attractions of Rouen cathedral, the Bayeux Tapestry, and Mont Saint-Michel are the must-sees of the region. Along with the pretty fishing port of Honfleur and the D-Day beaches, this region has much to recommend and is one of the best road trip destinations in France.

The World War II Sites of Normandy

Benouville – ouistreham – arromanches – colleville-sur-mer – bayeaux.

  • Distance 180km
  • Drive Time 3 hour

You could visit the key places on this tour in a day, but to the sites justice and spend time at the memorials, you need three to five days.  

Start at Benouville, just north of Caen, for Pegasus Bridge and its museum, the site of a daring landing by gliders of the British 6th Airborne Division in shortly before the sea invasion.

From here, it’s a short hop to Ouistreham to visit Le Grand Bunker, part of the German Atlantic Wall defenses, and the German Battery to the north. 

Heading west, you’ll find the landing beaches of Sword (British and French), Juno (Canadian), Gold (British), and Omaha and Utah (American). Each has a number of visitor sites to be explored.

At Arromanches, watch an educational film at the 360-degree cinema on top of the cliff before you descend into the town itself and visit the Landing Museum built near the site of the Mulberry Harbours, which were constructed to aid the Allies in getting supplies ashore. 

As you continue west, don’t miss the German Gun Battery at Longues, before arriving at the atmospheric American Cemetery at Colville, where you can hear the Last Post daily at 5pm.

From Utah beach, skirt back to Bayeaux, home of the British and Commonwealth Cemetery and Battle of Normandy Museum (and of course, that famous tapestry).

RELATED POST: Normandy Road Trip: Ultimate 7 Day Itinerary

  • Medieval heritage – Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake, is chock full of medieval architecture and history. The Bayeux Tapestry, telling the story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 is on glorious display in the town of the same name.
  • Gorgeous gardens – if you are a gardener or painter, then there is no better garden in the whole of France than Giverny, Claude Monet’s country home and garden. Gloriously and unashamedly colorful, this beautiful place has provided inspiration to generations of gardeners and painters alike.
  • Impressionist art – known as the birthplace of impressionism after Monet took inspiration in Le Havre and painted ‘ Impression, soleil levant ‘ (‘Impression, sunrise’) in 1872. Normandy houses two major collections and has no fewer than fifteen museums dedicated to impressionist art and history.

Mont Saint-Michel seen across a golden field of wheat with a blue sky

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

One of our personal favorites for a France road trip holiday, Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest region of France. From the ports of Caen or Cherbourg, the capital Bordeaux is a good seven to eight hour drive, making the region an ideal destination for a two or three weeks holiday. 

This region in the southwest of France is incredibly varied, from the mountains of the Pyrenees and the gently meandering Dordogne valley, to the almost continuous beach of the long Landes coastline. There’s also great French wine heritage here, along with classic gastronomy which uses the abundance of high-quality ingredients grown and produced in the region.

Pine forests, vineyards, elegant resorts and rustic villages shape this space, along with great regional food and wine which give life and color to a seriously enjoyable region of France.

RELATED POST: A Seven Day Pyrenees Hiking Tour

The Best of the Dordogne

Bordeaux – bergerac – la roque-gageac – sarlat-la-caneda – rocamadour – perigueux.

  • Distance 380km
  • Duration 5-7 days

Staring in the magnificent city of Bordeaux , known as the wine capital of the world, follow the Dordogne to beautiful Bergerac, a historic city, whose narrow streets are lined with fine houses and filled with blooms and quirky art installations.

Of course, you’ll also find a statue of Bergerac’s most famous son, Cyrano de Bergerac. A French soldier remembered chiefly for fighting many duels often over the size of his nose! 

From here, head for the medieval village of La Roque-Gageac, the gateway to the Valley of the Five Chateaux, home to five impressive castles, including Chateau Beynac and Chateau Castelnaud. You’ll also find the stunning Gardens of Marqueyssac hanging on the cliffs above the village.

Head east for the gorgeous town of Sarlat, deep in the wooded hills of the Dordogne. With cobbled streets and Gothic mansions galore, Sarlat makes a great base to explore locally and enjoy some of the fantastic gastronomy of the region.  

Cross into Occitanie for Rocamadour, home to the cheese of the same name, and the Gouffre de Padirac, two of the must-see attractions in the area which can be visited in a day if you’re pushed for time.

Allow a full day to explore the final stop of  Perigueux, making sure to visit the Saint-Front Cathedral, the quays, and the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum.

  • Mountains  – the eastern Pyrenees are to the south of the region and beyond the towns and cities provide amazing cycling and hiking opportunities, including this seven day Pyrenees hiking tour . 
  • Beaches – there are hundreds of miles of soft golden beaches along the coast. Stretching from the glamorous resort of Biarritz in the south to La Rochelle in the north, only interrupted by the river Garonne and the Arcachon Basin. If you like sand, head for the largest sand dune in Europe, Dune du Pilat, with an incredible view of the blue, turquoise and green crystal clear waters of the Arcachon basin. 
  • Surfing –  people come here to surf the huge Atlantic rollers coming in from the Bay of Biscay and there is an annual world surf competition held in Lacanau-Ocean. If you can’t stand up, get a body board, or just spend hours deciding whether to float over the next wave or power under it.   

medieval French town on the banks of a river

Occitanie (previously known as Languedoc) makes up almost one-half of the south of France and is a region of huge contrast. A solid ten to eleven hour drive from Caen, Occitanie makes a good destination if you have a couple of weeks to travel or, as part of a longer trip.

We think it’s worth the drive time for the atmosphere, history, and beauty you will find in this region. 

From the sun-drenched Herault of the deep south and the Mediterranean coast to the wild and raw beauty of the Cevennes and the majesty of the Pyrenees, the landscape and climate differ greatly.

This is a busy part of France, home to Carcassonne, Lourdes, and the Pont du Gard. These three top the busiest tourist destinations in Europe list and are best visited outside of July and August.

RELATED POST: The Best Wild Swimming in France

Beaches & Mountains of the Languedoc

Montpellier – sete – agde – beziers – carcassonne – gorge d’heric – pezenas – saint-guilhem-le-désert.

Start in the growing city of Monpellier and head south along the coast to the pretty fishing port and the seaside resort of Sete, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Etang de Thau salt lake on the other.

The main canal running through the Sete city center is lined with bars and restaurants offering fish and seafood delicacies. Make sure to try a tielle, a local specialty comprising of octopus cooked in olive oil, tomato, and red wine and baked in pastry.

The salt lake Etang de Thau is sandwiched between vineyards and natural scrubland and is the ideal place to learn more about what the area is famous for – shellfish, and in particular oysters. There are a number of oyster farms open for visits where you can learn about the farming process.  

Agde, just along the coast, is famous for its black volcanic sand beaches which are unique to the region. La Grande Conque is one such beach, a small bay carved into the coast and a great place to while away the day sunbathing and swimming.

Your next stop is the beautiful town of Beziers, home to the Fonserannes Locks, the famous staircase of nine locks on the Canal du Midi, which allow boats to be raised 21.5m over a distance of 300m. You can hire a bike here and cycle along the canal towpath, for a peaceful afternoon ride.

Head west and inland for the iconic city of Carcassonne. The beautifully renovated citadel, La Cite, is a must-see in this area of France. Vast and imposing, it towers above the Aude and ‘new’ Carcassonne and feels a little Dinsneyesque inside, with lots of touristy (and expensive) bars and restaurants.

From here, if you have more time, you can head into the Pyrenees if you want to hike, kayak, and see the religious castles the area is famous for. 

Otherwise, the magnificent Gorge d’Heric is next up, with hiking and wild swimming opportunities in abundance. This dramatic gorge, in the heart of the Haut Languedoc nature reserve, is home to the river Heric as it rushes down from the Massif de Caroux.

You can walk up the Gorge for around 5km, or hike and rock climb the Caroux if you want something a bit more challenging. All the way up the gorge are massive boulders and private natural swimming pools, filled with clear turquoise waters and wonderful for a cooling dip on a hot summer’s day.

From here, pretty Pezenas calls, with its Friday wine festivals through summer, local craft shops, and weekly farmers market. A perfect place to stop for a few days and catch your breath, before taking in the Pont du Diable, perfect for a spot of cliff-jumping and paddle boarding.

A few miles away from the Devil’s Bridge is Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, nestled in the heart of the Herault Gorges and a major stop for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The centerpiece of the village is the Gellone Abbey, a 1200-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site, tucked in the corner of the main square.

RELATED POST: South of France Road Trip: Route, Highlights & Tips

  • Wild swimming – the gorges of the region have some of the best  wild swimming  and canyoning in France. Tucked into the Montagne Noire or the midi-Pyrenees, the water is crystal clear and refreshing.
  • Outdoor adventures – head for the Gard and Lozere departments where you’ll find nature at its finest. Winding rivers like the Tarn are superb for kayaking and often have small river beaches and swimming holes, with perfectly placed rocky ledges to jump from. The Cevennes National Park offers great hiking in a wild and natural environment.
  • Religious history – The Aude and Ariege have a strong Cathar history and you can see remnants everywhere. Follow the Route of the Cathars through fortified hilltops, castles, villages, and towns for a fascinating insight into a religion that shaped this part of France for centuries.

medieval castle in France

Pays de la Loire

The Pays de la Loire is a region of north-western France that adjoins the region of Centre-Val de Loire. Both regions share many characteristics including the Loire Valley and large numbers of famous chateaux.

One difference is the long Atlantic coastline of the Pays de la Loire known as the Vendee, a very popular UK tourist destination due to its proximity to the eastern channel ports, and enjoyed for its gentle waves, sandy beaches, and quintessential sea-side resorts.  

An easy three to four hours from Caen to Nantes places you in the heart of this region, with the Loire Valley to the east and the beaches of the Vendee to the west.  

RELATED POST: The Best Campervan Destinations in France

The Coast of the Vendee

Nantes – saint-gilles-croix-de-vie – les sables-d’olonne – la tranche-sur-mer – la rochelle.

Starting in increasingly popular Nantes, home to the Les Machines de L’ile, this west coast road trip is more about the relaxed coastal resorts than cities.

Make for Saint Gilles-Croix-de Vie, stopping at Sallertaine on the route, to explore the peaceful canals of the Marais Breton in an open canoe.

Once in Saint-Gilles, enjoy the chic and lively ambiance, as well as superb sardines, caught locally and on your plate within a few hours.

On the Côte de Lumière or Coast of Light, the coastal resorts here enjoy 2400 hours of sun every year, making this a perfect place to relax on a sun lounger for a few days.

Continue south to Les Sables-d’Olonne, the point of departure for the Vendee Globe round-the-world sailing race. A popular seaside resort, it has a superb sandy beach and a pretty seafront promenade plus a casino and golf course to keep you busy.

Next up is La Tranche-sur-Mer, known as ‘little California’ because of its exceptional sunshine hours and 13km of sandy beaches.

With an authentic vibe and lively family atmosphere, this is a great stop for teenagers, with lots of water sports on offer, as well as free concerts and street entertainment in the evenings in summer.

Your final stop is the historic sea town of La Rochelle, a laid-back resort town with a well-deserved reputation for great seafood, and the best old port on the French Atlantic.

Spend a day meandering around the charming town before exploring the maritime museum and aquarium.

  • Bucket and spade holidays – perfect for family holidays, the Vendee is lined with some of the best French holiday parks offering fantastic facilities. Kids love the beaches for perfect sand-castle building and gentle waves.
  • Theme parks – the Puy du Fou historic theme park has  over 1,5 million visitors a year and is one of the most popular attractions in the whole of France, and perfect for a day out if you are traveling with kids.
  • Beautiful chateaux – one of the main attractions of the region, the chateaux of the Loire Valley are world famous.

best road trips in france

Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur

A favorite of many, this region, often abbreviated to PACA, covers a large and diverse area. From the sparkling Mediterranean Sea to the French Alps, and from the river Rhone to the Italian border, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur is the furthest of France’s regions from the UK.

It takes a whopping eight hours of driving from Paris and twelve to thirteen hours from Calais, making the journey a road trip to the south of France in its own right.

For the glamorous and fashionable resorts of the French Riviera, the lavender fields and whitewashed towns of Provence, and the off-the-beaten-path wilderness of the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, those driving hours are so worth it.

The sun-baked landscapes, beautiful hilltop towns and villages, abundant local produce, and delicious wines just add to the attraction. 

The Route Napoleon

Grenoble – laffrey – la mure – corps – col bayard – gap – sisteron – digne – castellane – saint-vallier-de-thiey – grasse – antibes.

  • Distance 314km
  • Drive Time 8 hour

The most picturesque south of France road trip, the historic Route Napoleon begins in the Auvergne-Rhone- Alpes region.

The road trip starts (or ends, as the route starts at the coast, but can be road tripped either way) in Grenoble, the route follows the footsteps of the famous General on his return from exile in Elba, as he headed north for Waterloo.

Inaugurated in 1932, you will see statues of the Imperial French Eagle marking the way, along what is now (mainly) the N85.

The road is really spectacular, with switchbacks, sweeping bends, and challenging mountain stretches making it one of the best road trips in France.

Peaking at 1246m at Col Bayard before passing into Provence and the towns of historic Sisteron, beautiful Digne, and fragrant Grasse, you’ll also pass the stunning Gorge du Verdon and the beautiful lavender fields of the Valensole plateau.

From Castellane to Grasse, the views to the coast from the road are spectacular, across lush green slopes dotted with magnificent villas, to the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean, just one of the reasons to start in Grenoble and head south. 

This route smells heavenly too – the scent of hot pine sap and the essential oils of regional herbs being warmed by the sun is the fragrance of southern France.

RELATED POST: Route Napoleon: A Historic French Road Trip

  • Glitz and glamour – St Tropez is one of the most famous Cote d’Azur holiday resorts. People on Riviera road trips flock to the vieux port where the rich and famous berth their mega-yachts, and enjoy the honeyed stone buildings and pretty squares of a slightly more relaxed and authentic St Tropez. If you want more, head to Monaco, Nice or Cannes, or one of the ridiculously opulent villas which open their doors to the public. 
  • Iconic Lavender – field upon field and row upon row of beautiful and fragrant lavender carpets  Provence  in June and July. Go early in the day for the best photo opportunities.
  • Local produce – experience a marchés hebdomadaires ( farmers market). Most towns have a weekly market where you will find fresh bread, wonderful fruit and vegetables, pungent cheeses, meaty saucisson sausage, fat olives, and pretty much any other fresh food stuff you might want to buy. 

lavender with stone building and blue sky

France Country Road Trip Resources

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in France.

  • Search for affordable flights to France with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in France with Booking.com
  • Find and book the best campsites in France with Eurocampings
  • Book the cheapest and most reliable hire cars in France with Rentalcars.com
  • Best for ferries from UK to France Direct Ferries
  • Find and hire your perfect motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic
  • Get highly rated, reliable, and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

Information About Driving in France

Road trips in France are usually pleasurable, thanks to their extensive and well-maintained autoroute network, and generally good local roads. French drivers can be impatient and are dreadful tailgaters and really, really dislike being overtaken, but, c’est la vie, this is France!

Whether your road tripping France in a campervan , car, or motorbike, follow these tips for driving safely and legally;

  • You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from France.
  • You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle.
  • Citizens of non-EU third countries may require an International Driving Permit for driving in Europe . You can check whether you need an IDP here .
  • You must carry at least one reflective jacket within the passenger compartment of your vehicle and must put it on before you get out in an emergency or breakdown situation. You must also carry a warning triangle.
  • You may require a Crit’Air sticker which is placed in the windscreen of your vehicle to provide a visible way to identify the level of emissions produced. If you’re renting a vehicle, the Crit’Air sticker should already be on display in the windscreen. Find out more and purchase Crit’Air stickers from the official certificat-air.gouv.fr website.
  • On 1 November 2021 the Loi Montage II or ‘mountain law II’ came into force in 48 French mountainous departments within the Alpes, Massif Central, Jura, Pyrénées, and Vosges regions. Anyone traveling in a car or motorhome or through one of these areas between 1 November and 31 March will be obliged to fit four approved winter tires or carry at least two snow chains or socks in the vehicle.
  • French motorways are privately managed and you’re not allowed to request your own assistance company to attend to you if you break down. If you do break down use the orange emergency telephones that are situated every 2km along French motorways to call the police or the official breakdown service operating in that area or dial the emergency services on 112. You will be towed to a safe designated area where you can make onward arrangements for your own breakdown insurer to assist you if you have it. Otherwise, the towing company will be able to provide support or signpost you. 
  • You do not need to carry a breathalyzer, the law requiring that you do has been repealed.
  • You may want to consider carrying an  electronic toll pass  for the duration of your French road trip itinerary. These devices deduct the toll fees from a credit card automatically, meaning you don’t have to stop at a booth or barrier.

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12 best road trips in france [for 2024 & beyond].

Cazzy Magennis

There are plenty of incredible places to visit in France and what could be better than travelling the country by car? Road trips in France can be the perfect way to travel at your own pace and discover everything this beautiful country has to offer. 

If you’re planning a trip to France or looking for some inspiration, we have put together this guide which includes some of the best driving routes through France. 

No matter what your interests are, I’m sure you will find something in this guide that is the perfect fit.

Let’s get straight into it! 

Travellerspoint

When Is The Best Time To Road Trip France?

best road trips in france

There is no correct answer to this question as each season offers different things to explore.

Our recommendation on the most ideal time for France road trips would be the spring months (between April and June) or during Autumn (September to November). 

The weather from November to March can be quite unpredictable .

You could encounter colder temperatures, snow and rainfall which can make conditions hard for driving. 

If you choose to road trip France in July and August, be prepared to experience high temperatures of up to 30°C with even many locals also taking it easy.

You will also want to start your days extra early to avoid the crowds during the day.

Between April and June, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy mild weather conditions and make the most of your trip before the summer crowds arrive.  

Although you may experience some rain in Autumn, it can be a great time to travel around France as you can get some good bargains once the crowds ease..

Should I Road Trip France In A Campervan Or Car?

best road trips in france

Once again, there is no correct answer to this question as the vehicle choice will depend on your interests and budget. 

If you choose to travel France by car, the biggest advantage will be convenience.

‍ French roads, especially in the countryside and villages, can be quite narrow . 

However, we road-tripped throughout France for a total of 6 weeks and never really had an issue with our campervan (it’s 6 meters in length for reference). 

France caters pretty well to campers. There is usually dedicated parking too!

If you don’t want to rent a campervan, then no worries. A car will work just fine and you can check out many cosy Airbnb homes or hotels during your stay.  

Take a look at our guide to the best car rentals in France to give yourself an idea of the options available to you.

For ideas on how much a van will cost, check out our guide on the best campervan and motorhome rentals in France .

How Long Do I Need To Road Trip France?

French road trips can be the perfect way to immerse yourself in a journey and in turn discover the culture, history and landmarks of each region.

Although there’s no fixed timeline, we recommend you spend a minimum of 12 to 15 days to explore the country’s villages and towns in-depth and experience everything they have to offer.

This way you’ll be able to go beyond the main tourist attractions and avoid the crowds.

France is such a magnificent country; you’re bound to find something to suit your interests. 

For each of the suggested road trips, we’ve added the approximate mileage covered and a rough time estimate to help you plan and adapt according to your needs.

The Best Road Trips In France

1.champagne region road trip.

best road trips in france

  • Length: 29.3km/18 miles 
  • Time: 1-2 Days 
  • Location: Reims to Épernay

Are you a wine lover? This might be one of the perfect French road trips for you to enjoy some sparkling wine as well as explore some beautiful French sites.

Champagne is a historical region located in Eastern France. There are two central regions of Champagne: Reims and Epernay. 

This is a very short road trip, but we suggest doing it over two days so you can enjoy drinking the champagne whilst also being able to drive!  

During this Champagne road trip, you can enjoy driving past different villages, whilst occasionally stopping at the vineyards to capture some stunning pictures.

Take a look at our Champagne road trip video for first-hand look at everything the region has to offer.

Highlights Of The Champagne Region Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Champagne Region Road Trip route include: 

  • Notre Dame de Reims: This was an absolute gem on our visit to Reims! Almost exactly like the cathedral in Paris, this magnificent structure displays classic examples of 13th-century Gothic architecture.  
  • Domaine Les Crayers: If you have the budget and are looking for a luxurious Michelin experience, then you’ll love this spot! Enjoy the fusion of flavours and high-quality food combinations. 
  • The Avenue De Champagne : Stretching one kilometre long, this famous avenue might be one of the most expensive avenues in the World. Lined with many renowned Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Mercier and Pol Roger, this UNESCO World Heritage site is well worth a visit!  

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Champagne Region Road Trip

best road trips in france

Day 1: Explore the medieval city of Reims, often known as the unofficial capital city of Champagne. The city is well known for its large cathedral, so don’t forget to check out this beautiful gothic architecture and stained glass window. At night, we recommend you visit Domaine Les Crayères .

Day 2: Head towards Epernay. Enjoy the popular champagne house Moet and Chandon , perhaps the most famous champagne in the world. You can also try some of the other local champagne houses if you’re on a budget. In the evening, make your way to Hautvillers, which is a ten-minute drive. Here you can enjoy beautiful views of vineyards. 

We did a Taittinger Champagne House Tour which was super interesting and great value for money, you can book yours here.

2. The Beauty and the Beast Village Roadtrip

best road trips in france

  • Length: 85km/52 miles
  • Time: 3 Days 
  • Location: Strasbourg to Colmar

Alsace is located in the northeast of France that borders both Switzerland and Germany.

This road trip in France is in an exquisite wine region that’s certain to charm. 

This route is a must-visit for any Disney fans.

Many of the Alsace wine route villages are said to be the inspiration for Belle’s hometown from Beauty and The Beast. 

The tiny towns lie between numerous vineyards. Enjoy walking along the cobblestone lanes and admiring the picturesque architecture and scenery.

We had such a great time on this trip. Take a look at our Beauty and the Beast Village road trip video to see what we got up to.

Highlights Of The The Beauty and the Beast Village Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of The Beauty and the Beast Village road trip route include: 

1. Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg –  This is one of the landmarks of Strasbourg. The cathedral is one of the highest buildings, built entirely during the medieval times and still standing currently. It has been constructed with magnificent Gothic architecture, beautiful interior and stained-glass windows, which have been preserved since the 12th and 14th centuries.

2. Grand Rue - This is the main street in Ribeauvillé, filled with bakeries, restaurants, and beautiful buildings maintained from the 18th century. Enjoy a walk on the cobblestones and observe the squares which are decorated with Renaissance-style fountains.  

3. Unterlinden Museum- If you love history or want to admire some creative pieces, this museum is filled with masterpieces from the middle ages. With over 3000 pieces, this is a perfect place for culture lovers. 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Beauty and the Beast Village Road Trip

best road trips in france

  • Day 1: Start your trip early at the capital of Alsace, Strasbourg. Visit the Strasbourg Cathedral of Notre Dame and enjoy the architectural heritage of the city. Don’t forget to taste all the Alsatian specialities which can be paired with some regional wine. 
  • Day 2: Next, visit the town of Ribeauvillé. Enjoy the views of colourful houses decorated with bright flower boxes and medieval churches spread amongst the old city. From there, make your way towards Riquewihr, a beautiful town listed amongst the “Most beautiful villages of France”. This town is full of small lanes and suited to pedestrians so you will have to park your cars outside the city. 
  • Day 3: Head towards the picturesque town of Colmar. This old town is filled with beautiful houses, cobblestone lanes and bridges. Stroll through the city and enjoy some delicious foods. 

3. Parc Naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne to Bonaguil Castle

best road trips in france

  • Length: 323km/200km 
  • Time: 2-3 days 
  • Location: Parc Naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne to Bonaguil Castle 

If you’re looking for something short, sweet and unique, do take some time out to take a look at this beautiful road trip route!

There is so much room for new discoveries on this route as it’s not one of the most famous France road trip destinations. However, there’s still heaps of sightseeing along the way!

This road trip is even well-suited to history and geography lovers as it has a balance of everything. The town of Rocamadour also has a lot of religious significance and is a pilgrimage site for many. 

Highlights Of The Parc Naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne to Bonaguil Castle Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Parc Naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne to Bonaguil Castle Road Trip route include: 

  • Puy de Dôme :  Here you will find excellent walking trails and earn about volcanoes as well as the history of the area. There are many other activities such as paragliding and bike riding too.
  • Castle of Val: This is a beautiful, well-maintained castle located next to a lake, making it a picturesque location. Founded in the 13th century, the castle was built through the 14th and 15th centuries. There is also a landscaped beach nearby where you can enjoy swimming and water sports in the summer months.
  • Bonaguil Castle: Although it’s mostly ruins, this is another well-preserved castle with so much to explore. Be ready for a lot of walking. The spiral staircase inside is quite unique, and you can enjoy beautiful views from the top of the castle. 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Parc Naturel régional des Volcans d'Auvergne to Bonaguil Castle

best road trips in france

Day 1: Start your morning by visiting Puy de Dôme. After you have had a chance to hike and capture the breathtaking views, head towards Brive-la-Gaillarde, where you will be staying the night but make a stop to visit the castle of Val on your way.

Day 2: Head out early and make your way to Rocamadour. This is an enchanting village based on a clifftop. Leave aside around half a day to explore the little town. Make your way toward the last stop, which is Bonaguil Castle.

4. The South of France Road Trip

  • Length: 151km/ 93.8 miles 
  • Time: 4-5 days 
  • Location: Saint Tropez to Menton

The French Riviera road trip refers to the Provençal coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which consists of cities that are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the World. 

This road trip encompasses some beautiful landscapes for nature lovers, including the coastlines, beaches, and even a few National parks. 

The trip we’ve suggested can definitely be cut shorter or extended as per your travel arrangements. It makes it more worthwhile if you can stroll around at your own pace to discover these spots.

Overall, this south of France road trip has a great vibe, and it’s pretty easy to get around. There is so much versatility in things to do and see, which is why this region is unique.

Highlights Of The South of France Road Trip 

Some of my favourite highlights of the South of France route include: 

  • Vieux Port : Often referred to as the heart of Saint Tropez; This is the old fishing village site, which has now been converted into a more peaceful port with fishing boats and yachts in the harbour. Along with the port, you will see pastel-coloured houses and buildings with some lively cafes for you to enjoy the views. 
  • Promenade des Anglais: A popular place for a stroll in Nice, with stunning views of the seaside. The promenade stretches up to 7km and is also surrounded by some wonderful 19th-century royal houses. 
  • Palais du Prince : Although this is the official residence of the Grimaldi family in the Principality of Monaco, some of the chambers within the palace can be visited by the general public. Don’t miss the Changing of the Guards ceremony, which takes place at 11.55 am daily in front of the palace.

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The South of France Road Trip 

Day 1: Start your journey by discovering the city of Saint Tropez. Initially a tiny fishing village and military base in the past, the city has now been converted into a popular destination with beautiful beaches and some great restaurants. Make sure you visit Vieux Port. 

Day 2: Travel to Cannes, famous for the International film festival. Its a great city to simply chill out. You can enjoy a day at the beach if you’re looking to relax. Otherwise, you may also choose to go to Massif Esterel, where you will find many hiking trails and hidden beaches. 

Day 3: Soak up the sun and hit the beautiful beaches of Nice. However, there is more to Nice than its famous beaches. You can stroll through Vieille Ville, the Old Town and Promenade des Anglais. Head up to Castle Hill for some impressive views over the city. At night, you can head to a fancy restaurant or enjoy live music at the bars. 

Day 4: Make your way towards Monaco, which is quite a small city. Start off by visiting ‘the  Rock’, which is the oldest part of Monaco. You can catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard ceremony. 

Day 5: Lastly, make your way towards the city of Menton, located just 10km away from Monaco. You will find flowers growing everywhere in the city with the vibrant, colourful buildings, making it a beautiful setting to explore. 

Pssst, if you're short on time and want to see Provence from Nice, then this is a great tour!

5. Provence Road trip

best road trips in france

  • Length: 196km/ 122 miles 
  • Time: 3 days 
  • Location: Château des Baux-de-Provence to Verdon Gorge 

The Provence region is a major tourist destination for people all across the globe, and you are likely to find many picture-perfect moments for your social media accounts on this trip. 

If you’re after the ultimate summer road trip, look no further. The magnificent region of Provence has everything you want! 

The region is on any traveller’s bucket list as it is famous for its varied landscape, stunning lavender fields, beautiful vineyards and sparkling turquoise waters. 

The recommended time to do this road trip route would be spring and summer. However, there is something unique about every season so don’t worry too much if these months aren’t possible for you! 

We made a whole video on our trip to the area, check it out here for a detailed look at what we got up to.

Highlights Of The Provence Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Provence Road Trip route include: 

  • Le Sentier des Ocres: The distinctive village of Roussillon in the South of France is known for the vibrant ochre colours of the landscape. Le Sentier des Ocres is a short hike that gives some truly spectacular views of ochre hillsides. You can choose from two different trails one is 30 minutes and the other 45 minutes.
  • Lavender fields of Valensole: The biggest attraction of the Provence region is the lavender fields. The lavender usually blooms from late June to mid-August. Valensole also hosts an annual lavender festival to mark the start of the harvest in which you can find many lavender by-products such as essential oils, soaps, creams etc. 
  • Verdon Gorge: This pristine long river canyon is known to be one of Europe’s most beautiful natural attractions. The magical turquoise colour of the water will not disappoint. We highly recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds. There is a range of activities you can join as well, such as rafting, kayaking, paddle boating, bike riding and hiking. 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Provence Road Trip

best road trips in france

Day 1: Start your trip by visiting Château des Baux-de-Provence. Make a pit stop at the town of Oppède, you can explore it at your own pace and then head to Gordes. 

Day 2: From Gordes, you can make your way to the stunning village of Roussillon. You can wander the streets and sightsee the centre of town. Don’t miss Le Sentier des Ocres. Visit the Lavender fields of Valensole and make your way back to Roussillon for the night.  

Day 3: Head towards the stunning Verdon Gorge! You can certainly spend the entire day here before returning or heading to your next destination. 

6. Bordeaux to Biarritz

best road trips in france

  • Length: 269km/ 167 miles
  • Time: 3-4 days 
  • Location: Bordeaux to Biarritz

Wine along with beach vibes all in one trip. What more can you ask for? This is the road trip for those who want to discover the French Atlantic Coast and the Basque country! 

You will love the mix of both coast and country on this road trip to discover more of Southwest France. 

Also, if you are into swimming or surfing, the French Atlantic coast will be a paradise for you. Soak up the sunshine and enjoy battling the waves. 

Enjoy this relaxed and laid back journey to simply wind down and get away from the hustle of the big cities!  

Highlights Of The Bordeaux to Biarritz Road Trip 

Some of my favourite highlights of the Bordeaux to Biarritz route include: 

  • Place de la Bourse: Dating back to the 18th century, the architecture of this French classical-style building is simply marvellous. This is an impressive sight both in the day and at night too. There is also an attractive fountain in the centre, be sure to check out the water mirror! 
  • Dune du Pilat : It is a very steep climb up the dunes but definitely worth it for some fantastic coastal views. The dune is quite a famous spot as it is the tallest sand dune in all of Europe. 
  • Fêtes de Bayonne - Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience this festival, but if you are in Bayonne during August, this is not to be missed. It lasts for five days and is the largest festival celebrated in France.

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Bordeaux to Biarritz Road Trip: 

Day 1: Start your journey from Bordeaux, which is famous for its wine. You can enjoy some wine tasting and then visit Place de la Bourse and rue Sainte Catherine. 

Day 2: Head to Arcachon; This admired seaside destination is perfect for beach lovers. Also, make sure you visit Dune du Pilat, which is a short drive away. You can move to the small town of Mimizan and stay the night if you want to explore another town. 

Day 3: From Mimizan or Arcachon, head to the town of Hossegor. Another great place for surfers to catch the waves. In the afternoon, make your way towards Bayonne. If you travel in summer, you may even be able to participate in the Fêtes de Bayonne, a fantastic festival. 

Day 4: You can conclude the trip by reaching Biarritz. This is a picture-perfect coastal town and a popular tourist destination. You can hit the beach or explore the town centre full of small boutiques and lovely cafes.  

7. Calais to Rouen

best road trips in france

  • Length: 212 km/ 131 miles
  • Time: 2 days 
  • Location:Calais to Rouen 

If you’re looking for a short yet sweet trip to explore Northern France, this might be the perfect one for you!

This road trip will give you a mix of both seaside sceneries paired with some Medieval French history.

You can certainly squeeze this itinerary into a full day, but we decided to spread it over two days so we could relax and enjoy the north side a bit more.  

As well as enjoying more time seeing all the great things to do in Rouen itself.

Highlights Of The Calais to Rouen Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Calais to Rouen route include: 

  • Calais Town Hall: If you love architecture, this monument is not to be missed. It’s a change to the gothic architecture as the structure is designed in a renaissance revival style. We also loved the sound of the belfry’s chimes in the bell tower and the sight of the well-maintained gardens
  • Calais Lighthouse: Standing tall in a quiet spot of town, it is quite visible from any distance. You will need to climb a total of 271 steps to reach the top, which may seem tiring, but it is definitely worth it for some spectacular views of the ocean and the city.
  • Rue St. Jean: Get lost within French culture for a short while by doing a quick walk through the main street in Le Touquet, a small coastal town. This is the place to be if you’re looking to sightsee some local shops, cafés and restaurants.

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Calais to Rouen: 

Day 1: Soak up the sunshine and head to Calais Beach! Visit Calais Lighthouse to learn some history and enjoy the views of both the city and the sea. At night, you can enjoy the local cuisine and stroll by the food markets.  

Day 2: Head towards Rouen. This is only a two-hour drive, so you can make your first stop at Le Touquet along the way. Continue your drive and make a second stop at Abbeville before reaching Rouen.

8. Paris to Strasbourg

best road trips in france

  • Length: 491 km/ 305 miles 
  • Time:1-2 days 
  • Location:Paris to Strasbourg

If you are short of time or are simply looking for a day trip out of Paris to explore more of the French countryside, this road trip might be the perfect option for you! 

You may even decide to stay a few days longer to explore the city in more detail and enjoy the fantastic food and restaurants located in Strasbourg and its surroundings.  

The city of Strasbourg is in Eastern France and is very close to both Germany and Switzerland. Strasbourg has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. 

Whether you love adventure, food, scenic views or history, Strasbourg is a city that has something for everyone and you’re sure to love this Paris road trip.

If you need some inspiration on what to do in one day in Paris , take a look at this video we made. 

Highlights Of The Paris to Strasbourg Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Paris to Strasbourg route include: 

  • Strasbourg Cathedral: This cathedral is a spectacular building right in the centre of Strasbourg. You can climb up the tower and enjoy beautiful views of the city from above. The cathedral is free, but you will have to pay a small fee to access the top. 
  • Petite France: The entire district is a pedestrian zone, so you may need to park a little far away! This was one of my favourite parts of France! It honestly felt like stepping into a postcard or fairy-tale because everything just seems like a treat to the eyes! Wander around at your own pace and immerse yourself in this French village! 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Paris to Strasbourg Route

best road trips in france

Day 1: Make an early start and head straight to Strasbourg. Explore the Strasbourg Cathedral, Place Kléber and Petite France. Enjoy some of the amazing food that the restaurants and cafes have to offer. You can spend the night here and return to Paris the following morning. 

9. Paris to Albi

best road trips in france

  • Length: 1102km/ 684 miles 
  • Location: Paris to Albi 

This is the perfect trip for enthusiasts of French history and architecture.

We enjoyed visiting the landmarks and structures, which provided a good insight into the country’s cultural heritage. 

We didn’t quite know what to expect when we planned this trip, but we loved embarking on this journey full of UNESCO world heritage sites.

The general distance between Paris and Albi isn’t too long so you can stop and sightsee along the way to make it more worthwhile.

This France road trip itinerary allows you to visit both the best parts of central and southern France. However, it can easily be adapted to your interests.

Highlights Of The Paris to Albi Road Trip

Some of my favourite highlights of the Paris to Albi route include: 

  • Pont du Gard: This was one of our favourite landmarks in Southern France. The size of the structure is astounding and to think it was made by the Ancient Romans so many years ago makes it even more majestic. You can walk across the Pont for some lovely views from the top and swim below on a hot day. 
  • Parc de la tête d’Or: This is a really beautiful park not to be missed. The park is entirely free, and you can spend hours exploring the various plants, animals and other activities. Great to walk around and spend time outdoors. 
  • Toulouse-Lautrec Museum: Even if you are not an art lover, this museum and former castle is a great place to tour as it is very well preserved. This museum is dedicated to the paintings of the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Paris to Albi Trip 

Day 1: Start early in Paris and make your way towards Lyon. Visit the Parc de la tête d’Or and then head to the old town. Make sure you visit the Traboules of Lyon, which are the secret passageways that helped locals escape the Gestapo.

Day 2: Leave Lyon and head towards the amazing structure of Pont du Gard. Then travel to Montpellier, where you will be spending the night. 

Day 3: Make your way to Carcassonne to explore the Great Medieval fortified city.

Head towards the town of Albi. There are quite a few World Heritage sites in Albi that are not to be missed. Make sure you visit Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Pont Vieux and Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile, which was the largest brick building in Europe. 

10. Pau to Tarascon-sur-Ariège

best road trips in france

  • Length: 222km/ 137 miles 
  • Location:Pau to Tarascon-sur-Ariège

If you’re looking for an escape from crowded cities, this short route might be the perfect getaway for you. 

This isn’t a majorly popular route, but it’s great for travelling at your own pace and discovering everything these two towns have to offer. 

For those who love hiking or simply just want to enjoy the peace and quiet, you can easily extend this trip to 2-3 days by adding stopovers of your choice. 

Highlights Of The Pau to Tarascon-sur-Ariège Road Trip 

Some of my favourite highlights of the Pau to Tarascon-sur-Ariègeroute include: 

  • National Museum and the Château de Pau : If you’re looking for a change and want to explore some fantastic art, tapestries and history, then this might be an enjoyable place for you. The castle and museum are located in the city centre, and you will get an impressive view of Pau from up there. Unfortunately, they only give tours in French, but they do hand out paper translations in English.
  • Parc de la Prehistoire: If you are travelling as a family, this museum is not to be missed as it is the perfect place to take your kids. The museum itself is at a stunning location and is very informative. There are also numerous interactive activities such as spear throwing and cave art demonstrations, sure to teach you more about the prehistoric ages. 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Pau to Tarascon-sur-Ariège Road Trip: 

Day 1: Stroll around the small city of Pau. This is a typical French town that has a more mild climate and gives picturesque views. Visit the National Museum and the Château de Pau. Then, make your way towards Tarascon-sur-Ariege. 

Day 2: Enjoy this little town; there are many hikes you can do for some stunning views. Don’t forget to take out some time for the Parc de la Prehistoire, which is a great place to visit for all ages! 

11. Normandy to Utah Beach

best road trips in france

  • Length: 168 km/104 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Location: Normandy to Utah Beach

This Normandy Road trip ensures a perfect balance for those who are looking to discover some scenic towns and villages but fun for food enthusiasts. 

This is a really enjoyable one because it’s such a nice change to be by the coast and visit the beach. 

The trip also explores the historical events of D-Day, when the troops stormed the coast to liberate Europe from the Nazi’s. 

It’s possible to complete this road trip in a day but you can certainly make a stopover and spend some more time sightseeing. 

Highlights Of The Normandy to Utah Beach Road Trip 

Some of my favourite highlights of the Normandy to Utah Beach route include: 

  • Mémorial de Caen. This is a wonderful museum and war memorial which will give you an insight into World War II and the Battle for Caen. 
  • Utah Beach: Visiting and walking Utah beach is a pretty humbling experience. You learn a great deal about the sad history of D-day.

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Normandy to Utah Beach Road Trip

Day 1: Start at Caen and explore the Mémorial de Caen. Make your way to Utah beach for a historical experience in the spot where the D-day landing took place years ago. 

12. Annecy to Saint-Véran

best road trips in france

  • Length: 623 km/387 miles 
  • Time: 4 Days 
  • Location: Annecy to Saint-Véran

​​This scenic trip through the French Alps is for the adventurers and thrill-seekers who are willing to head away from the mainstream cities into winding roads and more challenging driving routes.  

All the Alpine villages have their own unique charm, so wind down your windows and enjoy breathing the fresh mountain air. 

Make sure you take some time out during your trip for some of the adventure activities (based on the season) this part of France offers such as skiing, mountain biking, white water rafting and snowboarding. 

This trip is perfect for photographers who wish to capture the scenic French Alps! Keep your camera handy during the drive too as there are so many secluded and hidden spots around this journey.  

Highlights Of The Annecy to Saint-Véran Road Trip

best road trips in france

Some of my favourite highlights of the Annecy to Saint-Véran route include: 

  • ​​Lake Annecy : Lake Annecy certainly is one of the most breathtaking sceneries in the French Alps. It makes the perfect place to relax and is truly a treat to the eyes. It’s a 40km ride around if you choose to explore the lake with a car and you can stop at various points to enjoy the view and the towns. In the summer months, you may prefer to hike or swim in the lake. 
  • Aiguille du Midi : This should be a must-do on everyone’s bucket list! Make sure to check the weather forecast before you head up in the cable car. Also, pack warm clothes and sunglasses as you will need them once you reach the top. On a clear day, the panoramic views of Mont Blanc are mesmerizing. 
  • Fort de La Bastille: The roads are very narrow, so we highly recommend doing this on foot! It is quite a workout for the legs but will be worth it once you see the amazing views of Grenoble and the Alps. You can also take a cable car up to the top if you don't have much time. 

Suggested Road Trip Itinerary For The Annecy to Saint-Véran Trip: 

​​Day 1: Explore the beautiful lake, colourful cottages, and cobblestone paths in Annecy. Head to the charming town of Chamonix and enjoy walking around the city centre. Catch a cable car to Aiguille du Midi to capture some panoramic views.

Day 2: You can explore Mont Blanc or some delicacies at Chamonix in the morning before heading to Albertville for a quick stopover. 

Day 3: Head towards Col de l'Iseran. If you love adventure, you can spend some extra time here; otherwise, head to Grenoble. 

Day 4: Visit the Fort de La Bastille. You can walk or grab a cable car for some spectacular views from the top. Head towards the last stop, the town of Saint Veran. 

Tips For Road Tripping France

Before I leave you, here are a few quick tips that might help make planning your French road trip a little bit easier.

  • Be Flexible : Even if you think you have everything planned, you might find things along the way that will capture your interest, so leave time aside to discover other things you might not have added to your itinerary.
  • Purchase a French SIM card: When you’re hungry, the last thing you want to do is hop around between restaurants to check out what is best! If you have the internet, it will make it much easier to look for recommendations in your area, and GPS will help you find your way if you go off track!
  • Learn some French: This will be so helpful when you need help or are asking for directions!
  • Check for Market days: When travelling in France by car you won’t have to worry about following a timetable. Head to the French Markets in small towns and villages as early as you can to get the best produce and products!
  • Plan Parking before you start your travel: As mentioned above, many villages and towns have pedestrian access only. So when travelling by car in France it’s a good idea to find a secure parking spot in advance and avoid wasting time!

Our other French guides:

  • Best campervan rentals in France
  • Best things to do in Rouen
  • One day in Paris itinerary

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15 Top France Road Trips You Need to Plan Now

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Who doesn’t love a road trip? It is always a popular thing to do in the US, but did you know there are some epic France road trips too?

While France has a great train system, there are some smaller towns and places that you just can’t get to without a car. Also, going on a driving holiday in France is the perfect opportunity to travel deeper and understand more about the culture and topography of this incredible country. 

The first road trip that I took in France was to the South of France in 7 days . And it was epic. We got to visit the villages of the Luberon , enjoy the scenery along the road, and pop over to places without waiting on trains. 

I loved it so much that I’m currently planning another road trip this fall… and the next year…and likely the year after that. 

So if you want to explore France even further, here are the 15 best Road Trips in France that you’ll want to plan now. 

Cucuron during a Luberon Road Trip

15 Best Road Trips in France

Here is a quick look at the 15 road trips around France: 

  • Provence road trip
  • Highlights of Normandy road trip
  • Explore Brittany
  • Pyrenees road trip
  • Rhone-Alpes road trip
  • Burgundy road trip
  • Castles and wine of the Loire Valley
  • Dordogne road trip
  • French Riviera road trip
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine road trip
  • Explore the Alsace
  • Champagne road trip
  • Island time in Corsica
  • Ile de France road trip
  • Paris to Nice road trip

Okay, for more details, keep reading below! 

1. Provence Road Trip

Senanque Abbey in Provence

Suggested Route: Avignon–Luberon Villages–Aix-en-Provence–Cannes–Nice

Days Needed: 7-10 days

Great Place to Stay: La Mirande in Avignon

When to Go: June-September

Highlights: Lavender fields, beaches, and markets

Distance: Approx. 417 km

Provence is easily one of the most popular road trip destinations in France, and it isn’t challenging to see why. With lavender fields, colorful towns, and charming markets, who wouldn’t want to visit this region of France?

And having a car makes it even better! This means you can stop in smaller cities like Roussillon for the Ochre Trail or even visit the iconic Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque with its purple lavender. 

Hiking the Ochre Trail in Roussillon

I have a whole guide about the perfect 7-day Provence road trip , including stops in Avignon , Aix-en-Provence, Cassis , Cannes , and Nice . It honestly makes for the most epic time as you explore the Luberon villages, shop at markets, and get some sun and sand along the beaches in Cannes. 

And if you have more than the 7 days that I had, definitely make a stop at the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, perhaps explore the Valensole, or go boating at Gorges du Verdon. 

2. Highlights of Normandy

Mont Saint Michel 34

Suggested Route: Rouen–Etretat–Honfleur–Deauville–Caen–Bayeux–Mont Saint Michel

Great Place to Stay: Villa Augeval Hotel & Spa in Deauville

Highlights: D-Day Beaches, Cider Route, Etretat, and Mont Saint Michel

Distance: Approx. 348 km

While many people think of the D-Day Beaches when it comes to visiting Normandy , there is actually SO much more to see! 

There are lovely Atlantic beaches, the dreamy Mont Saint Michel abbey and tidal island, the fun and delicious Cider Route , and you cannot forget the beautiful town of Etretat with its stunning rock formations along the sea.

Oh, and don’t forget to try all the amazing cheeses from the region including Neufchatel and Camembert as well as all the apple products! 

Etretat Cliffs 2

You’d need at least 7 days to see most of this, but 10 days is definitely a great idea so you can slow down and take it all in. 

In this road trip, you’ll want to start in Rouen and explore Etretat on the way to Honfleur and Deauville . Then, you’ll explore the Cider Route near Caen, visit the D-Day beaches from Bayeux, and end up admiring Mont Saint Michel. 

PS- if you drive from Paris to Normandy, you definitely need to stop by Giverny on the way to see the Monet Gardens! 

3. Western France/Brittany Road Trip

Saint-Malo

Suggested Route: Dinan–Mont Saint Michel–Saint-Malo–Brest–Carnac–Rennes

Days Needed: 10 days

Great Place to Stay: Hotel Beaufort in Saint-Malo

Highlights: Beaches, Mont Saint Michel, Alignments of Carnac, and Medieval towns

Distance: Approx. 668 km

Searching for a fantastic 10-day France road trip? Definitely check out Brittany. Between its Medieval towns, ancient structures like the Alignments of Carnac, and the lovely beaches, you’ll never want to leave this place. 

Stroll along the streets of Dinan and Rennes, be awe-inspired by the Alignments of Carnac, a structure that is older than Stone Henge, and even admire the walled old town of Saint-Malo as well as the Rose Granite Coast. 

Alignments of Carnac

While in Brittany, you’ll also want to partake in their tasty cuisine including crepes and galettes, seafood, kouign-amman, and definitely try the cider. 

In this France road trip itinerary, you’ll start in Dinan before exploring Mont Saint Michel, visiting Saint-Malo, relaxing in Brest, visiting the Alignments of Carnac, and ending in Rennes. 

4 . Pyrenees Road Trip

Lourdes

Suggested Route: Biarritz–Larrau–Lourdes–Saint-Lary-Soulan–Ax-Les-Thermes–Carcassonne–Perpignan

Great Place to Stay: Belfry & Spa By Ligne St Barth in Lourdes

Highlights: Epic hiking, mountains, and pilgrimage sites

Distance: Approx. 745 km

For those who want to get off the beaten path, definitely head to the Pyrenees. This place has so much charm and great places to go hiking! 

Plus, you’ll get to enjoy time in the French Basque countryside, where you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the Spanish influence as you explore. 

Biarritz

Start out in the beach town of Biarritz before heading to Larrau for the Holzarte Footbridge. After that, make the pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the grotto in the famed town of Lourdes, then go to Saint-Lary Soulan in the heart of the Pyrenees for great hiking, relax in the spa town of Ax-Les-Thermes, swing by the fortified city of Carcassonne because you’re not too far from it, an end in the city of Perpignan. 

5. Rhone-Alpes Road Trip

Palais de L'ile in Annecy France

Suggested Route: Lyon–Annecy–Aix-les-Bains–Chambery–Chamonix

Days Needed: 7 days

Great Place to Stay: Cour des Loges in Lyon

Highlights: Epic hiking, mountains, charming alpine towns, and Savoie wine

Distance: Approx. 344 km

For those who love epic mountains and stunning lakes, you’ll fall head over heels for a French Alps road trip! 

Start out in Lyon for a day or two to explore the gastronomic capital of the world! Then, explore the endlessly charming town of Annecy and get out on Lake Annecy to admire the views of the Alps in the background. 

Ariel view of Lake Bourget near Aix-Les-Bains

After this, hop over to Aix-les-Bains for some time enjoying Lake Bourget and the spas in this spa town. Then, for the chance to hike amongst vineyards and in the hills, stay in the town of Chambery in the Savoie region and book a tour with Alpes Flaveurs at [email protected] . 

And lastly, for epic hikes in one of the most beautiful towns in the Alps, head to Chamonix. 

6. Burgundy Road Trip

Whimsical carousel and band playing in the middle of Dijon - Dijon in a weekend

Suggested Route: Dijon–Chablis–Beaune–Macon–Cluny

Great Place to Stay: Abbaye de Maizieres in Beaune

When to Go: June-October

Highlights: Wine, food, and stunning countryside

Distance: Approx. 388 km

For foodies and wine lovers alike, you’ll love a road trip around Burgundy. Start out in Dijon for a day or two to see all that this amazing city has to offer. Hint: this definitely includes delicious delicacies including Dijon mustard and Creme de Cassis. 

Then, head to Chablis for its lovely wine before spending a couple of days in Beaune , where you can bike along vineyards and into charming villages in the heart of the Burgundy wine region. 

Entrance to Beaune via a bike path in Burgundy

Then, head south to Macon for more wine and the charming city itself before ending in Cluny where you can admire the stunning Abbaye de Cluny. 

This is a great itinerary for those looking to drive to places and then perhaps bike along the vineyards. Do not drink and drive of course! 

Plus, this wine region is full of great towns to stop in along your road trip! 

7. Loire Valley Road Trip

Chateau de Chambord | Best Weekend Trips From Paris

Suggested Route: Tours–Amboise–Blois–Orleans

Days Needed: 5 days

Great Place to Stay: Chateau d-Artigny in Montbazon

When to Go: May-September

Highlights: Castles, wine, and beautiful rivers

Distance: Approx. 176 km

Want to feel like you’re waking up in a fairytale for 5 days? This is the best 5 day road trip in France for you! 

Start out in Tours before continuing on to Amboise, Blois, and ending in Orleans. Don’t worry, you’re not just town-hopping here! There is a lot to see along the way! 

Stop in to see stunning castles like Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau d’Amboise, Chateau de Blois, Chateau de Cheverny, and even Chateau de Chambord. 

Kat twirling in a white patterened dress in front of Chateau de Chenonceau

If you want to enjoy the views from the water, definitely rent a canoe and paddle along the Cher River, eventually going underneath Chateau de Chenonceau! 

Then wrap up the trip in Orleans where you can see the famous statue of Joan of Arc as well as the charming stone and half-timbered houses in the old town. 

8. Dordogne Road Trip

Castelnaud-La-Chapelle

Suggested Route: Perigueux–Montignac–Sarlat-La-Caneda–Rocamadour 

Great Place to Stay: Chateau de la Treyne in La Treyne

Highlights: Castles, historic caves, and beautiful scenery

Distance: Approx. 220 km

For castles in a more off-the-beaten-path destination, head over to the Dordogne region. This area is known as the “Land of 1001 castles,” meaning you’ll have plenty of options to fill up your time exploring on this road trip. 

Start out in the town of Periguex, where you can visit a Gallo-Roman museum, and you can also spend the day hiking and exploring the Perigord-Limousin Natural Regional Park.

After that, head to Montignac for the famous Lascaux Caves. These are prehistoric caves with several cave paintings inside. While you can’t go in the real caves, you can see a replica of the caves nearby to appreciate the history. 

Beynac-Et-Cazenac

Then, for the chance to explore the many castles in the area, you’ll want to stay in towns like Sarlat-La-Caneda and Rocamadour. Visit some chateaus like Chateau de Baynac, Chateau de Montal, and Chateau de Rocamadour. 

And, of course, you can’t miss the chance to stay in another castle hotel like at Chateau de la Treyne . 

9. A French Riviera Road Trip is One of the Shorter of the France Road Trips

South of France Itinerary in Cassis

Suggested Route: Cassis-Cannes-Antibes-Nice

Great Place to Stay: Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice

Highlights: Beaches, gorgeous towns, and day trip options

Distance: Approx. 216 km

Have a shorter time in Provence and want to skip straight to the beach? Then no problem! This 5-day French Riviera itinerary is perfect for you! 

Spend a day exploring the beaches and Calanques in Cassis before driving to Cannes for some time spent at a beach club and exploring the city. Then go to Antibes to relax the day before spending the last 2 days in Nice. 

Festival du Plage in Cannes

If you want, you can spend 1 day in Nice and then take a day trip on the last day to anywhere from Monaco to Villefranche-sur-Mer. 

Either way, this is a great itinerary to enjoy the cities and beaches of the Mediterranean in France.

10. Nouvelle-Aquitaine Road Trip

Bordeaux prettiest towns in France

Suggested Route: Cognac–Montignac–Beynac-et-Cazenac–Bordeaux–Biarritz

Great Place to Stay: Hotel de Tourny in Bordeaux

Highlights: Wine, cognac, history, and beaches

Distance: Approx. 589 km

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest administrative region in France, so you could certainly spend weeks exploring and still have more to see. 

However, for a good feel of the area, start out in the place where cognac is made: around Cognac. 

Then, you’ll want to head to Montignac to explore the historic Lascaux Caves replica before stopping in Beynac-et-Cazenac for the epic Chateau de Beynac, among other historic castles nearby. 

After that, it is time to spend a couple of days in Bordeaux to sample all the delicious Bordeaux wine and perhaps learn a little more about it at the Cite du Vin wine museum . Be sure to go on a wine-tasting tour to sample the best wines and visit lovely vineyards! 

Vineyards in Bordeaux

Then, wrap up your trip near the Spanish border in the town of Biarritz. Enjoy the beaches and scenery in the area as you relax or even take up surfing. 

11. Alsace Road Trip

Colmar Christmas Markets | Best Alsace Christmas Markets

Suggested Route: Strasbourg–Obernai–Colmar–Kaysersberg–Riquewihr–Ribeauville

Great Place to Stay: Hotel Hannong in Strasbourg

When to Go: November-December or June-July

Highlights: Christmas markets, wine route, and beautiful towns

Distance: Approx. 125 km

While many of the France road trips listed above are perfect for summer and early fall, this one is actually best done during the holiday season. Mostly because the Christmas markets in the Alsace are epic! 

Also, if you don’t want to drive this one, you can do this via train and public transport as well. However, with a car, you certainly have more flexibility. 

Start out in Strasbourg for a few nights and spend a full day exploring the city and its Christmas markets if you’re there during that season. Then, on the second day, you’ll want to explore the Alsace Wine Route either with your car (have a sober driver!) or on a tour. This is the tour we took and loved it! 

Then, you’ll want to take a day trip to Obernai , which I honestly think has the best Christmas market. If you go mid-week, there are no crowds, and it’s just lovely. 

Views of Obernai in the Alsace

After that, head to Colmar and admire this charming town for a day before spending your last day visiting the smaller towns in the Alsace region including Kaysersberg , Riquewihr , and Ribeauville . These towns also have incredible Christmas markets! 

While you can take the Navettes de Noel bus to these small towns from Colmar during the holiday season , you’ll find much more flexibility with your own car. Many of these smaller towns only have markets on the weekends, so plan your route accordingly. 

12. Champagne Road Trip

Tasting at Moet & Chandon - Things to do in Epernay

Suggested Route: Paris–Chatillon-sur-Marne–Epernay–Hautvillers–Ay-Champagne–Reims

Great Place to Stay: Les Suites du 33 in Epernay

When to Go: April through October

Highlights: Champagne cellars and lovely scenery

Distance: Approx. 191 km

While you could certainly do a quick day trip over to Champagne from Paris, I highly recommend spending at least 4-5 days here. 

This is also a great Paris road trip idea, as you can easily drive from Paris to Champagne and explore! 

Depart Paris and begin your journey in the smaller town of Chatillon-sur-Marne. Here, you’ll find smaller Champagne houses including Champagne Pierlot Fils, Champagne Smej Vely, and Champagne Charlier & Fils. 

After a day spent here, definitely head to Epernay for a day where you can enjoy tastings along the famous Ave de Champagne at places like Moet et Chandon, Champagne Esterlin, and Perrier Jouet. 

Reims Cathedral

Then, from Epernay, you can head to Hautvillers to see the famed Hautvillers Abbey where Dom Perignon, one of the perfecters of sparkling wine, was a monk. 

After that, explore Ay-Champagne for more great Champagne tastings at places like Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Egrot, and Champagne Henri Giraud.

Then finally, you’ll end in Reims where you can take a day to explore the city, including the Reims Cathedral, and spend another day Champagne tasting at Vevue Clicquot, Champagne Ruinart, and Champagne Pommery. 

Note that for many tours and tastings, you’ll need to reserve your spot ahead of time. I suggest doing this via the Champagne Houses’ website. You can also check Champagne-Booking.com to book tours and tastings. 

13. Island Time in Corsica Road Trip

10 Days in France - Corsica beaches

Suggested Route: Ajaccio–Bonifacio–Porto-Vecchio–Calvi–Ajaccio

Great Place to Stay: Hotel Casadelmar in Porto-Vecchio

When to Go: May through September

Highlights: Beaches, hiking, mountains

Distance: Approx. 360 km

I couldn’t leave out the island of Corsica during this France road trip guide! This island is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea just above Sardinia. 

With its seascapes and mountainous terrain, you’ll absolutely love taking a longer 10-day road trip here. Start out in Ajaccio, as this is likely where you’ll come in from the ferry or via plane. Spend a day or two here before going to Bonifacio, with its iconic beaches and the gorgeous Citadelle de Bonifacio. 

Corsica from above showing a beach and boat in the water

After that, go up north to Porto-Vecchio for more beaches and a chance to take a day trip to the Lavezzi Archipelago . 

Then, you’ll wrap up the trip in Calvi, where you can explore the town and enjoy some nearby hiking. 

Lastly, to end your trip, you’ll have to head back to Ajaccio to catch a plane or ferry back to mainland France. 

14. Ile de France Road Trip

Hall of Mirrors - Paris to Versailles Day Trip Itinerary

Suggested Route: Paris–Provins–Fontainbleu–Versailles–Paris

Great Place to Stay: Hotel des Artes–Montmartre in Paris

Highlights: Paris, Versailles, and other charming towns and parks

Distance: Approx. 271 km

If you want to stick close to Paris, then why not explore Ile de France, the region Paris is located in? 

Start your road trip going from Paris to Provins, where you can admire the Medieval architecture and ramparts of the town. Seriously, it is well worth spending a day here to see the epic ramparts, tunnels, towers, and more around this place. 

Paris Skyline

Then, you’ll head to Fountainbleu for a couple of days to explore the Chateau de Fontainbleau as well as hike in the Fontainbleau forest. 

Then, you’ll spend a couple of days exploring the amazing town of Versailles and, of course, the Chateau de Versailles . Yes, this is an easy day trip from Paris, but honestly, if you really want to enjoy both the town and the whole estate, it is worth a couple of days! 

After that, you’re back in Paris! 

15. Ultimate Paris to Nice Road Trip

South of France Itinerary - Nice

Suggested Route: Paris–Dijon–Lyon–Annecy–Avignon–Aix-en-Provence–Cannes–Nice

Days Needed: 14 days

Highlights: Get to visit a ton of France including cities, mountains, and beaches

Distance: Approx. 1,258 km

Okay, the final one on the list of the best road trips in France has to be an epic 2-week long road trip from Paris to Nice. 

And you’ll want a full two weeks as this drive takes quite some time, and you’ll want to stop and explore along the way! 

Start out in Paris for a couple of days to see the main sights, before you continue on to Dijon for a couple of days to see the highlights of the city as well as stop in the town of Beaune to explore the vineyards of Burgundy. 

Hilly country town in Burgundy

After that, drive down to Lyon for a couple of days to enjoy this gastronomy capital and the beautiful old city before stopping by Annecy for a day to enjoy the alpine lake views and charming farmers market (if you time your trip here on a Tuesday, Friday, or Sunday). 

Up next, you’ll head down to Avignon for a couple of days where you can explore the town, visit the wine region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and even see the stunning Pont du Gard. 

After that, take a day to see Aix-en-Provence or perhaps the Luberon villages. Then, you’ll spend 2 days in Cannes for beach time and to explore the town before wrapping up your trip with a couple of days in Nice. 

Other Tips For the Best France Road Trips

Kat at the Gordes Lookout

Before you hop in the car to explore the best driving routes through France, here are some things to note:

  • Need a car? It is easy to rent a car! I like Auto Europe for finding the best deals! 
  • You may need an international driver’s license. While I wasn’t asked last time for it, it is a good idea to get one ahead of time if you’re coming from the US as I was. You can get this at AAA .
  • Learn some rules of the road. For me, it was nice to drive on the right side of the road like we do in the US, but there are some differences in rules. This is a good resource to read up on before your trip. 
  • Do not drive while drinking. Some of these France road trips include stops in wine regions. I recommend either having a sober driver, hiring a driver for the day, or going on a wine tour. France has strict laws when it comes to drinking and driving, so just don’t do it. 
  • Don’t rush it. Maybe you find something awesome along your route and want to take a detour. Don’t pack in too much so you can make time for things like that.

A road trip around France is a lot of fun! Whether you dream of exploring the lavender fields of Provence or visiting the mountain towns in the Alps, these are the 15 best France road trips that you’ll want to start planning now. 

Which of the France road trips would you most like to go on?

Want more France travel inspiration? Check out these posts:

  • Fall in Paris Guide
  • Where to Stay in Paris Based On Your Travel Style
  • Ultimate Paris Olympics Travel Guide
  • Useful French Phrases to Know Before Your Trip
  • 10 Days in France: 10 Ways to Spend 10 Days in France
  • Paris in a Week
  • Best Weekend Trips From Paris
  • Best French Gifts 
  • Top Day Trips From Annecy
  • Paris Travel Tips For First Timers
  • Hidden Gems of Paris
  • Best French Cheeses
  • Top Things to Do in Grenoble
  • 3 Days in Paris
  • Best Time to Visit Paris
  • Romantic Things to Do in Paris
  • France Bucket List
  • Annecy in Winter Guide
  • Paris Bucket List
  • Paris in January
  • How to Spend One Day in Paris

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France road trip ideas- 11 best areas to visit

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest

Planning a France road trip? Want ideas for the best regions or places to visit? Here are 11 of the best, just waiting to be explored…

We love France. We spend a lot of time touring France in our motorhome and exploring as many of the pretty towns, villages and points of interest as we can. 

After all this time, we’ve got pretty good at finding fun places to visit- but I know how overwhelming it can feel at first to decide where to go. Whether you’re visiting France from the UK or abroad, it helps to have a guide or an idea on the best places to visit.

So here’s a quick tour of 11 of the best regions and natural attractions in France. If you want cities, here are 10 top cities to visit in France (besides Paris) and if you’re looking for a little history and culture, here are 7 unmissable historical places in France.

But today, we’re talking mountains, gorges, lakes and… lavender? 

JUMP AHEAD TO...

Planning a trip to France? Grab your FREE road trip planner HERE and start creating your perfect trip

Map of france road trip ideas and points of interest.

Map France road trip ideas and points of interest

Isn’t it annoying when people talk about places and you have no idea where they are! To give you a rough guide, here’s a map of some of the places mentioned in this article, so you can see how far you might want to travel on your road trip.

If you’d like help planning your route and journey, grab our FREE road trip planner here – it walks you through everything you need to know to organise your road trip.

*We work hard to make this the best motorhome travel blog and road trip website possible, full of helpful content for you. The website is supported by our readers, so if you buy through links on this site we may earn a commission- at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own .

If you find this post useful, you can also treat us to a coffee – we promise to enjoy it while creating more useful content like this- we might even indulge in a biscuit (or two!)

French Alps- our favourite France road trip destination

Visiting the French Alps is a brilliant road trip. Whether it's summer or winter, the Mountains in the Alps are beautiful and there's plenty to do. We highly recommend adding the French alps to your Europe itinerary.

There is just something about the Alps which keeps us returning again and again. They speak to my soul. In fairness, I think it might be all mountains, as I felt like this in the Dolomites and in Norway too, but the Alps are the closest to the UK and therefore the ones we’ve visited most. 

I should point out that there are French Alps, Swiss Alps (which is where we made the decision for me to quit my job so we could go travelling long-term ) and the Italian Alps. They’re all the same mountain range, and you can merrily cross from one country to another without any real border. But, for this post, we’ll focus on France and the French Alps.

Points of interest in the French Alps

Some of our favourite places in the Alps have included:

  • Going to almost the top of Mont Blanc and standing in a glass box over a sheer drop into the valley below. I’m not even joking- it’s called ‘The Void’ and you can read all about it here.
  • Lake Annecy. Which is silly as that’s where we lost our drone and were very very sad. But it’s such a beautiful city that we still like it, despite all the mistakes we made!
  • The Gorge du Fier. An incredible place near Annecy- well worth a visit. 
  • Wild Camping in the Alps with our motorhome. There have been several gorgeous places we’ve found, both in summer and winter. Vanlife in the mountains is magic. 

RELATED POST: New French law for winter tyres and snow chains in 2021

There are a million more places in the Alps I could mention. If you’re driving from the UK to Italy, this is the route we drove through the Alps (near Chamonix, so you can stop at Mont Blanc if you wish). 

When is the best time to head to the Alps?

Well, between November and April they’re usually covered in snow- so it depends what you’re trying to do. We love visiting the Alps later in the year, like October (here are some more ideas for places to visit in Europe in October ) but they’re also lovely in late Spring and even throughout the summer they don’t get too crowded.

Want to hire a vehicle for touring France? Find out everything you need to know about how to hire a motorhome in France.

Loire Valley- an incredible area to visit on a road trip

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- loire valley

Recommend by Kat | Worldwide Honeymoon

Located approximately 2 hours south of Paris, the Loire Valley is one of the most unique places in the world, famous for its charming scenery, delicious wineries and the vast number of châteaux. In fact, there are over 300 of these fairytale castles in the region!

You could certainly spend many happy road trips in France just exploring the Loire Valley alone! The Loire Valley castles and wineries are easy to access by road and parking is readily available, even for motorhomes or campers. 

Famous Chateaux and points of interest in the Loire Valley

Château de Chambord

One of the best château to visit is Château de Chambord. This was a former hunting lodge and constructed by King Francois I. You may recognize this castle as the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast! It is also the largest château in the region. The hours for Château de Chambord are 9 am-6 pm during peak season (March 28-October 25) and 9 am-5 pm outside of peak season.

Chateau de Nitray

Another famous château is Chateau de Nitray, perfect for lunch as it has many splendid picnic spots as well as a winery at which you can relax and taste some delicious French wine!

For Chateau de Nitray, you can only visit individually from June 1-September 30 from 9 am-12 pm and 2-6 pm, except on Sunday mornings. The remainder of the year is only open for group visits.

Château de Chenonceau

The last château we highly recommend is Château de Chenonceau or “The Lady Castle.” This castle was gifted to Diane de Poitiers who commissioned the bridge over the River Cher and then was taken over by Catherine de Medici, who created the sprawling gardens. It is beautiful to behold, and if you prefer to try more Loire Valley wine, this is a great castle to visit as additional wine samples are available for purchase, here. 

Chateau de Chenonceau’s hours vary throughout the year, but opening times range from 9-9:30 am and closing times range from 5-6:30 pm. 

There are plenty of places to stay in the Loire Valley for your France road trip- campsites, hotels and many aires for motorhomes. We recommend visiting in the Spring or Autumn, when the tourists have mostly left but the weather is still beautiful. The nice thing about the Loire is that it is not too far from the English Channel, so you could visit for a long weekend or stay for 3 weeks. The choice is yours! (Here are some more ideas for places to visit in Autumn in Europe. )

Provence ( and the Lavender Fields)

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Provence lavender fields

Recommended by Stefania | Every Steph

How many pictures of the lavender fields in Provence have we all seen on Instagram? Tons, but yet…. there’s a reason why they are so popular. They are so unbelievably beautiful and perfect for a France road trip destination.

Where is the best place to see the lavender fields in Provence?

I suggest two places in particular: the lavender fields in Valensole and the fields at the Senanque Abbey. The first ones are the most popular, which also means they will be really crowded unless you go super early in the morning. The Senanque Abbey fields are unique as they are right next to a beautiful monastery. 

You’ll have no problem inserting both stops on your South of France itinerary , and there’s plenty of parking available. You’ll probably spend around one hour at the fields just walking around and taking way too many Instagram pictures. When you’re done, you could also visit a lavender producer to see how the oil is manufactured.

When is the best time to visit the lavender fields in France?

You’ll have to time your trip right if you want to experience these fields at their best. You can visit any time between the end of June and mid-August. However, every year might be a little different. The fields can bloom earlier or later, so I’d recommend you visit around mid-July to guarantee that you can shoot those iconic lavender fields photos.

Verdon Gorge

Best places to visit in France- Verdon Gorge

Recommended by Darek | DarekandGosia

If you are looking for the most beautiful places to visit in France , you have to visit the Verdon Canyon/ Gorge. Verdon Gorge is a French natural wonder – a spectacular 21-kilometre-long river strip that Mother Nature carved in rocky limestone.

It is one of the deepest canyons in Europe, and its deepest place is 700 metres. The narrowest point of the Verdon Gorge is 6 metres, and the widest 100 metres. All this means that this place has been attracting climbers, photographers, hikers and canoeists for years. You can’t miss it while visiting France!

France road trip ideas- how to get to Verdon Gorge

The canyon is best explored by car or motorhome- perfect for a French road trip! Anyway, you can’t reach it in any other way. There are no trains or direct buses, and the canyon itself extends over a very large area.

The fastest way to get there is driving from Nice on the A8 towards Marseille (if you want to do it really fast, drive a Ferrari from Nice !). Then, exit at Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez after Frejus and driving north along routes D1555, D54 and D955 to Comps-sur-Artuba.

Why should I add Verdon Gorge to my French road trip itinerary?

Gorges du Verdon is primarily a mecca for rock climbers and a destination for expeditions of amateurs of quite strenuous trekking, but also for all those who are looking for unusual, unique views without sporting ambitions. The panorama from the route around the canyon is really unique and worth seeing at least once in your life.

We recommend at least a day in the area to explore the gorge properly. Going early in the morning means less tourists- well worth it for beautiful photos free from people! That’s also the best time to drive the Gorges du Verdon with a motorhome – before the traffic starts!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE road trip planner HERE and start creating your perfect France road trip

Dordogne- an incredible france road trip idea.

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Dordogne

Recommended by Hannah | Nouvelle-Aquitaine Travel

The Dordogne is a department in the south-west of France.  Inland from Bordeaux, it is known for its river valleys, medieval towns and historic cathedrals.  The Dordogne can most easily be enjoyed by way of a road trip, or by local trains. Bordeaux is the largest international airport (2.5hrs drive); although Bergerac also has an airport too.  

How long to spend visiting the Dordogne

You can see the highlights of the Dordogne in a couple of days; however, I recommend spending at least a week in the area if you can.  

Points of Interest in the Dordogne 

The city of Périgueux, with its 5-domed cathedral based on St Mark’s in Venice, is worth a visit.  The cathedral was started in the 10 th century and renovated considerably in the 1800s.  While only the bell tower and crypts remain of the original structure, it is a magnificent piece of French history .  It is on the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.

One of the most picturesque spots in the Dordogne is the town of  Brantôme .  Sitting on a hairpin turn in the Dronne River, Brantôme is famous for its Troglodyte Caves and Abbey.  Another site that was on old pilgrimage routes, Brantôme’s Abbey was founded by Charlemagne in 769. Brantôme has lots of riverside dining options, weirs to canoe on, and lots of history to soak up.

Towards the eastern edge of the Dordogne is the beautifully preserved medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda.  This market town avoided much of the modernisation of recent centuries, so has a really authentic feel.  Located in the Périgord Noir area, Sarlat is famous for its walnut groves, wild cèpe mushrooms, and truffles.  Needless to say, it is a very popular culinary destination.

Castlenaud-la-Chapelle (pictured) is also incredibly beautiful and well worth a visit

Pyrenees- one of the best places to visit in France 

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Pyrenees

Recommended by Clare | EpicRoadRides

The French Pyrenees is a beautiful area in France. This jagged mountain range runs along the French-Spanish border and is full of snowy peaks (even in summer), and some of Europe’s rarest wildlife including vultures and even brown bears.

Why should you include the Pyrenees in your France road trip itinerary?

Compared with their more famous sister, the French Alps, they are much less known and have a wild, brooding feel. This part of the world is perfect for outdoors enthusiasts including skiers, climbers, hikers and cyclists.

Argelès-Gazost is a good base. It’s a small town but well-known for its thermal spa – and also (a little incongruously) its casino. Near Argelès-Gazost, there’s a treetop trail course, river rafting and an animal park that’s popular with kids. There’s also a cycle path along the valley bottom which is a lovely ride if you prefer your cycling flat.

Access to Argelès-Gazost is easy by road. From Toulouse, you take the A64 motorway to Tarbes, then Lourdes. From there take the main road to Argelès-Gazost.

Points of interest and things to do in the Pyrenees

The nearest mountain peak is Hautacam, which is located just a few minutes away from the town. Here you’ll find many mountain-based activities including a mountain luge, segway and hiking trails. If you’re into road cycling, Hautacam is also one of the most famous climbs of the Tour de France.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss a visit to the Cirque de Gavarnie – one of the most beautiful places in France and home to the second-highest waterfall in Europe! 

When is the best time to visit the Pyrenees on a road trip?

Winters aren’t overly long in the Pyrenees, but they’re pretty much reserved for winter sports (like downhill and nordic skiing) between November and the end of April. Come during late spring and summer to get the best of the Pyrenees when it’s not covered in snow! If you are planning a winter motorhome trip , read this to make sure you’re prepared.

Depending on how much you love the outdoors and what activities you want to sample, you could spend anything from a weekend to a two week holiday exploring the Pyrenees and all it has to offer.

Cassis, France- a perfect France road trip stop

Best places to visit in France- Cassis

Recommended by Lora | ExplorewithLora

Cassis is a small fishing village in southern France, about a 45-minute drive from Marseille. With its colourful streets, beautiful port, and nearby hiking opportunities, Cassis makes a wonderful place to visit on a road trip in France.

Points of Interest in Cassis

The town of Cassis is lovely to stroll around; it’s full of colourful streets and Provencal charm. There is a beautiful beach right next to the main pier, which is perfect for sunbathing. Nearby is the Calanques de Cassis, which is a great place to go hiking.

You can also enjoy the Calanques on a boat tour that leaves from the Cassis harbour. There are some excellent French restaurants to dine at in Cassis, offering fresh seafood options.

How easy is it to visit Cassis on a road trip?

Cassis is open year-round and is easy access from Marseille. The drive along the coast is beautiful, with amazing views of the Calanques as you approach Cassis. Parking is available in town but may be tricky to find during the busy summer season- especially for a motorhome.

There are several parking lots in Cassis which you can reserve in advance (but often not for large vehicles). If you don’t have a car, there is a train which regularly runs between Marseille and Cassis.

How long to spend at Cassis

One day will give you enough time to walk around the town, enjoy the beach, and dine at one of the restaurants. If you’d also like to hike around the area, then it’s better to stay overnight for a night or two. There’s enough to in the area to keep you busy for a weekend.

Calanques National Park

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Calanques National Park

Recommended by Nadine | Le Long Weekend The  Calanques National Park , near Marseille in Southern France, is one of the country’s most treasured jewels. Teeming with natural attractions, it’s a great place to hike, swim, and enjoy nature in its purest form. The landscape is one of incomparable beauty – limestone cliffs jutting out into the azure blue sea and garrigue-laden hills serenading you with their scent. Beloved by the locals, you’ll find them walking the many tracks throughout the park at any time of year.

What is the best way to explore the Calanques?

Accessible via either Marseille or Cassis, there are many different routes you can choose, depending on your fitness level and ability. But even if you’re not up to hiking, you’ll be pleased to know the majority of the national park is actually the marine area that surrounds the craggy coastline! Jump on a boat tour from Cassis and you’ll be able to explore the Calanques from below, or hire a kayak and enjoy them at your own pace.  

Points of interest in the Calanques

There are less than a handful of services within the park, but you’ll find sustenance available at two of the most accessible Calanques – Morgiou and Sormiou. In the off-season, it’s possible to drive right down and park at either of these Calanques.

For the others, it’s preferable to set aside a day and hike to a hidden beach for serene swimming.

TOP TIP: Be aware that the park often closes in the height of summer due to the risk of wildfires. In July & August, it’s preferable to enjoy it via the sea instead.

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Brittany

Recommended by Alice | Take your Bag

The region of Brittany is one of the best places to see in France. This French region has the best of everything: beautiful cities , stunning medieval towns where you can go back in time and be immersed in history, beautiful nature, and gorgeous secluded beaches with impressive coastlines.

It’s rugged, authentic, full of opportunities for adventure and water sports and the people are some of the friendliest in the country!

When is the best time to visit Brittany?

Brittany has a bad reputation because of its climate; truth is I’ve seen very few rainy days on the many summers I’ve spent in Southern Brittany. It’s mostly been beautiful weather and compulsory sunscreen – even if the nights can be a bit chilly. Still, expect similar weather to the UK and prepare for rain at any time of the year… just in case! 

Points of Interest in Brittany

Brittany is a large region, with different landscapes and atmospheres whether you’re in the Northern part (St-Malo, the Pink Granite Coast, Brest…) or the Southern part (Lorient, Vannes,…) so you could easily choose to spend a weekend or a month exploring and you wouldn’t see everything there is to see!

Don’t forget to try the traditional treats, including cider and crêpes! And if you’re into history and folklore, angle your trip around the Legend of King Arthur and Celtic myths, still very vividly alive in this part of France. (Yes, the same King Arthur from Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s Cave in Cornwall!)

Best France road trip ideas and points of interest- Normandy

Recommended by Ashley | My Wanderlustylife

Given their incredibly significant history, the  World War II sites of Normandy  are some of the best places to visit in France. Normandy is a beautiful and worthwhile tourist destination in its own right, but visiting the World War II sites is to view the region from an entirely new perspective.

Points of Interest in Normandy for WWII

D-Day and the Battle of Normandy is one of the most well-known battles of World War II and to see and experience these locations in person is life-changing. 

Among these sites are Omaha Beach (and the four others that were part of the amphibious D-Day invasions known as Operation Overlord), Pointe du Hoc, the comprehensive Caen Memorial Museum, the artificial harbours at Arromanches-les-Bains, and Normandy American Cemetery, to name just a few. There are also a number of battlefields, abandoned batteries like the one at Longues-ser-Mer, museums, and other cemeteries.

When is the best time to visit the WWII sites in Normandy?

These sites (and more) are open all year long but, if you can, visit as close to D-Day (June 6 th ) as possible to experience them at their best. Costumed re-enactors, enthusiasts, and World War II veterans at and around the sites greatly add to the overall experience.

There are  numerous WWII sites to visit in Normandy—you could spend a week there visiting them all on a road trip, or see the key highlights in a single day if time is limited. They are quite easy to get to if you have a car or motorhome (and all sites have adequate, dedicated parking). 

If you get time, we highly recommend a detour on your road trip and visit Ypres in Belgium- the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate for the fallen soldiers is one of the most moving things we have ever experienced.

French Riviera- not the best France road trip destination! 

Best places to visit in France- French Riviera

We have mixed views on the French Riviera, but we wanted to show you the good and bad aspects of the region, especially in regards to a road trip. 

Oh, it’s a beautiful spot for sure and the beaches and boats are to die for! BUT… it’s not particularly road trip friendly- especially for those of us with big vehicles. Aires are few and far between and are often full. Wild camping is almost impossible and campsites are… well, they vary in quality- let’s put it that way. 

Points of Interest in the French Riviera

We stayed for a couple of nights in March so we could visit the Menton Lemon Festival. We also visited Monaco and Nice but the area was too crowded for us, even in March- probably because it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe in February and March! I can’t imagine it in high summer or in May around Cannes- the volume of people is frightening. 

But, don’t let our opinion put you off. Just… maybe book a campsite in advance. If you enjoy cities, nightlife and people watching, this is definitely one of the best areas in France to visit.

So, there are 11 regions in France you can visit on your road trip- with points of interest. I hope you’ve found this information useful and enjoy your France trip!

To help you plan a great roadtrip, here is a list of things you should NOT do on your roadtrip .

How else can I help you today?

  • Which are the best cities to visit in France (outside of Paris)
  • How do you travel Europe in a motorhome?
  • I want more Europe road trip ideas
  • Visiting Mont St Michel with a motorhome or camper

See all our France Travel Posts here

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France travel ideas - Beautiful places in France for a road trip

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

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The Road Is Life

A Stunning France Road Trip – The Ultimate 10 Day Itinerary

The Ultimate 10 Day France Road Trip Itinerary

There are many reasons why going on a France road trip should be very high on your European bucket list. The south of France is home to some of the prettiest towns and most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, not to mention all of the incredible food and wine this region has to offer!

The best way to see southern France is by renting a car so that you can easily travel around at your own pace, stopping wherever and whenever you please. I’ve designed this epic 10 day France road trip itinerary to pass through the very best sights and stop in the most beautiful small towns and villages along the way.

So buckle up and get ready to taste all the delicious French cheeses, olives and wines, inhale the scent of fresh lavender, wander through the most charming medieval villages and drive through the most incredible landscapes you’ve ever seen. I promise this France road trip will not disappoint!

Lavender fields of Valensole Plateau, Provence France

Table of Contents

France Road Trip Overview

  • Nice – 1 night
  • Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – 1 night
  • Valensole Lavender fields
  • Gordes – 2 nights
  • Château de Tarascon

Pont du Gard

  • Nîmes – 2 nights
  • Carcassonne – 2 nights
  • Cahors (option to spend 1 night)
  • Rocamadour – 2 nights

Gorges du Verdon, Provence France

The spectacular Gorges du Verdon, seen from the Pont du Galetas viewpoint

Recommended stops

Day One  – Depart Nice early + drive 3 hrs to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie taking the scenic mountain road that runs through the Gorges du Verdon. See the sights of Moustiers in the afternoon and evening.

Night One  – Spend one night in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

Day Two  – Wake up early and begin the 2 hour drive toward Gordes with a stop at the Valensole lavender fields for some photos. Stop once more in the village of Roussillon + take a walk around the Ochre Trail before continuing the drive to Gordes.

Nights Two & Three  – Spend two nights in the village of Gordes.

Day Three  – Spend a full day seeing the highlights of Gordes and surrounding countryside.

Day Four  – Depart Gordes in the morning + drive 50 min to Château de Tarascon. Spend 1 hour at the castle then drive 25 mins to the ancient Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard. Spend a few hours at the aqueduct and museum before driving a further 30 mins to Nîmes.

Sunset over the city of Carcassonne, France

A perfect Carcassonne sunset

Night Four & Five  – Spend two nights in Nîmes.

Day Five  – Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Nîmes, visiting the amazing Roman monuments.

Day Six  –Depart Nîmes and drive 2.5 hours to Carcassonne. Spend the afternoon and evening exploring Carcassonne.

Nights Six & Seven  – Spend two nights in Carcassonne.

Day Seven  – Visit all of Carcassonne’s highlights.

Day Eight – Drive 2.5 hours to the town of Cahors (option to spend 1 night here to break up the drive), spend a few hours exploring the town before driving 1 hour to the village of Rocamadour.

Nights Eight & Nine – Spend two nights in Rocamadour.

Day Nine – See the highlights of Rocamadour on the final day of the road trip.

Total Driving Time

13-14 hours, give or take depending on traffic

Longest Stretch of Driving

3.5 hours – Day 8, Carcassonne to Rocamadour with a stop in Cahors to break it up

Total Kilometres / Miles Covered

970 kilometres / 600 miles

Beautiful lavender fields in Provence, France

France Road Trip Highlights

  • The drive through the majestic Gorges du Verdon will take your breath away
  • Picturesque villages of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Gordes and Roussillon are so beautiful they will leave a lasting memory
  • The extremely well preserved medieval towns of Carcassonne and Rocamadour are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites to tick off
  • Taste the delicious Malbec wine in the pretty town of Cahors
  • Breathtakingly beautiful scenery will be seen along your drives including lavender & sunflower fields, vineyards, turquoise lakes, pretty castles and so much more!
  • Discover the fascinating Roman history and well preserved 2000+ year old monuments in the lovely town of Nîmes

A girl with red hair perches on a rock in front of the village of Gordes France

The magical village of Gordes

How Long Will I Need?

We completed this France road trip in 10 days, this is the minimum time you should allow to follow it however it would be very easy to extend this itinerary to 2 weeks if you prefer a slower pace. There are many other towns, cities and attractions to visit along the way that you could easily stretch it out if you are flexible.

We flew to Nice from England, but if you are arriving after a long haul flight you should allow for a few days to recover at the beginning of your trip. Spending a few extra nights in Nice would be a good idea.

Pretty scenes around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Pretty scenes around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Best Time to Visit the South of France

We did this road trip in late September/early October and the weather was mostly sunny and around 10-22°C. We had a few days of rain and the temperatures got cooler as we travelled north. For the most part, we found this to be a great time to travel as there were minimal crowds.

The summer months of June/July/August are definitely the most popular time to road trip the south of France but bear in mind that there will be a significant amount of people in each town and at every attraction. If you’re hoping to see the lavender fields, the best time is mid June – mid July.

Another great option would be to visit during the spring months of April, May or early June as the temperatures begin to rise and just before the summer crowds arrive. The south of France typically sees a lot of sun year round so if you’re not a fan of crowds, plan your trip for spring or autumn.

The religious buildings of Rocamadour

The breathtaking cliffside village of Rocamadour

The Best Travel Insurance for Road Trips

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For peace of mind while abroad,  Heymondo is one of the most reputable travel insurance companies that will provide you with simple and flexible coverage. Whether you are into adventurous activities or simply looking for trip cancellation and medical insurance, Heymondo has you covered!

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The Ultimate France Road Trip Itinerary – Beautiful Lavender Fields, Magical Cliffside Villages & Spectacular Landscapes

Chateau de Tarascon, South of France

Chateau de Tarascon

Where to Rent a Car in Nice

Nice is a beautiful city but we were keen to get on the road so we decided to spend one night in Nice after flying in and then set off early the next morning. We recommend booking your car rental through this search tool as it’s hassle free and always has plenty of providers to choose from with reasonable prices.

A lavender stall in a market in Gordes, Provence

One can never buy too many lavender sachets!

Driving from Nice to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie via the Gorges du Verdon

If you type “Nice to Moustiers” into Google maps, it will come up with the most direct route which takes just over 2 hours and passes through Cannes. The route we decided to take is a longer and slower drive (3 hours), but the extra time is 100% worth it!

We chose to take a route that passes through pretty villages, scenic mountain roads and best of all it runs straight through the spectacular Gorges du Verdon , also known as the Grand Canyon of Europe. The views along this route are absolutely breathtaking and possibly the best of the entire France road trip!

Driving through the village of Gréolières on a 10 day France road trip

As you make your way toward the Gorges du Verdon, you’ll pass lovely little villages like Gréolières

Below are the exact driving directions for the route we followed including all stops along the way. You’ll notice that the roads are very twisty and mountainous. If you’re a bit apprehensive about driving along the edge of a gorge with a sheer drop on one side, you may want to try a different route.

We made our first stop in the mountain village of Gréolières to stretch our legs. You can easily pull over and take a walk up to the old church above the town for some nice views or grab a coffee in the town and continue driving. The next stop was in the small town of Comps-sur-Artuby where we had some lunch in a little cafe before starting the drive through the Gorges du Verdon.

The windy road that will take you through the gorge is called the D71 and it begins in Comps-sur-Artuby. As you make your way through the gorge there will undoubtedly be many spots you’d like to pull over for photos but as the roads are very narrow, there is a lack of space to stop most of the time.

Balcon de la Mescla viewpoint

The Balcon de la Mescla viewpoint – photos don’t do it justice!

Best Gorges du Verdon Viewpoints

Since you can’t pull over for every single view, I’ve saved you the hassle and listed the most epic Gorges du Verdon viewpoints in order so that you don’t miss the very best. You’ll also notice them marked on the map above.

  • Balcon de la Mescla – An incredible viewing platform just as you enter the dramatic landscape of the gorge, there are no words to describe the view you will find there! There is plenty of room to leave your car at the entrance of this viewpoint.
  • Verdon Gorge Viewpoint – On the edge of the windy road you’ll find this spectacular panoramic viewpoint at one of the highest points of the drive. There’s only a small area to pull over here so if it’s already full of other cars, you may be out of luck.

Driving through the Gorges du Verdon

The jaw dropping Verdon Gorge viewpoint

  • View of Aiguines Castle – As you descend from the gorge toward the town of Aiguines, you’ll turn a corner and immediately notice the most beautiful scene of Aiguines Castle and vineyard with the shimmering Lac de Sainte Croix as the backdrop. This is one of my favorite photos of the road trip! There’s a little pullout area just passed the view on your left where you can leave the car and walk back up the side of the road to take some photos.
  • Pont du Galetas – Another absolute must-see view just before you enter the town of Moustiers. Once you cross the Pont du Galetas bridge there’s a car park to pull into on your left. This bridge is where you’ll find the most iconic and jaw dropping beautiful view of the Gorges du Verdon and the turquoise coloured lake!

The best road trip through the south of France

Aiguines Castle view

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

After you finish driving through the Gorges du Verdon, you’ll likely arrive in Moustiers by the afternoon. You’ll have the rest of the day to explore the town and see the highlights listed below.

Truly one of the prettiest towns in France , Moustiers is nestled in between two limestone cliffs overlooking the valley and lake below. Rich in history and full of small town Provence charm, the beauty of Moustiers doesn’t fail to impress!

The town’s history goes back to the 5th century when monks settled in the village and built a monastery. Over the centuries, Moustiers became known for producing beautiful hand-made ceramics. Pop into the Ceramic Museum in the town center to see over 5 centuries worth of Moustier’s gorgeous ceramics.

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Provence

Highlights of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Explore the village – Moustiers itself is actually a very small town and can easily be seen in a few hours. Take some time to explore the charming streets and squares of the town center, finding postcard perfect scenes around each corner. Browse the little shops and pick out a souvenir or two to take home. Lavender sachets and hand-made ceramics are the perfect way to remember Moustiers!

Weekly market – If you happen to be visiting the town on a Friday, make sure to check out the market which takes place in the main square. Fresh loaves of bread, juicy olives, goats cheese, jars of tapenade, and olive oils are just a few of the delicious things you can expect to find there. The weekly market is another great place to pick up the perfect souvenir or gift to take home.

Ceramic museum – Admire over 300 beautiful hand-made ceramics that were once known as the very best in the region. The museum is home to over 5 centuries of locally produced antique ceramics. Tickets cost €3 per person.

A view over Moustiers while hiking up to the Notre Dame de Beauvoir Chapel

A beautiful view from the trail to the chapel

Hiking up to the church in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Steep drops along the hike

Notre Dame de Beauvoir – Hike up to the 12th century chapel that’s built into the cliffs above the town. The hike to the church is very steep but it’s only 20 minutes and absolutely rewarding. The chapel itself doesn’t have much to offer but it’s the sweeping panoramic views of the valley, lake and rooftops of the town below that make it all worthwhile.

As you hike you’ll notice the iconic gold star that has hung between the two cliffs since the 13th century. There are many legends that explain the reason it came to be there but the true story behind the hanging star remains a mystery.

Lac de Sainte Croix – If you have any time left over while you’re in Moustiers, the pretty turquoise waters of Lac de Sainte Croix is a great place for a swim or to hire a kayak/small boat and explore the gorge.

Strolling the quaint streets of Moustiers

Strolling the quaint streets of Moustiers

Where to Stay in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The town center of Moustier doesn’t have many options for parking but having a car makes it easy to stay at one of the many B&Bs in the countryside surrounding the town.

La Ferme du petit Ségriès B&B –  We chose to stay at this charming old farm house 5km from Moustiers. We really enjoyed the peaceful rustic vibes and beautiful views that can be seen from the property. There are also some lavender fields nearby to add to the atmosphere. We had a comfortable stay there and loved the delicious fresh breakfast they serve daily.

►Browse more accommodation options around Moustiers◄

Pretty buildings of Moustiers

Lovely buildings of Moustiers

Valensole Lavender Fields

During the summer months Provence comes to life with dazzling fields of lavender and sunflowers. People travel from all over the world just to stroll through the endless rows of purple flowers and witness the magic of this special time of year in the south of France.

One of the best spots to see the lavender fields in Provence is the Valensole Plateau. This area has a concentration of fields so you have the option to visit many of them if you wish to. The Valensole Plateau is located only 30 minutes from Moustiers and is conveniently en route to the next stop.

The gorgeous lavender fields of Valensole, Provence

It’s not hard to find them as they are located all along the main road as you drive from  Moustiers to Rousillon, you’ll see them from the car. Zoom into the map below for a few suggested lavender field stops on your drive. Looking for a sunflower and lavender field together? Click here  for exact location.

This brightly colored village is surrounded by lush countryside and located in one of the largest ochre deposits in the world. It’s no surprise that Roussillon has officially been recognized as one of France’s most beautiful villages, it really is an impressive sight!

For centuries, ochre has been used in the area for things like art, textiles, and adding colour to houses (as you can tell by the orange/red colour of the buildings in the town). In the 18th century, ochre mining around Roussillon was in full swing when there was high demand for the red pigment. Ochre factories were once located around the village, some of which can still be seen today.

The picturesque village of Roussillon in Provence

The picturesque village of Roussillon

Highlights of Roussillon

Town center – Take some time to stroll through the town’s narrow streets finding plenty of great photo opportunities of the pretty buildings as you go. Stop for lunch in a cafe or pick up an ice cream cone from one of the many ice cream shops.

Ochre Trail – You can’t visit Roussillon without talking a walk through the spectacular Ochre Trail . It’s an easy walking trail that will take you through an ochre quarry. The start of the trail begins near the village and you’ll have the option of taking the shorter path (30 min walk) or the longer route (50 min walk). For only €2.50 per person, this walk is definitely a highlight you shouldn’t miss.

Spend as long as you like visiting Roussillon because the next stop on this epic France road trip is only 15 minutes away. You’ll be spending two nights in Gordes so day two is all about exploring the lavender fields and seeing the sights of Roussillon.

Exploring the Ochre Trail of Roussillon on this south of France road trip itinerary

When I think of the prettiest fairy tale village I’ve ever seen, Gordes is the first one that comes to mind. Perched on a hilltop and surrounded by the beautiful Luberon Valley, Gordes is one of the most popular and touristy villages in the south of France and it’s not hard to see why.

As you wander through the village, enjoy getting lost in the maze of steep, narrow alleys that extend from the town square, you’ll be sure to stumble on the prettiest corners and best viewpoints. Spectacular views can be seen over the surrounding countryside from various lookouts around the town.

Gordes - the prettiest village in the south of France

The stunning hilltop village of Gordes

Gordes is one of the most beautiful small towns in France

A perfect view lies around every corner in Gordes

Highlights of Gordes

Gordes Castle – It’s hard to miss the 11th century medieval castle that dominates the skyline of Gordes. It sits at the highest point of the town and can be seen from pretty much everywhere.

If you decide to go inside you can’t expect to see much in the way of historical artifacts or background information about the castle. Instead you’ll find an art exhibition on display.

We decided to give the castle a miss because most reviews were negative with people writing that they were disappointed by their visit. Unless you’re interested in art, this castle is best admired from the outside. Also, it’s really beautiful when lit up at night!

A scene of the Gordes market in the town square with Gordes Castle in the background

Gordes market

Shopping for olives at Gordes market

Drooling over fresh olives at Gordes market😍

Gordes market – If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Gordes on a Tuesday, make sure to check out the town market. We were excited to arrive in Gordes just in time for the weekly market and it did not disappoint. Colourful market stalls light up the town’s beige alleys selling everything from clothing, jewellry and lavender to olives, cheeses and tapenade!

Best Gordes viewpoint – To snap the perfect photo of Gordes, head over to the Gordes town viewpoint either in the morning or at sunset to catch this magical town lit up in the best lighting of the day.

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque – Only a 10 minute drive out of Gordes, this gorgeous old abbey dates back to the 12th century when it was founded by monks. An added bonus to your visit is the stunning rows of lavender growing in the field next to the abbey during the summer months. Fascinating history and beautiful scenery, this is an absolute must-see!

Click here for the abbey’s current opening hours.

Gordes France is one of the highlights of this 10 day France road trip

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque

Where to Stay in Gordes

Since you will be spending two nights in Gordes, it’s worth finding a nice place with a pool and some views. There are plenty of beautiful places to stay around Gordes but you need to be quick to book ahead, especially in high season! If you leave it to the last minute, you’ll be stuck with few options as Gordes gets very touristy.

The ultimate France road trip itinerary

La Borie en Provence

La Borie en Provence – We loved our stay in this B&B just outside of the town center. If you’re craving some down time, their pool with epic valley views is the perfect place to relax and soak up that golden Provence sunshine. They also serve one of the best breakfasts we had on our entire road trip through France.

A huge selection of cheese, fresh bread, fresh fruit and spreads were laid out for us each morning, the coffee was amazing too. I can’t recommend this place enough. During high season, the rooms book out pretty far in advance so it’s best to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

►Browse more accommodation options in Gordes◄

A baguette, croissant and goat's cheese

The perfect French breakfast at La Borie en Provence

Chateâu de Tarascon

Located on the banks of the Rhône River, just 20 minutes south of Avignon is the medieval commune of Tarascon. The town is known for its impressive 15th century castle that sits right on the river’s edge. Chateâu de Tarascon is conveniently along the route to the next stop of the road trip making it the perfect place to break up the drive.

We didn’t actually plan to visit this castle but as we were driving from Gordes to Pont du Gard , we passed by Chateâu de Tarascon and just had to stop to check it out. The castle is massive and extremely well preserved considering its age. It was strategically built on the river that marks the western border of Provence providing defense and protection.

A view of the entrance to Chateau de Tarascon

Highlights of Chateâu de Tarascon

When you first enter you’ll cross a bridge over the castle’s moat, which no longer has water. You’ll be given a map with some background history so you can explore at your own pace. The entire castle can be seen in about 1 hour.

Inside the castle there are many rooms, courtyards, and spiral staircases to see. Even though the rooms are not decorated with furniture, it doesn’t fail to impress. In the 18th century Chateâu de Tarascon was actually used as a prison and you’ll be able to see the prisoner’s graffiti on the walls in some of the rooms.

The spectacular Chateau de Tarascon

Once you climb to the top of the castle you’ll find a huge terrace with sweeping panoramic views over the river and surrounding countryside. The view alone is worth the ticket price! Directly across the river you can see another fortress, Château de Beaucaire.

What I loved about Chateâu de Tarascon was the lack of people. It was really quiet when we visited and it was nice to be able to explore the entire castle without navigating through crowds of people. We actually had the entire rooftop terrace to ourselves!

Opening Times: 9:30am-12:30, 2pm-5pm, closed on Mondays in the off-season

Click here for more info on opening times and prices

Tickets: €7.50

Chateau de Tarascon

View from the rooftop terrace of Chateâu de Tarascon

As the France road trip continues, you will officially leave Provence behind as you make your way into the Languedoc region to see the ancient Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard. Crossing over the Gardon River, this masterpiece of Roman engineering was built in the year 50 AD. It’s the highest and best preserved Roman aqueduct to survive in the world!

Pont du Gard was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It was built to supply water to the Roman city of Nîmes and it spans about 50 km long! Estimations say that it took around 1000 men working over a 5 year period to complete the aqueduct.

Pont du Gard

Highlights of Pont du Gard

The best part about visiting Pont du Gard is being able to walk across the entire aqueduct. Once you reach the other side, you can visit the Pont du Gard museum which is dedicated to the aqueduct and surrounding area. This museum provides a fascinating insight into Roman life, it really does not disappoint!

Step back over 2,000 years when you visit the elaborate and very well put together museum that covers the bridge’s construction and history. Enjoy seeing life sized reconstructions, virtual tours, and informative clips taking you into the world of ancient Rome.

Before jumping back in the car, make sure to take a walk along the river to get some different perspectives of the aqueduct. Take a seat and soak in the wonder of this awe-inspiring monument that has managed to survive undamaged through the centuries.

Walking across the magnificent Pont du Gard aqueduct

Walking across the magnificent Pont du Gard

If you’re hungry for lunch or a snack, there are a number of restaurants and cafes to pick from at the aqueduct.

Opening Times – 9am – 9pm daily

Hours of operation change throughout the year, check the official website for the most current times.

Skip-the-Line-Tickets – €9.50

Entrance to the museum is included in the price. Tickets can be purchased online before visiting, click here for more info . As with most other attractions, the queues here will get unbearably long during high season so it’s much easier to purchase beforehand.

A couple poses in front of the spectacular Pont du Gard aqueduct

Carrying on with the theme of Roman history, next up on this southern France itinerary is the beautiful city of Nîmes, also known as Nemausus in Roman Times. During the height of the Roman Empire, Nîmes was one of the wealthiest cities in Gaul and emperor Augustus was pretty keen to make that obvious.

Going back to 1st century AD, the city was thriving and money was being thrown into its growth/lavish architecture. This is when all of the spectacular Roman monuments that can still be visited today were constructed.

A pretty statue in Nimes, France

If you’re a fan of Roman history, the city of Nîmes is on par with Rome in my books. There are very few places left in the world besides Rome with a such an amazing concentration of extremely well preserved Roman monuments like you will find in Nîmes.

Nîmes is a beautiful city and of course there is more to see here than just Roman architecture but since you only have one full day to spend, adding any other attractions would make it feel rushed and not enjoyable. We only visited the highlights listed below and after walking around the city and sightseeing all day in the sun, we were definitely exhausted!

Nimes Arena, a beautiful 2000 year old Roman Arena

The incredible Nîmes Arena

Highlights of Nîmes

Arena of Nîmes – In the heart of the city, the magnificent Nîmes Arena has stood proud for the passed 2,000 years. It was built only a few years after the Colosseum in Rome and is considered one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world.

It may be significantly smaller than the Colosseum but it was built to hold around 24,000 people! The arena is still in use today for events, concerts and bull fighting several times per year. Visitors can enter the arena and audio guides are available for self guided tours.

View inside the ancient Roman arena of Nimes

Maison Carrée – This beautiful Roman temple is the only one of its kind left in such an impressive condition with all of its columns still surviving intact. Built under the rule of Augustus, it was once at the center of the forum or public gathering area of Nîmes.

Maison Carrée is only a 5 minute walk from Nîmes Arena. After admiring it from the outside, you can enter the temple to watch a short film about the history of Nemausus.

Jardin de la Fontaine – A stunning 18th century park featuring fountains, ponds, sculptures. The park is huge and very impressive with many details to admire. It was actually built over a sacred Roman spring which is still flowing today. It’s a great place to take a seat and relax.

You’ll pass through this lovely park on your way up to the Tour Magne from the Maison Carrée, see here for walking directions. You’ll also pass the Temple of Diane along the way, a Roman temple that was left in ruins.

Maison Carree, Nimes France

Maison Carrée

La Tour Magne  – At the highest point of Nîmes, La Tour Magne overlooks the city from a hilltop and offers spectacular city views from the top. It’s one of the last surviving towers from the Roman wall that once encircled Nîmes.

To get to the tower, it’s an 11 minute steep walk up the hill from the Jardin. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to climb the spiral staircase inside to reach the panoramic viewing platform at the top. Don’t worry, the view makes all the walking worth it!

Tickets for Roman attractions  – I would recommend buying the €13 pass that gives you access to the 3 most popular Roman monuments: Nîmes Arena + Maison Carrée + La Tour Magne. I suggest that you start your day at the Arena and purchase the combination ticket there.

Click here for more info on ticket prices.

A girl walks toward La Tour Magne, Nimes France

Strolling toward La Tour Magne

Walking tour of Nîmes – Explore the highlights of Nîmes on a 2.5 hour historic walking tour led by an expert local guide. Entrance to the Arena is included in your ticket. Check tour times and availability here.

Where to Stay in Nîmes

You’ll be doing a lot of walking around Nîmes so it’s best to stay somewhere central where you can easily access all of the sights by foot. Keep in mind that you’ll want to find a place that offers parking, most places in Nîmes charge extra for parking.

Appart’City Confort Nimes Arenes – This conveniently located B&B couldn’t be in a better spot. It’s right in the middle of the historic center of Nîmes and only 1 minute walk from the Arena! Some of the rooms even have a view of the Arena.

The rooms are spacious, comfortable and offer free Wi-Fi. A breakfast of fresh fruit, croissants, cheese and bread is served daily and underground parking is available for an extra cost.

►Browse more accommodation options in Nîmes◄

Jardin de la Fontaine, Nimes

Jardin de la Fontaine

Carcassonne

Day six of this epic south of France road trip itinerary will start off with a 2.5 hr drive to the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne . The old town of Carcassonne is incredibly well preserved, its entire wall and castle are in excellent condition. The town really looks like something from a fairy tale with blue and red spiky turrets, towers and a perfect castle.

The town dates back to the 12th century but it had been destroyed during attacks in the middle ages and left to ruins. In the 19th century, the town’s walls and castle were fully renovated by a famous French architect named Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. He was responsible for major restoration projects of other French castles and cathedrals including the Notre Dame in Paris.

The beautiful medieval village of Carcassonne is one of the highlights of this France road trip itinerary

Carcassonne is a true masterpiece, it’s one of the largest fully preserved medieval cities in Europe and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Since then it’s become very popular with tourism attracting over 3 million people from all over the world each year. If you visit during high season you should be prepared for some very big crowds filling the narrow streets.

Highlights of Carcassonne

Old town – As you enter the town by crossing over the draw bridge and stepping through the stone archway, it really feels as though you’ve been transported to another time. The narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful medieval buildings just add to the town’s charm.

I recommend taking a walk around the town during sunset and also when it gets dark. The towers and walls look absolutely magical when lit up at night. I don’t think we put our camera down the entire time we were there but some of our favourite photos of Carcassonne were shot at sunset/night-time.

The charming streets of Carcassonne, France

The charming streets of Carcassonne

France Road Trip

Château Comtal – Once home to a wealthy French family of the 12th century, this impressive medieval castle is one of Carcassonne’s most popular attractions. Inside the castle, you’ll pass through courtyards, a series of rooms featuring historical facts and then access the ramparts. For an extra €3 you can get an audio guide.

Walking the ramparts – Entry to the castle also covers your walk around the town’s walls which is definitely the highlight for most people’s visit to Carcassonne. Walking around the ramparts will give you all kinds of epic views. You’ll get many different perspectives of the castle, town and beautiful countryside that surrounds it.

Exploring the medieval Chateau Comtal of Carcassonne

Château Comtal

Skip-the-line ticket – €9.50

During high season the queue to enter the castle can be extremely long, there was even a queue when we were there in October. I would highly recommend purchasing a skip-the-line ticket online to save yourself some time when you get there.

Click here to buy your ticket for the castle and ramparts.

Le Pont Vieux – Take a walk down to the 14th century pedestrian bridge. From there you’ll get an amazing view of the town, this is also a nice spot to visit at night.

For the best view of Carcassonne, you should also walk over to the new bridge . This angle will give you the perfect shot of the entire walled city and old bridge in the foreground.

View of the medieval city of Carcassonne France

View of Carcassonne and Pont Vieux from the new bridge

Where to Stay in Carcassonne

Staying near the old town is definitely the most desirable location in Carcassonne. For this reason, rooms tends to book out months in advance. When we were booking our accommodation, there really weren’t many options left so we ended up staying at the Budget Ibis.

To be honest I had no complaints about our stay, breakfast was good, the room was basic but clean and there is free parking. The only thing it’s lacking is some character and it’s 1 km from the old town which isn’t ideal. That’s why I will recommend somewhere that we wished we could have stayed instead…

Entering the medieval village of Carcassonne

La Rapière – Only steps from the medieval town center, this lovely looking place has extremely high ratings on Booking.com. That’s no surprise since city wall views can be seen from the pool, dining terrace and even some of the rooms.

Free parking and breakfast is included in your stay. Based on its popularity, you’d need to book a room asap if you really want to stay there! If it doesn’t work out, there’s always the Budget Ibis …

►Browse more accommodation options in Carcassonne◄

Walking the ramparts of Carcassonne

Spectacular views along the ramparts of Carcassonne

Cahors is a beautiful town in the Midi-Pyrénées region surrounded by vineyards dating all the way back to the Roman times. It’s located along the route as you drive from Carcassonne to Rocamadour making it the perfect place to take a break, stretch your legs and try some delicious wine! (not too much if you’re driving though…)

There are vineyards literally surrounding Cahors and many of them offer tastings. They also sell their wines at a much cheaper price than buying a bottle at a restaurant or shop. If you’re really into wine tasting and enjoy visiting vineyards, then perhaps spending an extra night in Cahors would be a great idea.

Pont Valentré, Cahors - South of France

Medieval bridge of Cahors, Pont Valentré

Highlights of Cahors

Pont Valentré – The most iconic landmark of Cahors is the 14th century bridge, often referred to as the most beautiful medieval bridge in France. The bridge was fortified and strategically placed on the Lot River defending the town of Cahors from attacks.

Cahors is located on a peninsula surrounded by the Lot River so it only makes sense that the river would need to be protected. Taking a walk across Pont Valentré is a must when visiting Cahors, it’s also very photogenic (even on an overcast day) as you can see below!

Saint-Étienne Cathedral – The second most popular thing to see in Cahors is the massive 11th century cathedral in the heart of the town’s historic center. The architecture is very impressive and it’s worth taking a look inside to see the stained glass windows, inner courtyard gardens, and lots of intricate detailing.

Pont Valentré in Cahors on an overcast day

Pont Valentré

Try the famous Cahors Malbec – The region that surrounds Cahors has been long known for its production of Malbec wine. For the wine connoisseurs out there, you might be thinking “hang on, didn’t Malbec originate in Argentina?” Nope! It was actually Cahors where Malbec grapes were first cultivated in the middle ages.

Malbec happens to be our favourite type of wine so you can imagine just how excited we were to visit Cahors and try it directly from the source. I can tell you, it really did not disappoint. Cahors is also known for its black wine which gets the name because of how dark and rich it is.

Cahors market – A colourful market is open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings year round near the cathedral in the historic town center. You’ll find fresh produce, cheese, olives and all the typical things you can except to see at a French market. It’s worth checking out if you happen to be passing through town on either of those days.

Trying the delicious Malbec wine of Cahors, France

Trying the most delicious Cahors Malbec!😍

Cahors Malbec Wine Bottle

Where to stay in Cahors

Hôtel Le Coin des Halles – If you opt to spend the night in Cahors, staying near the historic center is the best spot to base yourself. This little hotel is in prime location directly next to the Cahors market in the old town. Perfect for being able to see the sights of Cahors by foot. Parking is also available here but it comes at an extra cost.

Brit Hotel Cahors – Le France – Another good option with high ratings and only a 10 minute walk from the old town and a 5 minute walk from Pont Valentré. A buffet breakfast is served here each morning and parking is also available for €5 per day.

►Browse more accommodation options in Cahors◄

Walking across the medieval bridge, Pont Valentré in Cahors, France

The final stop on this 10-day France road trip itinerary is the jaw droppingly beautiful cliffside village of Rocamadour in the Dordogne Valley. Driving from Cahors to Rocamadour only takes 1 hour and as you approach the village the roads become very twisty.

The village of Rocamadour is famous for its religious buildings that cling dramatically to the face of a cliff. It’s surrounded by a lush green valley which gives it an extremely unique and impressive appearance.

For many centuries Rocamadour has been a popular pilgrimage destination. Inside the religious buildings is a sacred shrine that is said to provide healing powers. In the middle ages, pilgrims from all over Europe made the trek to Rocamadour so that they could experience the healing benefits of the shrine.

The cliffside village of Rocamadour is the final stop of this 10 day France road trip itinerary

Rocamadour – the prettiest village of them all!

Highlights of Rocamadour

Village center – It’s not very big and there is only one street but it’s so pretty and full of history. As you enter the 13th century gate and stroll along the main strip you’ll see ivy covered buildings, walk through medieval stone archways and if you continue all the way to the end, the cutest bakery I have ever laid eyes on.

Grand Escalier – Starting in the village center, this epic set of stairs is what once led pilgrims upward through the series of sacred buildings, some of them even climbed all 216 steps on their knees! The religious buildings and shrine are open to visitors so you’ll be able to go inside the churches and visit the famous shrine of Rocamadour.

*Tip* Remember to wear good shoes when climbing the Grand Escalier as the stairs can be quite steep in places.

Walking up the 216 of the Grand Escalier in Rocamadour

Making my way up the Grand Escalier

View from the Grand Escalier of Rocamadour

Lovely views can be seen on the way up

Palace – If you continue walking up the stairs passed all of the sacred buildings, you’ll come to the 14th century palace at the top of the cliff. For €2 per person you can visit the palace grounds to see the breathtaking view of the amazing landscape and town below. You can’t enter the inside of the palace but the view makes it worthwhile.

Rocamadour viewpoint – For the absolute best view of Rocamadour, you should head to the l’Hospitalet viewpoint . This is the awe-inspiring view that everyone needs to see when visiting. As you look out to the village from across the valley, it really makes you wonder how it was even built hundreds of years ago! It’s such a spectacular sight.

Villages around Rocamadour – If you have the time and would like to see some more sights around the area, the Dordogne Valley is full of lovely little medieval villages dotting the countryside around Rocamadour.

These are some of the best:

  • Collonges-la-Rouge
  • Sarlat-la-Canéda

Rocamadour France

The prettiest bakery I’ve ever seen

Where to Stay in Rocamadour

The village itself is very small and doesn’t have many accommodation options to offer, not to mention parking anywhere nearby isn’t possible. It’s better to stay just across the valley from Rocamadour in the l’Hospitalet area. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels around there and it’s easy to reach the village by foot in just 10 minutes.

Logis Hôtel Le Belvédère – To mark the end of your road trip through the south of France why not treat yourself and stay somewhere really nice? This hotel is located in what could possibly be the best spot in all of Rocamadour. It’s right next to the viewpoint!

Watch the sun go down over the village from your room, relax by the pool or grab a glass of wine on the terrace overlooking the village, all for a surprisingly reasonable price. Free parking and a delicious breakfast is served daily.

Archway entrance to Rocamadour town center

Archway entrance to Rocamadour

Like I’ve said before a few times in this post, you really need to book far in advance to get the place you want in Rocamadour. During high season, the streets are overflowing with tourists and accommodation books out many months in advance. There are only 26 hotels in Rocamadour listed on Booking.com so you should get your room locked in asap!

►Browse more accommodation options in Rocamadour◄

After spending two nights in Rocamadour, on day ten of the France road trip you will make your way to the city of Toulouse to drop the rental car off at the airport and catch your flight home. The drive from Rocamadour to Toulouse is just under 2 hours making it the closest and most convenient city to fly out of.

A couple poses in front of the medieval city of Carcassonne, France

I hope you’ve enjoyed this road trip itinerary and find it useful when planning your own France road trip. In my opinion the south of France was made for road trips, the landscapes and sights in between the towns are just too beautiful to miss out on if you were to take a train or bus instead.

If you think I’ve missed something important on this south of France itinerary or if you’ve tried this route and really enjoyed it, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below 🙂 Happy travels!

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The Ultimate 10 Day France Road Trip Itinerary

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The Road Is Life - Ann Kelly

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Day trip to the Blue Eye from Saranda

Sure, driving to France takes longer than flying or getting the Eurostar. But the journey itself is part of the trip. Not just a method of transport for a holiday that only starts once you’re on the beach in Breton stripes, but part of the whole reason you’re going in the first place. You can stop wherever you like en route to gawp at a view, swim in the sea or have a picnic from the boot of the car. Almost all of the country can be reached in a day by road without needing to spend hours in the airport or be squeezed in next to a stranger on a brightly lit train. It’s a throwback to simpler breaks, before they became about getting far away as quickly as possible. Rediscover the joy of travelling through, not flying over, with our favourite driving holidays to France.

When can I drive to France?

It is possible to drive to France via the Eurotunnel currently. You will need to complete a health declaration before travelling, and will be expected to quarantine for 14 days both on arrival in France and when returning to the UK. Ferries for visitors are not running as of 18 June, but are expected to start this summer.

The Foreign Office is still advising against all non-essential travel overseas – always check before you book. The government is expected to announce an update about travel to France on 29 June. For more details, see our guide to where can Brits travel this summer?

TAKING THE EUROTUNNEL TO CALAIS

The Eurotunnel – also known as Le Shuttle – goes from Folkestone to Calais. It takes 35 minutes, with shuttles travelling up to four times an hour, and costs from £90 each way.

Best for a slice of island life    Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean Ile de R is where Parisians go for a long sandy...

ILE DE RE ROAD TRIP

Best for: a slice of island life

Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, Ile de Ré is where Parisians go for a long, sandy weekend. It’s just 18 miles long, with most island life centred around the pretty harbour town Saint-Martin-de-Ré, a UNESCO World Heritage site with terracotta rooftops and cobbled streets. The lovely ocean-view restaurants here are packed out in July and August (French schools go back after the summer at the end of August, so arriving in early September is a clever idea). Cycle from Saint-Martin-de-Ré to La Flotte, another seaside village. The softest, sandiest beaches are in the north of the island, but the wilder, less-crowded spots are to the west, backed by pine forests and tumbling dunes.

When to go: In September, when the French clear out and the streets get quieter.

Where to stay: Converted 17th-century house Hôtel de Toiras . Doubles from about £150.

Getting there: Take a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. The drive to Ile de Ré takes about 4 hours.

Ile de Ré guide

Best for foodies    The drive from Calais to FrancheComt near Frances eastern border with Switzerland hugs the northern...

FRANCHE-COMTE ROAD TRIP

Best for: foodies

The drive from Calais to Franche-Comté, near France’s eastern border with Switzerland , hugs the northern regions before heading south. It takes about six and a half hours to drive the breadth of the country between the two. Stop in Reims, which is halfway along – it’s the largest city in the Champagne region and has a crop of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Big-name vineyards including Taittinger and Ruinart call Reims home, and both producers run cellar tours for visitors to see how the wines are made. From here, it's another four hours to Franche-Comté, a foodie corner that’s often overlooked in favour of nearby Burgundy. The quiet, simple way of life here revolves around long lunches starring its namesake Comté cheese, and exploring the local farmlands backed by the mountains of Jura.

When to go: In spring or summer to make the most of the locally grown produce.

Where to stay: Restaurant with rooms Château du Mont Joly .

Getting there: Take Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (35 minutes). From Calais, drive to France-Comté (about 6.5 hours).

Franche-Comte: a guide to France's secret corner

Best for wild swimming    Less raved about  by British travellers at least  than Italys great lakes the French...

THE FRENCH LAKE DISTRICT ROAD TRIP, Savoie and Haute-Savoie

Best for: wild swimming

Less raved about – by British travellers at least – than Italy’s great lakes , the French equivalent is a clever alternative to the country’s sometimes crowded Mediterranean coast. These three Alpine lakes have quiet beaches lapped by sparkling clear water. The drive from Calais will take up a day of your trip, so plan to stay for a while. The lakes – Annecy, Bourget and Aiguebelette – are utterly distinct from one another. Start in Annecy, which is the first town you hit on the route, where the streets wind alongside canals. Sailing clubs dominate one shore while the other is lined with villas and grand hotels – the village was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia until the late 1800s, which gives the whole place an Italian feel. Aix-les-Bains, on the deep Bourget, was once a spot for French aristocracy to take to the mountains, while nearby Le Bourget-du-Lac is more laidback. Of them all, little Aiguebelette is best for swimming – waters can skim 30°C in the summer.

When to go: The season here is much quieter than on the coast, even in the height of summer – come in July or August for a peaceful substitute for the French Riviera .

Where to stay: Farmhouse-turned-B&B La Bageatière . Doubles from £70.

Getting there: Take Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (35 minutes). The drive from Calais to Annecy takes about 8 hours – break it up with stops in Reims or Dijon.

Best for countryside adventuring     Ditch notions of a rural French getaway requiring a crumbling château. Just 45...

BONNELLES, Yvelines ROAD TRIP

Best for: countryside adventuring

Ditch notions of a rural French getaway requiring a crumbling château. Just 45 minutes outside Paris , a clutch of old barns set in 500 acres of woodland has been redefined as Le Barn, a relaxed country hotel. It’s a hideout for off-duty Parisians designed by local studio Be-poles, also responsible for cute 18th arrondissement spot La Pigalle . Those staying can be self-sufficient, which allows guests to go totally off-grid – there’s a pond to boat on, horses to ride, a restaurant, bags of room to cycle, a Nordic bath and even a pick-your-own vegetable patch. If you want to explore further, Paris is just a 40-minute train journey away (or drive to one of the city’s 24-hour car parks). But a stay here is more about slowing down and stepping back.

When to go : Le Barn is wonderful for children, so families should travel in the summer holidays or October half term.

Where to stay: Read our full review of Le Barn, one of the best family holidays in Europe .

Getting there: Take Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (35 minutes). From Calais, drive to Bonnelles (about 3.5 hours).

Best for a hit of the Med    Those committed to a serious road trip can embark on the drive from Calais down to...

PROVENCE ROAD TRIP

Best for: a hit of the Med

Those committed to a serious road trip can embark on the drive from Calais down to Provence . It’ll take at least 10 hours – stop in Burgundy’s capital, Dijon, which has a car-free medieval centre with timber gabled houses and cafés on pretty cobbled squares, or stay overnight in Lyon , which is about three hours north of Bouches-du-Rhône’s capital, Marseille. The long drive is rewarded with a clutch of fortified hilltop towns and colourful fields to explore when you arrive. Tiny, peaceful villages in the green Luberon – such as Oppède-le-Vieux – centre around ancient churches. Sleepy market town Eygalières has the craggy Alpilles as its backdrop, set on a hill with brilliant views of the scrubby vine-covered countryside below. For those craving the sea, shorefront Cassis, where the rocky Calanques rise out of the Mediterranean, is a chilled-out alternative to splashier Nice or Cannes.

When to go: Lavender season , which falls from June to July.

Where to stay: Everyone from F Scott Fitzgerald to Jean Cocteau has bedded down at Grand Hôtel Nord-Pinus in arty city Arles. Doubles from about £85.

Getting there: Take Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (35 minutes). The drive from Calais takes about 10 hours.

The prettiest towns in Provence

Best for antique hunting    A couple of hours west of Paris in Normandy rural La Perche is unusually better known for...

LE PERCHE, NORMANDY ROAD TRIP

Best for: antique hunting

A couple of hours west of Paris in Normandy, rural La Perche is, unusually, better known for its orchards than its vineyards. Small villages set around 12th-century churches are knotted together by country lanes. It should lend itself to comparisons with the Cotswolds, except this corner is too much of a secret, too off the beaten track to compare. Parisians in the know are drawn to the region’s many antique shops, where carefully curated boutiques sell mid-century finds or paintings from the 1800s. Parc Naturel Régional du Perche was created in the 1990s to protect the area’s wild landscapes and natural resources. Excellent restaurants such as La Vie en Rouge in market-town capital Mortagne-au-Perche serve locally grown produce and wines at laidback lunches.

When to go: In autumn, when streets are quiet and rustic food joints and hotels have a cosy atmosphere.

Where to stay: D'une Ile , a cluster of guest houses with stone walls and roll-top baths. Doubles from about £75 a night.

Getting there: Take Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (35 minutes). The drive from Calais takes about 6 hours.

A weekend break in Le Perche, Normandy

Ferries from the UK to France depart from Dover, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Poole and dock in Brittany and Normandy. Travelling overnight is our recommendation, so you’re rested for a day of driving once in France. Prices start at £190.

Best for wine lovers    The Loire is Frances longest river. French royalty used to favour the area for their getaways...

LOIRE VALLEY ROAD TRIP

Best for: wine lovers

The Loire is France’s longest river. French royalty used to favour the area for their getaways, and so the surrounding countryside is dotted with grand châteaux and impressive estates. The building of these manors meant that tiny villages and tons of vineyards cropped up in the area, too, and now the entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its central setting means that it feels not quite like northern or southern France but rather its own entity entirely. Exploring the storybook châteaux, dominated by turrets and moats, is one way to spend a trip – more than 100 are open to the public. And the Loire Valley is one of France’s main wine-producing regions, with hundreds of vineyards to tour – grab a bike and cycle between them, refreshing with crisp glasses of local Sauvignon Blanc.

When to go: In October most of the crowds have disappeared, the weather is dry and warm, and the food is at its finest.

Where to stay: Château du Grand-Luce is a full-on French fairytale castle. Doubles rooms from about £430.

Getting there: Take an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo in Brittany. The drive to the Loire Valley takes about 3.5 hours.

The best châteaux in France

Best for a smart seaside break    Known for its oysters this tiny village sits at the end of a long peninsula buffeted...

CAP FERRET ROAD TRIP

Best for: a smart seaside break

Known for its oysters, this tiny village sits at the end of a long peninsula buffeted by the Atlantic. It's an old-fashioned seaside getaway in the best sense: there’s a lighthouse to cycle to, boats bobbing in the waters, a long jetty to walk down. It is backed by Dune du Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe and, by our estimations, one of the best beaches in the world. Kids tumble down the sugary sand toward the sea, families walk along the shore to eat freshly caught seafood for lunch with toes dipped in the Atlantic. For a day of urbanity, Bordeaux is just over an hour’s drive east, and Arcachon, with its Art Nouveau architecture, an hour south.

**When to go:**In summer to make the most of the beach town.

Where to stay: La Maison du Bassin , minutes from the coast. Doubles from about £125.

Getting there: Take a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. The drive to Cap Ferret takes about 6 hours.

Cap Ferret guide - things to see and do

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Best road trips in France – exciting itineraries around the French countryside

Europe , France , Travel Guides / November 19, 2022 by littleholidays / 5 Comments

Get to know France beyond the glitz and glamor of its cities!

Go for a road trip to the French countryside and explore its fragrant fields, cliffside castles, and vibrant vineyards.

Here are 6 of the best French road trips to take.

Get to know France beyond the glitz and glamor of its cities! Go for a road trip and get acquainted with its fragrant fields, cliffside castles, and fascinating towns. Here are 6 amazing road trips to take in France.

Best road trips in France

Here are 6 of the best French road trip routes for your next travels. You’ll find more details, itinerary recommendations, and road trip tips below.

  • Alsace wine route
  • Route Napoleon
  • Normandy and the Loire Valley
  • Bordeaux to Biarritz
  • Languedoc and Provence
  • Toulouse to Montpellier

Only have time for a short and sweet weekend trip? Check out these French weekend destinations for ideas!

Use this Google map to plan your fabulous French road trip.

1. Alsace wine route

Begin your road trip in Strasbourg, a beautiful border city that enjoys French finesse and German joviality. Stay in the gorgeous Cour du Corbeau and take your time exploring the storybook districts of Petite France and Place Kleber, eating tarte flambée and choucroute, and taking road trips to the northern Vosges natural park.

For a quick and active way to explore the city, go on a guided bike tour of Strasbourg .

After 3-4 days of dining, hiking, and shopping, drive south to Colmar and make the charming Le Colombier your base as you explore the south of Alsace. Visit Eguisheim, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg, Alsace’s small wine-growing towns, and taste the region’s world-class white wines.

Walk along vineyards, hike to old castles and ruins, and end your days with hearty food and great wine. Unwind with a trip to Lac du Ballon and the Grand Ballon and enjoy the forest trails and spectacular views. On your way back to Strasbourg, stop by the medieval chateau of Haut-Koenigsbourg.

If you love storybook towns, gorgeous landscapes, and delicious cuisine, the Alsace wine route is the perfect road trip for you! Get to know France’s beautiful wine region while enjoying a drive across the French countryside. Itching for more driving adventures? Here are 5 amazing road trips to take in France.

Top tips for your Alsace road trip

  • Fly to Strasbourg (buses and trains from elsewhere are also doable)
  • Reserve your car online in advance and pick it up either from the Strasbourg airport or from Gare Centrale
  • Divide your stay between Strasbourg and Colmar . Stay in Strasbourg to explore northern Alsace, then move to Colmar to explore the southern parts.
  • Don’t drink and drive! Have a designated driver or bring home a bottle of wine to enjoy at the hotel at the end of the day.
  • Driving in Alsace
  • Best things to do in Strasbourg
  • Best things to do in Colmar

2. Route Napoleon

Combine sightseeing with learning about history in this road trip that follows Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1815 march from Elba to Grenoble on his way to overthrow Louis the 18 th . This road trip route is especially scenic, as Napoleon chose remote roads that avoid large cities and pass through beautiful countryside.

Fly to and get your car in Cannes , then head straight to Grasse, the center of the French perfume industry. Check in to the quaint Aux charmes de grasse and explore the hilly medieval town for a day or two.

Head next to the mountains for a stunning view of the Mediterranean coast, and keep your eyes peeled for signs and plaques commemorating Napoleon’s march along the mountain roads.

Drive to the Col de Valferriere, the ruins of Chateau de Broundet at Seranon, and the pretty town of Castellane. This is one of the most scenic segments of the trip and the most exhilarating with its hairpin turns and cliffside views.

Make a short detour to the Verdon Gorge before continuing to stay the night at the elegant La Bonne Étape , where you can celebrate your mountain driving feats with haute cuisine and an extensive wine collection.

After your restful pitstop, continue your drive to Grenoble, making sure to stop by Grand lac de Laffrey to marvel at the bright blue lake. Finally, in Grenoble, check in to Le Grand Hotel Grenoble and spend the next couple of days enjoying crozets and foie gras and gorgeous mountain views at every turn.

Follow Napoleon’s historic and scenic route with this amazing road trip in France. From Cannes to Grenoble, this road trip itinerary passes through exhilarating mountain roads, medieval towns, and sparkling blue lakes, all dotted with bits and pieces of Napoleonic lore and history. Want more ideas and inspiration? Here are 5 amazing road trips to take in France.

Top tips for your Route Napoleon road trip

  • Fly to Cannes or Nice
  • Take advantage of one-way car rentals – get your car from Cannes (or Nice) and return it in Grenoble
  • Book your hotels in advance – perfect stopovers are: Grasse , La Bonne Étape , and Grenoble
  • A wild road follows a wild river – here’s one more road trip itinerary off the Route Napoleon

3. Normandy and the Loire Valley

History buffs will love this road trip through the historic Normandy and Loire Valley. If you’re visiting Paris, it’s one of the best road trips to take after you’ve had your fill of the French capital. You can make a nice loop and explore the regions west of Paris to see the French countryside beyond its flashy cities.

From Paris, drive to Rouen, a historic medieval town that inspired many Impressionist painters, including Claude Monet. Walk around to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Gros Horloge, and the charming half-timbered houses. Continue your drive to Honfleur, a harbor town with picturesque streets, which is also the perfect place to stop for lunch.

Next up, visit the historic beaches of Normandy, where the Allies landed in 1944. Take a day or two to visit the World War 2 sites and tributes, or join a Normandy battlefields day tour with an expert guide .

Stay in either Bayeux or Caen as you explore Normandy. Manoir Sainte Victoire in Bayeux and Hotel La Fontaine in Caen are perfect places to stay in Normandy.

While you’re in Normandy, explore the neighboring Brittany region. Visit the fortified city of Saint-Malo, then head to Mont Saint-Michel, an impressive island commune perched on a rocky peak.

Head next to Loire Valley, making Tours your base ( Hotel Val De Loire is our top pick). Spend the next few days time-traveling to medieval towns and chateaux. Don’t miss the beautiful Chateau de Cheverny and Chateau de Chambord!

From Tours, a scenic drive northeast brings you right back to Paris.

History buffs will love this road trip through medieval castles and World War 2 sites in Normandy and the Loire Valley. Visit the historic Omaha Beach, then head to the impressive Mont Saint-Michel, an island commune perched on a rocky peak. Click through for more fantastic ideas for your road trip in France.

Top tips for your Normandy road trip

  • Fly to Paris
  • After a couple of days exploring the capital city, pick up your rental car in Paris and start your drive to Normandy
  • Book your hotels in advance – perfect stopovers are Caen and Tours .

4. Bordeaux to Biarritz

Need a quick break from hectic city life? This road trip that goes from countryside to coast is the perfect antidote.

Begin your holiday in Bordeaux. Get a car and spend a couple of days driving around the wine region, making sure to make your way to the beautiful medieval village of Saint-Emilion. Go on hikes, fuel up on the region’s amazing cuisine, sample the region’s wines , and see the city on bikes .

Stay at Yndo Hotel to get the best of Bordeaux. Once you’ve had your fill of this scrumptious city, pack your car and head south.

Break up your drive with a quick stop at Domaine de Laas to enjoy the chateau’s vast gardens and artworks. Have lunch at Navarrenx, crowned France’s most beautiful village in 2014, and take a stroll around the markets. Finally, drive into Barcus and spend a day or two relaxing in the serene Hotel Restaurant Chilo , while you go for hikes and drives to the surrounding mountains.

From Barcus, it’s time to make your way to the coast. Stop by Saint Jean Pied de Port for breathtaking views of the Pyrenees and a walk around the walled town, then proceed to Saint Jean de Luz for a wonderful Basque meal by the bay.

Finally, make your way to Biarritz and check in to Le Garage , where you can spend the final stretch of your trip swimming and surfing to your heart’s content. Take a half-hour drive to San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country for the most amazing tapas and paella.

Ready for a well-deserved little holiday? Go from country to coast in this French road trip itinerary that goes from Bordeaux’s wine towns, through the Pyrenees mountain range, and all the way to the surfing spots of Biarritz. Pamper yourself with days of great food and spectacular sceneries as you go from wine-growing Bordeaux to gastronome-heaven Basque country. If you’re itching to get behind the wheel, click through for more amazing road trips in France.

Top tips for your Bordeaux to Biarritz road trip

  • Fly into Bordeaux , fly out from Biarritz
  • Reserve your rental car for pick-up in Bordeaux and drop-off in Biarritz
  • Book your hotels in advance – perfect stopovers are: Bordeaux , Barcus , and Biarritz

5. Languedoc and Provence

Nature-lovers and beauty connoisseurs, this road trip’s for you. The neighboring provinces of Languedoc and Provence will have you swooning for dramatic bastides, frolicking in flower fields, and embracing the sunshine and stunning sceneries.

Fly into Avignon and, unless you’re arriving on an evening trip, pick up your rental car and drive to the romantic medieval town of Uzes. Make the lovely L’Albiousse your base for the first half of this road trip as you take your time exploring the gorgeous region of Languedoc.

From Uzes, drive south to visit Nimes, a beautiful well-preserved city with vestiges of the Roman Empire. Explore the Amphitheater , one of the world’s best-conserved artifacts of Roman architecture. Check out the 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard aqueduct, Jardins de la Fontaine, and the Maison Carree. This 2-hour walking tour introduces you to the city’s Roman culture.

Go further south through Arles and Camargue, and all the way to Aigues Mortes, a medieval walled French commune with plenty of stories to tell.

After exploring east of Languedoc, it’s time to cross over to Provence. Move to Hotel Chateau Des Alpilles in Saint Remy, and relax as you get ready for a drive across the bendy yet oh-so-breathtaking roads of Provence.

Start at the postcard-perfect L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and make your way east, through the Luberon to Gordes and Roussillion. Take some time to stroll around each of these old towns and take hikes around the surrounding forest trails. If you’re traveling from late June to early August, it’s worth driving all the way to Valensole to see – and frolic in – the copious lavender fields.

Once you’ve breathed in all the beauty of Southern France, return your car and fly out of Avignon.

Top tips for your South of France road trip

  • Fly in and out of Avignon
  • Reserve your rental car for pick-up and drop-off at Avignon
  • Book your hotels in advance – Uzes and Saint-Remy are perfect bases, but if you prefer to stay in one place, Avignon is a great central location

6. Toulouse to Montpellier

For a relaxed and balanced mix of city breaks, natural landscapes, and a touch of Spanish customs and cuisine, head to the warm and sunny Occitanie region.

Start your adventures in Toulouse, a vibrant and youthful city known for its warm brick and terracotta architecture, earning it its nickname “The Pink City”. You’ll want to stay for at least two days – Le Grand Balcon Hotel is a gorgeous base.

Walk around the Japanese garden in the center of Compans-Caffarelli park, visit the Basilica of Saint Sernin, and check out Roman art at the Musée Saint Raymond.

(Top tip: if you’re planning to explore Toulouse’s museums and monuments, get the Toulouse City Card for discounts to the city’s top sights and free travel on the local public transport.)

While you’re in Toulouse, drive a little over an hour north to Cordes sur Ciel, one of France’s most beautiful villages . This quaint medieval town was founded in 1222 and is a historic, gothic showcase of the evolution of architecture.

From Toulouse, slowly begin your drive east. Stop by Carcassonne and see sites of scenes from the Robin Hood movie. Spend a few hours exploring the Carcassonne Fortress.

Continue on to the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park , where you’ll want to stay for a couple of days, especially if you love nature trips. During the warm months, you can go hiking, cycling, kayaking, or swimming, or simply enjoy the journey around the nature park.

Stay at Villa d’illouvre , a cozy bed and breakfast nestled in nature. For a special treat, dine at Les Fleurs d’Olargues – make sure to book in advance!

Continue on to Montpellier and enjoy walks around the old town, visits to patisseries and cafes, and food festivals during the summer months. You’ll also be a short drive away from the beach, so stay for a bit longer if you want to soak up the sun. Domaine de Biar is a gorgeous boutique hotel just a short drive away from the center.

Top tips for your Toulouse to Montpellier road trip

  • Fly in to Toulouse and out of Montpellier or Nimes
  • Reserve your rental car for pick-up at Toulouse and drop-off at Montpellier
  • Book your hotels in advance – stay in Toulouse , at the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park , and Montpellier .

Ready to go on your fabulous French countryside road trip?

Here are helpful links to help you plan your road trip:

  • Complete guide to driving in France

Includes requirements for driving, options for renting a car, road rules, and driving safety, as well as estimated costs.

  • Car hire locations in France

Got other road trip itineraries in mind? Check the list of car hire locations in France and take advantage of one-way rentals. You can also input your travel dates and locations below for a quick free quote and instant reservation.

I hope this gives you fantastic ideas for your road trip in France! Enjoy your holiday!

First published – 8 September 2018

Last updated – 19 November 2022, updated information and added Toulouse-Montpellier route

Reader Interactions

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September 11, 2018 at 5:38 am

What a gorgeous post.

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September 14, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Hi, What would be the best way to get frame Rome to Nice?My mom is 81 and I’m worried about all the steps down to some trains so she thought the bus might be better. What are your hours; we will be doing this Nov 1- 10. Thanks for your input. Erin

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September 16, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Hi Erin, here’s a nice website that you can use for finding routes – https://www.rome2rio.com/ . You’ll see all your options there, including number of hours and estimated prices. Have fun on your trip!

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February 10, 2019 at 1:13 am

Thanks for your post, great tips as we are planning a driving trip to Normandy in May. We have done a driving tour of Provence a few years ago and you can’t beat getting up close to the charm of the french villages. The problem is so many gorgeous places to see and stay it’s hard to decide but of course half of the fun.

February 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Ah yes, so many charming French villages, so little time. 😉 Thanks for reading, Anne! Have a great time in Normandy – I’m sure it will be lovely in May.

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Every Steph

10 Best Road Trips in France To Take in 2024

By: Author Stefania Guglielmi

Posted on Last updated: February 17, 2024

Categories Europe , France

Thinking of traveling in France by car? Great idea! Check out this selection of the best road trips in France (with itineraries and tips).

It’s not a case that France is such a popular destination. From cool cities to a dramatic coastline, from tall mountains to castles, it has a bit for everything. And what better way to explore this country than by taking a road trip through France? Some of the best road trips in Europe are indeed in France!

I’ve gone on a few road trips myself, but to make this post as comprehensive as possible I asked a few fellow bloggers to help me create a list of the best France road trips. This result is an incredible series of road trip itineraries for all tastes. No matter your interests, there’s a road trip for you.

The road trips you’ll find here are mostly to be done in around one week, but they go from 3 days to 2 weeks in length, so I’m sure you’ll find something that fits just right for you. Check out this epic list of France road trip ideas!

RENTING A CAR IN FRANCE

Unless you’re coming from a neighboring country, renting a car will be the way to go for your road trip. No worries though: renting a car in France is extremely easy and hassle free, and you’ll find rental car agencies in every airport and mid-size cities.

As always, I suggest renting a car in advance through a trusted agency such as Sixt France . Fran and I just came back from a road trip through Eastern France (itinerary down below) and rented a car through Sixt France for 17 days. We found a good deal through their website and the whole process was seamless, from the pick up to the drop off. A truly recommended company.

Of course, these road trips through France are best completed by car, but if for any reasons you can’t or don’t want to drive, some of them would be possible by rail, maybe by buying a rail pass. Of course you’d have to tweak your itinerary a little, but this list can still be useful for finding inspiration.

BEST ROAD TRIPS IN FRANCE

An eastern france tour.

A road trip through Eastern France will bring you through incredible cities and cute in an impossible way villages, from the Alps to the Mediterranean sea. You’ll drive through an incredible mix of landscapes!

Highlights of the trip : • Discover what makes Paris the most visited city in the world. • Get an extra dose of cuteness by exploring Strasbourg and the villages of Alsace. • View glaciers and the Mont Blanc from up close in the French Alps. • Enjoy a mix of beach towns and medieval villages in the French Riviera.

best road trips in france

Fly to Paris and spend a few days exploring the city. I personally recommend a minimum of 3 full days to begin to scratch the surface at least!

A few thing you can’t miss are of course the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and a half-day trip to Versailles, but part of the charm of Paris is simply in its narrow alleys and streets. Take a few hours to walk around the Seine River, and don’t miss Montmartre, my personal favorite part of the city.

Then, rent a car and head to Strasbourg and the Alsace region. Spend 3-4 days exploring Strasbourg, home to 20 European institutions, and the super cute villages of Alsace such as Colmar, Riquewihr, and Ribeuavillé . These villages and Strasbourg become even more unique during the winter with their Christmas markets, but they are unmissable in any other season as well. We fell head over heels in love with Alsace!

Next stop: the French Alps . Base yourself in a town such as Chamonix and spend a few days enjoying the beautiful nature of the Alps. In the winter it’ll be skiers paradise, while in the summer there are plenty of hikes and activities to keep everyone entertained. Unmissable taking the cable car to Aiguille du Midi and from there the panoramic cable car over the glaciers to the Italian side of the Mont Blanc. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Let’s change completely landscape for the last stop in the French Riviera . A mix of beaches, glitzy towns and medieval villages awaits you. Take a few days to explore the city of Nice and the beach towns of Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Saint Tropez .

Visit the tiny state of Monaco with its yachts and historical city center, and don’t miss the medieval villages of Eze and Saint Paul de Vence before dropping off your rental car in Nice.

Recommended length : 2 weeks.

The Ultimate South France Road Trip

South of France has got it all, from lavender fields to glitzy beach towns and charming villages.

With 10 days at your disposal, you can plan an incredible South France road trip through the French Riviera, Provence and Camargue.

Highlights of the trip: • Explore the glitzy French Riviera in Cannes, Saint Tropez and Monaco. • Be charmed by the beautiful villages in Provence. • Take instagrammable photos at the lavender fields in Valensole. • Explore the ancient history of Avignon. • Go rafting, canyoning, or kayaking at the biggest canyon in France.

best road trips in france

Start your road trip in Nice . Wander around the Old Town and head to the Castle Hill for incredible views over the city.

The next day, you’ll be visiting the richest country in the world: Monaco . One stop you can’t miss is the infamous Montecarlo Casino. In the afternoon, visit the medieval hilltop village of Eze , then hit the road again and drive towards Saint Jean Cap Ferrat , where you can enjoy the beach and sunset.

On day 3, head to Saint Paul de Vence , with its cobbled streets and flowers, is my personal favorite village in the area. Visit a perfume factory in Grasse , then enjoy some beach time at La Garoupe . 

The next couple of days will be spent visiting the France of the rich and famous: Antibes, Cannes and Saint Tropez all have streets filled with boutique and luxury shops and marinas filled with yachts, but also charming, cobbled old towns. 

After a stop in Hyeres , it’s time to head to Provence. Day 6 and 7 are all about the perched, picture perfect villages in Provence such as Moustiers-Sainte-Marie,  Gordes, and Les Beaux de Provence , but you’ll also get to take some instagrammable shots at the lavender fields and visit Gorges du Verdon , the largest river canyon in France. It’s a pretty packed itinerary, but you’ll thank me later!

Start the 8th day of your road trip by visiting the City of Popes, Avignon , where you can admire a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Pink lakes anyone? Your next stop will be The Pink Lakes of Aigues-Mortes , followed by the city of Van Gogh, Arles .

The next day, go hiking or kayaking at Parc National de Calanque , which can be reached by boat, and explore Cassis . Its port is postcard-ready with its candy colored buildings. End your south of France itinerary in Marseille .

READ MORE : The Perfect South France Itinerary for 10 Days

Recommended length : 10 days.

West Coast of France Road Trip: From Bordeaux to Biarritz

by Pauline, Beeloved City

If you want to discover the French Atlantic coast and the basque country, a west coast of France road trip from Bordeaux to Biarritz will be perfect for you! Although you can drive through the regional park of Les Landes, the most scenic way is the coastal drive. You’ll love driving the west coast of France!

Highlights of the trip: • Walk up the dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe. • Go surfing in Hossegor. • Go wine tasting in Bordeaux. • Grab lunch in Biarritz town centre.

best road trips in france

You will be starting in Bordeaux , France’s wine capital! The city centre is very pretty. Make sure you check out the Place de la Bourse and rue Saint Catherine. It’s also, of course, a great place to go wine tasting.

From Bordeaux, head to Arcachon . This popular seaside destination is perfect for beach lovers. While you are there, make sure to go to the Dune du Pilat . It’s the tallest sand dune in Europe! It’s beautiful and there are many things you can do there. Paragliding, sand surfing… the Dune du Pilat has it all.

You can then keep going along the coast and stop in the beautiful towns of Mimizan, Moliets, Vieux-Boucau, and Hossegor . The French Atlantic coast is a paradise for surfers. If you feel like hitting the waves, Hossegor and Cap Breton will be fabulous places to do so. 

South West France is also home to picturesque villages. If you want to discover the French and Basque culture, make sure to stop in Bayonne . If you are travelling during the summer, you will also find the famous feria there. Bayonne Feria is an amazing festival. A must do.

Finally, you will reach Biarritz . This pretty coastal town is perfect if you are looking for a relaxing holiday. The beach is the most popular attraction but the town centre itself is also very nice. You can go for a stroll and walk in the cute little boutiques. Another great thing to do is walking to the lighthouse.

Recommended length : one week.

Brittany Road Trip

Brittany isn’t as popular as other destinations in France for international visitors, and a road trip through Brittany isn’t one of the most famous French road trip routes, but it doesn’t mean the region doesn’t have anything to offer. Quite the opposite!

This region with a strong Celtic background, in fact, features hills and valleys, forests, charming small town and cities full of personality, without counting the longest coastline in France that offers pebble beaches and dramatic cliffs.

This itinerary through southern and central Brittany can be done on its own, or can be an extension of a road trip through Normandy.

Highlights of the trip: • Be wowed by The Machines of Nantes. • Sail to the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan. • Spend a night at the incredible Yves Rocher spa hotel in La Gacilly. • Explore the mythical Brocéliande, the forest of King Arthur. • Discover the charming city of Rennes.

port of Hoedic

Fly to Nantes (or to Paris and take a train to Nantes) and start your road trip from here. Nantes isn’t officially part of Brittany, but culturally is much closer to this region. Spend a full day here visiting the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, the LU Tower, and of course The Machines of the Isle of Nantes.

Head then to Port Navalo, a getaway to the Gulf of Morbihan . Spend a couple of days eating oysters, sailing to the islands ( Ile de Hoedic is so incredibly charming!) and visiting Vannes, a preserved medieval town.

Head then to La Gacilly .  The town is known for its annual outdoor photo festival, which takes place from June to September every year, plus it’s home to some beautiful botanical gardens. You can also spend the night or go for a spa treatment at the beautiful and eco-friendly La Grée des Landes hotel by Yves Rocher .

Your next destination is the area of Brocéliande , famous for its legends. The legend says this is the location of the mythical Brocéliande, the forest of King Arthur. Visit the Door of Secrets, a unique scenography taking place in the abbey of Paimpont, and visit the fairytale castle of Comper.

Your last destination on this Brittany road trip is Rennes , the capital of this region. Wandering around the historic city center with its timber-framed houses is the best way to enjoy this super charming, pocket-sized city.

Loire Valley Road Trip

by Maartje & Sebastiaan, The Orange Backpack

The Loire Valley sums up the best of France. The area is famous for its high concentration of  French fairytale castles . Add picturesque villages and beautiful landscapes to that and you’ll have the perfect road trip in France.

Highlights of the trip: • Learn about royal rivalries at Chateau de Chenonceau. • Visit the biggest castle in the Loire Valley, partly designed by Leonardo da Vinci. • Discover the Loire highlight that inspired the writer of Sleeping Beauty. • Explore the hunting grounds of Chateau de Cheverny.

best road trips in france

Your Loire Valley road trip starts in Saumur , a lovely historic town on the river bank. Continue to the Fontevraud Abbey , one of the biggest monasteries in Europe, and visit the Azay-le-Rideau castle, located on the Indre, next.

Your second day will bring you to Villandry , one of the most romantic Loire palaces with it’s lush gardens. Spend your afternoon and evening at the charming city of Tours .

The most beautiful castle in the Loire Valley is on your schedule for the third day. Chateau de Chenonceau was a gift of the French king to his mistress, while his wife got a much smaller castle at Chaumont. First thing the queen did after her husband died? She kicked out the mistress and took over the castle. The queens original castle at Chaumont is your next stop for today. Spend the night in the lovely city of Blois .

Your fourth day is about two more castles. Chateau de Cheverny is a Loire highlight with its extensive hunting grounds, original castle with authentic period rooms and unique dog kennels.

Finish your Loire road trip, one of the best driving routes through France, at the most famous castle of all: Chambord . It has more than 400 rooms and is known for its double spiral staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Recommended length : 4 days or more .

French Riviera Road Trip

The French Riviera is known for being glitzy and glamorous, but it’s more than just that. In this 5-day French Riviera itinerary, you’ll get to explore charming towns like Eze, live the high life in Montecarlo, and explore the beach of Nice and Antibes. Plus, it’s one of the most scenic drives in France!

If you have more than 5 days available, I recommend you to check out this South France itinerary which also includes the region of Provence, or maybe you can head to Italy and go on a Northern Italy road trip.

Highlights of the trip: • Go on a sightseeing cruise in Nice. • Explore one more country: Monte Carlo. • Discover super charming, floral-decorated Saint Paul de Vence. • Wander around Le Suquet in Cannes. • Stroll through pastel buildings and mega-yachts in Saint Tropez.

best road trips in france

Start your trip in Nice . You can fly directly here or even fly to Paris and take the high speed train to Nice. Explore the Old Town and head to Castle Hill for gorgeous views. Depending on your interests, you can also go on a sightseeing cruise or check out the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Start the second day by visiting a new country: Monte Carlo ! Don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony at the Prince Palace and the port with all those luxurious yachts, and try the famous Casino if you’re feeling lucky. In the afternoon, head to Eze , a charming, clifftop medieval village. Finish the day with a drink and great sunset views at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat .

On day 3 you’ll get to see the charming towns of Saint Paul de Vence and Grasse , where you could also try to make your own perfume. Plus, there’s beach time at La Garoupe .

Start the next day with a stroll through the cobblestone streets of Antibes , then take the ferry to the island of Saint-Marguerite . Finish the day in Cannes ; walk to the Le Suquet, the old quarter of Cannes, and to the famous Boulevard de la Croisette.

On your last day, visit Saint Tropez , home to the rich and famous, and finish your France road trip itinerary in the charming city of Hyeres .

Recommended length : 5 days

Normandy Road Trip

by Chris, Explore Now or Never

A road trip through the beautiful Normandy region is one of the best driving routes in France, and truly a bucket list experience. On this northern France road trip, you’ll visit a world-famous garden, drive tiny rural roads trough verdant, green meadows past quaint Normand villages and the famed D-Day beaches. Look for the telltale timbered houses and be sure to stop for cider or cheese at a local farm. Complete your tour at stunning UNESCO World Heritage site Mont-Saint-Michel.

Highlights of the trip: • See Monet’s spectacular garden Giverny in person. • Tour the D-Day landing beaches, a bucket list experience. • Explore the mystical Mont Saint-Michel monastery, one of France’s most magical sites.

best road trips in france

From Paris, head directly to Monet’s historic home and famed garden in Giverny . As you stand and admire the water lilies just in front of the little green bridge, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into one of his Impressionist paintings.

From there, drive to the quaint fishing village of Honfleur on Normandy’s northern coast, where the Seine River meets the English channel. The beautiful harbor here is lined with charming medieval architecture. It’s the perfect picturesque spot to spend the night. En route, stop into Rouen to peek into the gorgeous Cathedrale Notre Dame de Rouen, famously painted by Monet.

Drive on to Bayeux , which makes a perfect base for a one or two day visit to the famous Normandy D-Day landing beaches . While you can visit on your own, a day tour here truly brings the tragedy and glory of D-Day to life. With more time, see the famous Bayeux tapestry in the tiny museum in the village.

Your final stop is Mont Saint-Michel just before the Brittany region. Located on an island just one kilometer off the northwestern coast of France, this incredible monastery is a striking site to see when the tide is out.

Recommended length : 3 to 4 days.

Road Trip through the Dordogne

by Ivan, Mind the Travel

There are few places in the world more picture-perfect than the Dordogne  area in the southwest of France . Picturesque medieval villages, prehistoric cave paintings, vineyards, and laid back country life are what you’ll find here. The Dordogne, just an hour and a half from Bordeaux, is the perfect place for a road trip.

Highlights of the trip: • Stroll the romantic gas-lit lanes of romantic Sarlat. • Check out a large exhibit of historic weaponry in Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. • Enjoy a beverage and stunning views on the terrace at L’Esplanade in Domme. • Marvel at iconic Château de Beynac perching on top of cliff. • Check out Maison Forte de Reignac, the only surviving cave castle in France. • Indulge on local foie gras and black truffles. • See prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux. • Hit the Saturday street market in Perigueux to get a taste of the region.

best road trips in france

Start off your Dordogne road trip in Bordeaux , a Mecca for wine lovers. Take a bike tour of Bordeaux to fully appreciate the city, or splash around in the world’s largest reflecting pool, Miroir d’Eau.

The next day head to not-far-away Lascaux Caves near Montignac – enjoy over 600 paintings on the ceilings and walls. The age of the paintings has  been estimated at around 17,000 years ago!

Head then to Sarlat le Caneda . Situated in the region called the Perigord Noir in the Sout West of France, this quintessentially romantic city is a great base for exploring the prettiest villages in the Dordogne – Domme, Beynac and La Roque-Gageac .

On day 5 take a day trip to Lacave , a beautiful village that was already  populated in the Paleolithic era. From here you can visit the magical cliff-side village of Rocamadour and Grottes de Lacave with impressive  stalactites and stalagmites.

Start your next day by visiting Terrasson-Lavilledieu , home to several  noteworthy monuments such as Saint-Sour Church, the Old Bridge, and  “Jardins de I’Imaginaire”.

It goes without saying that Dordogne is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With a number of hiking trails and footpaths that run through the countryside, the Dordogne Valley is recognized for its outstanding natural beauty, crystal clear rivers, an immensely rich cultural heritage, which has been so well conserved. It’s no surprise that walking and hiking is such a massively popular activity here.

Recommended length : 7-10 days

Alsace Road Trip: The Alsace Wine Route

by Elisa, France Bucket List

The Wine Route of Alsace  is one of the most famous wine routes in France and also the oldest. It is located in the historical region of Alsace – today part of the new region Grand Est-, in Eastern France. On this east France road trip, get ready to explore picturesque villages, medieval châteaux, gorgeous countryside, and of course, the best Alsatian wines!

Highlights of the trip: • Cycle around the charming, heritage-rich city of Strasbourg. • Go wine tasting and visit multiple vineyards on the way. • Visit colorful fairy-tale villages like Colmar.

best road trips in france

Starting from Strasbourg , the capital, the Alsace Wine Route winds through sloping valleys along the foothills of the Vosges for more than 170km, crossing the entire wine region from Marlenheim to Thann and meeting some 1000 producers.

Along the way, you can visit colorful fairy-tale villages like Colmar, Kaisesberg, Eiguisheim, or Ribeauville .  Apart from sightseeing, the region offers great hikes in the forest or through the vineyards so it is possible to combine nature and culture.

For the Alsace Wine Route, it is suggested to spend a minimum of 4 full days. This minimum itinerary includes one full day in Strasbourg and another full day in Colmar for sightseeing.

But of course, there’s so much to see and do that it is possible to extend your road trip doing other activities like wine tasting sessions, hiking, biking, or visiting medieval fortresses. You can set your base camp in Strasbourg or Colmar and organize day trips around these two cities.

Recommended length : a minimum of 4 full days.

Route des Grandes Alpes through the French Alps

by Kat, Wandering Bird

One of the most well-known road trips in Europe is the Route des Grandes Alpes, in south-east France. 

It’s possible to drive this route (one of the most scenic routes in France) by car and stop along the way at one of the many beautiful towns, but a better option is to  plan a motorhome trip  and wild camp up a mountain in the middle of nowhere, with the stars twinkling overhead.

Highlights of the trip: • Explore picturesque Lake Annecy. • Wandering around the Gorge du Fier. • Go up Mont Blanc in a cable car. • Enjoy breathtaking mountain views every way you turn. • See the Milky Way at night.

best road trips in france

The whole Route des Grandes Alpes takes you from Lake Leman to the Mediterranean passing through 16 Alps passes. It runs from Thonon-les-Bains towards Menton at French Riviera, but you can just do a part of it, or keep going and visiting the French Riviera as well afterwards.

Some of the things you’ll get to experience on this French Alps road trip will be exploring picturesque Lake Annecy , wandering around the Gorge du Fier , and going up Mont Blanc in a cable car. You’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking mountain views every way you turn and at night you’ll see the Milky Way. Pretty dreamy, uh?

The trip can take anywhere from 3-5 days and the best times are either late Spring or early Autumn- (May/ June or September/ October.) 

It’s not possible to do the whole route in winter due to snow closing the roads and we recommend avoiding July and August due to the sheer number of tourists and cyclists who visit the area. There’s also the Tour de France, which passes through the area each July and turns everything into chaos! 

Recommended length : 3 to 5 days.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired by this list of great road trips in France! Ready to get on the road?

OH WAIT, HERE’S MORE ROAD TRIP INSPO!

22 Incredible Road Trips in Europe to Take This Summer 8 Epic Balkan Road Trips for your Bucket List

Stefania Guglielmi

Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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Everything You Want to Know About France and More...

Road Trip northern France

  • Janine Marsh
  • Nord-Pas de Calais

Couple sitting on a grassy hill overlooking the English Channel from the Opal Coast, France

The far north of France, known as Hauts de France comprising the departments Picardy, Pas-de-Calais and Nord is the perfect road trip destination. A land of castles, seaside resorts, forests and lakes. There are ancient towns and cities, gorgeous countryside and picturesque villages and even Champagne vineyards! If you’re after a road trip that takes you to the heart of authentic France.  Where you’ll enjoy delicious food, meet friendly folk and discover a historic land that’s full of surprises. Then hit the road and explore this unexpected and extraordinary region…

Unspoiled, uncrowded, rural tourism at it’s best.

Road Trip Pas de Calais, northern France

Couple looking at the sun setting over a lake, part of the Bay of the Somme

Our journey began on P&O Ferries from Dover to Calais on an early morning sailing. Turning left out of the port we headed for the D940 Opal Coast route, which I call the Route 66 of the north of France. It passes through a stream of small fishing towns, seaside resorts and some of the most beautiful scenery in France.

There are miles and miles of unspoiled and endless sandy beaches. There are huge dunes and pine forests; dramatic clifftop walks offer dizzying views across the Channel to the White Cliffs of Dover – clearly visible on a cloudless day. Some parts of the coast remind me of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Massive boulders seem to spill out of the sea and up to the road. Fishermen sit silent and patient along the water’s edge with rods and nets. Out to sea you can see traditional wooden fishing boats bobbing on the calm water.

Secluded Bays and picnic dreams

Old stone fort in the sea at the seaside resort of Ambleteuse, northern France

The sky was blue, the English Channel was the colour of the Mediterranean Sea, a soft sort of turquoise. The air was scented with apples from orchards lining the country roads as we drifted off the main coastal route and into the beautiful countryside to hunt down a patisserie. Nothing says France more than a baguette with a chunk of cheese followed by a jewel like cake and a glass of chilled wine. We sat on a blanket overlooking the English Channel, rabbits hopping around us, birds swooping above. A moment of pure pleasure.

We found secret, secluded bays where seals frolicked. There are monuments and museums, and the remains of the Atlantic Wall built as protection against allied invasion during World War II.

Stop en route to discover secrets and surprises

It doesn’t take more than 45 minutes from Calais to Boulogne-sur-Mer. But, it’s far better to spend the entire day on this section of the road. Stop to enjoy a home-cooked lunch in a friendly, welcoming café and buy fish fresh from the fishermen who sell direct from their front rooms and garages in villages like Audresselles . Wander on the beach, admire the ancient fort at Ambleteuse (above) and the Belle Epoque villas at Wimereux.

This is a part of France that’s hardly known outside of the region despite being captured on canvas by J M Turner who loved the ”opal” quality of light, and Charles Dickens singing the praises of the area and moving his family there.

Boulogne-sur-Mer

Cobbled street in Boulogne-sur-Mer, a domed church tower at one end, restaurants line the street

Boulogne-sur-Mer deserves a day of discovery. Head to the old town, so pretty it looks like a film set. Don’t miss the incredible decorated crypt of the Basillica Notre-Dame , the rue du Lille, lined with quirky boutiques and restaurants.

The 13th century Chateau Museum includes an Egyptian collection donated by renowned Egyptologist François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette, born in the town and the founder of the Cairo Museum of Egyptology. Nausicaa , the largest sea aquarium in Europe and heaps more will definitely fill a day right up…

From Boulogne, the D940 runs on through Neufchatel-Hardelot with its neo-Shakespearian Theatre and Castle with a cultural centre dedicated to Entente-Cordiale and glorious Hardelot beach. And on through charming Etaples, once a fishing port, neighbour to the swanky jet set seaside resort of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, and several lovely seaside towns before crossing the border into Picardy…

Road Trip Picardy, Northern France

Marquenterre nature reserve.

Close to the border at Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont, we followed the signs for Parc Marquenterre . I’m not a twitcher, but I love animals and this nature reserve on the Bay of the Somme has a reputation for being really special.

A dusty track ended in a huge car park where a surprisingly smart and large restaurant and bar tempted us in. Here in what feels like the middle of nowhere, they serve delicious dishes with heirloom vegetables, the freshest local fish and superb desserts, fitting fuel for explorers. 200 hectares of land covered in marshes, peppered with lakes and ponds, dunes and reed beds are an absolute magnet for birds of all types. From a hide, I spied on storks and herons. Birds tweeted above and around us. The air is fresh and unpolluted, you feel as if you have the whole area to yourself. Marquenterre is mesmerising, memorable and magical.

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, steam trains and cobbled streets

Steam train running alongside the Somme River at St-Valery-sur-Somme, Picardy

From here it’s a short ride to the town of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme . This ancient and extremely photogenic little town on the Somme Estuary has absolutely oodles of charm. It’s easy to spend an entire day here.

Stroll the cobbled streets. Wander along the harbour and the long esplanade to ogle the mansion houses. And discover the colourful sailors district. You’ll know exactly what lured the artist Degas and writers Victor Hugo and Jules Verne to holiday here. Long before them, Joan of Arc was held captive here. The dungeon where she is said to have been imprisoned is still there. It’s a tiny stone tower and you can’t help but think how the poor girl must have felt cooped up in her claustrophobic prison.

William the Conqueror was here too, stopping off to collect soldiers before making history and conquering England in 1066. Standing on the ramparts looking out to sea in the medieval town I wondered if he too had stood there. Wondering, dreaming, daring to hope that his ambitious plans to quell his dastardly enemy across the water might come true. All that thinking makes you hungry. Luckily this little town is teeming with cafés, bistros and restaurants.

The stream train is an irresistible lure. It takes you, on authentic wooden seats, round the Bay of the Somme, classified as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. We spotted wild pigs, deer and all manner of birds en route. You can take a boat ride out on the bay where the largest colony of seals in France live. Join a walking or bike tour (you can rent bikes in the town), or simply sit back and enjoy the ambiance. Watching the sun set over the bay, is one of those unforgettably beautiful moments in life…

Gorgeous Gerberoy

Take in the stunning medieval village of Gerberoy. Officially classified as a Plus Beaux Village, it has oodles of charm. Read about Gerberoy here: What to see and do in Gerberoy

Amiens Gothic Cathedral and astonishing floating gardens

Small wooden boat on a canal at Amiens, Spire of the Gothic Cathedral in the background

The D940 runs all the way to Le Tréport in Normandy where the road then becomes the D925. It then runs around the coast through Dieppe before reverting to its original number to reach Le Havre . But stay in the Hauts de France region and head to the city of Amiens where you’ll discover Les Hortillonnages, one of the best kept secrets of France. These watery arteries give Amiens a unique atmosphere. You really have a feeling that you are in the most beautiful countryside – right in the centre of a busy metropolis.

The hortillonnages are a major heritage site. Marshland gardens, cultivated for centuries, created on man-made islands and on the land which lines the waterways. In fact the gardens are so old that no one knows when they began. But, legend has it that when the city’s Cathedral was built in the 13th century, it was on a field of artichokes managed by the gardeners of the hortillonnages.

All tours are by eco-friendly electric boats which glide silently across the tranquil waters. Steering the boat round islands, stopping off at jetties to look at artworks dotted around, enjoying a picnic on an island – it really brings out your inner happy. The only disturbance was the cooing and calling of birds and the croaking of frogs. You’d hardly even know you’re in a city if it wasn’t for the fact that you can see the spire of the great Gothic cathedral in the distance.

Chateau de Chantilly

Chateau of Chantilly surrounded by a lake, Picardy

At the stunning Chateau de Chantilly treating yourself to some Chantilly cream is de rigeur! Fling the diet plans out of the window and dig straight in. In the gorgeous gardens of this fairy tale castle is a hamlet that was allegedly the inspiration for Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet at Versailles . Pretty little half-timbered buildings and sweet bridges over a bubbling stream. The restaurant serves great lunches including strawberries and Chantilly cream. It was whipped at our table, right in front of our eyes. I confess, my eyes were not bigger than my belly. I has no trouble getting through a very large dollop of utterly seductive cream.

Read more about Chantilly castle and its amazing stables here .

Chateau Thierry | Champagne Vineyards – in Picardy

Champagne vineyards in gently hilly countryside, Picardy, northern France

Take a detour to the area of Chateau Thierry on the Champagne border. You might be amazed to discover that more than 10% of all the Champagne made, is actually produced from vines in this part of Picardy! I have to tell you, if you’re a fan of the fizz like me, it’ll make you effervescent with happiness to go here. You can enjoy a fabulous tasting at several Champagne Houses.

Thiepval Memorial

Wall of Thiepval Memorial to the dead of the Somme in WWI

Thiepval Memorial is one of the most emotional memorials I’ve been to. Not just because of the 72,000 names etched into the white walls, or the row upon row of crosses.

The guides who work here offer free tours and they share anecdotes and stories of those whose names are forever remembered. As the guide told me about a man whose bravery at trying to save the lives of his comrades ended in his own death, I looked up on the walls. The names are familiar to us all, Davis, Smith, Roberts – and Cedric Dickens, great-grandson of Charles Dickens who’d loved the north of France so much. The absolute tragedy of the sacrifices made, the terrible losses, completely overwhelmed me. I burst into tears and thought how very grateful I am for all that I have.

Road Trip Nord, Northern France

Lille – historic and stunning.

Cobbled street lined with restaurants and shops, bunting hangs across the top, Lille

Lille, the capital of Hauts-de-France has the most beautiful old town. Wander it’s cobbled streets under colourful bunting, past boulangeries and cake shops where people wait patiently in queues – a small price to pay for the lushest of dishes. Dine at an authentic estaminet, the Flemish word for an inn. Visit a microbrewery. There are museums and art galleries  galore. You’ll fall under the spell of this vibrant city that’s crammed with museums and cultural highlights and full of friendly folk, so that you can hardly bear to leave. There’s just so much to do: 10 things to do in Lille

And it’s a short journey to the Roubaix district. Here you’ll find the world class La Piscine museum and a whole load more art and culture. And not much further to Lens where you’ll find a branch of the Paris Louvre, the world’s most visited museum. The Lens Louvre is an extraordinary museum and a must-see for all lovers of art.

Cobbled square in St Omer, France lined with buildings with Flemish architecture

Saint Omer is about half an hour from Calais which makes it a great last stop on your way home to shop for supplies. But en route from Lens, make a stop at Bethune and discover the pretty town and Chef Marc Meurin’s fabulous hotel and Michelin starred restaurant. The sweet-toothed chef also has a sweet shop that would make Willy Wonka do cartwheels. Chef Meurin also offers cooking lessons . Even I, “Flop Chef”, learned how to create something marvellous! And he has a great, informal restaurant called Le Jardin d’Alice which the locals love.

Back to Saint Omer. It’s a quintessential French market town that has a massive historic footprint. Thomas a Becket AKA Saint Thomas Becket took refuge from Henry II of England there in 1165. Centuries later, three of America’s Founding Fathers, Daniel, Charles and John Carroll, studied at the Jesuit Chapel.

Markets, Shakespeare and Flemish cafes

If you can, be there for the Saturday morning market. A riot of colour and scents and sounds fill the cobbled square in front of the neo-classic town hall. Stalls are piled high with produce, vegetables grown on the local marshes and farms or by green-fingered locals. This is one of the most authentic and friendly markets I’ve ever been to. And when you’re done, pop to the town library. It looks ordinary from outside, however – head to the old part of the building where books go back to the 7th century. A priceless First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays was recently discovered on its heaving shelves! And stop to enjoy a local beer and Flemish dish at any number of cafés and watch the world go by and plan your return to this unforgettable part of France.

Once is never enough.

See my trip by video:

This region is a land of contrast, sea and country, history and culture, arts and crafts and gastronomy. Whether you stay for a weekend or a week, there’s so much to discover that one visit will never satisfy you…

Get my free road trip guide and discover more great things to do in northern France: french-weekendbreaks.co.uk.  There are loads of tips for restaurants and things to do in and around the areas mentioned…

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French Road Trips: 13 Of The Most Beautiful And Best Road Trips In France To Explore!

Marco Santos

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Uncover the authentic essence of France, beyond the lights of Paris, by embarking on one of these 13 beautiful road trips in France!

There is no better way to truly explore and experience a destination than to discover all its hidden gems, charming villages, and by-roads less explored by the majority of tourists that usually flock to the bigger cities.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst French cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, and others have bucket loads to offer eager travellers, there is so much more on offer in this beautiful country. Whether you are embarking on a road trip to explore Almabtrieb in the Alps , or discovering Calanque d’En-vau in the south, travelling the length and breadth of France is a must-do! This is why embarking on a road trip in France is the perfect way to admire the stunning diversity to be found in France.

In this guide, I have collaborated with other bloggers to come up with a list of 13 top road trips in France, that’ll no doubt inspire you to do the same on your next visit!

Disclaimer: This post contains links to services or products that I trust and recommend and from which I may earn commissions. Read our privacy policy for more.

Pssst…Have you packed all your essentials? Make sure to read our packing list for Europe guide to ensure you’ve ticked all the packing necessities off your list!

France Road Trip: 13 Exciting Road Trips in France Embark On!

Paris to rouen- along the seine road trip itinerary.

By Dayna from Happily Ever Travels

There’s so much more to France than just Paris , and this Paris to Rouen road trip itinerary will take you through some of the most stunning scenery, historic French landmarks, and medieval castles to give you a taste of all that France has to offer. 

You can split up this road trip however works best for your trip. If you’ve never been to Paris before, stay in Paris for a few days before renting your car and starting on this French countryside adventure. 

Here’s the itinerary:

  • Giverny (home of Claude Monet’s famous garden)
  • La Roche-Guyon Castle
  • Vernon 
  • Les Andelys & Château Gaillard

Make sure you rent your car early on the day you plan to leave so you can visit as much as possible without feeling rushed. Leaving Paris, it will take you about 1.5 hours to reach Giverny which is 88 km from Paris. 

In Giverny, you can park for free and take a short walk through the quaint village that Claude Monet used to call home until you reach his pink house with green shutters known as “Fondation Monet in Giverny”. Tickets are 12 euros per person to wander around the famous gardens where he painted the water lilies. 

From there, you’ll backtrack just a little to La Roche-Guyon, which is just a short 12-minute drive away. Depending on your schedule and what your group enjoys, you can plan ahead to get to the castle when it’s open so you can visit inside, or you can enjoy the views and the village from the outside as a quick stop. 

If you’re in a hurry, skip La Roche-Guyon and head to Vernon just 16 minutes away (13 km). Vernon has a bit of everything, but the do-not-miss monument there is the giant cathedral in the centre of town, “Collégiale Notre-Dame.” 

From Vernon, you’ll drive 24 km to one of the most adorable towns on the route, which deserves the most time that you can afford, Les Andelys. The town itself will blow you away, but you absolutely must get up to the Château Gaillard before sunset to get one of the most beautiful views of the Seine you’ll ever see.

You can choose to stay the night in Andelys (like at La Maison Carpe Diem ) or drive 40km to the last stop, Rouen, where there will be a lot more options. You should at least spend a few days wandering the historic city learning about Joan of Arc’s life and admiring the oldest inn in the world (La Couronne).  

If you want to spread out the itinerary a bit more, you can choose to hit some of the cities on the way back to Paris instead of on the way to Rouen.

By Marjut from The Smooth Escape

The spectacular region of Provence extends across the southeastern corner of France, between the Southern Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. Home to scenic landscapes, charming villages, lavender fields and vineyards, it’s one of the best places in France for a road trip.

A good starting point for your journey is the city of Avignon. From there, drive to the Luberon region to visit the picturesque hilltop villages of Gordes and Roussillon. Then, head to the famous lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau and marvel at the magnificent Verdon Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of France. 

Next, drive to the Mediterranean coast to relax on some fabulous sandy beaches and explore the seaside towns of Saint-Tropez, La Ciotat and Cassis. Round off your trip with a hike or a kayaking tour in the breathtakingly beautiful Calanques National Park near Marseille before returning to Avignon.

This Provence road trip itinerary is approximately 500 km long and can be completed in 5 days.

Along the route, you’ll find an abundance of amazing accommodation options, such as restored country houses, vineyard hotels and chateau stays. For a romantic getaway in the Provencal countryside, spend a night or two at La Bastide De Moustiers hotel .

Loire Valley

By Imee from Journey to France

Situated in the heart of France is the 280-kilometre-long Loire Valley . A Loire Valley road trip deserves at least four days, since the UNESCO-protected region is a stunning architectural and historical treasure trove, with numerous magnificent chateaux dotting the landscape.

It takes roughly three hours to travel the 185 kilometres from Paris to the hilltop city of Blois (along the Loire River). Check into one of the city’s lovely hotels, such as the Castel De La Comtesse , before venturing off to explore the Loire Valley. 

Visit the spectacular Château de Chambord, the wonderfully proportioned Château de Cheverny, and the Château de Beauregard, with its Portrait Gallery, all within an easy drive from Blois. The Chateau de Chenonceau and Châteaux de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire are stunning French landmarks not to be missed, nor are the Chateau d’Amboise and Chateau du Clos Luce in nearby Amboise.

Finally, head to Chinon to visit the Chateau de Villandry and Chateau de Usse, the castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle and Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty.

The Loire Valley is enjoyable at any time of year. However, late spring and early summer are ideal if you want to truly appreciate the chateau’s splendour both inside and out.

Auvergne France Road Trip

By Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs

Away from the crowded destinations of Provence or Brittany, explore the gently rolling hills of Auvergne, where ancient history, lovely villages, savoury food, and outdoor activities await along the 120 km of this 5-day Auvergne road trip from Clermont-Ferrand .

On your first day, admire the Puy de Dôme in the Chaîne des Puys, the ancient dormant volcanoes that compose the popular Auvergne mountain range. Then, hike up or board the Panoramique des Dômes and enjoy some of the best landscapes Auvergne has.

On the second day, visit the famous Orcival church, the 11th-century Roman Notre Dame Basilica. En route to the Lac du Guéry, check the Tuilière et Sanadoire unusual rock formations. Finally, stay at the Maison d’Hôtes La Nichée for a night to enjoy the countryside’s peace and quiet.

Spend your third day at the Mont-Dore, where you can ride the cable car up to the Puy de Sancy summit for 360° views of the Sancy mountains. 

On day four, the 12th-century Murol Castle will take you back to medieval times before soaking in the thermal spas of the Grottes du Cornadore.  

On day five, walk Saint-Nectaire streets, dating back to the Celtic era, and savour the famous cheese of the same name. As the last stop, visit the Gergovie plateau, where local chief Vercingétorix beat Julius Caesar Roman army in 52 before CE.

By Jackie from Jou Jou Travels

Alsace is a great place for a road trip and is pretty essential if you want to explore all the region has to offer. With many unique charming villages all around, a road trip will help you easily see what the area has to offer.

Visiting Alsace during Christmas time is a true must as this is when you can visit all the many Christmas Markets and it is possibly the biggest Christmas scene you will find in all of Europe! Each town is uniquely decorated with lights, teddy bears, stars, Christmas trees, and more. Making it the perfect winter wonderland getaway. Grab your mulled wine and stroll the fairytale towns the region has to offer. 

For your road trip, the must-see towns include the two biggest towns of Strasbourg and Colmar. 

However, the car really comes in handy when visiting the smaller and less-known towns of Equisheim, Riquewihr,  Kaysersberg, Ribeauvillé, and Obernai. Base yourself at the Colmar Hotel in the most picturesque town and start your exploration from there!

Northern France: (Lille, Honfleur, Giverny, Plailly, Compiègne, Reims)

By Cosette from KarsTravels

A Northern France road trip is a perfect way to discover some of the highlights of France. It’s also perfect for getting acquainted with different areas of France. The stops on the route are Lille, Honfleur, Giverny, Plailly, Compiègne and Reims. The total distance is 677 kilometres.

Lille is the first stop and must-see things are Vieux-Lille (the old town) and Marché de Wazemmes. The second stop is Honfleur, a famous old port city. Take a boat tour on the Seine, wander around the port and step inside the Eglisé Sainte-Catherine, the oldest wooden church in France. 

Then there’s the beautiful town of Giverny. Famous as the town of Claude Monet. It has his house and garden, the inspiration behind his paintings. Plailly is the town where the fun theme park Parc Astérix is located, enough for hours of fun with rides and shows. 

In Compiègne the Mémorial de L’Armistice is situated, the train wagon in which the First World War truce was signed. At last, there’s Reims with its beautiful grand cathedral.

Eden Park Hotel Restaurant in Pont-L’Évêque is a perfect stay, located on a lake.

French Riviera (Nice to Menton)

By Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast

This French road trip starts in Nice and goes through Villefranche-sur-Mer, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Monaco, and ends in Menton. The total distance is 40km and takes approximately 1.5 hours. 

This really is one of the best road trips you can take in France. The route hugs the Mediterranean coast of southern France and is full of gorgeous coastal views, charming French cities , and not to mention some of the most stunning beaches the South of France has become known for.

In Nice, walk the Promenade des Anglais, visit the beaches or port, stroll the old town, and visit Castle Hill. For your stay in Nice , the Mercure Nice Marché aux Fleurs hotel is right next to the old town and along the promenade. 

Just 20 minutes from Nice is Villefranche-sur-Mer, a little coastal village that has beautiful pastel-coloured streets and lovely beaches. You can also visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a luxurious mansion with several gardens overlooking the sea. 

Continue on to Monaco, a tiny yet extremely ritzy country, full of expensive luxury cars, designer brands, and enormous yachts. Hit up the Monte Carlo casino or the Formula 1 racetrack here.

Finally, end your road trip in Menton, only 5 miles from the Italian border. Here you’ll see orange and lemon trees growing right on the streets in town, and buildings painted in warm shades of tans, pinks, and oranges.

Bordeaux: St. Emilion – Bordeaux – Cap Feret – Arcachon

By Natali from She’s Abroad Again

This road trip takes you through the southwestern French region of Gironde. This stunning wine region with mild winters and diverse landscapes is a great road trip idea for any time of the year.

Featuring picturesque hilltop villages, dreamy vineyards and long sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast, this road trip is perfect for every wine, culture, nature and beach lover!

Start your journey in the picturesque village of Saint Emilion. It is surrounded by vineyards and chateaux where you can try some of the best French wine directly from the winemakers! Or grab a few bottles to take home as the perfect souvenirs from France ! 

Saint Emilion is less than 50km from our next stop, “the pearl of Aquitane” – Bordeaux. Spend a day in Bordeaux , discovering this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Bordeaux is the ideal place to spend a night before continuing your trip to the coast. Au Coeur de Bordeaux is perfectly located just a couple of meters from the Bordeaux Cathedral and historic centre.

About 70km from Bordeaux, Cap Feret Lighthouse is an iconic spot on the Atlantic coast of France. Walk on the endless sandy beaches with an unobstructed view of the Ocean.

End this road trip in Arcachon, 90km from Cap Feret, with a visit to the largest natural sand dune in Europe – Dune du Pilat

Picardy – Road Trips in France

By Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina

The Picardy region in northern France is a historically important area known for some of the most outstanding cathedral architecture in France. History and architecture enthusiasts will appreciate a Picardy cathedral road trip. 

The trip starts in Amiens, the administrative city of the region, which is known for the largest cathedral in France with over 200,000 cubic meters in size. 

Second in place comes the impressive, yet unfinished, Cathedral of Beauvais , which is recognized for having the tallest gothic choir under the vault in the world and an impressive astronomical clock and a medieval clock. 

The third cathedral in Senlis plays on contrasts. It’s one of the smallest and oldest cathedrals in France. The cathedral of Soisson is famous for a painting by Rubens and Charlemagne was crowned king in the Noyon cathedral. 

At last comes the cathedral of Laon, appreciated for its rose windows and the Basilica of Saint Quentin makes for a crowning end with the mysterious labyrinth and intriguing history. 

The road trip is about 300 kilometres long and takes one along the calm rural roads, an area much loved by Van Gogh, to some of the most underrated parts of France.

Normandy Road Trip

By Lowri from Many Other Roads

Normandy is a beautiful region of France and the perfect place for a French road trip. It has beautiful beaches, rustic towns, and the most amazing countryside in France.

The Normandy region is situated on the north coast of France. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with some of the most dramatic coastlines in Europe. There are many attractions to see on your way around this region: medieval villages, sandy beaches, picturesque fishing ports and charming seaside resorts.

A popular road trip in Normandy starts from Deauville and ends at Mont Saint-Michel. This route just takes over 2 hours. 

Along the way, you will find yourself exploring some of Normandy’s best coastal towns like Honfleur or Le Havre as well as visiting some of its picturesque inland villages such as Falaise or Pontorson. 

The drive can be done in either direction depending on what you want to see first – but we recommend starting from Deauville if you want to see more coastal scenery first-hand before heading inland

If you are looking for a great place to stay on this road trip, the Best Western Hotel in Honfleur is a great budget-friendly option.

France Roadtrip: French Brittany

By Victoria from Guide Your Travel

A road trip around French Brittany is a must-do for anyone looking for beautiful beaches, undisturbed countryside and quaint villages. The western tip of France and the area around Brest are especially beautiful with their rough coastline and delicious French specialities . 

Begin your trip in Saint Mal and make your way along the coast, passing through towns like Roscoff and Ploudalmézeau. You’ll love the beaches close to St Pabu which almost look similar to the Maldives or the Caribbean. 

Drive further south to the Crozon peninsula which is fantastic for hiking and camping. If you’re not ready to stay at a campsite you should consider spending the night at the Hostellerie De La Mer , a quaint inn with a great location. 

The entire road trip will take around a week if you want to spend some time at each stop. It can be done in a few days if necessary although since the total distance is more than 600 kilometres, taking your time is recommended.

South of France Road Trip – Marseille to Cassis

By Bea Cińska from PackYourBags

Another top road trip France has to offer is this southern French wonder. Start in the capital of Provence, Marseille, by exploring the top ten sights of this French port city . Don’t miss the Calanques National Park filled with unique cliff formations.

After a couple of days in Marseille, drive 32 kilometres north to Aix-en-Provence, once the capital of the region and today a vibrant university town. Spend a day exploring the lovely narrow streets, perusing the farmers market, or just enjoy people-watching while sipping wine in one of its elegant cafes.

Wine and art lovers must stop at Château La Coste (15 km north of Aix), a winery featuring beautiful grounds filled with eye-catching sculptures. We highly recommend you spend the night at Villa La Coste .

If you happen to be visiting in late June or early July, then your next stop should be the Plateau de Valensole (62 km from Château La Coste) for lavender blooms. Come at dawn or dusk for the best photography lighting. 

Next, drive 120 kilometres south to stop in Toulon and visit the National Marine Museum. Then hop on a ferry to the nearby Island of Porquerolles, one of the most sought-after elegant vacation spots in France.

And finally visit Cassis, a picturesque fishing port with colourful houses and beautiful leisure boats, only 37 kilometres east of Toulon and 50 kilometres from the Marseille airport.

Tour to Lyon Road Trip

By Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog

A road trip to Lyon is always special. It will definitely prove to be like no other you have experienced before. After all, this is the third largest city in France. 

The arrival time depends on the city or region you are coming from. If you’re coming from Tours, there are some stops like Parc zoologique (de Saint-Martin-la-Plaine), Source de l’Hôpital, and Lac Pavin. The distance is around 370 kilometres with a drive time of approximately 4 hours. 

Some places you can visit during this road trip are Château de Meung-Sur-Loire, Château La Ferte Saint-Aubin, and Matra automobile museum.

This French road trip is special since you have the rare chance of visiting some towns that are known to have historical significance. These are Amboise, Clermont-Ferrand, Blois, and Bourges. 

If you arrive late in Lyon, there are some great hotels to check into like Lagrange Aparthote l, Novotel Lyon Confluence , and Hôtel Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts . Make sure you stay at least two days to experience the best things to do in Lyon .

Top tip: If you happen to be visiting Lyon over the festive season in December, then be sure to not miss out on the Fête des Lumières light festival, one of the most popular festivals in France , that usually takes place around the 8th – 11th December.

13 Top & Most Beautiful Road Trips in France Worth Exploring! French Road Trips, France road trip, Road trip France, France travel inspiration, France Travel Itinerary, French travel tips, France travel guide

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2 weeks in France, our French Road Trip Itinerary

Over summer we spent a magical 2 weeks in France. We travelled from the UK by ferry and car heading straight through the centre of the country all the way down to Bordeaux and back, trying to take in some of the lesser explored parts of the Country. Here’s our French road trip itinerary so you can start planning your next family holiday to France.

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young girl and her father walking on steping stones in the dordogne river with a chateaux in the background

List of Contents

  • 1.1 Day One on our French Road Trip Itinerary
  • 2.1 Day two
  • 3.1 Day Three
  • 4.1 Day Four
  • 5.1 Day Five
  • 7.1 Day 7 to 11
  • 8.1 Day 11 and 12
  • 10.1 Day 14
  • 11 A final thought on our two weeks in France

UK – Lille

Day one on our french road trip itinerary.

colourful old buildings lining a street in Lille, france

Miles Traveled:

This one took most of the day, we left home super early to catch the lunchtime ferry from Dover to Dunkerque. The sailing was around two hours. On arrival on French soil the drive from Dunkerque to Lille took about an hour and a quarter. In total this was just over 300 miles. And a great start to this France road trip with kids.

Where we stayed:

On arriving into Lille we immediately headed to our hotel. The Ibis Styles Lille Centre Grand-Place  was the perfect location for exploring Lille. Right in the centre of town with a carpark just across the road. This was the first of several Ibis hotels we stayed in during our trip. They’re such great value, always clean with good sized family rooms.

Where we ate:

As with most meals during our two weeks in France we just wandered the town and stopped wherever had space and looked good. This time we totally struck gold. We found La Pate Brisee on Rue de la Monnaie and grabbed one of their pavement tables. This is a great French restaurant with super friendly waiting staff and great food (and wine). Of course we had to try the local delicacy, Le Welsh. It’s kind of a supercharged rarebit. Bread soaked in beer, covered in Cheese with an egg on top. Baked in the oven to make it super gooey. It was delicious but crazy rich, I could never manage it all. Piper had a fish and chips which she gobbled up and Nigel enjoyed a rich beef stew.

le welsh a typical northen france dish of beer soaked bread covered in cheese and an egg

Lille – Chantilly

chateaux in chantilly, france

Miles Travelled:

Lille to Chantilly is a fairly easy 120 miles. The drive took around two hours and included some toll roads.

We stayed at the beautiful Mercure Chantilly Resort . It’s set in stunning countryside and forests making it the perfect place for a family friendly walk. We had a family room which easily slept the 3 of us. It even has a swimming pool if you are traveling with a little mermaid like us!

young girl smiling with long curly hair holding a bread roll

Eating in Chantilly was all about the cake. The bakeries lining the main road through town serve up some delectable treats and we mainly survived on these. They also create some amazing savoury treats and we enjoyed fresh pizza and pastries picnic style as we walked around town. We also stopped for a super strong coffee hit at one of the pavement cafes. Perfect!

sweet cakes and tarts in a french bakery in Chantilly

Chantilly – Versailles

daughter and father working towards the golden gates of the palace of Versailles

The drive from Chantilly to Versailles is just over 40 miles. It will take quite a while, maybe up to two hours as you’ll no doubt get stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Paris. It was very cool however to see the Eiffel Tower from the motorway. This route also includes toll roads. Read all about our trip to Versailles with kids and our visit to the spectacular Palace.

In Versaille we were back to another brilliant Ibis, and this one was right across the road from the train station. The ibis Versailles Chateau  hotel is a great value 3 star located within easy walking distance to the Palace and plenty of places to eat and shop. We opted for a family room and had a great continental breakfast before heading off the next day.

Again we wandered the streets and stopped at a pavement restaurant that looked popular with locals. We were after a bit of comfort food so shared a pizza whilst Piper opted for spaghetti bolognese. Then it was early to bed before a busy day, with full stomachs and happy memories. I recommend just wandering down the Rue de Satory and picking somewhere you like the look of.

alley of restaurants in Versaille, France

Versailles – Paris

the eiffel tower in paris seen through branches of trees

Paris with kids is absolutely magical and this was a super easy travel day. It’s around 13 miles from Versailles to Paris and we traveled by train. It took less than an hour on a direct train which was very clean and extremely quiet. I loved that we utilised public transport for one of the days of our France road trip with kids.

Read more about how we managed Paris in one day here.

We enjoyed our second night at the ibis Versailles Chateau hotel.

On our way back to the train station we wandered past the brilliant Quai Liberte on the river front. It’s a lovely beer garden with a real “vacay” vibe. It’s only open over the summer months but is well worth stopping in if you’re passing. Food is small, fresh and simple but it’s the atmosphere that should convince you to stay!

outside restaurant at Quai liberte in paris

Versailles – Limoges

typical french street in limoges, france

This was a fairly intense travel day as we wanted to get down South as soon as possible. We covered over 250 miles in around 4 hours. Again there were toll roads to pass through but we were so impressed with them. It’s very easy to navigate and the roads never got too busy.

We booked ourselves in at the Novotel Limoges Le Lac  mainly due to the fact it has an outdoor pool. This is always a massive positive for Piper and she loved cooling off after being in the car for so long. It’s slightly out of town in what feels like a rather industrial area but the Lake in the grounds of the hotel made for the perfect place for a post walk dinner. We saw some amazing sunsets.

sunset in Limoge

As none of us could face getting back in the car we chose to eat at the hotel. The restaurant was nice and food excellent. I had a delicious Caesar salad and Piper was delighted to discover her first kids menu of the holiday. It was of course super expensive but that’s to be expected in a hotel.

Limoges – Perigueux

narrow street between tall stone buildings in Perigeuex France

Miles Travelled: 

This was one of the easiest legs of the journey with just 60 miles to travel. We took it slow and covered the distance in under two hours.

The Ibis Perigueux Centre  is a brilliant place to stay in Perigueux with kids. It’s right in the centre of town near the cathedral. So you wont struggle for things to do or great places to eat. You can park onsite for a small charge and family sized rooms are available which are great value.

We stopped for lunch at a tiny bistro we found in a small town we passed through. I love these places, they often have locals indoors watching TV, enjoying an afternoon beer. Don’t be afraid to stop somewhere and give it a go.

Perigueux is very much a tourist town so you definitely won’t struggle to find good restaurants. We went boringly British and opted for Watson’s Pub . It’s absolutely huge with heaps of indoor and outdoor seating and serves pub classics such as burgers and fish and chips.

bright red table cloth and umbrella at a french roadside bistro

Perigueux – Pessac-sur-Dordogne

Day 7 to 11.

You can read all about visiting the Dordogne with kids over on this post, it will give you a great idea on the activities that we tried but some of our favourites included visiting Chateauxs, pretty French towns , vineyards and inland Dordogne beaches .

vineyard with green vines in france

Another super easy travel day and the start of our rest break. It was around 50 miles from Perigueux to our lovely Dordogne holiday rental. With a stop for coffee along the way the journey was around an hour and a half.

sandy beach on the dordogne river

Being the longest stay of our two weeks in France we chose a holiday rental for accommodation in this part of the Dordogne. We loved having the extra space to fully unpack and a kitchen to cook some healthy food in. We spent evening sat on the terrace watching the sunset over nearby vineyards. While Piper raided the DVD library and caught up with friends.

dordogne countryside seen through s small window in a french holiday rental

This part of the stay was all about cooking. We mooched into town each day and stocked up of local produce and meat for the barbeque. We took picnics on our day trips and had lazy breakfasts before heading out. These slow days are so important when covering long distances and I highly recommend including some in your French road trip itinerary.

the sky lit up in yellow and orange above a balcony in the dordogne

Pessac-sur-Dordogne – Talence near Bordeaux

Day 11 and 12.

young girl on patterned deck chair holding up the peace sign with her fingers

After our lovely few days relaxing the 45 mile drive to our hotel on the outskirts of Bordeaux felt completely manageable. Although it took us longer than expected – around two hours as we got a bit lost looking for the hotel.

This had to be my favourite hotel of our stay. And was actually the reason we chose to stay in Talence rather than Bordeaux city centre. Domaine de Raba  is an absolutely stunning Boutique hotel. It’s quirky design coupled with its focus on wellness and the outdoors made for a wonderful stay. They even have a private cinema you can book! I think this was our favourite hotel on the whole of this France road trip with kids. Read more about this stunning hotel near Bordeaux and get booking!

beautiful room at the domaine de raba hotel

We loved the hotel so much we just didn’t want to leave so ate onsite at Les Petits Caprices . The food was amazing and the decor beautiful. I recommend a visit even if you’re not staying in the hotel.

maguerite restaurant at domaine de raba hotel

Talence – Le Mans

girl climbing on a tree on a french beach

And so the long trip home begins. We wanted to get as close to the North Coast as possible so covered just under 300 miles. It was an exhausting 5 hours and one of the longest travel days of this France road trip itinerary.

We opted for the Novotel Le Mans  again because it had a pool. We only needed somewhere en route, clean and good value. The Novotel ticked off all those boxes. Piper loved a dip in the small outdoor pool and we got a great nights sleep before our long drive home the next day.

We ate at the hotel for convenience. It was a lovely end to the break. We opted for a charcuterie board, breads and cheeses. Plenty of fine French food for our last supper.

Le Mans – Home

street in a french village

Finally it was the last 500 mile stint home. This time we sailed from Calais which cut down the driving distance further but the journey did still take the whole day. We arrived home happy, disheveled and with case loads of washing and many happy memories.

chicken and prawn with pepper sauce and chips

A final thought on our two weeks in France

Long travel days call for a good hotel, preferably with a pool to burn some energy. On days when we were exploring cities, budget hotels were fine as we weren’t in them for long.

tall french flag on a tall pole above a bridge in front of a blue sky

If we were to head off on another trip around France I would hopefully extend this French road trip itinerary to include more beach time and make it further South. France is immense and varied, I don’t really feel we scratched the surface.

piper quinn in sunglasses looking tired sat on a pavement in Paris on a french road trip

For more French inspiration make sure you check out my post on Bergerac, France .

Make sure you pin for later to plan your next French road trip itinerary.

french road trip itinerary pin image

Yardbarker

20 of the best road trips in Europe

Posted: April 2, 2024 | Last updated: April 2, 2024

<p>Europe is a continent best known for amazing public transportation. Seriously, the rail network and bus connections over there put the US to shame. However, this limits your trip, as not every site or adorable town or viewpoint is located conveniently on the train line or near a bus stop. So, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best road trips around Europe.</p>

Europe is a continent best known for amazing public transportation. Seriously, the rail network and bus connections over there put the US to shame. However, this limits your trip, as not every site or adorable town or viewpoint is located conveniently on the train line or near a bus stop. So, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best road trips around Europe.

<p>This route weaves through two southern provinces, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg,<span> and follows an old Roman road. You’ll enjoy stunning views in the Bavarian Alps, storybook castles like Neuschwanstein, and medieval towns like Rothenburg de Tauber.</span></p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_15_best_beach_towns_in_italy_031624/s1__36883517'>The 15 best beach towns in Italy</a></p>

Romantic Road, Germany

This route weaves through two southern provinces, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg,  and follows an old Roman road. You’ll enjoy stunning views in the Bavarian Alps, storybook castles like Neuschwanstein, and medieval towns like Rothenburg de Tauber.

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<p>One of the original wine routes in France, Alsace is ideal throughout the year. You’ll stop at numerous wineries between Mulhouse and Strasbourg. Additionally, many other fairytale villages, such as Colmar and Riquewihr, are included.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Alsace Wine Route, France

One of the original wine routes in France, Alsace is ideal throughout the year. You’ll stop at numerous wineries between Mulhouse and Strasbourg. Additionally, many other fairytale villages, such as Colmar and Riquewihr, are included.

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.

<p>Istria is one of the few parts of Croatia that can still be considered a true hidden gem, as the masses have yet to descend. The beaches, wineries, hilltop towns, and olive oil producers are best visited via car. Base yourself in Pula or Rovinj and take day trips!</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_23_best_european_cities_during_the_spring_021924/s1__39854074'>The 23 best European cities during the spring</a></p>

Istria Peninsula, Croatia

Istria is one of the few parts of Croatia that can still be considered a true hidden gem, as the masses have yet to descend. The beaches, wineries, hilltop towns, and olive oil producers are best visited via car. Base yourself in Pula or Rovinj and take day trips!

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<p>Brittany and Normandy are some of the most underrated coastal regions in Europe. White sand beaches and turquoise waters await, with none of the crowds of the south. Start in Rennes and head west to Dinan, Saint-Malo, and Dinard. Then head north to Cancale and before stopping at the straight-from-Disney Mont St Michel. End your trip at the D-Day beaches.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

The Northwest Coast, France

Brittany and Normandy are some of the most underrated coastal regions in Europe. White sand beaches and turquoise waters await, with none of the crowds of the south. Start in Rennes and head west to Dinan, Saint-Malo, and Dinard. Then head north to Cancale and before stopping at the straight-from-Disney Mont St Michel. End your trip at the D-Day beaches.

<p>This 1,600-mile route would be ambitious to complete on a single trip. It stretches from Kinsale in the south along the west coast all the way to Malin Head. Most people complete one or two sections at a time.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_23_best_european_cities_during_the_spring_030124/s1__39854074'>The 23 best European cities during the spring</a></p>

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

This 1,600-mile route would be ambitious to complete on a single trip. It stretches from Kinsale in the south along the west coast all the way to Malin Head. Most people complete one or two sections at a time.

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<p>Thanks to electric blue waters and stunning cliffs, Albania has blown up on social media in recent years. And all those stunning beaches you see on Instagram? They’re located in the southern part of the country. So rent a car in Tirana and head to <span>Vlorë, then continue south with stops in Dhërmi, Himarë, Sarandë, and Ksamil.</span></p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Southern Albania

Thanks to electric blue waters and stunning cliffs, Albania has blown up on social media in recent years. And all those stunning beaches you see on Instagram? They’re located in the southern part of the country. So rent a car in Tirana and head to Vlorë, then continue south with stops in Dhërmi, Himarë, Sarandë, and Ksamil.

<p>Travelers flock to southern Croatia for a reason: it’s amazing. Rent a car in Split or Dubrovnik, take a ferry to an island, check out Zadar and Cavat, and then head to Montenegro. Must-sees in this country include Herceg Novi, Kotor, and Budva.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_beauty_and_skincare_hacks_that_actually_work_040224/s1__35260895'>20 beauty and skincare hacks that actually work</a></p>

Dalmatia Coast & Montenegrin Coast, Croatia/Montenegro

Travelers flock to southern Croatia for a reason: it’s amazing. Rent a car in Split or Dubrovnik, take a ferry to an island, check out Zadar and Cavat, and then head to Montenegro. Must-sees in this country include Herceg Novi, Kotor, and Budva.

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<p>It would be almost criminal to leave Italy’s most iconic stretch of coast off this list. And it’s best explored by car if you can stomach the narrow roads and occasional street cliffside drop-offs. Start in Salerno and head to the town of Amalfi before heading to Ravello, Positano, and Sorrento.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

The Amalfi Coast, Italy

It would be almost criminal to leave Italy’s most iconic stretch of coast off this list. And it’s best explored by car if you can stomach the narrow roads and occasional street cliffside drop-offs. Start in Salerno and head to the town of Amalfi before heading to Ravello, Positano, and Sorrento.

<p>These two neighboring regions in central-southern France are home to many “Villages de Caractère” (basically an official title designating them as cute), castles, wineries, and hikes. Rent a car in Valence or Montélimar, then head west to Aubenas, the entry point for the Regional Ardche Park. Return to the Drôme via Vallon Pont d’Arc and make sure to hike among the natural arches. Then check out Alba (Roman ruins), Grignan, and Nyons.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/15_scenic_train_rides_across_europe_031524/s1__39017174'>15 scenic train rides across Europe</a></p>

Villages de Caractère Drôme/Ardèche, France

These two neighboring regions in central-southern France are home to many “Villages de Caractère” (basically an official title designating them as cute), castles, wineries, and hikes. Rent a car in Valence or Montélimar, then head west to Aubenas, the entry point for the Regional Ardche Park. Return to the Drôme via Vallon Pont d’Arc and make sure to hike among the natural arches. Then check out Alba (Roman ruins), Grignan, and Nyons.

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<p>These three small Western European countries are best covered in a vehicle. Fly into Amsterdam and pick up a car. Explore the Netherlands before continuing south to Belgium and ending in Luxembourg.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Benelux, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

These three small Western European countries are best covered in a vehicle. Fly into Amsterdam and pick up a car. Explore the Netherlands before continuing south to Belgium and ending in Luxembourg.

<p>Start in Milan and hit up all the major lakes in northern Italy, from glamorous Lake Como to less pretentious but still lovely Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, plus plenty of other small ones. You’ll delight in the Italian mountain scenery!</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_essential_things_to_know_before_you_start_composting_031524/s1__36137261'>20 essential things to know before you start composting</a></p>

Northern Lakes, Italy

Start in Milan and hit up all the major lakes in northern Italy, from glamorous Lake Como to less pretentious but still lovely Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, plus plenty of other small ones. You’ll delight in the Italian mountain scenery!

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<p>Sweden’s west coast is a beautiful part of the country, with amazing cities such as Malmo and Gothenburg. However, plenty of smaller towns, beaches, and lakes await you in this epic part of the country.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

West Coast, Sweden

Sweden’s west coast is a beautiful part of the country, with amazing cities such as Malmo and Gothenburg. However, plenty of smaller towns, beaches, and lakes await you in this epic part of the country.

<p>This storybook part of the United Kingdom is full of adorable thatched cottages, scenic walking routes, and villages plucked from a Miss Marple episode. The towns are best explored with a car but can also be walked between if you’re keen on some hiking!</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/25_cooking_hacks_you_wont_believe_you_didnt_already_know_030124/s1__34563020'>25 cooking hacks you won’t believe you didn’t already know</a></p>

Cotswold, UK

This storybook part of the United Kingdom is full of adorable thatched cottages, scenic walking routes, and villages plucked from a Miss Marple episode. The towns are best explored with a car but can also be walked between if you’re keen on some hiking!

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<p>The Ring Road is a well-trodden (or, in this case, driven) tourist route for a reason. You’ll hit up all the best sites in the country: cascading waterfalls, glacier beaches, and volcanic landscapes. Just be prepared to share the roads with lots of other tourists!</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Ring Road, Iceland

The Ring Road is a well-trodden (or, in this case, driven) tourist route for a reason. You’ll hit up all the best sites in the country: cascading waterfalls, glacier beaches, and volcanic landscapes. Just be prepared to share the roads with lots of other tourists!

<p>This mountain route through the Carpathian Mountains is breathtaking at every turn. Just be mindful of the speed limit, as you’ll need to go slow at many points due to curves and landscape preservation.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_ballpark_foods_you_can_make_at_home_032224/s1__34819277'>20 ballpark foods you can make at home</a></p>

Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania

This mountain route through the Carpathian Mountains is breathtaking at every turn. Just be mindful of the speed limit, as you’ll need to go slow at many points due to curves and landscape preservation.

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<p>This unique part of both countries is perfect for those looking for something different. Begin in Bilbao and drive north with stops in San Sebastian, the Pyrenees Mountains, and Bordeaux. As a bonus, plenty of amazing wine is available to sample along the way (once you’ve finished driving for the day, of course.)</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Basque Country, Spain and France

This unique part of both countries is perfect for those looking for something different. Begin in Bilbao and drive north with stops in San Sebastian, the Pyrenees Mountains, and Bordeaux. As a bonus, plenty of amazing wine is available to sample along the way (once you’ve finished driving for the day, of course.)

<p>This beautiful drive along the Atlantic Ocean in Norway is great if you’re not looking for a major road trip. It’s only a few miles long but crosses bridges with the ocean on either side and has amazing views of fjords and mountains.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/the_14_most_beautiful_beach_towns_on_the_west_coast_021824/s1__38578337'>The 14 most beautiful beach towns on the West Coast</a></p>

Atlantic Road, Norway

This beautiful drive along the Atlantic Ocean in Norway is great if you’re not looking for a major road trip. It’s only a few miles long but crosses bridges with the ocean on either side and has amazing views of fjords and mountains.

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<p>Greece is often thought of as a sea-oriented trip, thanks to the ease of island-hopping via ferry. However, if you want to explore the mainland, a car is the easiest way to get around, especially the historic Peloponnese Peninsula. Home to Nafplio, Sparta, and numerous ancient sites, it’s the ideal place for a road trip.</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

The Peloponnese Peninsula, Greece

Greece is often thought of as a sea-oriented trip, thanks to the ease of island-hopping via ferry. However, if you want to explore the mainland, a car is the easiest way to get around, especially the historic Peloponnese Peninsula. Home to Nafplio, Sparta, and numerous ancient sites, it’s the ideal place for a road trip.

<p>This route is ideal for mountain lovers, whether you want to complete it in the winter and ski along the way or wait until summer to hike your way through it. Start in Vienna and grab a rental car, then head west to Salzburg, Austria’s gateway to the Alps. Continue to Innsbruck before crossing into Switzerland and, finally, France.</p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_united_states_cities_with_unexpectedly_good_nightlife/s1__40143633'>20 United States cities with unexpectedly good nightlife</a></p>

European Alps, Austria, Switzerland, and France

This route is ideal for mountain lovers, whether you want to complete it in the winter and ski along the way or wait until summer to hike your way through it. Start in Vienna and grab a rental car, then head west to Salzburg, Austria’s gateway to the Alps. Continue to Innsbruck before crossing into Switzerland and, finally, France.

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<p>Slovenia is a great country for a road trip as it is compact but diverse in its small area. Start in Maribor in the east before heading west to Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj. Spend a few days hiking in Triglav Nation Park before turning south to Piran on the coast. Then return to the capital, Ljubljana, to end your trip!</p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Wine Country to the Med, Slovenia

Slovenia is a great country for a road trip as it is compact but diverse in its small area. Start in Maribor in the east before heading west to Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj. Spend a few days hiking in Triglav Nation Park before turning south to Piran on the coast. Then return to the capital, Ljubljana, to end your trip!

Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.

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Best French Alps Road Trip Itinerary: Annecy to Chamonix

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

The French Alps is an incredible region of amazing landscapes, fairytale towns, and natural wonders perfect for nature lovers. The French Alps is a popular destination during the ski season, but anyone yet to visit the French Alps in summer is certainly missing out.

Are you planning a trip to the French Alps in the summer? This French Alps road trip from Annecy to Chamonix covers the French department of Haute-Savoie and allows you to experience the most iconic places in the region behind the wheels. This road trip through the French Alps is an ideal self-drive vacation for those who love sightseeing, nature, and good food.

This 7-day French Alps road trip itinerary is one of the best  road trips in France . Read more about road tripping in France:

France by Car

Road Trip French Alps – Overview

If you are looking for pretty mountain villages, gorgeous nature, and scenic drives in France, consider this French Alps road trip itinerary from Annecy that lasts 7 days.

  • Start:  Annecy
  • Finish : Chamonix
  • Duration:  7 days
  • Suggested Route:  Annecy – Yvoire – Avoriaz – Samoëns – Chamonix
  • Total distance:  308 km, 6hrs 10min drive in total
  • Regions covered:  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Best for:  landscapes, small towns, hiking, outdoor sports

Map of the French Alps Road Trip

best road trips in france

Click here to view this Map of the French Alps Road Trip on Google

7-Day French Alps Road Trip Itinerary

This road trip French Alps takes you over 308km through one of the most beautiful regions of France. Pass green meadows, deep blue lakes, mountain passes, and bustling villages.

For this French Alps road trip, you don’t need the car until you leave Annecy. If you need to hire a car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Annecy.

We recommend booking your car with  Discover Cars . This site is great because it takes all major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, and more, and compares prices for you. Check out our best  tips for renting a car in France .

Click here to rent a car in Annecy

best road trips in france

Day 0 | Arrival at Annecy

best road trips in france

The starting point of this itinerary is  Annecy , where we recommend spending two days exploring this Alpine city and its surroundings.  

For your stay in Annecy, book a room at the beautiful  Black Bass Hotel , a lovely property located by the lake just out of Annecy and with free public parking available on site. The hotel has comfortable and stylish rooms, a pool, and beautiful grounds with lake views.

Click here to book your stay at Black Bass Hotel

Day 1 | Annecy

best road trips in france

Fairytale Annecy is one of the most beautiful cities in France and a must on any trip to the French Alps in the summer. Located by the lake of the same name, Annecy has many historical and natural highlights. Annecy is also an excellent place to enjoy great regional food and wines.

Above all, Annecy is known for its Old Town , which is particularly beautiful to discover. The first day of this itinerary necessarily involves a walk around its medieval city center, with narrow winding streets and colorful architecture. During your walk, don’t miss the Palais de l’Isle (the symbol of Annecy), the 16th- century Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre , and the imposing Château d’Annecy .

Often nicknamed the  Little Venice of the Alps , the canals of Annecy offer great viewpoints of the city. Take the time to look for the prettiest canals, always full of flowers, for some perfect postcard pictures.

For more ideas for your stay in Annecy and places to eat, check out this Annecy itinerary .

Day 2 | Lake Annecy

best road trips in france

The second day in Annecy is used to exploring the lake’s surroundings. If you love biking, there are 42 km of cycle paths for your delight. You can decide to do the lake’s full tour to explore the lake’s small towns or spend a lazy day at one of the beaches.

We did a combination of both and found in Plage du Château the perfect spot for a picnic on the grass and a bath with a view. The castle in the background is Château de Duingt , built on a small peninsula.

Day 3 | Yvoire

Yvoire - French Alps

Day 3 of this French Alps road trip takes you north to the lovely Yvoire . This picturesque village located on the French shore of the  Lac Léman (Lac Genève for the Swiss) is listed as one of the  Most Beautiful Villages in France .

For your stay in Yvoire, book one night at Villa Cécile . This property is located a mere 6-min walk to the lake, offers chick and cozy rooms, and has a swimming pool and a spa. The on-site restaurant overlooks the lake and serves traditional cuisine and local wines.

Click here to book your stay at Villa Cécile

Yvoire is one of the  prettiest medieval towns in France , with over 700 years of history, and we are sure you will enjoy visiting its ramparts, medieval castle, fortified gates, and cobbled streets.

Don’t miss the Jardin des Cinq Sens , in the heart of the village, listed as a remarkable garden by the Ministry of Culture. The Old Town also has many pretty shops to buy souvenirs and regional products. In the afternoon, enjoy a drink or dinner on one of the terraces by the lake.

Not far from there, Plage d’Excenevex is a natural sand beach with shallow waters that welcomes beach huts and beach volleyball all summer long. Here, you will have your feet in the warm sand and your eyes on the Alpine peaks… the place is unique!

Day 4 | Avoriaz

best road trips in france

From Yvoire, take road D1005 then road D902 to Avoriaz. This is a 61 Km drive that takes around 1hr 10 minutes.

Avoriaz is one of the best ski resorts in the French Alps , born from the audacity and dream of a local man from Morzine, the town below. Read the story below:

Jean Vuarnet was an outstanding skier and Olympic champion from Morzine. After skiing all over the world, Morzine wanted to keep him in the village to develop a new ski resort.

Jean Vuarnet then set himself the challenge of creating an ideal ski resort from scratch, high up in the mountains, where the snow is exceptional, and the panoramas are grandiose.

He had to convince bankers to help him carry out this risky bet, as this was a hostile and inaccessible area in winter. The team attracted ambitious and avant-garde young architects, Jacques Labro in the lead, to build a station with innovative and contemporary architecture, a ‘snow metropolis’ far from the traditional Savoyard style, but integrated into the landscape and the context of the mountain.

The first modest ski station opened its doors in 1967 with a hotel (the Hôtel des Dromonts ) and a few slopes. Over the years, the station grew from bottom to top with new areas and facilities with a unique result.

Its originality has never ceased to be debated. Avoriaz, you love it or you hate it, but you can’t remain indifferent! Avoriaz still remains modern and avant-garde. In 2003, it even received the label Great Achievement of the Twentieth century .

Day 4 explores Avoriaz and its surroundings. There’s no snow in Avoriaz in the summer, but plenty of fun activities to keep you busy for a while: hiking, canyoning, rafting, paragliding, kayaking, golf, and yoga.

For your stay in Avoriaz, we can only recommend the iconic Hotel des Dromonts , the heart of that former ski station. Since its construction, the hotel has been renovated but still keeps its sixties atmosphere, excellent service, and all the comforts of today for a cozy stay. Book two nights.

Click here to book your stay in Hotel des Dromonts

Day 5 | Samoëns – Cirque Fer à Cheval

Day 5 of this French Alps road trip itinerary visits Samoëns – Cirque Fer à Cheval on a day trip from Avoriaz.

Day Hike at Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval

best road trips in france

The Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval is the largest mountain cirque in the Alps. Lying at the eastern end of the Giffre Valley, the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval forms an immense amphitheater almost 5 km across and bounded by 500- to 700-m high limestone cliffs. The Cirque is breathtakingly beautiful throughout the year, but it is most spectacular in the spring when melting snow swells its waterfalls to majestic proportions. There are more than 30 waterfalls in Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval!

The Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval is part of a nature reserve, and it is not uncommon to discover, clinging to the vertiginous cliffs, several ibexes and marmots.

To explore this wonderful area, we recommend this easy hike (9,3km round trip, 3 hrs 30 min) which starts from Fer-à-Cheval’s car park (GPS Coordinates (WGS 84) of the Starting Point:  46.077278, 6.836917 ). Pic de Tenneverge (2989 m) and Tour du Prazon (2929 m) dominate the landscape during the greater part of the itinerary.

Or Visit Samoëns

Samoëns - French Alps

If you prefer a more tranquil day, visit Samoëns , a lovely mountain village renowned for its traditional stone masonry-based architecture. The village resort offers a wide range of activities on land, water, or in the air, all in an absolutely superb setting.

Don’t miss the former indoor market and the Gros Tilleul  (ancient linden tree) which still bear witness to an ancient past. Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church is a wonder and the best example of the village’s renowned stone cutters. 

Not too far away, the Jaÿsinia Alpine Botanical Garden is an invitation to relax and unwind while exploring a natural treasure right at the heart of the village.

Day 6 | Avoriaz to Chamonix

Day 6 of this road trip French Alps takes you to Chamonix, one of the French Alps’ prettiest towns and the most popular. To get there, you will take your time: the journey is as beautiful as the final destination.

From Avoriaz, take the road D902, then the D1205 direction to Chamonix. On the way, there are three lovely villages great for a break to stretch your legs and some sightseeing.

Morning in Combloux or Cordon

Don’t miss these two farming villages, well-known for their incredible views over the iconic Mont Blanc and superb baroque architecture.

Nicknamed ‘the Pearl of the Alps, ’ Combloux enjoys an enviable position facing Mont Blanc, which takes shape between the Aiguille de Bionassay and the Aiguille du Midi.

As soon as the mountain pastures turn green, Combloux is the starting point for many beautiful hikes. The warmer seasons are also a good opportunity to enjoy local festivals and discover the Combloran heritage, the Slope Museum, and the Granite trail. In the summer, a dip in the Plan d’Eau Biotope is a must. This ecological pool, where water is filtered by 10,000 aquatic plants, is one of the most beautiful in France with the eternal snow in the background.

Cordon is another charming village on the way to Chamonix. With a superb location facing the iconic summit, Cordon is nicknamed ‘the Balcony of Montblanc’ . Cordon is a place to relax and admire its beautiful architecture and unspoiled nature.

With its 89 bread ovens, bread and quality local food, in general, is a serious matter. Do not miss the walk to the Abérieux Farm to taste their traditional cow cheese.

Afternoon Saint Gervais-les-Bains

best road trips in france

Saint Gervais is a great stop for today’s lunch break and more sightseeing. Located at 850 meters, and surrounded by 4,000-meter peaks, including Mont Blanc (4,810 meters), Saint Gervais-les-Bains has a definite alpine feel. Its name comes from the town’s 39C natural spring waters, converted today into a world-class spa.

St Gervais boasts three major tourist attractions: the  Tramway du Mont Blanc , taking visitors up to the Glacier de Bionnassay (2,372m); the  Bettex/Mont d’Arbois cablecar , which offers stunning views over Mont Blanc and several good walking options; and the above mentioned  Thermes du Mont Blanc .

In addition, St Gervais has a number of good restaurants (including a 1-Michelin starred restaurant), cozy cafes, trendy bars, and quality food shops, being a great place to relax, soak up the mountain air and enjoy the best French produce.

Today, the journey ends at Chamonix, which really needs no introduction. For your stay in Chamonix, book two nights at Auberge du Manoir . This lovely property with a convenient location has comfortable rooms, a bar, private parking, a garden, and a terrace. If possible, book a room with a balcony-mountain view.

Click here to book your stay at Auberge du Manoir

Day 7 | Chamonix

best road trips in france

The last stop of this French Alps road trip is Chamonix. Chamonix  is a world-known ski resort that first became famous in 1924 for hosting the Winter Olympics. Nestled in the Arve Valley at the foot of Mont-Blanc, Chamonix comprises 16 charming villages and hamlets, including Argentière, Le Tour, and Montroc.

Here, the natural scenery, so picturesque under the snow, is equally beautiful in the summer and best explored by following one of the surrounding trails.

Chamonix’s main tourist attraction is l’Aiguille du Midi , which is easy to visit by cable car (30 min) from the center of the town. You can also take Chamonix’s Montenvers railway train through forests, tunnels, and viaducts to the famous Mer de Glace glacier (1,913m), the largest glacier in France.

Other fun activities in Chamonix are the Ice Cave , the summer luge (Chamonix roller coaster in the mountains!), or a stroll along the town’s pretty alleys lined up with shops and galleries.

If you have more days available, you can extend your stay in Chamonix or drive to Grenoble and then down to the coast following the Napoléon Route .

So what are you waiting for? Book this road trip from Annecy to Chamonix in the French Alps today!

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