Best Road Trips France
Road Trips

Best Road Trips in France

08/11/2020

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Best French Road Trips

Road Trips France

If you have got wheels, wanderlust, and some free time, there’s nothing like a road trip in France to make you appreciate the diversity of the country at a more relaxed pace. Plus French road trips are fun! From the Alps to the French Riviera, from the Atlantic Ocean to cute medieval villages inland, France by car means unforgettable routes that will plunge you straight into the country’s heart and soul.

We’ve done a fair few of our own road trips in France and you can find more French road trip ideas here. For this post, however, we asked other experienced travelers and friends to tell us about the best road trips in France. The following best road trips in France itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or extended and they are suitable for all types of travelers.

Bon voyage!

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PRACTICAL INFO | BEST ROAD TRIPS IN FRANCE

Practical Info

Best time for touring France by car

There really isn’t a bad time for touring France by car. To make the most of your vacation, just ask yourself a few questions about what you’d like to do while you’re there.

Getting around France by car

If you are hitting the French roads for the first time, have a look at our Driving in France Guide.

You can rent a car through the site RentalCars.com.  This site is great because it takes all of the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc, and more and does the comparison of prices for you.  This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.

>> Browse the Car Rental Companies operating in France

Stay connected also on the road

>> Connect anywhere, anytime in France with Skyroam, unlimited global Wi-Fi at your fingertips.

The Alsace Wine Route

Eguisheim - Alsace, France
  • Duration: 6 days
  • Suggested route: Mulhouse – Colmar – Strasbourg
  • Region covered: Grand Est
  • Best for: sightseeing, small towns, nature, landscapes, French wine

The Alsace Wine Route is one of the best road trips in France and also one of the oldest and most famous wine route in France. This Alsace Wine Route by car covering Strasbourg to Mulhouse takes 6 days and it is the perfect road trip in France for those who love pretty small towns, picturesque landscapes, and of course wine!

This French road trip starts in Mulhouse, where you book a hotel for 1 night. Hotel Bristol is super central, comfortable and it has secure parking for cars/motorbikes at a small extra cost. Take a stroll around the city center with a beautiful architecture. Mulhouse has two great museums, La Cité de l’Automobile and La Cité du Train. Depending on your interests, and the time available in Mulhouse, visit one museum or both.

From Mulhouse drive to Colmar and book a hotel for 3 nights. The James Boutique Hotel is central and with beautiful and cozy rooms and common spaces. Take the time to explore the town well, it is the most beautiful town in Alsace! In Colmar, you can take your first wine tasting tour to learn about the wines of Alsace.

Use Colmar as a base to explore the beautiful town of Kaysersberg on day 3 and the towns of Riquewihr plus Eguisheim on day 4, with more wine tastings. Riquewihr and Eguisheim are very small so if you start early in the morning you can also squeeze a short hike through the surrounding vineyards.

On day 5 drive from Colmar to Strasbourg where you will spend your last two nights of this road trip in France. For this last stop, we recommend the Hotel Cathédrale with incredible views over the cathedral and with public parking available nearby.

Before arriving in Strasbourg, stop at the impressive Château de Haut-Koenisgsbourg, one of the best castles in France. Then in Strasbourg, use this mini-guide to 2 days in Strasbourg to cover the city’s main sights.

Paris to Nice Road Trip

Old Town Nice
  • Duration: 7 to 10 days
  • Suggested route: Paris – Lyon – Valence – Avignon – Marseille – Nice
  • Region covered: Ile-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • Best for: sightseeing, food, and wine

This scenic drive Paris to Nice is one of the best road trips in France starting from Paris. It takes 10 days and it is an ideal road trip for those who love history, architecture, food, and good wine.

Arrive in Paris and book a hotel for 3 nights. Handsome Hotel by Elegancia is super comfortable and is situated close to the main sights. Spend 4 days in Paris, dedicating one of these days to visit Versailles from Paris.

From Paris, drive to Beaune where you will spend one night. On the way, you can visit Auxerre, which is a beautiful Burgundian village with some wonderful historical sights. For a night in Beaune, book at the boutique hotel Abbaye de Maizieres, a 12th-century former Cistercian Abbey located in the historical center of Beaune.

Continue south to Lyon, where you are going to sleep for one night. Hotel de l’Abbaye is an authentic spot, intimate, and full of charms. Take the time to visit the Old Town and climb up to Fourvière Hill for some fresh air and great views.

From Lyon, drive to Avignon in Provence. Spend one day in Avignon visiting the Palace of the Popes and other sights, and tasting the local cuisine. Hotel Central is a great option for your night in Avignon.

From Avignon continue south to Marseille for another day of sightseeing. One day to visit Marseille is really short, we recommend spending at least two days. If this is not possible, have a look at this Marseille 2-day itinerary and pick the sights and activities that you like most. The hotel La Résidence du Vieux Port has the perfect location for your visit to Marseille.

The last stop of this French road trip is Nice where you can use this Nice 2-day itinerary to visit the city. Hotel La Pérouse Nice Baie des Anges is a great option and comes with the best view of Nice, over the Baie des Anges.

The Cathar Country Road Trip

Château de Peyrepertuse - Cathar Country, France
  • Duration: 5 to 6 days
  • Suggested route: Carcassonne – Cucugnan – Narbonne – Carcassonne
  • Regions covered: Occitanie
  • Best for: history, medieval châteaux, small towns

This Cathar Country road trip covering the Cathar region, from Carcassone to Narbonne in Southern France, takes 6 days and is an ideal road trip for those who love history, medieval castles, and small towns. For the history of the Cathar and a more complete description of the Cathar sites, check out the detailed itinerary.

Arrive at Carcassone and book a hotel for two nights. Mercure Carcassonne La Cité is super comfortable, has a refreshing swimming pool and amazing views of the walled citadel from the garden and some rooms.

Take a day to explore the medieval citadel, one of the most important Cathar sites, and one of the main targets during the first Cathar Crusade in 1209.

From Carcassonne, drive to Mirepoix (a charming medieval village) and Château de Monségur, where the last Cathars who did not surrender were burnt alive. Spend the night at the Logis Auberge du Vigneron, in Cucugnan, with fabulous views of the surrounding valley.

Before leaving the area visit Château de Peyrepertuse and Château de Quéribus, two fabulous vertigo fortresses, also Cathar sites. Then drive to The Chambres d’hôtes Château de Jonquières outside Narbonne. Located in the heart of the Fontfroide mountainous area, this charming guest house has parking, swimming pool, and the perfect location to visit the next Cathar sites the day after.

The next day visit Fontfroide Abbey and the medieval village of Lagrasse with the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary of Orbieu. Both abbeys had an important role in the Cathar crusades and they are interesting to visit.

On the last day, we do a big loop before driving back to Carcassonne to visit two more Cathar sites. The medieval village of Minerve is too pretty to miss and we can see a replica of one of the catapults used during the siege of this Cathar village.

The last stop of this Cathar road trip is Châteaux de Lastours, an ensemble of 4 Cathar castles with a spectacular setting at the top of a rocky spur.    

Loire Valley Road Trip from Nantes to Blois

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Suggested route: Nantes – Saumur – Amboise – Angers
  • Regions covered: Pays de la Loire and Centre Val de Loire
  • Best for: Renaissance châteaux, small towns, French wine

This Loire Valley road trip covering Nantes to Chambord and the best Loire Valley Castles takes 5 days and is an ideal road trip for those who love history, architecture, food, and wine.

Arrive at Nantes Airport and drive about 90 minutes to Saumur. Book a hotel in Saumur for two nights. Hotel St. Pierre is super comfortable, has a great historical feel, and is situated right on the main square. Dine at Michelin-starred Le Gambetta to treat yourself to an amazing French meal.

From Saumur, drive to Château d’Usse (the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty) with a stop at Château Miniere for a walk among the vines and some wine tasting on the way. The sumptuous and artistic gardens at Chateau Villandry are also a must-see and easily accessible from Saumur.

Continue east along the Loire Valley to Amboise for two nights. Hotel Le Manoir St. Thomas is a great choice of hotel and even features a suit of armor to guard the lobby. Amboise is home to Château de Clos Luce where Da Vinci spent the final years of his life. From Amboise, drive to the Loire Valley’s most iconic chateaux including Château Chenonceau and Château Chambord. Enjoy dinner in Blois followed by the exciting light show after dark at Château Royal de Blois.

On the return to Nantes Airport, break up the more than 3-hour drive with a stop in Angers to see the Apocalypse Tapestries at Château d’Angers. Chateau d’Angers resembles a menacing fortress rather than an elegant chateau and is an excellent counterpoint to the other places visited on this Loire Valley Itinerary.

By Jennifer (aka Dr. J) | Sidewalk Safari

 West Coast of France Road Trip

Mont Saint Michel - France
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Suggested route: Etretat – Ile de Ré – Bordeaux – Biarritz
  • Regions covered: Normandy and Nouvelle Aquitaine
  • Best for: architecture, sightseeing, nature, and landscapes

Stunning landscapes, old cities, and historically important places are all part of a road trip along the west coast of France. Whether you camp, as we did, or stay in hotels, this west coast of France road trip will be epic.

We start our France west coast road trip in Normandy, in Étretat, known for its huge chalk cliffs. Enjoy a breathtaking walk on the cliffs and finish off with a delicious seafood dish in one of the seafront restaurants of this pleasant village. The next stop is the WOII beaches of D-day, such as Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Visiting this place will leave an everlasting impression. The last stop in the northern part is Mont-Saint-Michel, the medieval abbey that speaks to anyone’s imagination. It is built on a rock in the sea, and can only be reached by a bridge during high tide.

While driving the west coast of France, we skipped a large part of Brittany and drove straight down to our next stop, the island of Ile-de-Ré in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. If you want to explore more of Brittany as well, you should add 3-4 more days.

Ile-de-Ré is a fantastic small Island, right of the coast, reachable by a toll bridge. The island is known for oysters, the local drink Pinot, salt production, and the lighthouse watching over its rugged coastline. Rent a bike, as this is the main way of transport on the island.

After a 1 or 2 day visit of Bordeaux, continue your journey to Arcachon and Dune du Pilat. This dune is the highest and biggest dune in Europe. Walking across it will give you the feeling of being in a desert. Enjoy the sunset on top of the dune, while watching over the Bassin of Arcachon. A moment you’ll never forget. End this west coast of France road trip with a visit to Biarritz, close to the Spanish border, and go surf in the waters of the Atlantic.

By Hellen | the Global Wizards

Road Trip Around Verdon Natural Regional Park

Gorges du Verdon - France
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Suggested route: Nice – Valensole – Verdon Natural Regional Park
  • Regions covered: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • Best for: nature, and landscapes

If you are looking for south of France road trip ideas, you will love this road trip around Verdon Natural Regional Park, considered one of the most scenic drives in France.

Did you know that there was a Grand Canyon in France? Yep. Well, it’s not as big, but trust me when you’ll get there, you’ll have the same feeling. It’s called the Gorges du Verdon or Verdon Gorge, and it’s a stunning rocky landscape with towering cliffs, where a turquoise and green river meanders at the bottom.

To start this south of France road trip, you can drive from Nice or any of the nearby major cities: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, or even Cannes. The trip takes 3 days to complete, with one day in Valensole and the lavender fields, one day driving around the different lakes, and one day driving the epic road on top of the Gorges du Verdon. Here are the major stops on this trip:

Valensole’s lavender fields, famous for its fields of purple beauty. The lavender blooms from the end of June to the end of July. Valensole is a cute little village where you can spend the night after exploring the fields around.

Esparron de Verdon, and Lac Quinson de Verdon, are two small lakes with absolutely no crowds. Lac Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon is the main lake in the area, and the perfect place to stop for a while and relax on the beach.

Gorges du Verdon is the main attraction around here, France’s Grand Canyon. Drive on top of the gorges on an epic scenic route (Route des Crêtes), and forget that you are in France for a little while.

Sillans la Cascade. Before you leave, check out this secret waterfall, it is absolutely worth the trip!

One of the best places to establish as your home base while you road trip around the area is the village of Valensole, for the ultimate traditional French experience. The bed & breakfast Les Terrasses de Valensole is exceptional.

By Kevin |  Kevmrc

PRACTICAL INFO | ROAD TRIP AROUND VERDON NATURAL REGIONAL PARK

>> Check out the best hotels in Valensole

>> Check out the best hotels in Nice

Gorges du Tarn Road Trip

Gorges du Tarn - France
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Suggested route: Millau – La Malène – Florac
  • Regions covered: Occitanie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Best for: nature, landscapes, and small towns

Les Gorges du Tarn is another beautiful south of France road trip. This 4-day road trip will take you through The Causses and The Cévennes, a region in Southern France, which offers the ultimate scenery for an amazing road trip: from deep gorges with hairpin bends to wide-open pastoral landscapes. Because of its uniqueness, the region has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List.

This French road trip starts and ends in Millau. On the 1st day visit the world’s tallest bridge – Millau Viaduct, and the tiny village of Payre. Stay the first night in Millau and use the evening to explore this beautiful medieval city. Hotel des Causses in Millau is comfortable, central and it has an on-site restaurant.

The next day head to the heart of the Gorges du Tarn. The road (D809, D907, and D907bis) follows the bends of the River Tarn, which has cut deeply into the cliffs forming this stunning canyon. You’ll be passing through lots of lovely villages along the Tarn.

At Les Vignes, take the D46 road to Point Sublime, from where you will have the most breathtaking view over the canyon. Go back to Les Vignes and follow the road towards La Malène. On the way stop at Pas de Soucy for some more amazing views. You can stay the second night at La Malène. The B&B Relais des Monts is a beautiful building in lovely surroundings and has a pool perfect for a fresh bath after the drive.

On day 3 head to Sainte-Enimie – a post-card beautiful village. On the way, you can stop at Saint-Chélly-du-Tarn. After Sainte-Enimie continue to Florac where you can spend the 3 night. Grand Hotel du Parc has a perfect and relaxing setting in Cévennes National Park.

The next day take D16 and D63 to the famous cave Aven Armand. You’ll be crossing Causse Méjean, a plateau with a totally different landscape from the canyons. After the cave, stop at the nearby Medieval Farm (Ferme Caussenarde d’Autrefois). Afterward, continue to Meyrueis on D986 and at Meyrueis take D996 to Le Rozier. Follow the road along the canyon on La Jonte River – Gorges de la Jonte. Stop at Le Rozier and Peyrelau – two lovely places, where La Jonte flows into Tarn. Afterward, continue to Millau.

By Daniela | Ipanema Travels

PRACTICAL INFO | GORGES DU TARN ROAD TRIP

>> Check out the best hotels in Millau

>> Check out the best hotels in La Malène

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French Riviera Road Trip

Nice - Côte d'Azur
  • Duration: 7-10 days
  • Suggested route: Cannes – Antibes – Nice – Monaco
  • Regions covered: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • Best for: landscapes, and sightseeing

This French Riviera road trip is one of the most scenic drives in France and one of the best road trips in France, with the French Riviera coastline being dotted with picturesque towns and pristine coves along the way.

One of the best starting points for this French road trip along the Côte d’Azur is Cannes as not only is this easily accessible, but it is a city filled with glitz and glamour that will make you feel as though you’ve arrived in the French Riviera in style! Spend your first night (or two) here soaking up the atmosphere before moving on towards Nice.

On your way to Nice, you might want to stop off in Antibes. This is a lovely place to unwind after the buzz of Cannes and you can enjoy a relaxing lunch and spend your afternoon at the Picasso Museum. If you want to hike the Cap d’Antibes and spend an extra day on the beach, consider staying a night in Antibes itself.

Next, you’ll drive onto Nice where you can explore the city’s narrow streets, bustling markets, and ochre-colored architecture. After spending 2 days in Nice and around, you can drive on to Monaco, stopping off at the medieval village of Eze and perhaps Villefranche-sur-Mer. You can then choose whether you want to stay in Monaco for a chic casino break or move on to Menton, a small foodie town on the French /Italian border.

The distances between the destinations are relatively short, so you can easily tick off two places in one day. I would suggest spending at least seven days for this French Riviera road trip but of course, you can spend much longer delving into this stunning French region.

By Chrisoula | Historic European Castles

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