Hauts-de-France Road Trips

Road Trip from Calais to Paris (An Alternative Drive)


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Calais to Paris Road Trip

The Calais to Paris drive takes less than 3 hours but you are on holiday, you want to have fun, and there’s no rush to get to Paris.

Fancy soaking up some beautiful sights and scenery of France before driving to Paris? No problem. Here’s a 4-day road trip from Calais to Paris to take in your stride, allowing you a few days to unwind and enjoy a slower pace of life.

This road trip to Paris goes through the departments of Pas-de-Calais and Aisne, both in the region of Hauts-de-France, in Northern France, and it is a good combination of history and sightseeing.

This Calais to Paris road trip is a good alternative to the most popular routes through Lille or the Opal Coast. If you are landing in Europe from Dunkirk, you can also follow this road trip to Paris but consider spending one day in Dunkirk sightseeing before taking this road trip.

This Calais – Paris road trip is one of the most beautiful road trips in Northern France. Click here for the best road trips in France.

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Road Trip from Calais to Paris Overview

  • Start: Calais (possibility to start from Dunkirk)
  • Finish: Paris
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Suggested Route: Calais – Arras – Laon – Paris
  • Total distance: 262 miles, 5 hours drive in total (262 miles, 5 hours drive with option B)
  • Regions covered: Hauts-de-France
  • Best for: sightseeing, small towns, architecture.

TIP: Haven’t you booked your ferry to Calais yet? Click here for the best prices


Practical Info

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.

We recommend renting your car with Discover Cars. 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

Get inspired

>> Best Road Trips in FranceRegions of France

Calais to Paris Road Trip Map

Road Trip Calais - Paris Map

Click here to view this Road Trip Calais to Paris on Google

4 Day Road Trip Calais to Paris Itinerary

The starting point of this itinerary Calais Paris is Calais but you can also take this road trip from Dunkirk.

Consider spending one day in Dunkirk sightseeing before starting this road trip. For your night in Dunkirk, book the top-rated Hotel Borel, with an excellent location, easy parking, and comfortable rooms.

Click here to book Hotel Borel

Day 1 | Calais – Arras

Morning at St.Omer

The first stop of this Calais to Paris drive is the pretty town of St Omer, just a short drive from the ports of Dunkirk and Calais. There’s plenty to do in and around St Omer and it is definitely worth a stop on your way to Paris.

Historically a region of marshes, these were in part drained to create a fertile environment for growing produce and there are now many market gardens in the area.

Saint-Omer has an attractive center, with impressive 17th century houses and buildings to be admired, many in the Flemish style typical of the region. Place Foch, the main square, is the beating heart of St Omer and it is dominated by the neo-classical style Town Hall. Surrounding Place Foch are streets which have been the home of shops and commercial activities since the Middle Ages.

The list of interesting things to see and do in St Omer includes:

  • Place Foch and its surrounding streets
  • Cathedral of Notre Dame, in gothic style and with important paintings by Rubens
  • The large public gardens, with a section of the original Vauban fortifications of the town. 
  • The evocative ruins of the 14th-century abbey of Saint Bertin

After lunch drive to Arras where you will spend the night. On the way to Arras, you can do a short stop at the Fontinettes Boat Lift (marked on the map) to have a look at this curious engine listed as a Historical Monument since 2014.

For your night in Arras, book at the B&B Entre Cour et Jardin, a former private mansion in Arras with a lovely garden and free private parking on site.

Click here to book your stay at Entre Cour et Jardin B&B

Afternoon in Arras

The beautiful city of Arras is the capital of the historic region of Artois. Arras has a strong Flemish accent, and you will quickly notice it in the architecture and the gastronomy.

The arcaded Grand’ Place and Petite Place (also called Place des Héros) are the two main squares in Arras and they boast a splendid collection of unique façades of Flemish baroque architecture, beautiful cafes, and bars.

On Petite Place, you can climb the belfry for a bird’s eye view 246 feet above the center of Arras. The belfry is in the flamboyant gothic style and it was completed in 1554.

Arras is a small and compact city, perfect for an afternoon stroll. The list of fun things to do in Arras includes:

  • Grand Place
  • Petite Place
  • The Carrière Wellington, a museum in the underground tunnels and living quarters dug for the WWI Battle of Arras (1917)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts
  • Art Deco Heritage at Rue Gambetta,Rue Saint-Aubert, and Rue Ernestale
  • The 17th-century Vauban Citadel, a UNESCO Site

For your dinner in Arras, we recommend La Faisanderie (42 Grand Place, Arras), a cozy restaurant with brick walls and vaults located in the Grand Place. It proposes French cuisine with beautifully presented dishes and friendly, efficient service.

Day 2 | Laon

The second day of this Calais to Paris road trip explores Laon, one of the most beautiful walled cities in France, home to one of the first Grandes Cathédrales. For your night in Laon, book at Logis du Parvis, a beautiful hotel with an unbeatable location – just in front of the cathedral – and lovely rooms.

Click here to book your stay at Logis du Parvis

Day in Laon

Laon, in the Aisne department, is a medieval city built on the top of a 330-meter-high limestone rock that punctuates the flat plains around. In early Medieval times, Laon was the capital of the Carolingian Empire and its high town – encircled by eight kilometers of walls and formidable gates – is France’s biggest protected historic center.

Laon is one of the best places to visit in Northern France, best known for its gothic cathedral Notre-Dame de Laon. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame de Laon is one of the first major Gothic-style buildings in France, contemporary with Notre Dame de Paris. The interior elevation is representative of the first Gothic art whilst the upper parts were built in a more evolved gothic style, known as ‘classic’ Gothic.

Take the time to visit the cathedral and wander around Laon’s medieval streets, there are more than 80 historic monuments to discover! The list of fun things to do in Laon includes:

  • Laon Cathedral
  • The 12th-century Chapelle des Templiers
  • Musée d’Art et d’Archeologie
  • The walls’ impressive gates like Porte d’Ardon or Porte de Soisson
  • Former Hotel-Dieu
  • Église Saint-Martin
  • Laon’s underground galleries dug more than 2,000 years ago
  • Basilique Notre-Dame de Liesse

TIP: Laon’s underground galleries can be visited through a guided tour ran by Laon’s Tourism Office. This is a very popular tour so book your spot as soon as you arrive at Laon.

For your dinner in Laon, book at the Zorn Côté Bistrot (45 boulevard Brossolette, Laon). This top-rated restaurant proposes some of the classics of French cuisine, served by a friendly and efficient service. Keep some room for a dessert, they are always excellent!

Day 3 | Laon – Ermenonville

For day 3 of this drive from Calais to Paris, we have two different proposals. Choose Option A or Option B – history or family fun – before heading to Ermenonville for a unique stay in a French château.

Option A: Visit Vauclair and Longpont Abbeys

If you like medieval ruins lost in time, visit these two beautiful abbeys, located on the way to Ermenonville.

Vauclair Abbey is today a mystical place, out of time. It was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1134 at the request of Bishop of Laon. The building survived the Hundred Years’ War and the French Wars of Religion and it was abandoned during the French Revolution. Unfortunately, the abbey succumbed during the First World War.

Walk around the ruins of the abbey and visit the abbey’s vast medicinal garden.

Vauclair Abbey

The imposing Longpont Abbey, today in ruins, was founded by the monks from the abbey of Clairvaux in the 12th century and it worked until the French Revolution when it was abandoned.

The Gothic abbey church, today roofless and with a giant empty rose window, was consecrated in the presence of the King of France Saint Louis.

On the right, there are two buildings surrounding the courtyard. In these buildings, are still visible the monks’ warming room (13th century), the old Gothic cellar (13th century) – fitted out in the eighteenth century to accommodate guests -, and the 18th-century vestibule with its large stone staircase adorned with a wrought iron banister.

Option B: Fun at Parc Astérix

Family Fun at Parc Astérix

Meet two of the most famous French – Astérix and Obélix – in their Gallic village and amusement park. Hop on a Roman roller coaster and enjoy more than 40 attractions exciting for all ages and shows at Parc Astérix. Family fun guaranteed!

Click here to buy your tickets to Parc Astérix

Evening and Night at Château d’Ermenonville

For the third night of this road trip, you could sleep already in Paris but why rush to the hustle and bustle of the capital when you are having fun?

For a unique stay, we recommend booking at Château d’Ermenonville, an 18th  castle working today as a hotel.

Click here to book your stay at Château d’Ermenonville

Take the time to visit the château’s beautiful grounds and you can also go rowing on its moat. For dinner, book (in advance) a table at Le Relais de la Croix d’Or. This is an authentic place located within walking distance from the château, proposing good regional cuisine made of fresh and quality produce. Their dinner set menu, with 2-3 entries, mains, and desserts, is a very good deal.

Day 4 | Arrival to Paris

Paris - France

The last stop of this road trip from Calais is Paris. Instead of an easy 3-hour drive Calais to Paris, it took us 4 days to reach the French capital but we hope that you enjoyed the detour!

After the delicious breakfast at the château (optional), enjoy a stroll around the château’s grounds before driving to Paris.

If this is your first time in Paris, check out this article to decide how many days to stay in Paris. This Paris trip planner will help you to decide where to stay, and what to do.  

So, what are you waiting for? Book your France road trip Calais to Paris today!

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