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The Ultimate Road Trip Pays de la Loire
Driving in Western France is very easy, and if you don’t have a car, you can rent one in Nantes, Pays de la Loire’s capital.
This 6-day road trip Pays de la Loire from Nantes covers three French departments (Maine-et-Loire, Loire Atlantique, and Vendée) and will take you through the Loire Valley and some of the main sights that Pays de la Loire has to offer. This Pays de la Loire itinerary is an ideal road trip for those who love history, architecture, food, and wine.
This road trip Nantes – Loire Valley, with a couple of relaxing days in Noirmoutier, is one of the best road trips in France. Read more about road-tripping in France:
Road Trip Nantes – Pays de la Loire Overview
- Start: Nantes
- Finish: Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile
- Duration: 6 days
- Suggested Route: Nantes – Angers – Saumur – Fontevraud – Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile
- Total distance: 450.4 km, 5hrs 30 min drive in total (with option A on day 3); 489.1km, 5 hrs 42 min (with option B on day 3)
- Regions covered: Pays de la Loire
- Best for: outdoors, sightseeing, medieval towns, and gastronomy.
Road Trip Pays de la Loire Map
Pays de la Loire – Nantes Road Trip Itinerary
Day 0 | Arrival in Nantes
The first stop of this road trip Pays de la Loire is Nantes, the capital of Pays de la Loire, where you will spend two nights. For this road trip from Nantes, you don’t need the car until day 2, so if you are taking a self-drive vacation to the Pays de la Loire in a hire car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Nantes.
For your stay in Nantes, book the Hotel Voltaire Opéra Nantes Centre. The hotel is perfectly located, just a 2-minute walk from the Graslin Theater and a 10-minute walk from Ile de Nantes.
Day 1 | Explore Nantes
Nantes, by the Loire River, is a youthful and dynamic city that has managed to combine modernity while preserving and enhancing its historical heritage. Nantes is also one of the greenest cities in France, voted Europe’s green capital in 2013.
Nantes was the former capital of the Dukes of Brittany, so there are many historical sites to visit. Also, Les Machines de l’Ile is a must on any trip to Nantes. This quirky project located on the isle in the middle of the Loire River is today one of the top things to do in France.
Whether you prioritize sightseeing and ticking landmarks off your bucket list or simply soaking in the atmosphere of a city, this Nantes itinerary comes with many ideas for your stay in Nantes.
The list of fun things to do in Nantes includes:
- Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
- Cathedral of Nantes (from outside)
- Grasslin neighborhood
- The Machines of the Isle of Nantes
- Jules Verne Museum
In the afternoon, head to Quai des Antilles for some drinks in a lively atmosphere. Here, you will also find restaurants offering all styles of cuisine, with something for all budgets.
Day 2 | Angers – Saumur
Day in Angers
On day 2 of this Nantes road trip, drive to Angers for a day of sightseeing. Located by the river Maine, Angers is a beautiful medieval city to explore, with unique gothic buildings, half-timbered houses, and an impressive château.
In the town’s heart, visit the Château d’Angers, a massive schist and limestone construction built from 1230 onwards. Here, the Dukes of Anjou held court during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Château d’Angers hosts the famous Apocalypse Tapestries, a large medieval set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, Duke of Anjou, and woven in Paris between 1377 and 1382. The tapestry was made in six sections, each 24 m wide by 6.1 m high, comprising 90 different scenes showing the Apocalypse’s story from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Divine. Only 71 of the original 90 scenes survive today – Click here to buy your tickets to Château d’Angers
Day 3 | Saumur – Fontevraud
Morning in Saumur
Sitting on the banks of the River Loire, the city of Saumur has a pretty, medieval Old Town to explore and plenty to see and do.
The fairytale Château of Saumur sits above the town with its conical towers. Originally it was built as a fortress to defend against invaders but was added to in the 14th century to become the more romantic chateau we see today.
Saumur’s historic Old Town still has the original half-timbered buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries with criss-cross designs on the front of the facades. There are winding lanes and alleyways with boutiques and curios shops to explore and plenty of squares if you want to stop for a bite to eat.
Afternoon at one of the Loire Valley Castles
From Saumur, consider visiting one of the Loire Valley Castles nearby on a half-day trip.
You can drive to Château d’Usse (option A) – one of the most beautiful castles in France that inspired the design of the Sleeping Beauty Castle –, perhaps with a stop at Château Miniere (25 rue de Minière, Ingrandes de Touraine) for a walk among the vines and wine-tasting.
A slightly longer drive, the sumptuous and artistic gardens at Château de Villandry (option B) is also a must-see and easily accessible from Saumur.
Night at Fontevraud
From the château of your choice, drive to Fontevraud, the location of the famous Abbey of Fontevraud. For a unique experience, sleep inside the Abbey at Fontevraud L’Hotel and dine in the on-site Michelin-starred restaurant offering contemporary and refined dishes created by Chef Thibaut Ruggeri. The hotel price includes the entrance ticket to the abbey.
Day 4 | Fontevraud – Noirmoutier
Morning at Fontevraud Abbey
Day 4 of this road trip Nantes – Pays de la Loire starts with exploring the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The gothic Abbey of Fontevraud has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000 and was founded in 1101 as a mixed-gender monastery placed under a woman’s leadership.
The abbey found favor in the eyes of God and men, including the Counts of Anjou and, notably, King Henry II of the House of Plantagenet and his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who made Fontevraud a royal burial place.
Explore the abbey and its extraordinary polychrome tombs. In addition to the royal couple, there are also the tombs of King Richard the Lionheart and Isabelle of Angouleme (King John’s second wife).
Afternoon at Noimoutier
After you visit the abbey, drive to Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile, the last stop of this road trip Pays de la Loire, where you can spend a couple of relaxing days. The island is a paradise for nature lovers and has more than 40 km of beaches.
There are two ways to reach Noirmoutier from mainland France: the new bridge from La Barre-de-Monts or the more traditional Passage du Gois – a natural causeway. The Passage du Gois can only be used at certain times of the day. At high tide, the road is completely submerged. The causeway is 4.5 kilometers long, and there are special digital panels to indicate whether the road is passable or not.
For your stay in Noirmoutier, we recommend booking two nights at the Hotel Restaurant Fleur de Sel, a charming hotel in the heart of a 2-hectare landscaped park, located between the old harbor and the beaches.
Days 5 – 6 | Noirmoutier en Isle
Spend a couple of relaxing days at Noirmoutier. Enjoy the island’s sandy beaches backed by pine trees, or indulge in simple seaside pastimes such as sea kayaking, sailing, or paddle surfing. You can also rent a bike (the terrain is flat) and ride through the Bois de la Chaize, a shady forest of oak, pine, and eucalyptus trees. There is also a little tourist train that runs around the island.
The list of fun things to do in Noirmoutier includes:
Don’t miss Plage des Dames and its beautiful promenade, wooden pier, and pretty beach huts. For a bit of sightseeing, visit the 15th-century Château de Noirmoutier. In the château, the rampart walk provides pleasant views of the town, the salt marshes, and the ocean. The Romanesque Saint Philbert Church and the Sealand Aquarium are interesting to visit too.
So, what are you waiting for? Book this road trip from Nantes today!