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Driving in Western France is very easy and if you don’t have your own car you can rent one in Nantes, Pays de la Loire’s capital. Nantes is only a 2-hour ride by train from Paris Gare de Montparnasse.
This 6-day Pays de la Loire road trip 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 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 6-day Pays de la Loire Road Trip is one of the most beautiful road trips in France. Click here for the best road trips in France.
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Road Trip Pays de la Loire Overview
- Start: Nantes
- Finish: Noirmoutier-en-Ile
- Duration: 6 days
- Suggested Route: Nantes – Angers – Saumur – Fontevraud – Noirmoutier-en-Ile
- Total distance: 450 km, 6 hours drive in total
- Regions covered: Pays de la Loire
- Best for: outdoors, sightseeing, medieval towns, and gastronomy.
Road Trip in Pays de la Loire Map
6-Day Road Trip Pays de la Loire Itinerary
Day 0 | Arrival to Nantes
The first stop of this Pays de la Loire road trip is Nantes, the capital of Pays de la Loire, where you are going to spend two nights. 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.
For your first dinner in Nantes, you don’t need to walk much. At Place Graslin, near your hotel, there are numerous restaurants proposing all kinds of cuisines.
Day 1 | Explore Nantes
Nantes, by the Loire River, is a young 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 of 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
Day 2 | Angers – Saumur
Day in Angers
On day 2 of this Western France 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 heart of the town 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, the 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 and shows the story of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Divine. Only 71 of the original 90 scenes survive today.
Evening and Night at Saumur
After visiting Angers, drive about 45 minutes to the city of Saumur where you will spend one night. Hotel St. Pierre is super comfortable, has a great historical feel, and is situated right on the main square.
For dinner, book at Michelin-starred Le Gambetta (12 rue Gambetta, Saumur) to treat yourself to an amazing French meal.
Day 3 | Saumur – Fontevraud
Morning in Saumur
Sitting on the banks of the Loire River, 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 (the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty and one of the most beautiful castles in France) with a stop at Château Miniere for a walk among the vines and some wine tasting on the way.
A bit further, the sumptuous and artistic gardens at Château de Villandry are 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. A visit to the Abbey is included in the price for guests.
Day 4 | Fontevraud – Noirmoutier
Morning at Fontevraud Abbey
Day 4 of this west France road trip starts exploring the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The gothic Abbey of Fontevraud, listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000, was founded in 1101 as a mixed-gender monastery placed under the leadership of a woman.
The Abbey found favor in the eyes of God and men, including the Counts of Anjou and, notably, Henry II of Plantagenet and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, who made Fontevraud a royal burial place.
Explore the abbey and its wonderful polychrome tombs. In addition to the royal couple, there are also the tombs of King Richard Lionheart, and Isabelle of Angouleme, second wife of King John.
Afternoon at Noimoutier
After the visit to the abbey, drive to Noirmoutier en Isle, the last stop of this west France road trip, where you can spend a couple of relaxing days.
There are two ways to reach Noirmoutier from mainland France – the newer bridge from La Barre-de-Monts or the more traditional Passage du Gois. The Passage du Gois can only be used at certain times of the day. At high tide, the road is completely submerged.
For your stay in Noirmoutier, we recommend 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 before driving back to Nantes. Enjoy the island’s sandy beaches backed by pines, or indulge in the simple seaside pastimes.
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. The rampart walk provides pleasant views of the town, the salt marshes, and the ocean. The Romanesque Saint Philbert Church or the Sealand Aquarium are also interesting to visit.
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.
For dinner, you have many little restaurants near the port offering great seafood. Le P’tit Noirmout (10 rue du Marché) and the Cass’ Poï (5 rue de la Cure) are two small restaurants proposing traditional cuisine whilst the Anse Rouge (15 avenue du Maréchal Foch), in the heart of the Bois de la Chaise, is a more fancy place proposing gastronomical cuisine.
So, what are you waiting for? Book this road trip Pays de la Loire , in Western France today!