FRANCE Road Trip – Tips for Routes & Itineraries

You are looking for inspiring France Road Trip recommendations & tips with route itinerary, highlights and maps? Here we go. In this article, travel bloggers from all over the world recommend the best France Road Trips with iconic world-famous sights, beautiful landscape and amazing things to do. Here you will find France Road Trip classics like Alsace or Normandy Coast, Brittany or Côte d’Azur, but also beautiful itineraries off the beaten track like Auvergne or Alabaster Normandy Coast to inspire your next bucket list entries. Plan your great France Road Trip itinerary in 2021!

France Road Trip – The most amazing routes & Itineraries

All France Road Trip route recommendations at one glance

Here you find the France Road Trip Highlights with the best things to do at a glance 📷

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This article covers France Itinerary Recommendations as well as the France Road Trip Highlights marked in dark red on the map.

France Road Trip – Recommendations by Travel Bloggers

The West of France from Alsace to Avignon

If you are in no hurry, why not make sightseeing a focus on your way from the Alsace to the South of France? You can take small, scenic roads through the countryside and picturesque villages, and stop to see the sights. This France road trip includes five interesting UNESCO World Heritage Sites off the motorway! Leave the Alsace in a south-westerly direction towards Besançon and you will pass through Ronchamp, where a small chapel designed by France’s famous architect Le Corbusier is located.

Just south of Besançon you will find the small village of Arc-et-Senans and the Saline Royale. This is a fascinating World Heritage listed industrial compound, whose concept and design was revolutionary in its day. Next you can visit Pérouges, a tiny, historic, hilltop town. In recent decades, artists and crafts-people have moved into the crumbling, ancient, stone houses – breathing new life into this long forgotten town. You might even decide to enjoy the peace and quiet and stay a night in the meticulously restored Hostellerie du Vieux Pérouges right in the centre of town.

Next you could bypass the large city of Lyon, and visit the lesser known Vienne instead, which also has a long Roman past. Highlights are the Roman Temple d’Auguste et Livie (10 BC) in the historic centre, and its museum complex called Saint-Romain-en-Gal across the River Rhone. If you don’t have time to stop in Vienne, at least don’t miss Orange – another town with Roman past! Its amphitheatre is one of the largest and most complete you will find anywhere. As you enter the town from the north, you will be impressed by the Roman Arc de Triomphe.

Visit world-famous historic UNESCO sites

But the Romans didn’t only build cities, monuments and temples. A little off the route is the famous World Heritage listed Pont du Gard, one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts anywhere. For a short period during the 13 th century, the Catholic Church was split and the alternate papacy was established in Avignon. The World Heritage listed Papal Palace and the Papal Vault building are a reminder of this time. If time permits, visit the lively historic town centre, which invites you to explore a little longer. And don’t forget to see the remains of the famous Pont-Saint-Bénézet, inspiration for many ballads.

There’s more to see on the way to the Mediterranean. If you’d like some tips for the rest of the way, (places like Arles, the Camargue, famous Carcassonne, and a few lesser-known attractions) see our post about road tripping in the South of France

Explored by Juergen from dare2go.com

The Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard in the south of France

 

France Road Trip: Alabaster Normandy Coast

An amazing road trip that is not to be missed is along the beautiful Alabaster Normandy Coast. Named in French as the Côte d’Albâtre, this gorgeous 120 km road trip can be taken along the whole Northern French coast from Dieppe to Le Havre.

The best time to enjoy this road trip is in the spring or summer. This allows you to truly enjoy the coast and cute local villages along the way in the sunshine. From the fishing city of Dieppe, follow the coast to Veules-les-Roses, Quiberville, Fécamp and Yport. Make time to stop all them all for some local world war history, a hike or a drink at a local cafe. Finally, after all these you will reach Etretat, the gorgeous but most popular white cliff location from the whole road trip.

Despite being the most popular location on the trip, Etretat is well worth your time. The gorgeous views from above the cliffs or from along the stony beach makes it a special place. There are some safe pathways to the top of the cliffs from the village, allowing all who visit to explore. However, keep in mind it’s natural rock and there is always a risk of some of the cliff falling into the sea below.

The coastal road trip is also one of the Natura 2000 sites in Europe. It’s doable in a day, but well worth more time if you’re planning it. Any of these destinations along the sea is perfect for watching the sunset too!

Top tip: Stop at restaurant Le Petit Saint Pierre in Yport for a bite to eat – the pizza is super delicious with a terrace looking out to sea.

Explored by Zoe from Together In Transit 

France_Frankreich_Road Trip_Normandy_Alabaster_Coast_Rundreise_Tipps_Route_Itinerary_things to do_Sehenswürdigkeiten: Discover the spectacular cliffs of the Normandy Alabaster Coast

 

Brittany Road Trip: Saint-Malo to Brest

Tucked in the northwest corner of France, the region of Brittany is famous for its charming small towns and dramatic beaches that see large tidal variations. I’m lucky to call this region home. This coastal road trip, which begins from Saint-Malo and ends in Brest, can take as short as three days but it’s best to stretch it to a week or longer.

Start in Saint-Malo by exploring the cobblestone streets in Intra Muros, which is the inner city that’s enclosed by ancient walls. Order a galette in a crêperie, pick up artisanal Breton souvenirs, and then walk around the ramparts. Drive over the Barrage de la Rance in search of secluded beaches; there are plenty around Dinard and Saint Lunaire. Following that, make a beeline for the Cap Fréhel headlands for a scenic walk through pine forests. Perhaps stop by Fort La Latte, a medieval castle atop the cliff. Spend the night in the historic center of Saint Brieuc.

The next day, enter the Pink Granite Coast which is named because the massive rocks along the coast turn coppery pink in the sunlight. The best areas to see this phenomena are Plougrescant and Perros-Guirec.

After a night in Morlaix, drive to Roscoff and sample its onion tart; after all, this town is known for its onions. Then, relive history at the showcase village in the hamlet of Meneham. For that last bout of adventure, visit the Abers and Iroise district for fishing villages and lighthouses before concluding your road trip in Brest.

Explored by Dina from Hey Explorer

France_Frankreich_Road Trip_Brittany_Bretagne_Strand_Rundreise_Tipps_Route_Itinerary_things to do_Sehenswürdigkeiten: Explore the beautiful Brittany beaches during your Road Trip

 

France Road Trip: Brest to Bordeaux

The road trip from Brest to Bordeaux is one of the most underrated trips in France. Starting in Brest the drive along the coast to Bordeaux takes only around six hours but can be stretched out to three to five days. This trip is also a great opportunity for camping in France which will save you a lot of money on accommodation.

After one hour of driving south from Brest, you should stop in Concarneau, a beautiful oceanside town with many hiking trails and an old fort to visit. Heading further south for two and a half hours you will reach the city of Nantes where you should not miss the famous cathedral, the numerous museums and the Château des Ducs de Bretagne.

The last part of this trip to Bordeaux takes about three and a half hours to drive. Take some time to explore the city and the surrounding area. Bordeaux is well known for its world-class wines, so make sure to do a wine tasting while you are there. The little town of Saint Emilion is highly recommended for visitors to try some of Bordeaux’s finest wines. In Bordeaux, you should plan to have a picnic by the river along the Quais de Bordeaux. This spot is especially beautiful during sunset with some wine and cheese.

Explored by Victoria from Guide your Travel

Vineyards near Bordeaux

 

Aveyron road trip

Tucked away in the south of the Massif Central, the Aveyron region it’s one of the fewest populated areas of France. It’s a perfect road trip destination if you want to discover old castles, deep gorges and even hike on parts of the famous Camino de Santiago. It’s also comes with many regional culinary specialties, such as Aligot, a potato mash enriched with creamy cheese or meet from the Aubrac breed.

Start your road trip in Laguiole, the birth place of the world famous hand crafted Laguiole knifes. The village is located on a plateau in the regional Parc Aubrac, surrounded by beautiful nature. Perfect not only for hikes on an ancient Roman way, it’s also home of the Michelin Star Restaurant Maison Gras – remember to book your table much in advance!
Your next destination is Espalion. Just a short ride from Laguiole, but well worth a short stop to see the Pont-Vieux. The bridge is a world heritage site of the Camino de Santiago.

Next you can make a stop in Rodez and visit the Cathedral with it’s interesting composition of Baroc, Renaissance and Gothic elements. However, if you are short on time, skip Rodez and head directly to the Château de Najac, a more than 1000 years old castle. The ruin of this national monument is located on a hill and grants a breathtaking view over the region.

Your last destination on your Aveyron road trip leads you to the Chaos de Montpellier-le-Vieux. The rockfield is a natural curiosity, with arches, caves and other geological wonders. It’s located above the Gorges de la Dourbie, another view point that leaves your speechless.

Explored by Lena from Salut from Paris

A tour in Aveyron will take you to Laguiole

 

Normandy Road Trip: The Orne Region

The Orne is a department created during the French Revolution, and is the only landlocked region of Normandy – a true hidden secret to tourists. This is where Camembert cheese was created and its major city Alençon became famous for its needle lacework.

Start your Orne road trip in the medieval city of Domfront with its ruined Castle and ancient timbered houses. From here take a trip down the road to Belle Epoque Bagnoles de l’Orne where you can play a game of chance in the Casino located on the lake. Better yet wander around the town and marvel at the stunning architecture. There are many areas to camp in the Orne including the Andaines forests around Bagnoles but if you are a horse lover head to the Le Haras National du Pin the Orne’s very own stud farm often compared to Versailles.

Here in the Orne you will find villages like Saint Ceneri le Gerei voted one of the most beautiful villages in France and small towns with stunning flower displays. There are many wild forests and campgrounds with lakes to play in and trails to hike.

You will spot stunning chateaux including Carrouges Castle, or the Château d’O in Mortrée, a true flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance castle with a moat. The imposing 18th century chateau Sassay rivals those of the Loire Valley and you can see tapestries by Gobelins and visit the 15th century altarpiece classified as Historical Monument, in the Chapel.

Explored by Faith from The World’s Kitchens

Small towns like Domfront in the Orne region / Normandy

 

France Road Trip: Paris, Disneyland, Versailles & Chartres

The Road trip starts in Paris and ends in Chartres. Where most travelers only visit Paris, the area of Paris has a lot to offer. With beautiful hills, charming villages, green meadows full of lavender, and wonderful non-touristy cities. For sure the area of Paris is worth exploring.

During this road trip, you will visit Paris, Disneyland, Versailles, and Chartres. You need at least 6 days for this route. This itinerary is perfect for everyone because it is very diverse. You visit the metropolis of Paris, go to Disneyland which is fun for young and old. Visits the largest palace in France Versailles. Finally, you will visit Chartres, a lovely city with a beautiful cathedral.

You start this road trip in Paris where you visit famous places such as the Eifel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame. In addition to these traditional attractions, visiting Montmartre in the north and the catacombs of Paris are a lot of fun. If you want to spend one day in Paris, this is the best overview city guide.

After Paris, for which you need at least 2 days, you continue the journey to Disneyland. Actually, this needs no further explanation. A beautiful amusement park where you can feel young again. After Disneyland, you travel to Versailles. You can visit Versailles with a guided tour or solo. Make sure that you are at the entrance 30 minutes before it opens. The lines can get very long.

Finally, you travel to Chartres, where you can see one of the largest gothic cathedrals in the world. Chartres is worth a visit because the entire city center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Explored by Cynthia & Alexander from Travel your Memories

The landmark of Paris: The Eiffel Tower is a great starting point for France road trips

 

Southern France Route: Experience Medieval History in Carcassonne

If you’re a history buff, there is no shortage of amazing historical sites to visit in France. From cathedrals to chateaus to Roman ruins, it might take a lifetime to soak it all in. But one medieval historical site should be towards the top of your bucket list – the walled city of Carcassonne.

It’s one of the largest medieval walled citadels left standing in all of Europe. At one point in the 1800s, the French government deemed the fortifications at Carcassonne unnecessary and slated them for demolition, like many of the former walled cities throughout the country. Fortunately, the locals put up a fight and were able to classify it a historic monument. In 1997, it was finally classified as UNESCO world heritage site. Nowadays, visitors can stroll the old city gates, walk on the ramparts, and tour the old chateau.

If you’re traveling from Paris, Carcassonne is about a 7 ½-hour drive or 9-hour train ride. It makes for a nice weekend getaway but if you’re wanting to spend more time away on your road trip, you could also add the ruined castles of Cathar country, the impressive Roman ruins in Nimes, any of the beaches in southern France, or even Barcelona to your itinerary without too much additional driving.

Explored by JJ from Minivan Bucket List

France_Frankreich_Road Trip_Rundreise_Tipps_Route_Itinerary_things to do_Sehenswürdigkeiten_Carcassonne_walls: The walls of Carcassonne

 

France Road Trip: Côte d’Azur from Cassis to Menton

The Côte d’Azur is the azure coast between Menton on the Italian border and Cassis. Along the coast are famous places like St. Tropez, Antibes, Nice, Monaco and Cannes. They are among the most exclusive destinations on the Mediterranean.

The Côte d’Azur is also a good destination for a road trip. For example, arriving in Toulon with a return trip from Nice. The entire route from Cassis to Menton is about 300 km long, if you take the easiest route along the sea. Theoretically, this can be done in one day. But of course you don’t want to do that. There are far too many interesting places where you can spend at least a day or a few hours during a road trip along the Côte d’Azur.

For example, drive along the coast on switchbacks to the medieval mountain village of Èze, through the endless purple lavender fields of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, and stop along the coast for a break at the beach. You can easily spend a week this way. For sightseeing in our favorite French city, Nice, alone, two days is a good plan. We wrote more about that here.

Nice is also a good starting point for a trip to Monaco, the Verdon Gorge inland and for the return trip. Alternatively, you can extend the road trip from Menton with the Italian Riviera, with a return trip from Genoa.

Explored by Daria & Thomas from Konpasu

France_Frankreich_Road Trip_Côte d'Azur_Villefranche-sur-Mer_Küste_Rundreise_Tipps_Route_Itinerary_things to do_Sehenswürdigkeiten: A Côte d'Azur road trip takes you to picturesque Villefranche-sur-Mer

 

Auvergne Roadtrip – Amazing nature and volcanos

The Auverne is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers in the center of France. The region is especially known for its natural thermal springs and attached spas. It is particularly recommended and easy to travel via Lyon, which also has a major international airport. It is a good idea to discover the Things to do in Lyon in one day before starting the Auvergne road trip. For this, 4 stages are recommended:

The first stage leads from Lyon via Saint-Dier-d’Auvergne to Montpyroux. The landscape here is not called “Tuscan Auvergne” without reason. In many places, you will find cypresses along the roadside – actually, the famous picture motifs from Tuscany. It is really worthwhile to leave the main road every now and then and drive through the breathtaking nature. The stage ends in the picturesque mountain village of Montpyroux. In this old wine village you can enjoy the local delicacies.

The route continues into the mountain landscape around Le Mont Dore. On the way you will pass the mighty volcanoes in the Auvergne Nature Park. The mountain ranges of the Sancy massif offer spectacular views and not infrequently still snow-covered peaks even in summer. Via the picturesque village of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise – built from local lava stones – you will reach Puy de Sancy, at the foot of Le Mont Dore. From here, there are countless hiking routes – including to the region’s many peaks.

Discover amazing mountain ranges & picturesque villages

The next day’s destination is Clemont-Ferrand, the capital of Auvergne. Spectacular stopovers await along the way, such as the Puy de Dôme volcano. With an altitude of over 1,500 meters it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018 and one of the most popular excursion destinations in all of France. Recover from the hikes and excursions in the region in the late afternoon / evening in Clemont-Ferrand, where exciting museums and a variety of terrific restaurants await you.

For the 4th stage, we recommend riding into the Livradois-Forez Nature Park via Le Puy-en-Velay and Thiers. Thiers in the valley of the Durolle was and is especially known for the production of high quality knives. Le Puy-en-Velay is a picturesque mountain village. It is a great starting point for many hikes in the region. Here you can easily spend a few days and despite a road trip leave the car – and purely in the breathtaking nature of the Auvergne.

Explored by Phil from JOURNICATION

France_Frankreich_Road Trip_Rundreise_Tipps_Route_Itinerary_things to do_Sehenswürdigkeiten_auvergne_mountains: Breathtaking nature and volcanoes on Auvergne road trip

 

Where to go next in France & Europe?

In this article, Travel bloggers from all over the world revealed their insider tips for France Road Trip Routes & Itineraries. You learned about highlights and amazing things to do along the way. Get inspired and expand your Europe travel bucket list with the tips and infos.

What is the destination you put on your bucket list now? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re looking for more top destinations in France, have a look at JOURNICATION’s city guides:

 

You can also use France as a starting point for great tours to Italy. Go on reading here for the best Italy Road Trips 

 

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