Uncover the authentic essence of France, beyond the lights of Paris, by embarking on one of these 13 beautiful road trips in France!
There is no better way to truly explore and experience a destination than to discover all its hidden gems, charming villages, and by-roads less explored by the majority of tourists that usually flock to the bigger cities.
Don’t get me wrong, whilst French cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, and others have bucket loads to offer eager travellers, there is so much more on offer in this beautiful country. This is why embarking on a road trip in France is the perfect way to admire the stunning diversity to be found in France.
In this guide, I have collaborated with other bloggers to come up with a list of 13 top road trips in France, that’ll no doubt inspire you to do the same on your next visit!
Pssst…Have you packed all your essentials? Make sure to read our packing list for Europe guide to ensure you’ve ticked all the packing necessities off your list!
France Road Trip: 13 Exciting Road Trips in France Embark On!
Paris to Rouen- Along the Seine Road Trip Itinerary
By Dayna from Happily Ever Travels
There’s so much more to France than just Paris, and this Paris to Rouen road trip itinerary will take you through some of the most stunning scenery, historic French landmarks, and medieval castles to give you a taste of all that France has to offer.
You can split up this road trip however works best for your trip. If you’ve never been to Paris before, stay in Paris for a few days before renting your car and starting on this French countryside adventure.
Here’s the itinerary:
- Giverny (home of Claude Monet’s famous garden)
- La Roche-Guyon Castle
- Les Andelys & Château Gaillard
Make sure you rent your car early on the day you plan to leave so you can visit as much as possible without feeling rushed. Leaving Paris, it will take you about 1.5 hours to reach Giverny which is 88 km from Paris.
In Giverny, you can park for free and take a short walk through the quaint village that Claude Monet used to call home until you reach his pink house with green shutters known as “Fondation Monet in Giverny”. Tickets are 12 euros per person to wander around the famous gardens where he painted the water lilies.
From there, you’ll backtrack just a little to La Roche-Guyon, which is just a short 12-minute drive away. Depending on your schedule and what your group enjoys, you can plan ahead to get to the castle when it’s open so you can visit inside, or you can enjoy the views and the village from the outside as a quick stop.
If you’re in a hurry, skip La Roche-Guyon and head to Vernon just 16 minutes away (13 km). Vernon has a bit of everything, but the do-not-miss monument there is the giant cathedral in the centre of town, “Collégiale Notre-Dame.”
From Vernon, you’ll drive 24 km to one of the most adorable towns on the route, which deserves the most time that you can afford, Les Andelys. The town itself will blow you away, but you absolutely must get up to the Château Gaillard before sunset to get one of the most beautiful views of the Seine you’ll ever see.
You can choose to stay the night in Andelys (like at La Maison Carpe Diem) or drive 40km to the last stop, Rouen, where there will be a lot more options. You should at least spend a few days wandering the historic city learning about Joan of Arc’s life and admiring the oldest inn in the world (La Couronne).
If you want to spread out the itinerary a bit more, you can choose to hit some of the cities on the way back to Paris instead of on the way to Rouen.
By Marjut from The Smooth Escape
The spectacular region of Provence extends across the southeastern corner of France, between the Southern Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. Home to scenic landscapes, charming villages, lavender fields and vineyards, it’s one of the best places in France for a road trip.
A good starting point for your journey is the city of Avignon. From there, drive to the Luberon region to visit the picturesque hilltop villages of Gordes and Roussillon. Then, head to the famous lavender fields of the Valensole Plateau and marvel at the magnificent Verdon Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of France.
Next, drive to the Mediterranean coast to relax on some fabulous sandy beaches and explore the seaside towns of Saint-Tropez, La Ciotat and Cassis. Round off your trip with a hike or a kayaking tour in the breathtakingly beautiful Calanques National Park near Marseille before returning to Avignon.
This Provence road trip itinerary is approximately 500 km long and can be completed in 5 days.
Along the route, you’ll find an abundance of amazing accommodation options, such as restored country houses, vineyard hotels and chateau stays. For a romantic getaway in the Provencal countryside, spend a night or two at La Bastide De Moustiers hotel.
By Imee from Journey to France
Situated in the heart of France is the 280-kilometre-long Loire Valley. A Loire Valley road trip deserves at least four days, since the UNESCO-protected region is a stunning architectural and historical treasure trove, with numerous magnificent chateaux dotting the landscape.
It takes roughly three hours to travel the 185 kilometres from Paris to the hilltop city of Blois (along the Loire River). Check into one of the city’s lovely hotels, such as the Castel De La Comtesse, before venturing off to explore the Loire Valley.
Visit the spectacular Château de Chambord, the wonderfully proportioned Château de Cheverny, and the Château de Beauregard, with its Portrait Gallery, all within an easy drive from Blois. The Chateau de Chenonceau and Châteaux de Chaumont in Chaumont-sur-Loire are stunning French landmarks not to be missed, nor are the Chateau d’Amboise and Chateau du Clos Luce in nearby Amboise.
Finally, head to Chinon to visit the Chateau de Villandry and Chateau de Usse, the castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle and Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty.
The Loire Valley is enjoyable at any time of year. However, late spring and early summer are ideal if you want to truly appreciate the chateau’s splendour both inside and out.
Auvergne France Road Trip
By Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs
Away from the crowded destinations of Provence or Brittany, explore the gently rolling hills of Auvergne, where ancient history, lovely villages, savoury food, and outdoor activities await along the 120 km of this 5-day Auvergne road trip from Clermont-Ferrand.
On your first day, admire the Puy de Dôme in the Chaîne des Puys, the ancient dormant volcanoes that compose the popular Auvergne mountain range. Then, hike up or board the Panoramique des Dômes and enjoy some of the best landscapes Auvergne has.
On the second day, visit the famous Orcival church, the 11th-century Roman Notre Dame Basilica. En route to the Lac du Guéry, check the Tuilière et Sanadoire unusual rock formations. Finally, stay at the Maison d’Hôtes La Nichée for a night to enjoy the countryside’s peace and quiet.
Spend your third day at the Mont-Dore, where you can ride the cable car up to the Puy de Sancy summit for 360° views of the Sancy mountains.
On day four, the 12th-century Murol Castle will take you back to medieval times before soaking in the thermal spas of the Grottes du Cornadore.
On day five, walk Saint-Nectaire streets, dating back to the Celtic era, and savour the famous cheese of the same name. As the last stop, visit the Gergovie plateau, where local chief Vercingétorix beat Julius Caesar Roman army in 52 before CE.
By Jackie from Jou Jou Travels
Alsace is a great place for a road trip and is pretty essential if you want to explore all the region has to offer. With many unique charming villages all around, a road trip will help you easily see what the area has to offer.
Visiting Alsace during Christmas time is a true must as this is when you can visit all the many Christmas Markets and it is possibly the biggest Christmas scene you will find in all of Europe! Each town is uniquely decorated with lights, teddy bears, stars, Christmas trees, and more. Making it the perfect winter wonderland getaway. Grab your mulled wine and stroll the fairytale towns the region has to offer.
For your road trip, the must-see towns include the two biggest towns of Strasbourg and Colmar.
However, the car really comes in handy when visiting the smaller and less-known towns of Equisheim, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Ribeauvillé, and Obernai. Base yourself at the Colmar Hotel in the most picturesque town and start your exploration from there!
Northern France: (Lille, Honfleur, Giverny, Plailly, Compiègne, Reims)
By Cosette from KarsTravels
A Northern France road trip is a perfect way to discover some of the highlights of France. It’s also perfect for getting acquainted with different areas of France. The stops on the route are Lille, Honfleur, Giverny, Plailly, Compiègne and Reims. The total distance is 677 kilometres.
Lille is the first stop and must-see things are Vieux-Lille (the old town) and Marché de Wazemmes. The second stop is Honfleur, a famous old port city. Take a boat tour on the Seine, wander around the port and step inside the Eglisé Sainte-Catherine, the oldest wooden church in France.
Then there’s the beautiful town of Giverny. Famous as the town of Claude Monet. It has his house and garden, the inspiration behind his paintings. Plailly is the town where the fun theme park Parc Astérix is located, enough for hours of fun with rides and shows.
In Compiègne the Mémorial de L’Armistice is situated, the train wagon in which the First World War truce was signed. At last, there’s Reims with its beautiful grand cathedral.
Eden Park Hotel Restaurant in Pont-L’Évêque is a perfect stay, located on a lake.
French Riviera (Nice to Menton)
By Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast
This French road trip starts in Nice and goes through Villefranche-sur-Mer, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Monaco, and ends in Menton. The total distance is 40km and takes approximately 1.5 hours.
This really is one of the best road trips you can take in France. The route hugs the Mediterranean coast of southern France and is full of gorgeous coastal views, charming French cities, and not to mention some of the most stunning beaches the South of France has become known for.
In Nice, walk the Promenade des Anglais, visit the beaches or port, stroll the old town, and visit Castle Hill. For your stay in Nice, the Mercure Nice Marché aux Fleurs hotel is right next to the old town and along the promenade.
Just 20 minutes from Nice is Villefranche-sur-Mer, a little coastal village that has beautiful pastel-coloured streets and lovely beaches. You can also visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, a luxurious mansion with several gardens overlooking the sea.
Continue on to Monaco, a tiny yet extremely ritzy country, full of expensive luxury cars, designer brands, and enormous yachts. Hit up the Monte Carlo casino or the Formula 1 racetrack here.
Finally, end your road trip in Menton, only 5 miles from the Italian border. Here you’ll see orange and lemon trees growing right on the streets in town, and buildings painted in warm shades of tans, pinks, and oranges.
Bordeaux: St. Emilion – Bordeaux – Cap Feret – Arcachon
By Natali from She’s Abroad Again
This road trip takes you through the southwestern French region of Gironde. This stunning wine region with mild winters and diverse landscapes is a great road trip idea for any time of the year.
Featuring picturesque hilltop villages, dreamy vineyards and long sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast, this road trip is perfect for every wine, culture, nature and beach lover!
Start your journey in the picturesque village of Saint Emilion. It is surrounded by vineyards and chateaux where you can try some of the best French wine directly from the winemakers! Or grab a few bottles to take home as the perfect souvenirs from France!
Saint Emilion is less than 50km from our next stop, “the pearl of Aquitane” – Bordeaux. Spend a day in Bordeaux, discovering this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bordeaux is the ideal place to spend a night before continuing your trip to the coast. Au Coeur de Bordeaux is perfectly located just a couple of meters from the Bordeaux Cathedral and historic centre.
About 70km from Bordeaux, Cap Feret Lighthouse is an iconic spot on the Atlantic coast of France. Walk on the endless sandy beaches with an unobstructed view of the Ocean.
End this road trip in Arcachon, 90km from Cap Feret, with a visit to the largest natural sand dune in Europe – Dune du Pilat
Picardy – Road Trips in France
By Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina
The Picardy region in northern France is a historically important area known for some of the most outstanding cathedral architecture in France. History and architecture enthusiasts will appreciate a Picardy cathedral road trip.
The trip starts in Amiens, the administrative city of the region, which is known for the largest cathedral in France with over 200,000 cubic meters in size.
Second in place comes the impressive, yet unfinished, Cathedral of Beauvais, which is recognized for having the tallest gothic choir under the vault in the world and an impressive astronomical clock and a medieval clock.
The third cathedral in Senlis plays on contrasts. It’s one of the smallest and oldest cathedrals in France. The cathedral of Soisson is famous for a painting by Rubens and Charlemagne was crowned king in the Noyon cathedral.
At last comes the cathedral of Laon, appreciated for its rose windows and the Basilica of Saint Quentin makes for a crowning end with the mysterious labyrinth and intriguing history.
The road trip is about 300 kilometres long and takes one along the calm rural roads, an area much loved by Van Gogh, to some of the most underrated parts of France.
Normandy Road Trip
By Lowri from Many Other Roads
Normandy is a beautiful region of France and the perfect place for a French road trip. It has beautiful beaches, rustic towns, and the most amazing countryside in France.
The Normandy region is situated on the north coast of France. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with some of the most dramatic coastlines in Europe. There are many attractions to see on your way around this region: medieval villages, sandy beaches, picturesque fishing ports and charming seaside resorts.
A popular road trip in Normandy starts from Deauville and ends at Mont Saint-Michel. This route just takes over 2 hours.
Along the way, you will find yourself exploring some of Normandy’s best coastal towns like Honfleur or Le Havre as well as visiting some of its picturesque inland villages such as Falaise or Pontorson.
The drive can be done in either direction depending on what you want to see first – but we recommend starting from Deauville if you want to see more coastal scenery first-hand before heading inland
If you are looking for a great place to stay on this road trip, the Best Western Hotel in Honfleur is a great budget-friendly option.
France Roadtrip: French Brittany
By Victoria from Guide Your Travel
A road trip around French Brittany is a must-do for anyone looking for beautiful beaches, undisturbed countryside and quaint villages. The western tip of France and the area around Brest are especially beautiful with their rough coastline and delicious French specialities.
Begin your trip in Saint Mal and make your way along the coast, passing through towns like Roscoff and Ploudalmézeau. You’ll love the beaches close to St Pabu which almost look similar to the Maldives or the Caribbean.
Drive further south to the Crozon peninsula which is fantastic for hiking and camping. If you’re not ready to stay at a campsite you should consider spending the night at the Hostellerie De La Mer, a quaint inn with a great location.
The entire road trip will take around a week if you want to spend some time at each stop. It can be done in a few days if necessary although since the total distance is more than 600 kilometres, taking your time is recommended.
South of France Road Trip – Marseille to Cassis
By Bea Cińska from PackYourBags
Another top road trip France has to offer is this southern French wonder. Start in the capital of Provence, Marseille, by exploring the top ten sights of this French port city. Don’t miss the Calanques National Park filled with unique cliff formations.
After a couple of days in Marseille, drive 32 kilometres north to Aix-en-Provence, once the capital of the region and today a vibrant university town. Spend a day exploring the lovely narrow streets, perusing the farmers market, or just enjoy people-watching while sipping wine in one of its elegant cafes.
Wine and art lovers must stop at Château La Coste (15 km north of Aix), a winery featuring beautiful grounds filled with eye-catching sculptures. We highly recommend you spend the night at Villa La Coste.
If you happen to be visiting in late June or early July, then your next stop should be the Plateau de Valensole (62 km from Château La Coste) for lavender blooms. Come at dawn or dusk for the best photography lighting.
Next, drive 120 kilometres south to stop in Toulon and visit the National Marine Museum. Then hop on a ferry to the nearby Island of Porquerolles, one of the most sought-after elegant vacation spots in France.
And finally visit Cassis, a picturesque fishing port with colourful houses and beautiful leisure boats, only 37 kilometres east of Toulon and 50 kilometres from the Marseille airport.
Tour to Lyon Road Trip
By Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog
A road trip to Lyon is always special. It will definitely prove to be like no other you have experienced before. After all, this is the third largest city in France.
The arrival time depends on the city or region you are coming from. If you’re coming from Tours, there are some stops like Parc zoologique (de Saint-Martin-la-Plaine), Source de l’Hôpital, and Lac Pavin. The distance is around 370 kilometres with a drive time of approximately 4 hours.
Some places you can visit during this road trip are Château de Meung-Sur-Loire, Château La Ferte Saint-Aubin, and Matra automobile museum.
This French road trip is special since you have the rare chance of visiting some towns that are known to have historical significance. These are Amboise, Clermont-Ferrand, Blois, and Bourges.
If you arrive late in Lyon, there are some great hotels to check into like Lagrange Aparthotel, Novotel Lyon Confluence, and Hôtel Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts. Make sure you stay at least two days to experience the best things to do in Lyon.
Top tip: If you happen to be visiting Lyon over the festive season in December, then be sure to not miss out on the Fête des Lumières light festival, one of the most popular festivals in France, that usually takes place around the 8th – 11th December.