Jun 30, 2023
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14 Best Road Trips and Scenic Drives in France

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The 14 best road trips and scenic drives through France to take by car, motorcycle, or camper van. France is the most visited country in the world, with its Mediterranean coast, the Alps, its enviable gastronomy, and above all, Paris, being some of the reasons why more than 80 million people visit it every year. There are many ways to travel through France, but from here (of course), what we recommend is to do it by road in a car. France offers a wide variety of scenic driving routes that allow you to discover its historical charm and diverse landscapes. Get ready for an unforgettable experience as you travel through France by car and discover all its hidden treasures at your own pace.

1- Bordeaux Wine Route

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Distance: 200-300 kilometers (125-185 miles)
  • Best time to go:  Late Spring and Early Fall
  • Picturesque villages: Saint-Émilion, Pauillac, Margaux, Sauternes

Bordeaux, wine route by carThe Bordeaux Wine Route offers a captivating adventure for wine and road trip enthusiasts. With thousands of vineyards and countless prestigious wineries, this is a journey through centuries of winemaking tradition. Drive along the scenic Garonne River, explore picturesque villages like Saint-Émilion, and savor the world-renowned red wines of Médoc or the sweet Sauternes. Immerse yourself in the relaxed French lifestyle, enjoying vineyard picnics and the cultural treasures of this celebrated wine region.

  • Don’t miss the Médoc region, known for its world-renowned red wines, or Saint-Émilion, a charming town with historic wineries and picturesque cobblestone streets.
  • Drive along the Garonne River and admire the majestic castles that dot the landscape. Stop in the small and charming towns along the way, such as Pauillac, Margaux, or Sauternes, where you can enjoy delicious local cuisine and explore their cultural heritage.
  • It also offers you the opportunity to experience the relaxed lifestyle of the region. Enjoy bike rides through the vineyards or have a picnic among the grape fields.
  • The landscape is dotted with magnificent castles, some of which are integrated into wineries.

2- Mont Saint Michel

  • Duration: 2-3 days gives you time to experience the tidal changes and explore surrounding areas in Normandy
  • Distance: About 70 km (45 miles)
  • Best time to go:  Late Spring and Early Fall

Mont Saint Michel, car routes in France
Mont Saint-Michel is a stunning destination for a road trip. A French icon, Mont Saint-Michel stands as a testament to both architectural brilliance and nature’s power. Approaching by car, the island rises majestically from the sea. Explore the Gothic Abbey, wander the village streets, and witness the breathtaking tidal shifts. Hike the ramparts, kayak around the base (if tides permit), or simply soak in the timeless atmosphere. Mont Saint-Michel is a road trip destination that will leave a lasting impression.

  • The island rises majestically from the sea and is crowned by a magnificent Gothic abbey, one of the main attractions of the place. Explore the intricate architectural details and admire the spectacular views from the top of the abbey.
  • As you venture further into the island, discover the picturesque cobblestone streets and the charming houses from the 14th and 15th centuries. Mont Saint-Michel also features beautiful trails that surround the island, ideal for a relaxing walk and enjoying the views of the sea and the bay.
  • If conditions allow, you can even take a kayak tour around Mont Saint-Michel to experience its impressive natural beauty up close. The place has been an important religious center and defensive stronghold since the Middle Ages.
  • In addition, the island is surrounded by a bay with some of the highest tides in the world, creating a stunning and unique spectacle.
  • Rennes is a vibrant city in the Brittany region 45 miles from Mont Saint-Michel offering a delightful blend of history, culture, and modern life.

3- Passage du Gois

Passage du Gois
Passage du Gois is a unique and fascinating road located in the Vendée region. It connects the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland on the west coast of France. It stretches across the Atlantic and gets submerged during high tide.

  • What makes Passage du Gois special is that it can only be crossed during low tide. During high tide, the road gets submerged under water, making it a trap for the unaware. It’s important to be mindful of the tide schedules and cross the road only when it’s accessible.
  • Passage du Gois is approximately 4.5 kilometers long. Driving on Passage du Gois is thrilling and challenging due to its unique nature and temporary condition. The road is paved but can be slippery due to algae and mud, requiring careful and slow driving.
  • It’s essential to pay attention to the tide schedules and respect the signs and safety instructions provided on-site. It’s advisable to carry a mobile phone in case of emergencies and be prepared for possible slippery conditions.

4- Loire Valley Castles Route

  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Distance: A core loop visiting the most famous castles might cover roughly 150-200 km (95-125 miles)
  • Best time to go: Late spring (May-June) and early fall (September)

Loire Valley Castles Route by carEmbark on a magical journey through history and elegance on the Loire Valley Castles Route by car. Located in the heart of France, this route will take you through the Loire Valley, known as the “Garden of France.”

  • Start your adventure in the city of Tours, where you can explore its historical charm and immerse yourself in the ambiance of the Loire Valley. From there, head to the most emblematic castles of the region.
  • Château de Chambord: This majestic Renaissance castle will leave you breathless with its grand architecture and vast gardens.
  • Château de Chenonceau: Known as the “Ladies’ Castle,” it stands over the Cher River and offers a dreamlike sight. Discover its unique architecture, exquisite gardens, and fascinating history.
  • Château de Amboise: Located in the city of Amboise, this castle provides stunning views of the Loire River. Explore its historical chambers, Saint Hubert’s Chapel, and its famous double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Château de Blois: It combines different architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance. Admire its ornate façade, richly decorated rooms, and don’t miss the “double-helix staircase,” also designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

5- French Riviera Road Trip

Blue Coast, France, car routeEmbark on a car journey along the stunning French Riviera filled with glamour and beauty. With its Mediterranean charm and dazzling coastal landscapes, this car route will take you through some of the region’s most iconic destinations.

  • Start your adventure in the vibrant city of Nice, known for its elegance and lively cultural life. Take a stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais and admire the beaches and the intense blue sea.
  • Head to Cannes, home of the famous film festival. Explore its elegant streets and the exclusive La Croisette beach, and admire the luxurious yachts in the harbor.
  • Continue to Antibes, a charming coastal town with a beautiful old town.
  • Visit the Picasso Museum and wander through the narrow streets filled with boutiques and cozy cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the glamorous city of Saint-Tropez, famous for its chic atmosphere and renowned beaches.
  • Make sure to visit the city of Menton, known for its colorful architecture and beautiful gardens, as well as the charming town of Èze, located high on a hill with stunning sea views.

6- Burgundy Wine Route

Burgundy, France, car routeDiscover the Burgundy wine region by car, famous for its world-renowned wines. Drive through vineyards while enjoying wine tastings and gastronomic delights.

  • Here, some of the most famous and prized wines are produced, such as Pinot Noir reds and Chardonnay whites. The Burgundy vineyards tour will take you through stunning landscapes that seem straight out of a fairy tale.
  • Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wines, will captivate you with its medieval architecture and its famous Hospices de Beaune.
  • You can also explore picturesque villages like Nuits-Saint-Georges, Pommard, and Meursault, where you can enjoy tastings at local wineries and meet passionate wine producers.
  • You cannot miss the impressive Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon, the former residence of the dukes and currently a museum that tells the history of the region.
  • Additionally, you can explore the Cîteaux Abbey, the birthplace of the Cistercian order, and discover its influence on the development of winemaking in Burgundy.

7- Best French Alps Road Trip Itinerary

Road trip through the French AlpsIf you’re passionate about mountain landscapes and outdoor adventure, a road trip through the French Alps is an experience you can’t miss. This itinerary will take you through majestic mountains, lush valleys, and picturesque alpine villages.

  • You’ll be amazed by the majestic snow-covered peaks, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and expansive forests. Hiking enthusiasts will find numerous trails to explore and enjoy unparalleled panoramic views.
  • The French Alps are world-renowned for their top-notch ski resorts. Notable resorts include Chamonix, Val d’Isère, Courchevel, and Megève. Along the route, you’ll come across charming alpine villages that will transport you to a fairytale world.
  • Annecy, known as the “Venice of the Alps,” will surprise you with its canals, medieval old town, and beautiful lake.
  • Other picturesque villages to visit include Chamonix, with its cosmopolitan alpine atmosphere, and Albertville, famous for having hosted the Winter Olympic Games.

8- Provence Road Trip

Gorge du Verdon, Provence, France

Gorge du Verdon, Provence, France

The Provence road trip is a delightful experience that will immerse you in the beauty of southern France. Here’s some information about what to see, what to do, a possible itinerary, and why you should visit this region:

  • Start your journey in the historic city of Avignon, known for its Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and its famous bridge, the Pont Saint-Bénézet. Explore the narrow medieval streets and enjoy the vibrant cultural life of the city.
  • Head to Gordes, a charming village perched on a hilltop. Admire its stone houses, visit the Gordes Castle, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of lavender fields and vineyards.
  • Explore the beautiful Luberon Natural Park, where you’ll find medieval villages like Bonnieux and Roussillon with their ochre colors, and the famous village of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, known for its canals.
  • Continue to Aix-en-Provence, a city full of charm and culture. Stroll through its elegant streets and visit the Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Les Baux-de-Provence, a medieval village located on top of a rocky hill.
  • Head to the Camargue region, known for its natural beauty and unique wildlife. Here you’ll find vast marshlands, pink flamingos, wild horses, and bulls.
  • Visit the Gorge du Verdon, an impressive canyon. It is considered one of the largest and deepest gorges in Europe.

9- Historical Normandy Road Trip

Road Trip in Normandie

A road trip through historical Normandy will allow you to explore a region rich in history, stunning beaches, and charming villages. Here’s some information about what to see, the beaches, notable villages, why to go, and some interesting facts:

  • Start your route in the city of Caen, where you can visit the impressive Caen Castle and the Abbaye aux Hommes. It’s also a good starting point to explore the D-Day beaches.
  • Visit the famous D-Day beaches, such as Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and Juno Beach. These historical sites witnessed the Allied troops’ landing during World War II and offer museums and commemorative monuments.
  • Head to Bayeux, a charming town known for its famous Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval artwork depicting the Norman conquest of England. You can also visit Bayeux Cathedral and the Museum of the Battle of Normandy.
  • Explore the picturesque coastal village of Honfleur, known for its charming harbor and colorful houses. Enjoy the restaurants, art galleries, and the beautiful Saint Catherine’s Church.

10- French Pyrenees Road Trip

View from the summit of the western side of Tourmalet

View from the summit of the western side of Tourmalet

The French Pyrenees road trip by car is an impressive journey that will take you through majestic mountain landscapes and charming villages on the border between France and Spain. Here’s some information about what to see, mountain passes, what to do, why to go, and some interesting facts:

  • The route can start on the Atlantic coast, in Biarritz, and continue eastward through towns like Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Lourdes, Gavarnie, Luz-Saint-Sauveur, and end in Perpignan or Collioure on the Mediterranean coast.
  • During the journey, you’ll have the opportunity to cross impressive mountain passes, such as the Col du Tourmalet, the most famous one in the Tour de France, the Col d’Aubisque, the Col du Soulor, and the Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin.
  • Enjoy the stunning mountain landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, waterfalls, and green valleys along the route. The Pyrenees National Park offers numerous opportunities for hiking and enjoying nature.

11- Côte de Granit Rose

Pink Granite Coast road trip, Brittany, FranceCôte de granite rose or Pink Granite Coast in France is a fascinating car journey along the northern coast of Brittany. Spanning approximately 100 kilometers, this route will take you through stunning coastal landscapes and picturesque fishing villages.

  • As you travel along this route by car, you can enjoy the magnificent pink granite cliffs that give the region its name. These unique rock formations in shades of pink and orange offer a breathtaking visual spectacle.
  • You’ll find charming fishing villages like Perros-Guirec, Ploumanac’h, and Trégastel, picturesque harbors, and golden sandy beaches.
  • To embark on the Pink Granite Coast road trip by car, it is recommended to start from the city of Lannion and follow the D788 road, which runs along the coast. As you progress, you’ll find signage that will guide you to the most notable points of interest.

12- Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel
Head northwest in France to visit the iconic Mont Saint-Michel. Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky islet with a circumference of about 960 meters, located east of the Couesnon River estuary and featuring a stunning medieval abbey at its peak.

  • The uniqueness of the site lies in the tides in the bay where it is located, which have a range of nearly thirteen meters, causing the sea to recede and return in the blink of an eye.
  • The Mont Saint-Michel actually becomes an island only during the large equinox tides, fifty-three days a year, for a few hours. But it is an impressive sight that attracts many tourists on those days.

13- Alsace Road Trip

Image of Kayserberg, Alsace

Image of Kayserberg, Alsace

The Alsace road trip by car is a charming journey that will take you through the beautiful region of Alsace in northeastern France. Here’s some information on how to do it, what to see, its history, and peculiarities:

  • The route can start in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, and continue to picturesque towns like Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg. You can head south to Mulhouse or north to Saverne. The route extends for approximately 170 kilometers.
  • The route will take you through beautiful towns with half-timbered architecture, cobblestone streets, and colorful facades. These places will transport you to a fairy tale and allow you to enjoy a charming atmosphere.
  • Alsace is famous for its vineyards and wine production. Along the route, you can visit wineries, taste exceptional white wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer, and learn about the wine-making tradition of the region.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional dishes like tarte flambée (Flammekueche), choucroute (sauerkraut), and bredele, typical cookies of the region.

14- South of France Road Trip: Biarritz and Landes Department

Les Landes and Biarritz, road tripWe end in the sunny southwest of France, where white sandy beaches stretch for kilometers. This car trip is perfect for relaxing during the summer days.

  • Start your adventure in the charming city of Arcachon, located in the Bay of Arcachon, and head south towards the Spanish border. Along the way, you can’t miss the incredible Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, and visit Biarritz, the surfing capital of France, a destination that perfectly combines the elegance and style of a seaside resort with the vibrant energy of a surfing destination.
  • Don’t miss the majesty of the Biarritz lighthouse, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and the coast. As you venture along the route that will take you to Les Landes, you’ll be amazed by the natural beauty that surrounds you. One of the main attractions of Les Landes is its stunning beaches.
  • Make a stop in Hossegor, famous for its perfect waves that attract surfers from around the world. Relax on the soft sand, take a stroll on the pier, or dive into the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Along your route, you’ll encounter charming towns that are worth a visit.
  • Capbreton is a fishing destination with a cozy atmosphere and a picturesque harbor. Explore its fish markets and try delicious fresh seafood in local restaurants. Les Landes is also known for its extensive pine and oak forests. You can make a stop at the Huchet Nature Reserve, where you can take a boat ride through a beautiful landscape of marshes and forests.

Research the attractions and points of interest along each route, as well as traffic and parking regulations in each region. Plan your itinerary in advance and enjoy the diversity and beauty that France has to offer on each car journey. Have a great trip! Remember to check traffic and parking regulations in each region, respect speed limits, and make sure you have adequate car insurance. Additionally, plan your route in advance and allow enough time to enjoy stops and attractions along the way. Enjoy your car adventures in France!

Spanish version: Mejores rutas en coche en Francia

Europe · France

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