15 Best France Road Trip Itinerary Ideas (+ Driving Tips!)

Chock full of storybook-worthy villages, beautiful castles, and incredibly epic and diverse nature–from the Alps to the beaches of the Riviera to the lavender fields of Provence and the cliffs of Etretat and beyond–it’s not hard to understand why taking a France road trip tops so many bucket lists around the world.

Throw in excellent roads, a great travel infrastructure, and enough exciting places to see that you could spend a lifetime traversing it without turning over every stone, there’s no doubt that a road trip through France is an amazing way to see the country.

We’ve rounded up the best France road trip itinerary ideas here, covering all corners of the country–plus included important France driving tips you’ll need to know before setting off!

Jeremy standing to the right of a country road during our road trip in France. He's standing in front of a black rental car with the rear hatch open, and he's wearing a black jacket.
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Logistical Tips for Driving in France

Rent the smallest car you can.

Especially if you’re coming from the USA like us, you’ll likely find French roads–especially in small villages and in the countryside–are smaller than what you’re used to.

Save on gas, rental costs, and stress while driving in France by renting the smallest car you can manage to fit yourselves and your belongings into.

We recommend searching for your (tiny) rental car through Discover Cars, which will allow you to sift through all your options and choose the right car for you based on price, the reputation of the company that is renting it, and the terms of the rental contract.

Book your rental car for your France road trip today!

Château Chenonceau as seen from across the garden with pink flowers in the foreground. Château Chenonceau is one of the best day trips from paris france

Plan on renting a manual, or prepare to pay.

Like the rest of Europe, manual cars are the norm in France.

If you only drive automatic, you’ll absolutely be able to find a car to rent for your France road trip… but be prepared to plan ahead (especially if you’re traveling during the busy season when the cars get reserved quickly), and to pay extra fees for the privilege.

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Always carry cash… just in case. 

While you can generally pay tolls (and they are pricey–budget accordingly!) with a Visa or Mastercard in France, you never know when you’re going to need cash for gas or small restaurants.

When taking a driving in France, it’s best to always have some Euros with you–and don’t forget to carry small coins for bathroom fees!

Photo of a small white car parked in Goult. There are stone buildings visible behind the car.

Plan your parking in advance.

This especially applies overnight–ie, look for hotels that include parking or have a plan for parking listed–but also during day trips. 

For example, our trip to Cassis would have been much easier if we had researched the parking situation beforehand and paid to reserve a spot in one of the parking garages in town.

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For hotels, we use Booking.com and ideally look for places using the “free parking onsite” filter.

Depending on where you are going during your road trip in France, though, free parking may not be possible–in that case, carefully check and see what hotels have reasonably-priced parking nearby.

A hotel that is an extra 20 Euros/night may end up being an excellent deal if there’s inexpensive parking nearby!

Parking lot outside of Les Baux-de-Provence. Several cars are parked to the right and the city is visible in the background.

Strongly consider purchasing extra insurance.

Driving on unfamiliar roads in a foreign country is always going to be an exercise in risk-taking.

While driving in France is typically perfectly safe, if you’re not used to driving in congested urban environments or driving abroad, we’d recommend that you strongly consider purchasing additional CDW (collision damage) insurance for your vehicle–though going through the rental agency is often the most expensive place you can buy this coverage.

Check first to see if your credit card covers it (and in France specifically–not just in your home country), and if they don’t, some insurance policies do.

Get a quote to insure your France road trip today!

Vertical photo of a winding road in France. There's a dotted white line in the center and a large cliff to the right.

Not all gas stations are self-service.

We’ve come across both self-service and attendant-provided gas stations in France–when you pull up to get gas, take a quick look around to see what the other drivers are doing before jumping out of your car!

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An International Driver’s Permit isn’t required. 

Unlike in Italy, an International Driver’s Permit isn’t required to rent a car or drive in France (though you do, of course, need to be licensed to drive–for example, driver’s licenses from our home country of the USA are valid for driving in France as a tourist).

However, if your license is written in something other than English or French, or you just want to make any potential communication easier, you may want to consider getting one anyway.

Buildings in front of harbor of Cassis France, their reflections are on the water in the bottom half of the photo.

Your life will be easier if you buy a French SIM card. 

This assumes your phone is unlocked, of course, but seriously: getting a local SIM card before taking off on your road trip in France will make your life so much easier!

Having access to everything from a GPS to restaurant reviews is a huge benefit of traveling in the modern age, and bringing those tools along with you as you explore France by car is a fantastic idea.

You can absolutely purchase a local SIM card once you arrive, but if you want to get everything set up before you go, you can also purchase a France SIM card at home in advance.

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Pack toilet paper.

Rest stops along highways in France will generally have toilets, but toilet paper is far from guaranteed–best to bring your own just in case.

I usually carry a pack of these with me in my purse when I travel, and they’ve come in handy more than once when driving in France.

Photo of rows of lavender as seen in the Valensole Plateau on our France road trip. The lavender is not in bloom.

Brush up on your French.

Ubiquitous advice for traveling in France, I know, and not exclusive to a road trip in France, but I promise that at least being able to ask for (and follow) simple driving directions in French–not to mention reading basic road signs–will make your France road trip much better!

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Other France Road Trip Tips

The first rule of road trips in France: leave room for spontaneity!

One of the best things about taking a road trip in France is that no matter how carefully you plan, no matter how much research you do, you’re still bound to show up in the country and be blown away by something you had never heard of before.

So, just roll with it… and leave room for new discoveries.

I’m a big planner myself, so I get the urge to organize every. last. detail. 

… But during our own trips exploring France by car, I’m also so glad that we randomly decided to spend extra time in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, that we gave Port Miou a chance when we saw photos of how lovely it was, that we delayed our departure from Annecy because its market was coming to town, and that we ended up cutting Roussillon from our Luberon Valley trip because we simply weren’t ready to say goodbye to Goult.

In other words: sketch an outline of your days and nights, yes, but be open to changes. Those stops may just end up being some of your favorite stops during your France road trip!

Kate walking down a narrow street in Goult during our France road trip. There's a pink building to her left and she's wearing a long blue skirt.

Pay attention to market days (and show up early).

Visiting local markets in all of France’s adorable villages is one of my favorite parts of taking a road trip in France: with a car, there’s no need to worry about managing train times or having to skip the tiniest villages.

If at all possible, aim to visit towns on their market days. Depending on the town, this is generally one, two, or three times a week. Many villages have a small daily market, with larger markets on certain days–those are the ones to aim for.

Also: show up early! Early in the morning is the absolute best time to visit markets on your France road trip. You’ll get to experience both the smallest crowds and also have your pick of the best products before they potentially sell out for the day.

Flower market in Aix-en-Provence. There's flowers underneath umbrellas on both sides of the photo. The umbrellas are pink and red.

Pack a picnic on travel days.

All those markets full of delicious bread, cheese, meat, and produce that you pass each day? Those are your future lunch!

Double up on practical purchases and fun experiences in France by using market days to stock up on picnic materials to use during your days spent driving in France.

Rest stops in France are plentiful along the highways (look for the signs for “aires”), and are generally very clean and well-stocked, with some even including restaurants.

Boxes of white and green asparagus in front of a cash register at the outdoor food market in Aix-en-Provence

Don’t change locations every day.

Packing your bags, checking in and out of a hotel, loading the car, unloading the car… all of these things may not seem like much, but by the fifth or sixth day in a row, you’ll be incredibly tired of doing it.

These kinds of transitions eat up way more of each day of your France road trip than the estimated driving time between whatever two towns you’re visiting–so do yourself a favor and limit the number of times you swap lodging.

Instead, set up a series of bases for at least a few days each, and use your rental car to take day trips from there.

For example, we used Avignon as a base to visit the Luberon Valley and Alpilles, and Aix-en-Provence as a base to visit Cassis!

Street in Aix-en-Provence with a red Vespa in the foreground and a yellow building in the background

Focus primarily on smaller towns & natural attractions.

Don’t get me wrong–we adore France’s cities, but places like Paris, Lyon, and Nice don’t require a car to visit–quite the opposite. A car is a hindrance there!

One of our France driving tips is to focus on the smaller towns, beautiful countryside, dramatic castles, and endless natural highlights (beaches, lakes, mountains–you choose!) that make up this incredibly diverse and beautiful country.

If you hope to include any of France’s major cities as part of your itinerary, we recommend visiting them at the beginning or end of your trip and only renting your car when you’re ready to leave and head to smaller towns.

Photo of Lake Sainte-Croix as seen while driving in France. You can see Kate holding a camera to her face reflected in the rearview mirror of our rental car on the left side of the photo

The slow pace is part of the fun.

Often, the best memories from a trip are the ones where you let go of the long wish list of towns and villages you hope to see, the markets you want to visit, and the tourist sights you can’t miss and just. breathe.

I learn this again virtually every time I go to France: some of my best memories in the country are of the day we did literally nothing but walk around Colmar and admire how beautiful it was, the day we lounged in Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens all afternoon, the days we’ve sat at outdoor cafes for hours because the sunshine and people-watching felt too good to leave behind, and the long, leisurely lunch we ate in Goult.

Each and every one of those memories is something we exchanged for missing out on a piece of sightseeing or photo-taking or research we had planned to do–something that seemed important at the time.

I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

Photo of an empty street in Avignon, with brown buildings to either side. The road is curving to the left.

Write down where you go.

Sure, no one is going to forget visiting Nice or Aix-en-Provence… but that tiny town with the cute fruit stand you passed through that one afternoon? Yeah, that name will fade almost immediately.

You’ll want to remember the names of all the small villages you visited, pretty beaches you swam at, cozy restaurants you ate at, and hiking trails you conquered long after your France road trip is finished, so write them down as you go!

Jeremy loves to star the places we visit on Google maps, and I keep my own record in my One Line a Day journal that I’ve been keeping daily for years (and highly recommend!).

Jeremy in a blue shirt and black jacket, holding a beer while eating lunch in a square of Aix-en-Provence

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Alsace Wine Route

From Arzo of Arzo Travels

A  fun road trip to take is from Strasbourg to Colmar (or the other way around) which is also known as the Alsace Wine Route.

Especially in the summer months (or early fall), it is a beautiful drive with scenic window views and many beautiful towns, villages, and cities along the way.

The Alsace Wine Route is one of the most famous road trips in France and besides being a beautiful place, it has a lot about…well, you guessed it, wine. 

Start your trip in Strasbourg (which is not officially part of the Alsace wine route), the beautiful main city in the region, and explore what it has to offer, including lots of half-timbered houses and many medieval buildings, and then plan in time for stops like Obernai, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, and Eguisheim.

La Petite Venise in Colmar on a summer day. Visiting La Petite Venise is one of the best things to do in colmar france.

These are all beautiful little villages, though Riquewihr is probably the prettiest of all. 

Then it is time to end your tour in Colmar where you can end your road trip and explore one of the cutest towns in the country.

If you are a wine drinker, you can visit the vineyards along the way and try out some of the local wines in the wineries or restaurants. They are supposed to be some of the best wines in the country!

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Driving Distance

170km or 105 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

3 days is the absolute minimum for this road trip. 4 or 5 days are the better options if you do not want to rush and like to do some wine tasting.

Kate Storm in a brown coat in the Alsace village of Riquewihr with a clock tower in the background

Marseilles to Nice

From Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

After exploring Marseilles, why not head eastwards along the gorgeous coastal road to Nice? The drive is best done at a leisurely pace over a few days so you can savor the delights of Provence and the Cȏte d’Azur. 

The coastal road has many spectacular views and the first is as you leave Marseilles. Les Calanques are dramatic, sheer-sided coastal inlets that have been carved through the limestone and they can be found between Marseilles, Cassis, and La Ciotat. 

A little further on you will be tempted by the seven beautiful sandy beaches of La Croix Valmer.

The first main stop is St Tropez, a favorite with the international jet-set in the sixties. It is still popular for its beaches and nightlife. Those ‘in the know’ explore Port Grimaud- the Crêpes au Chocolat (chocolate pancakes) and cider are worth sampling. 

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Cannes is another famous city, loved by the super-rich and known for its international film festival. Antibes lies close to Nice and is a delightful old town with ramparts and once Picasso’s home. 

There will be many other detours inland to make to Domaines (wineries) to sample the area’s superb rosé and villages like Maximin-Le-Sainte- Baume with its famous basilica and Grasse (north of Cannes) is world-famous for its perfume industry. 

St Paul de Vence is loved by painters and writers. When you arrive in Nice, you will be able to park the car and leave it, as there is a large traffic-free zone in the center.

Driving Distance

235 km or 146 miles.

Suggested Road Trip Length

It takes around 3 hours to drive between Marseille and Nice but if you really want to enjoy the area explore Marseille, Nice and a few towns between I suggest you spend around 4 to 5 days on this South of France road trip.

crowded beach at a french calanque as seen from above

The Champagne Route

From Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too

Without a doubt, France’s Champagne Route is one of the most popular driving tours in the country.

When driving the Champagne Route of France there are several routes to consider, including Massif Saint Thiery Route the northern route starting from Reims, Marne Valley Route from Epernay, and the Cote des Blancs Route from the south of Epernay. There are also others, or you can mix and match to create your own France road trip route!

If you only want to visit some of the major towns you can start from Troyes and head to Epernay, then onto Reims.

There are many small towns and villages around the Champagne region to visit.  The routes will take you past beautiful chateaux, quaint villages, churches, and many champagne houses.

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The major champagne houses such as Mercier and Moet Chandon can be found in Epernay and in Reims you can visit Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, Taittinger and many smaller boutique champagnes houses as well.

The best months to visit are between May and October.

Driving Distance

The Champagne region is easy to travel to from Paris.  The journey from Paris to Reims is only 45 minutes and from Paris to Epernay 1 hour 10 minutes.

The distance from Troyes to Epernay is 112 km or 70 miles, and Epernay to Reims is 29 km or 16 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

You can visit either town on a day trip and visit some of the Champagne Houses within walking distance of the train station.  The ideal time to enjoy all that the Champagne region has to offer is between 5 – 7 days.

vineyards of the champagne region in france, one of the best road trips in france

The Opal Coast

From Nichola of Globalmouse Travels

The Opal Coast is fantastic for a road trip through France, taking in some beautiful towns and gorgeous beaches.
Start your road trip in Calais where there are great museums and chances to see World War Two fortifications on the outskirts. Head along the coast to Boulogne, the old town is the sweetest area where you can walk the city walls and stop for some traditional food in the restaurants lining the streets. Don’t miss the amazing Nausicaa Aquarium just outside of Boulogne which is one of the largest in Europe. It’s a great place to dive into if the weather takes a turn.
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Then head to the southern part of the Opal Coast, with beaches like Hadelot and Berck-sur-Mer – golden stretches of sand with candy cane colored beach huts. This area is much less frequented than others in France and you will often find little deserted areas to relax and enjoy. With plenty of great and affordable accommodation in this area, the Opal Coast is perfect for family holidays in northern France as well as solo trips or romantic getaways.

Driving Distance

The stretch from Calais to Hardelot is 52 Km or 32 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

This could be a nice relaxed week-long trip or a long weekend if you’re happy to travel at a faster pace. Spend as long as you can though, the beaches that line the Opal Coast deserve to be lingered on.
two people riding horses on a sandy stretch of the opal coast in northern france road trip

Paris to Normandy Road Trip

From Selam of SWTliving

The following Paris to Normandy road trip is ideal for those looking to escape the city for a few days to a natural and verdant environment.

From Paris, go north to Mont Saint Michel (4-hour drive), where you should stay for at least 1 night. Consider taking the toll-free road which adds 30 minutes to your driving time, but gives you the chance to drive through Normandy’s charming villages and countryside. 

Once you’ve checked into your hotel, walk, bike, or take public transportation to the island that is Mont Saint Michel. When visiting Mont Saint Michel during low tide, go onto the island, grab a spot along the high stone wall and witness the rising of the tide as the sea surrounds the island, isolating it from the mainland.

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The next day, drive east to Étretat. Consider spending half a day to a full day here.

While Giverny may have been home to impressionist painters, Étretat was their inspiration. Étretat sits on the Normandy coast and is home to where grayish-white limestone cliffs meet the untamed blue sea. The cliff tops are paved with dirt paths and staircases making them accessible for walking, hiking, and sight-seeing.

On your way back to Paris from Étretat, stop in Honfleur to aimlessly walk through the port and old town. The various architectures are beautiful in their own right: the medieval old town and the port with its tightly packed, vertical, colorful buildings. When you’ve finished exploring Honfleur, it’s an estimated 2.5-hours drive to Paris.

Driving Distance

834 kilometers or 518 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

This road trip from Paris through Normandy and back can be comfortably done in 3 days. 

White cliffs of Etretat with bright blue water to the left side of the photo. Etretat is one of the best places to visit in France

The French Alps from Chamonix

From Whitney of Designs for Travel

One of the most incredible road trips in France is through the Frech Alps.  With the beautiful green mountains (or white in the snowy season), aqua blue lakes, and quaint chalets, the Frech Alps is one of the most picturesque areas in Europe. 

This Frech Alps road trip is a loop that starts and ends in the popular adventure town of Chamonix.  The closest major airport is Geneva, Switzerland.

Start in Chamonix, a beautiful resort town at the base of Mont Blanc.  It’s one of the best places to ski in the winter, but I recommend taking this trip in the summer, where you can take a gondola to the top, and enjoy the panoramic views and do some hiking. 

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The next stop on this road trip is 1 hour and 20 minutes west, to the gorgeous alpine town of Annecy.  The pristine lake, river, cobbled old town, pastel cottages, and medieval chateau make Annecy a must-see town in the Alps. 

From here, head east to Le Grand Bornand, another beautiful alpine resort town.  Drive back to Chamonix for a raclette dinner, which is sure to be a favorite meal.

After visiting France, if you have more time, you can drive south to Italy to continue your road trip.

Driving Distance

130 miles, 210 kilometers.

Recommended Road Trip Length

This road trip itinerary can easily be done in 3 days and if you have more time, a week is even better!

Bike leaning against bridge over a canal in Annecy, France

Gorges du Verdon + Valensole Plateau Road Trip

From Elisa of France Bucket List

This 2-day road trip in Southern France covers the Verdon National Park and some of the best lavender fields in Provence. This French road trip starts in the city of Aix-en-Provence, and it takes two days. Aix-en-Provence is the quintessential Provencal city with many interesting things to see and do. Ideally, take one day or two to visit Aix-en-Provence before hitting the road.

From Aix-en-Provence, drive to Valensole, a pretty small town world-known for its lavender fields. Enjoy these never-ending seas of ‘blue gold’- it is not only beautiful to see, but it also smells very good!

Back to the road, drive to the Verdon National Park and stop at Esparron de Verdon and Lac Quinson de Verdon, two small lakes with absolutely no crowds. At Lac de Quinson, you can rent a kayak or an electric road and explore the Gorges du Verdon from the water.

Spend the night at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a picturesque hilltop village with the label ‘most beautiful villages in France’.

Day two visits Lac Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. This is the main lake in the area, and the perfect place to relax on the beach and have a picnic with a view. In the afternoon, visit the hilltop village of Aiguines, which is less touristy than Moustiers and with a more local atmosphere.  Have an alfresco dinner in one of the two restaurants on the main square before driving back to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for the last night of this road trip.

Driving Distance

270 km, 168 miles.  

Recommended Road Trip Length

This road trip lasts two days. Add one or two more days if you want to visit Aix-en-Provence.

bright turquoise water in a gorge in verdon national park france

Bordeaux + France’s West Coast

From Kat of Wandering Bird

If you’re looking for a mixture of beautiful sandy beaches, cities, and dramatic scenery, head for the west coast of France. 

You can begin your trip almost anywhere along the coast, but let’s start in the major hub of Bordeaux. Here you can hire a car or camper van and set off on your adventure, but take a day or two first to explore this beautiful city.

If you only have one day, focus your time on the Cathedral and the mirror pool (you’ll need to wake up very early to nab photos here without the crowds).

Once you leave the city, you have some choices to make. Do you want wine, sea, or one of the most incredible natural wonders you’ve ever seen?

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Bordeaux is surrounded by vineyards and they are all worth visiting. If you’re touring France in a motorhome, you can even stay overnight at many of the vineyards (no worrying about drinking and driving!)

If you want to be wowed, head to Arcachon and the jaw-dropping Dune du Pilat. This natural wonder is the largest sand dune in Europe, standing at around 106m high and runs for nearly 3km. Walking up it is not for the faint-hearted!

Lastly, if you want to see more of the beautiful Atlantic coastline, head up to Île de Ré. This stunning island has some beautiful beaches and is a great place to witness the incredible sunsets you find on the French coast. 

Driving Distance

From Dune du Pilat to Île de Ré (past Bordeaux), this driving trip in France is 276 km or 172 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

You can drive from Dune du Pilat to Île de Ré in under 3 hours if traffic is clear.

However, we recommend at least a day in Bordeaux, a day near the dune and Arcachon, and a day on Ile de Re, so allow at least 3/ 4 days for your trip. 

aerial view of dune du pilat in france

Calais to the Pyrenees Loop

From Jenny of TraveLynn Family

For those located in the UK, Calais is an obvious starting point for a France road trip as it’s a short crossing from Kent, either on the ferry or Eurotunnel. This Calais to the Pyrenees road trip itinerary does a big loop down to the Pyrenees via the Auvergne and Perpignan, then back up again via Bayonne, Île d’Oléron, and the Loire Valley, returning to Calais.

Between each stop is about 4 to 5 hours of driving, although do note that this is along tolled roads (which can add up, but they are very efficient).

Staying at campsites, this summer itinerary steers away from main tourist sites and explores the French countryside, rather than the cities. It is advisable to take a bike to explore each stop further using the many cycle lanes and marked tracks. And don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, as there are lots of opportunities for a dip to cool off after a day of exploring.

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From the peaceful wooded valleys of the Auvergne to the Catalan charm of the Western Mediterranean; the majestic peaks of the Pyrenees to the fashionable beaches of the Basque country; and the idyllic fishing villages of Ile d’Oléron to the chateaux of the Loire Valley steeped in history; each stop is notably distinct from the other, providing a true cross-section of cultures and landscapes across the French countryside.

Driving Distance

2005 miles 0r 3225 kilometers (using toll roads).

Recommended Road Trip Length

30 days.

Chateau de Fontainbleau in the Loire Valley of France

The French Alps From Grenoble

From Sasha of The Alternative Travel Guide

If you are traveling in France, you cannot help but visit the French Alps. It is worth going to the Alps not only in winter to go skiing. The Alps are also great for a spring, summer, or fall road trip to enjoy magnificent mountain landscapes and mountain towns.
This alpine road trip begins in Grenoble, the French Alps’ capital and one of the most beautiful cities in France. It is a city with over 2000 years of history. Despite being a renowned city, it does not suffer from over-tourism and has retained its French authenticity. Visit the old town of Grenoble to feel its fantastic atmosphere. 
Grenoble is famous for its Bastille fortress – La Forteresse De La Bastille. For centuries, this rock has been used as an excellent observation post to protect the valley from the enemy. And now you can see the 16th-century watchtower on it. 
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If France means castles for you, then you will not be disappointed in Grenoble. In the nearest suburb, you can visit a fabulous 17th-century castle – Château de Vizille. There is a garden around the castle, where deer and peacocks roam freely, ducks and swans swim in the lake. It is a great place to walk and relax. The entrance to the park and the castle are free. Spend the night in Grenoble. 
The next day, drive to Gap, a small but very charming town surrounded by mountains. There you can stroll through the streets with colorful houses, taste local mountain cuisine, and, most importantly, see the magnificent mountain landscapes.
Your next stop on this alpine road trip is  Lac de Serre-Poncon, one of the most famous lakes in the Alpine massif. In the middle of the lake, there is a tiny island with a chapel on it. You can swim in the lake, sunbathe on its many beaches and practice water sports. 

Driving Distance

149  km / 92 miles.

Recommended Trip Length

While the entire trip from Grenoble to the lake takes about three hours, there are so many things to see and do along the way that you could make it a weekend trip or a week-long trip. 
city of grenoble france with river in the foreground and snowcapped mountains in the background

Gorges du Tarn

From Daniela of ipanematravels.com

Gorges du Tarn offers one of the most scenic landscapes in Southern France, which makes it the perfect destination for a road trip. This loop road trip will take you along the rivers Tarn and La Jonte in the Causses and Cévennes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The trip starts and ends in Millau, a sleepy Medieval town, famous for the tallest bridge in the world – the Millau Viaduct. After visiting the bridge, head to the hamlet of Peyre, which is literally glued to the rocks – a fine example of the so-called ‘troglodyte’ villages. The area abounds in this type of dwellings, where the backside is carved into the rocks and only the façade is at street level.

After Peyre, head upstream the Tarn all the way to Florac. The dramatic gorge, cut by the Tarn, is dotted with a string of cute little villages and hamlets: Les Vignes, La Malène, Hauterives, Saint-Chély-du-Tarn, Sainte-Enimie, Prades, Castelbouc, Ispagnac.

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At Les Vignes make a detour (11 km/ 7 miles) to Point Sublime for the most breathtaking views of the gorge. At La Malène, you can take a boat tour on the Tarn with the famous flat-bottom boats of Les Bateliers.

Another village that deserves more attention is Sainte-Enimie. Together with Peyre, it’s included on the official list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

From Florac, take D16 across Causse Méjean and visit the incredible cave, Aven Armand. Afterward, take D986 to Meyrueis and continue downstream La Jonte, following D996 and Gorges de la Jonte. The last stop on this road trip, before you return to Millau, are the twin towns of Le Rozier and Peyreleau.

Driving Distance

215 km or 135 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

Although you can cover the whole distance in one day, I highly recommend that you do this in at least 3 or 4 days. The best time to do the trip is in the summer – between June and September, as in the low season as most places will be closed.

village is gorges du tarn france with a waterfall spilling into the river

Cannes to Saint-Tropez

From Elena of Passion for Hospitality

The Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera, is one of the most breathtaking coastlines, lined with picturesque cosmopolitan coastal towns and villages, golden beaches, rich nature scenes, the southeast corner of France has been blessed by natural beauty.

Driving from Cannes to St. Tropez is definitely a good way for those seeking to discover the gems of the French Riviera while enjoying a relaxed hustle-free little trip. 

To get the most out of the road-trip make sure to start early in the morning from Cannes. The first stop is Theoule-sur-Mer, a small medieval town located on the Golfe de La Napoule. Enjoy breathtaking views of the bay La Pointe de l’Aiguille or grab a delicious coffee and croissant before departing for the next destination, the resort town of St. Raphael.

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We recommend enjoying lunch by the harbor’s restaurants and later, losing yourself around the narrow streets of the colorful old town. The last stop before reaching St. Tropez, where an overnight stop is recommended, is Saint Maxime, a quiet small village which landscape has inspired and continues to do so for many artists and writers.

Depending on your budget there are many different accommodations options, from simple cozy apartments by the beach, to luxurious resorts. 

Alongside the coastal road, there are many little spots scattered, where drivers could take a quick stop to admire the dazzling views, take a few photographs or stretch their legs. 

Driving Distance

85 kilometers / 53 Miles 

Recommended Road Trip Length

It is an hour and a half car trip from one city to the other. With the short and one overnight stop, we recommend 2 days enough for this trip.

harbor of st tropez in the south of france road trip itinerary

Toulouse to Andorra Loop

From Ucman of BrownBoyTravels

The tiny sovereign state of Andorra is a mere 190km from Toulouse and makes a perfect road trip back and forth which can be easily done over a weekend. 

Leaving Toulouse in the early morning, you will head in the southwestern direction to the highway. If you want a more scenic route head to Lacroix-Falgarde. The small rural roads will eventually lead you towards the Pyrenees. The Pyrenees appear shortly and the midi- Pyrenees towns and villages take over.

They are perfect for a coffee break or if you are going slowly, for a lunch break. These quaint little villages and towns offer a great insight into the southern french style of life. The streets are neatly trimmed and the everblooming shadow of Pyrenees mountain range dominates everything ever so lovingly.

The drive here is quite easy and simple but that changes significantly when you reach the mountain range. The roads become narrow and the sharp turns take over. The elevation also increases quite dramatically, make sure to take a break to pop your ears. 

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The drive is really beautiful here especially in winter with the snow but also quite dangerous, black snow is a real threat here so drive with caution. 

If you drive fast you can cover this entire distance from Toulouse to Andorra La Vella in 3-4 hours but I’d recommend taking a day and going slow to enjoy the scenery. (Make sure to bring your passport although most of the time there are no border checks).

It is quite easy to drive around in Andorra from the ski slopes of Encamp to the quaint little town of Ordino or if you just want a relaxed weekend the beautiful spas of Andorra la Vella. If you like shopping, Andorra offers duty-free shopping , there something for everyone here.

The road trip to Andorra from Toulouse is a memorable and easy France driving trip.

Driving Distance

120 miles or 190 kilometers.

Recommended Road Trip Length

2-3 days is enough to enjoy this France road trip itinerary.

stone village in the hills of andorra, visible on a france road trip itinerary from toulouse to andorra

Brittany Road Trip in France

From Victoria of Guide Your Travel

Brittany lies in the northwest of France and is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Come here for incredible beaches, impressive coastlines and unique food and snack options. The beaches here look like they belong somewhere on a Caribbean Island and although the weather tends to be quite cold it’s a great spot for kite surfing, hiking and sightseeing.
The best road trip around Brittany begins in Mont-Saint Michel, one of the most famous landmarks in France. This tiny island has an impressive castle and is a great first stop on a road trip.
Follow the road along the coast to the towns of Saint-Malo and Saint Brieuc which have impressive historic architecture and are perfect for an afternoon walk. Make sure to take the side roads and explore some of the beaches that make this area of France so special.
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We highly recommend stopping in Portsall, a little harbour town with a great pier. Concarneau and the Pointe du Corsen which is the most western point in France are also highly recommended. If you have time spend a few days on the Crozon peninsula where you’ll find some of the best hikes around. The beaches here are incredibly beautiful and will make you want to stay for longer.
Your road trip will end just before Nantes which is a great city to spend a few days before you head back.

Driving Distance

This driving route will be between 800 and 100 kilometres, 500 – 620 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

This France road trip will take between 1 and 2 weeks.
castle ruins of the coast of brittany france near saint-malo

Montpellier to Toulouse Loop

Montpellier is an excellent starting point for this road trip. It is located near Provence and a fantastic place to use as a home base to make day trips to explore. You are also located just minutes from the Mediterranean Sea and lots of great beaches. In fact, you can access some of them by tram. 
Montpellier is a beautiful walking city with lots of historic buildings, restaurants, shopping districts, and museums close by. To this end, make sure you go to Place de la Comedie to see the beautiful Opera House, the art museum, and the shop.
Another must-see place is the Cathedrale St. Pierre. Built originally in 1364, it is the most important Gothic building in Montpellier. It is located in the middle of Old Town. 
From Montpellier, you should drive to and spend some time in Carcassonne. Carcassonne is most famous for its medieval citadel (La Cite de Carcassonne), the largest in all of Europe. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many aspects of the citadel to explore (ramparts, gates, and the windy streets within the citadel) and you should give yourself at least one full day to do so.
Carsaconne France, with the fortress visible on the left side of the photo and the village below it on the right

Finally, you should head 100 km to Toulouse. Toulouse is nicknamed “la Ville Rose” – the pink city – because so many of the buildings are made from pinkish bricks. Important sites to visit are Basilique Saint-Sernin, the largest romanesque church in Europe. It also has more relics in the crypt than any other church in France, many of which are from Charlemagne (9th century).

You should also spend time at Place du Capitole and the square in front of it. Some parts of the building date back to the 12th century. It has beautiful frescos and offers tours.

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Driving Distance

Montpellier – Carcassonne – Toulouse is 245 km or 150 miles.

Recommended Road Trip Length

It would take about 3 hours to drive this France road trip route straight through without stopping. However, to truly enjoy each location, I would give yourself a minimum of 5 days.

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4 photos of france: castle, cote d'azur, etretat, lavender field. black and pink text on a white background reads "15 best france road trip ideas"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

10 thoughts on “15 Best France Road Trip Itinerary Ideas (+ Driving Tips!)”

  1. hello 🙂 just finished reading your ” escape clause” and i found some great tips so just like to thank you for that first of all. I’m planning on travelling to France by car from west Yorkshire in the UK for a 10 day holiday in total, we would start of by a 5 hour drive to dover then get the ferry crossing to Calais and carry on from there. we will have a 3 year old and a 1 year old too with us so we want to see plenty of beaches and coastal scenery. i wondered if you could maybe point us in the right direction on places to visit/stay ( ideally 2 different locations on family friendly campsites with lodges or tents) and go off on day trips from there if that makes sense 🙂
    look forward to hearing back from you guys

    • Hi Iain! Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to spend much time in northwestern France (we were supposed to this year, but alas, 2020 had other plans). I can tell you our personal wish list in that general corner of France, though, includes all the major hits: Etretat, Le Havre, Honfleur, Lille, Rouen, and if you get that far south, of course, Mont Saint-Michel. Etretat is ideal for the coastal scenery you mentioned!

      Wish we had more detail to offer, but there are some stunning places up that way!

  2. Staggering beauty here Kate. Wow. France surprises me with its range. Definitely a worthy spot for a serious road trip. Fabulous images guys!


  3. thank you for this! we are planning visit in aug/sept 2022 x 21d staring our in paris and heading toward bordeaux, the sw coast, basque, french pyrenees, and andorra. Wasn’t sure how to finish up the loop back to paris but I would love to incorporate provence. I also love your focus on gorges! I just started following you on IG and will look out for more inspiration!

    • Thanks so much, Leigh! Sounds like an incredible trip.

      We’re toying with a trip to Basque Country and/or Bordeaux ourselves this spring–it never stops being difficult to narrow down our options!

      Hope you guys have a wonderful time!

  4. Very good coverage of driving tours in France. One suggestion for drivers I don’t recall was mentioned. After you pick up your car rental stop somewhere and invest in materials to clean your windshield. We have driven thousands of miles on many car trips and estimate that most of the time gas stations don’t have squeegees, sponges, paper towels, or even water available. Well worth the small cost. France is a large agricultural country and bugs abound.

  5. Hello Kate.
    I am planning my trip to France. It is our first trip to France.
    We will fly from New York to Paris and we want to explore France as much as we can within 9 days. We want to rent car and use train if we need. My plan is to start from Paris and go to other nice places including small towns/villages and end up in south and fly back to US from other south city. We need your advice please.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Baktor!

      With 9 days, the first thing I’d do is narrow down what general region of France you want to visit, as you can access a wide variety of beautiful small towns in that time!

      Normandy and Provence are both popular regions for first-time visitors to France, though it sounds like you’re most likely wanting Provence. For Normandy, you might drive right from Paris, and for Provence, you’d likely want to take a train to Aix-en-Provence and then pick up a car. This itinerary covers Provence: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/south-of-france-itinerary/

      If you want to stick very close to Paris, consider the Loire Valley.

      Other options could include the Bordeaux area (we love St. Emilion: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/saint-emilion-france/) or Burgundy (https://www.ourescapeclause.com/things-to-do-in-dijon-france/).

      You obviously can’t cover all of that, but narrowing down where you want to go will be the first step. France has lifetimes worth of villages to explore. 🙂

      If you’re wanting to fly home from the south of France, you’ll want to look at flights from Bordeaux (in the west) or Nice, Marseille, Lyon, or Toulouse (in the east).


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