Top 5 drives in France

Cheap and regular ferry and channel tunnel crossings mean travelling by car to Europe is more convenient than ever. The appeal for many is that once you arrive at your destination, there are no worries about getting around – particularly if you use a route planner beforehand.

While you’re there, why not undertake a special driving holiday across some spectacular roads? To give you inspiration, we’ve put together five of the best driving routes in France to schedule into your trip, as well as an overview of things to remember and points of note while driving abroad.

Using the RAC Route Planner tool, we have also shown how you can get from Calais to our top five driving routes in France.

Route Napoleon

This famous driving route starts in the mountain town of Grenoble and finishes just west of Nice. Travelling through well-known towns and villages such as Grasse, Dignes and Sisteron, there’s always a place to stop for a coffee and a cake en route. It’ll give you more chance to admire the stunning scenery, too.

For excellent views over Nice and the south coast, detour via Vence. The whole route is characterised by flowing hills, which morph into precipitous, rocky outcrops looming large over the towns and settlements in the valley below.

There’s some interesting terrain to explore with plenty of gradient changes, too, which should give you the perfect chance to absorb the amazing examples of civil engineering and road building, as well as appreciate the often amazing weather. It’s a great run for those who love driving and scenery.

RAC Route Planner link

La Route des Grandes Alpes

This route starts at Lake Geneva and finishes at the end point of our first driving route, Nice.

You’ll take in a wide variety of landscapes over the 425-mile long run – from forested areas to mountain passes that sit alongside glaciers, snow-capped peaks and rugged mountain terrain. Whether driving through in summer or winter, the views on offer are breathtaking.

Stop off for a quick ski in any of the famous towns along the route in winter – including Morzine and Chamonix – or break up the journey with a brief alpine walk in summer. At over 2,300m altitude at its highest point, you’re bound to see some beautiful sights.

RAC Route Planner link

Troyes to St Etienne via Dijon

This 270-mile-plus route will get you right to the heart of French culture. Taking in the stunning countryside of the Champagne region (and maybe a glass or two in the evening when you’ve fully finished your driving for the day), the area is packed with museums and galleries, so there’s plenty to see.

It might not be the most entertaining if you have children, but if you’re after an interesting couples retreat combined with a driving holiday, this could be just the ticket.

Moving through Dijon – the home of the famous French mustard – and into the Burgundy region, travelling to St Etienne you’ll witness some of the most traditionally classic French architecture ever.

RAC Route Planner link

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Biarritz to Bourdeaux

Moving back to the coast, the drive from Biarritz in the south west of France, up the Atlantic coast to Bordeaux is a great way to breathe in some sea air.

The coastal views are brilliant – and if you’re travelling with children, you could break the journey up by stopping at a beach, involving the youngsters in some seaside games or a swim, and keep everyone happy with a spot of lunch.

Just like all scenic driving routes in France, winding through the villages on the former main roads, there’s ample chance to stop for local food and drink as well.

RAC Route Planner link

Cote d’Azur

There’s a reason why the rich and famous flock to the French Riviera – it’s beautiful. Year-round balmy weather makes it a perfect holiday destination, too, with plenty of beaches, hotels and restaurants catering for all budgets.

Turning it into a driving trip, starting out in St. Tropez and heading all the way east to the Italian border, through famous places such as Cannes, Monaco, Antibes, Nice and many more, the local culture is laid-back but full of life.

Our final route shares one thing in common with all our other trips too: wonderful scenery. Here, it is gorgeous coastline punctuated by rocky headlands as the road winds its way along the seafront.

RAC Route Planner link

Important points to remember

Read our driving in France advice for everything you need to know and remember to take out European breakdown cover for complete peace of mind.