The best road trips in France

Whether you’re out for a family adventure or romantic rendezvous, the winding roads and mountain paths of stunning rural France promise to take you on a drive you’ll never forget. 

Just a stone’s throw across the channel via ferry or the Channel Tunnel, driving to France makes for an easy and relatively inexpensive holiday.

Unsure where to start planning your French adventure? We’ve put together a guide to some of the country’s most scenic road trips to help get you in the mood.

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The Napoleon Route (Grenoble to Nice road trip)

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Grenoble

 

The iconic ‘capital’ of the French Alps, set beneath the ruins of Bastille; the city of Grenoble makes a stunning starting destination for one of France’s most scenic road trips.

After exploring this historic starting city, the first leg of this trip sees you set off for a meandering drive down the mountain side, taking in the awe-inspiring cliffs and natural valleys.

Enjoy your drive through some of France’s most well-known towns and villages such as Grasse, Digne and Sisteron, stopping off for a coffee and slice of cake en route. Then take a detour via Vence for some glorious coastal views over Nice and the south coast.

Punctuated by beautiful historic landmarks, this is the perfect trip if you want to lose yourself in stunning natural French scenery.

Mountain Road (La Route des Grandes Alpes)

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Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

 

Another route for those of you that love a dramatic alpine environment, this idyllic winter drive starts out at Lake Geneva, taking you over a 425-mile stretch of forests and mountain passes, offering incredible views of snow-capped peaks and rugged mountain terrain.

For a keen skier, this route also offers opportunity to stop off at the famous resort towns of Morzine and Chamonix for a quick race down the slopes. 

If you decide to take the drive in summer, pull on your hiking boots for some of the best scenic walks the Alps have to offer. Reaching over 2,300m at its highest point, you’re bound to catch some spectacular sights.

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The History Tour (Paris to Loire Valley road trip)

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Loire Valley

 

One for the history buffs, this epic tour takes you back in time through some of France’s most historic locations. 

Starting out in the capital, head west of Paris and up to the little medieval town of Rouen. 

Inspiration to Impressionist painters like Claude Monet, Rouen is your chance to explore a beautiful cathedral and the 14th-Century astronomical clock Gros Horloge, taking in some of the country's richest history.

Back on the road, don’t forget to stop off on the beaches of Normandy to pay respects to the World War II tributes before finishing your tour at the magnificent Loire Valley Châteaux.

The Regal Path (Amboise to Angers road trip)

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Chateau de Chambord

 

If royal history piques your interest, our regal-themed road trip starts out in Amboise, the 15th century home of King Charles VIII, before enjoying the most picturesque views of the region as you follow the Loire River into Loire Valley.

After visiting the Loire Châteaux, drive further along the river to Saumur, where the medieval castle is still home to a number of unique artefacts and intricate tapestries. 

Complete your royal tour by driving up to Angers – not forgetting to stop off for a regal picnic in Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Nature Park. 

The Romantic Route (Troyes to St Etienne via Dijon road trip)

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La place de la Libération, Dijon

 

Tour through the romantic, rolling vineyards of France’s famous Champagne region – perhaps even stopping off for a glass or two at the end of your driving day. 

Taking you right to the heart of French culture, this route is packed with opportunities to explore; with museums, galleries and quaint towns dotted throughout the region.

Moving on through Dijon – home of the famous French mustard – you’ll finish off your romantic venture in St Etienne, viewing some of the most classic national architecture in Northern France.

With 270 miles of sprawling countryside to take in, this might not be the most entertaining tour for the children, but it’s perfect for a romantic escape.

The Coastal Trail (Biarritz to Bordeaux road trip)

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Biarritz

 

If you’re in search of sand and sea, this most relaxing drive up the Atlantic coast will check all the boxes. 

Starting out in Biarritz, weave your way through pretty villages and harbour towns, before taking to the glittering coastline. Roll down your windows for a breath of that fresh sea air and be sure to stop off along the way for a quick dip.

If you’re travelling with children, this trip is full of exciting adventures to be had, and you’ll never be far from a lunch spot if moules-frites takes your fancy.

The Volcanic Hike (Auvergne) 

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Auvergne

 

France’s impressive volcanic region might not be the first place you’d think of visiting – but its expansive rural mountains and panoramic views make the Auvergne one of France’s most beautiful natural landscapes.

Right in the heart of the country, the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park is home to nearly 450 dormant peaks and more than 80 craters, some of which erupted as long as 100,000 years ago. 

A road trip really is the only way to get the most out of this incredible region. From pocketed sapphire lakes, to dramatic views of grassy canyons – a camera really won’t do it justice. 

The Riviera Route (St. Tropez to Italy road trip)

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St. Tropez

 

The beauty of the French Riviera has always held a great attraction for the rich and famous – and is it any wonder? The year-round tranquillity of the Riviera region, with its consistent weather and golden beaches, make it one of the most heavenly holiday destinations in all of France. 

To get a little more out of your Riviera experience, turn it into a road trip. Start out in St. Tropez and take your journey east toward the Italian border, ticking off famous destinations like Cannes, Monaco, Antibes and Nice as you go. 

This final route has everything you could want from a luxurious long weekend, from food and culture, to stunning scenery and gorgeous sun. 

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What do I need to remember before driving in France?

Driving in France can be very different from driving in the UK. It’s important to take the time to familiarise yourself with all the laws and requirements, so you don’t get caught out once you get there. 

As well as differences in the way you drive, there are also a number of things you’ll need to have in your vehicle that you might not think about in the UK. From breathalysers to clean air stickers, it’s essential that you do your research before you go and stay on the right side of the law.  

What do I need to remember before I start my French road trip?

Before any long road-trip, it’s always a good idea to carry out a few maintenance checks to make sure your car is in the best possible condition to take you safely on your journey. 

The RAC encourages drivers to remember the acronym ‘FORCES’ when carrying out car checks: Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, and Screenwash. Check our tips for avoiding a breakdown for more information on FORCES.

You should also remember to take along a few road trip essentials for the journey including a first aid kit, additional engine oil and water, mobile phone charger and snacks and games, especially if you’re travelling with children.

Do I need European breakdown cover to drive in Europe?

Wherever you’re heading across Europe, RAC has great value European breakdown cover options that give you comprehensive cover if you break down on your way, offering roadside assistance and a 24/7 English-speaking helpline.

What happens if I break down in France?

Depending on the level of your European breakdown cover, the RAC will pay towards any garage labour costs, onward travel expenses and accommodation fees – something to consider if you’ve got a booking to make. If you want to see more details on our breakdown services in this country, why not head to our dedicated breakdown cover in france page now.

For more information and guidance about breaking down on the continent, and to get the right quote that meets your needs, check out our complete guide to RAC European breakdown cover.

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