The French countryside is some of the most beautiful and varied in the whole world. You can go from lush flat green to hilly inclines to dry and hot to wild coastal and there’s really no better way to absorb the whole experience than in a car. It’s a fairly common holiday now to drive through France with the family or friends, stopping off in the small villages or roadside motels and treating the whole travel as the holiday. It’s not Route 66 but it’s becoming just as iconic.
If you are coming from Britain, then the ferry to Calais with your car in tow is a very sensible and popular choice. That way you have your own familiar vehicle and don’t have the hassle of hiring. Having said that though hiring a car in France is very straightforward. The big names like Hertz and Avis are worth sticking to just for peace of mind and ease of location.
In terms of routes to take, there are really no limits. It’s often best to stick to the excellent motorways if you just have to get somewhere quick and easy before you start exploring. They are some of the best roads in the world and well worth the tolls you have to pay. They are quite often only dual carriageways and not half as busy as you might think. You’ll find it’s people like yourself on them so don’t feel worried.
From Paris down to Bordeaux you’ll pass some of France’s famous wine trails and be able to see all the vineyards from the road as you go as well as stop off for some tasting, if you’re not the driver that is. Up north around Normandy the Loire Valley it’s more like the UK but then with the added bonus of being full of cheese. Like wine there’s plenty of places to stop for some tasting, drivers can more than make up for the loss of wine here. Then as you head south towards Lyon, St Etienne and then Provence things suddenly get very distracting out of the window. The mountains and hills and then the miles of beaches will be hard to resist stopping for a photo and a picnic at.
Here are some handy tips to remember before you set out on your drive:
- Make sure you’re over 18. It’s the law out there even if not in your country.
- Everyone has to wear a seatbelt and no one under ten can sit in the front seat.
- Watch your speed. It might seem more slack than other places but you’ll get on the spot cash fines if you’re over the limit by more than 25km. Remember it’s under 125km/h on the motorways.
- Get deflectors fitted to dip your headlights, a first aid kit, a little fire extinguisher and a glow in the dark red triangle in case you break down.
- Have some cash on you at all times in case you have to pay a toll, or even a fine.
- Use a sat-nav if you can or make sure you plan your route well beforehand.
- A vehicle coming onto a road always has priority from the right so watch out.
Top 3 hotels in Provence
- Hotel St. Louis – 2-star hotel in Marseille – double classic room from €72,00
- Hotel Le Pré Galoffre – 3-star hotel in Nîmes – double room from €65,00
- Hotel La Magnaneraie – 4-star hotel in Avignon – double classic room from €89,00
Top 3 hotels in the Loire Valley
- Hotel Escale Océania – 2-star hotel in Orléans – double room from €57,00
- Le Golf Hotel Manoir de Beauvoir – 3-star hotel in Poitiers – double room from €62,00
- Hotel Le Savoie -2-star hotel in Blois – double room from €49,00
Photo of a sunrise in the countryside near Bordeaux by sakechaud.