Sometimes paradise isn’t on the other side of the world. Sometimes, it’s a ferry or Eurostar away. Whether you have a few days on a long weekend, a couple of weeks, or even several months, road tripping around France is often surprising, always rewarding. C’est la belle vie! |
What to See, Where to Go
Like any major European country – especially one that’s been at the forefront world history from the Middle Ages, to the Enlightenment, World Wars and beyond – France is incredibly diverse. Be it long countryside drives, visits to historic vineyards, gastronomic delights, or bustling cities, it’s all here.
Here are some of my favourites.
The North Coast
The North of France will definitely be familiar to British travellers, both in terms of climate (plus a few degrees) and people. The area once catered to aristo visitors from Paris and London, which means value today.
Here’s a possible itinerary:
• Start with Dieppe’s fourteenth-century tower of the Château, an area beloved by Impressionist painters and an old haunt of Voltaire. • Head north to see cliffs as white as Dover on the other side of the channel – the Alabaster Coast as it’s known locally. • Visit Le Crotoy, where Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and which inspired Sisley and Seurat. • Enjoy the local seafood of Boulogne-Sur-Mer; families shouldn’t miss the Centre National de la Mer. • Calais itself is a treasure trove of food, art and history.
Prefer the South?
For travellers further afield, the South of France justifies its reputation for haute cuisine and high culture. Start in a big city and head onward, and you’ll see it like a local.
Here’s one trip you could make:
• From Montpellier, visit the walled maritime village of Aigue-Mortes. • The drive to Arles takes in vineyards and wetlands, including the protected habitat of the famous Camargue wild white horses. • Either enjoy the Mediterranean, or head inland to Aix-en-Provence – a Provençal gem worth the detour. • However you get there, Nice, St Tropez, Antibes, Cannes and Monte Carlo are all within reach.
France has the most famous wine-growing regions in the world. If you’re a buff, or are eager to learn, here are our picks for where to visit:
• Alsace: Go south from Strasbourg to Thann along the Route des Vins d’Alsace. • Bordeaux: You can’t go wrong in the cradle of modern viniculture – fine reds in the north, sweet or dry whites in the south. • Provence: Montpellier to Nice takes in the Camargue, noted above. • Burgundy: Le Route des Grand Crus hits everything you’ll need to see in a clearly-marked way. • Champagne: A little luxury? Either take the 220km Coast Bar route, or the shorter Montagne de Reims.
Know Before you Go
There are a few things you should be aware of before you get behind the wheel of your rental vehicle across the Channel. All cars in France need a breathalyser onboard (not surprising after reading this post). Aside from this, remember that all signs and speedometers are in kilometres per hour. You’re also driving on the opposite side from the UK, and there are some traffic-filled cities involved. Lastly, car hire companies in France have large excess costs. Make sure you arrange car excess travel insurance beforehand for peace of mind.
And there you have it: au revoir and bonne chance!
Ethan Bailey is an experienced adventure traveller and insurance expert with the team at Let's Go Insure. Ethan’s passion is to inspire his clients to go just that little bit further, deeper and higher on their travels and his expertise in providing the ideal insurance cover allows them to do just that. If you're looking for the best car excess travel insurance Let's Go works with the most experienced underwriters, intermediaries and insurers to offer a range of competitive insurance without compromising on cover.
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