In France, there’s nothing like a relaxing road trip to help you appreciate the country’s diversity at a more relaxed pace. Not to mention how exciting it is to drive through France!
When it comes to driving through France, you’ll get a taste of its culture and history from the Alps to the French Riviera and even from the Atlantic Ocean to quaint medieval towns inland.
And the good news is eligible passport holders will be able to obtain an ETIAS France for travel to France once the new European Travel Authorization System for Europe is implemented in late 2024.
Discover the best driving routes in France with our list of the top 6.
1. Atlantic to the Mediterranean
This classic sea-to-sea road trip takes you through the best of southern France, with its salty Atlantic ports, pristine mountain vistas, heady bouquet of fine wine, and reminders of Rome and Hollywood glam. Stroll the ramparts of France’s most magnificent fortress city, Château Comtal, and take in the atmosphere of Marseille while tasting wine and shopping at Maison du Vin de St-Émilion.
Start: La Rochelle
Distance: 1450 km
2. Alpine Road Trip
From the charming lakeside city of Annecy, you’ll travel through the French Alps to the country’s highest village, St-Véran. You’ll see Mont Blanc, the Col de l’Iseran (the highest mountain pass in the Alps), and Alpine villages of unparalleled beauty as you make your way through the mountains. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the region’s best adventure activities, such as mountain biking, white-water rafting, riding nerve-wracking cable cars, and traversing the French Alps’ most stunning passes.
Distance: 360 km
3. Bordeaux to Biarritz
Bordeaux is famous for its wine, but the city itself has a lot to offer as well. Visit the Musée d’Art Contemporain and the boutiques in the trendy Chartrons district before heading to a wine château or two. Make your way through the vast Landes de Gascogne natural park as you drive south. Take a break from the road trip and go for a walk in the pine forests, or continue through the marshland, spotting wildlife from the window. Further west, the Atlantic coast is dotted with quaint seaside towns. Hossegor is a great place to stop if you’ve got your surfboard strapped to the roof. In the mornings, take a dip in the sea at Biarritz, then spend the afternoons exploring the Basque countryside. Take a scenic drive to St. Jean de Luz or cross the border into Spain and spend the night in San Sebastian.
End: St. Jean de Luz
Distance: 727 km
4. Riviera Road Trip
Driving along the fabled Riviera highway is the epitome of a classic French experience. Every bend in the road provides breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, as well as glimpses of local culture and history. If you’ve ever wanted to be the star of your sexy beach scene, now’s your chance. If you’re looking for a romantic drive through southern France, look no further than this enticing driving route. As you travel through Nice, you’ll be enchanted by the sun-kissed cuisine, the glistening sea, the scent of the islands, and the cobblestone streets of the hilltop villages.
End: Cap Ferrat
5. Loire Valley Road Trip
The Loire Valley has been home to a long line of powerful men and women, whether it’s medieval warlords or the kings and queens of the Renaissance. As a result, France now has the most exquisite collection of castles in the world. This tour of the Loire Valley’s most famous châteaux is a truly French experience, combining awe-inspiring architecture, richly dramatic history, exquisite cuisine, and delectable wine. There are a plethora of castles to choose from along the way, but Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Amboise, and, of course, Chambord are not to be missed.
6. The Lavender Route
Get out into the haze of purple and smell the ripe summer air as you explore hilltop towns, ancient churches, and pretty valleys dotted with vineyards. Despite being well-known (and heavily trafficked), the Luberon in Vaucluse retains a rustic charm that may surprise you. You’ll see some of the world’s most famous landmarks, but you’ll also get a chance to explore the backroads, sleepy villages, wide-open spaces, and one stunning mountain. And, of course, there were fields and fields of awe-inspiring purple flowers. Visit the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Sault, and Prieuré de Salagon while you’re in the neighborhood.
End: Plateau de Valensole