France is a beautiful country to explore, it’s one of those places that’s just so much more than its beautiful cities; there are gorgeous national parks, the beautiful region of Provence and so much more. This all makes for some of the best places to visit in France on a road trip.
As with any trip to visit France, it can take many forms; especially whilst exploring France on a road trip. it can stretch a few short and sweet days, to a few weeks or even longer.
So, to help you get the most out of your time driving through France, take a look at some of our favourite spots in France and the best places to visit in France on a road trip. You’re going to be spoilt for choice.
Lille is a historic 17th-century city that you don’t want to miss, especially as it’s so easy to get to from London. After all, you can pop the car on the Eurotunnel train and get across to Lille in just a few hours.
Once here, you’ll easily see why it’s one of the best places to visit in France on a road trip. Think Glorious squares, stunning architecture and romantic churches abound.
Don’t forget to pop into Méert for an indulgent afternoon of chocolate, sweets and all things cake, you’ll be spoilt rotten. Not only that, it’s one of the most famous waffle houses in all of France.
Just be prepared to queue if you’re arriving on a weekend.
Afterwards, be sure to check out, Palais des Beaux-Arts. Here, there are heaps of exhibitions and art from all over the world. Just be sure to give yourself at least two hours to stroll around; after all, it’s one of the biggest museums in all of France.
Oh, and be sure to pop into the historic Old Stock Exchange. Inside the courtyard, you’ll find heaps of little antique and book stalls that are so gorgeous. Just be sure to take some cash with you; most vendors don’t take cards.
The French Alps almost need no introduction, but it’s one of the best places to visit in France on a road trip if you don’t mind driving in the snowy months.
Over 1,800 metres above sea level, Montgenvre is a great place to stop if you want to take advantage of the quiet slopes in the French Alps. You see, places like Val d’Isere, are great for skiing – but they do get busier compared to ski resort towns like Montgenevre.
Now, thankfully, you won’t have to pack your skiing equipment in the car, you can easily rent poles, skis and helmets in town. Just be sure to take layers with you.
Best of all, there are a range of pistes for every ability. There’s something for everyone!
Oh, and if you’re done with the skiing, take a short drive over to Briancon. It’s a little alpine town that’s well worth taking a gander around. Especially for the walled city walls that you can still walk around to this day.
Honestly, if you are driving down to the south-east of France then Montgenevre is not to be missed. The beautiful mountains, incredible ski slopes and stunning scenery are just out of this world.
3) Mont St Michel
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont St Michel is a church, abbey, and village set atop an area of rocky ground that makes it look like it is erupting from the sea. It’s as magical as it sounds and one of the best places in France to visit on a road trip in the north of the country.
Once here, make sure to head over to the ‘mont’ itself and wander through the gorgeous cobbled streets and walkways that make this place so special. Just be aware, it can get extra busy on weekends and in the holidays. For a quieter experience, head across first thing in the morning, on a weekday.
Now, you can easily add Mont St Michel to any road trip itinerary driving through the best places in the north of France. Alternatively, and quite easily, you can partner it with a trip to the Brittany region, too.
Arguably the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux is one the best places to visit in France on a road trip when you’re looking to make a stop for a few days. You see, you’ll want ample time to enjoy the city, but also the delicious wines that this region produces.
After all, it’s the perfect place to notch up some wine-tasting skills. Make sure to grab a few bottles and find out more about the best years to buy.
Once here, be sure to head inside Bordeaux Cathedral, it’s colossal and beautiful to see. Oh, and don’t forget to stroll over to Place de la Bourse and see the water mirror that’s so beautiful at sunset. It’s like a huge water ‘pond’ that’s only a few inches deep. It’s stunning.
Finally, head inside the Cité du Vin, a wine museum that’s so great to explore – especially if you’re visiting this western region of France for its wine.
Avignon just on the fringes of beautiful Provence, is often known (internationally at least) for the song about its famous bridge, but there is much more to explore here. I’d go as far as saying that Avignon is one of the best places to visit in France on a road trip when driving from Montpellier or Marseille.
Once in Avignon, be sure to explore the chateaux and palaces which make this city so great. We absolutely loved Palais des Papes and it’s well worth setting aside at least 2-3 hours for this alone.
You see, it’s said to be the biggest gothic building in all of Europe and is so incredible to walk around.
Afterwards, head over for a stroll on Pont d’Avignon. it’s the medieval bridge that once spanned the Rhone and dates back centuries.
Finally, be sure to visit the Calvet Museum, it’s a great way to see some of the region’s fine art and explore the history of Avignon itself.
Spend a day, or so, rambling through its winding streets and cobbled walkways – it really is picturesque.
Probably one of our favourite places in Provence, Gordes is absolutely beautiful to visit. I’d go as far as saying it’s the best places to visit in France on a road trip. You see, it will fit into any Provence road trip you’re doing and is well worth spending an afternoon (or longer) staying here.
If you’re driving, make sure to park here which is a short walk into the historic centre itself. This makes it much easier than trying to find random parking bays outside of the town itself.
After parking, head over to explore Gorde’s beautiful little streets and alleys. Make sure to see the Church of Saint-Firmin, visit the Château de Gordes and pop into one of the cafes that line the little streets here. It’s so picturesque.
If you fancy staying longer, book in for an extra special stay at Airelles Gordes, La Bastide. It’s the same company that runs the hotel in Versailles and is well worth booking in. We love their properties and they’re always such a treat to stay.
Finally, for the best view of Gordes, drive over to this point on Google Maps. Here, there is a little pull-in area where you’ll get that famous view.
Look, no trip to France is complete without a trip to Paris! Now, one of the things I love most about Paris is that you can easily park your car and explore the city by public transport or taxi. Honestly, it’s a great little rest from all the driving and you’ll know exactly what I mean if you drive.
Now, we’ve mentioned some of the very best places in Paris you have to see, how to visit the Eiffel Tower and all the free things to do in Paris in our blog posts; so we won’t get into huge details here. Just make sure to give yourself a good few days to go around the city.
It’s true, you can’t ever really see all of Paris (just like every global city), but you can easily see the iconic spots over a few days’ visit.
Perched in the south-west region of France, Carcassone is one of the best places to visit in France on a road trip whilst driving the South of France.
Once here, make sure to explore the historic citadel, that’s surrounded by the medieval walls that make Carcassone so iconic. With centuries of history inside, you’ll be able to wander the walls, explore the cobbled streets and see Château Comtal which is just so iconic.
Afterwards, take a stroll over Pont Vieux and head into the ‘new town’; that’s still centuries old! Here, you’ll be able to stroll the streets and visit the Cathedral of Saint Michael – all before popping into the little restaurants and cafes around here.
We loved Carcassone so much that we ended up staying for 4 days.
9) The Verdon Gorge
Want to spend some time in the great outdoors in France? Then drive yourself over to the Verdon Gorge which is easily one of the best places in France to visit on a road trip.
Nestled close to the Alps-de-Haute-Provence, the Verdon Gorge has to be seen to be believed. Plus, it’s really easy to include as part of your road trip, especially if you’re driving between Nice and Grenoble.
You can easily rent a kayak and explore some of the canyon which is just so picturesque. We loved it.
Now, the colour here is spectacular, too! It’s a shade of blue that’s so picturesque. So, if you want to see it, make sure to visit on a sunny day. The colour of the water changes quite significantly when it’s cloudy.
Probably one of our favourite former royal palaces to visit in France, Versailles is an absolute must-see whilst driving in France.
Around a 30-minute drive from the centre of Paris, Versailles is well worth visiting for a day (or overnight, like we did). If you’re visiting for the day, make sure to book these skip-the-line entry tickets that will get you right inside the palace and see the iconic Hall of Mirrors.
Plus, you’ll get to see Marie Antoinette and the King’s Quarters which are colossal.
For a really special overnight stay, book into Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle. We stayed here and loved it; not just because it’s such a special hotel, but you also get access to a tour of Versailles once the palace has closed. It’s incredible.
Oh, and don’t forget to spend a good few hours wandering through the gardens, too. They are incredible.
11.) Dordogne Valley
We spent around 5-days driving around the Dordogne Valley region of France, and it’s spectacular. Just east of Bordeaux, it’s another wine region that’s within easy reach of the coastline and totally worth exploring.
The whole Dordogne region has that rustic French charm that you imagine in French movies. They are just so picturesque. After arriving, make sure to stop off at places like; Sarlat (think crooked rooftops and cobbled streets), Belves, Domme and Monpazier.
Oh, and don’t forget to go truffle hunting in the Dordogne too! We loved this activity and spent all afternoon looking (and tasting) truffles.