There’s so much more to France than the lure of the City of Love or the charm of old architecture. In fact, she invites you to see so much more of her — from medieval chateaux to the white beaches of the Atlantic Coast.
The best way to be romanced by all this beauty? Road trips, of course. There’s nothing more enchanting than driving through France’s picture-perfect landscape and purposefully indulging in what she has to offer, something you certainly cannot do amidst the rush of taking trains and planes. Think about it: how can you fall head over heels with her little towns and quirks when you’re constantly worried about getting on the wrong train platform or missing a flight? Road trips, on the other hand, grant you freedom like never before to be enamored by France over and over again.
If you do decide to go with your four-wheeled friend, here are a few of the best places France welcomes you to.
The Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park
You’re in for a real treat on your road trip here — this gorgeous volcanic landscape is best traveled that way. With its (about 450!) peaks and valleys, the entire park is Europe’s largest, covering more than one-tenth of France itself. Traveling atop volcanoes might sound dangerous, but as the luscious greenery around the peaks, there’s no need to worry about volcanic activity. All the peaks are harmlessly dormant. In fact, to get the best view of all of them, head to Puy de Dome, the highest summit. From the top, you’ll be able to get breathtaking 360-degree views of the scenery, the distinctive volcanic plateau of Cezallier, not to mention the gorgeous curves of the landscape that expand as far as — even beyond — what the eye can see. For the best experience, don’t be afraid to park your vehicle and explore on foot with a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park
Take a breather from the hustle and bustle of life with this road trip that takes you to the Atlantic Coast. With pristine beaches and open fields, this park that lies to the west of Bordeaux is perfect for unwinding on long sunny days. On this road trip, you can look forward to indulging in amazing seafood or enjoying the luscious landscapes. In fact, you can start north from Arcachon Bay, which is home to the alluring town of Arcachon, and head down southwards to the border between France and Spain. Going this route allows you to take your time to marvel at the tallest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pilat, and even stretch out in Biarritz, known for its waves that attract surfers from all around the world. There’s so much that you can do but without any of the pressure — on this road trip, your time is yours to enjoy. While on this majestic trip, don’t forget a Giant Diamond Float Lounger for maximum relaxation.
Giant Diamond Float Lounger
Taking this road trip route lets you step into the shoes of French royalty, or rather, their homes. The Loire region is full of French history, as it was formerly the center of the medieval Anjou Empire. This enormous Unesco World Heritage Site is sprinkled with the aristocratic estates that were once used as luxurious escapes from the relentless summer heat in Paris. Today, the chateaux are still the perfect escape — for tourists and locals alike from the daily grind. Driving, along the D952 route especially, offers you a way to explore the valley in its beauty entirety. You can roam from the larger, lively towns like Orleans, Blois, Tours, and Angers, to the quaint villages of Amboise and Saumur that sit peacefully by the river. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how well-preserved some of the chateaux are. For instance, the medieval Chateau d’Angers, which was the seat of the Angevin Empire, dates back to the 1100s! Heading south of the Loire River, you’ll get to the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park. Here’s where you can enjoy the rich and artistic architectural creativity up close by visiting a palace or simply enjoying a serene picnic by the road. If you happen to go in the summer, a Pastel Rainbow Float Lounger will cool you down in the French heat!
Pastel Rainbow Float Lounger
Regional Park of the Catalan Pyrenees
If you asked any seasoned traveler about taking road trips in the Southern part of France, they would probably mention British journalist Peter Mayle’s bestselling memoir, A Year in Provence, that charmed audiences all around the world. That’s no surprise, seeing that it is a gorgeous part of France you should definitely consider visiting. However, there is a lesser-known head-turner that you can’t miss — the Regional Park of the Catalan Pyrenees. Connecting France and Spain, and located on the western part of France, it is ideal to explore, regardless of the season. In winter, skiing is the way to go, but in the sunny months, a road trip is perfect for discovering this fascinating part of France. You can even get the opportunity to pass through the Ceret, a French town known for its artistic charm if you start your trip from the Mediterranean on the western side. If you’re game for it, drive through the N116, a high mountain road that’s not for the weak-hearted. Taking this high road is definitely not for nothing, though — when you do survive the exciting lanes and sheer cliffs, you’ll be rewarded with truly breathtaking sceneries at the southern end. Make a stop at the beach for a dip in the water on a Blue Foldable Water Hammock Float Lounger.
Blue Foldable Water Hammock Float Lounger
Normandy is nothing short of a road trip haven. On its own, this area of France already has so much to offer, from its eccentric harbor towns to the well-known D-day beaches, to the picturesque cliff coastlines. Imagine traveling all of that, combined into one amazing road trip. Begin the adventure by walking the footsteps of soldiers who started on Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944, with a visit to the Vierville-sur-Mer area. There, the Normandy American Cemetery and the Memorial Museum of Omaha Beach will give you a closer look at the events that occurred on that fateful day — and that’s just the beginning. Following the coast offers you a window into more historical events, such as the Merville Battery Museum and the enormous German gun defense known as the Longues-sur-Mer battery. Continue heading north to explore the remarkable white-cliff walks in the town of Etretat. On your way there, you’ll surely marvel at the charming town of Honfleur, just like the painter Claude Monet once did. When at the beach, it’s always handy to have some Classic Inflatable Beach Balls to keep you busy!
Classic Inflatable Beach Balls (3 Pack)
So the next time you plan a visit to France, don’t be afraid to ditch the typical means of transportation that other tourists usually go for. Instead, opt to travel by car on France’s great open roads, and it’ll definitely be the adventure of a lifetime.