Driving holidays through France continue to gain popularity as travellers realise that they are a perfect way in which to explore and see as much as possible of this stunning country. So much more can be achieved through self-driving here than with a package tour or by booking a hotel by the sea.
France has much to offer by way of breathtaking scenery and variety that it is difficult to pick just a couple of highlights. Provence is probably the region which gives a motorist the best all round feeling of ‘Frenchness’ as they pass through medieval villages, vineyards, lavender fields and market towns, and makes a great starting point for any road trip in France.
As a wine region, Provence dates back to medieval times, and any road trip here is bound to involve a couple of days of parking the car and sampling the dazzling array of wine labels which are on offer. The weather in Provence, being temperate, also means that driving conditions are usually ideal.
Provencal markets are must-visits for their range of freshly produced breads, cheeses, fruits and vegetables as well as pottery products and other local handicrafts. Most villages in a particular area will stagger their market days so that the locals can pick up something fresh every day of the week, meaning that there is something happening almost all of the time.
One of the highlights of a drive through the region is the chance to stop off in the village of Les Baux de Provence. Situated outside of St Remy, it is one of France’s best known medieval villages. The road to the village winds through olive groves and vineyards, and once at the top provides visitors with some of the most beautiful views out across the limestone Les Alpilles.
As well as its impressive fortress, Les Baux de Provence has numerous little shops to explore selling a range of souvenirs and hand-painted figurines. It is also worth stopping off at a restaurant for a freshly prepared Provencal speciality and a glass of something local.
Another driving highlight is the wine route from Champagne to the Rhone Valley. With careful planning, drivers can explore the legendry regions of Champagne, Chablis, Sancerre Pouilly-sur-Loire, Burgundy and the Rhone in a reasonably short amount of time, while still having the opportunity of ditching the car for a wine tasting and a delicious meal in each place of interest.
The drive takes in some of the most gorgeous scenery in the centre and west of the country, from the gentle slopes of Burgundy to the steep, sun-scorched slopes of Cote Rotie, above the splendid Rhone.
Its impossible to illustrate just how much there is to see in France for those who choose to spend time travelling here by car. Make the drive with friends so that the experience can be shared and don’t forget to park the car and switch to public transport when visiting the major cities to avoid the complicated one-way systems of old towns and rush hour traffic.