Travel ideas

The 10 best road trips in France and around

The 10 best road trips in France and around

From the gorges of the Ardeche to the infinite horizons of the Camargue, from the Clos de Bourgogne to the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean, in the heart of Brittany or along the Atlantic coast, from the forests of the Périgord to the hinterland valleys of Nice, it’s time to hit the road all around France. In Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Denmark, in the Balkans, we suggest some of Europe’s great road trips.

 

Road Trips in France

1

Road Trip in Provence and Ardeche

Drive through the Camargue in a 4x4 past pink flamingos and reeds bending in the wind and keeping one eye on the endless horizon. We like the mile-long beaches of Beauduc, which can be reached along a thin strand of asphalt that winds between ponds and salt marshes. Stop in Arles at the abbey of Montmajour, and then head off to the gorges of the Ardeche. There, you can leave the car by the side of the road and walk through chestnut groves on a steep slope to reach a waterhole. Settle down on a giant smooth rock or dive into the fresh, icy water. 

We like : visiting an olive grove and its mill in the Baux valley in the Alpilles. 

›› All our travel ideas in Provence
 

2

Road Trip on the French Riviera 

In Marseille, you can enjoy a lunch of shellfish at Les Goudes, shop for spices and halva at the Noailles Market, escape the city by boat for a glass of wine and a dive off the Frioul Archipelago two miles offshore. In Cassis, stay in a mansion surrounded by pine forest and creeks and overlooking the Cap Canaille. In Ramatuelle you can wander, and down the hill you can settle into the mythical hotel of the sixties located on Pampelonne Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in France. 

We like : the temptation to keep on driving and continue the journey to the Italian Riviera. 

›› All our travel ideas on the French Riviera

3

Road Trip in Brittany

Brittany has an almost austere and untamed landscape which you can savour through your window as you drive by. Cruise a coastline of jagged rocks facing the Atlantic, smelling the sea air scented with marsh and forest. Then experience a newfound tranquillity in the sheltered Gulf of Morbihan, a protected inland sea dotted with fantastic islands - long sandy beaches, coastal paths, lost villages and salt marshes. 

We like : the possibility to continue to Finistère in the West. 

›› All our travel ideas in Brittany

4

Road Trip in Burgundy and Champagne

In Champagne, you can ride through the vineyards in a Citroen Mehari (like a Mini Moke), cross the Marne River, and visit the best Champagne houses from Ruinart to Taittinger. Then, head south to Burgundy where you will plot a course through gently curving countryside dotted with the world's most renowned vineyards, neatly lined up in tight rows sheltered by dry stone walls. 

We like : visiting the cellars of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits with a master winemaker. 

›› All our travel ideas in Burgundy 
 

5

Road Trip in Corsica

Start in the north, from the Corsican Cape, a finger-shaped peninsula pointing at Genoa and Liguria, and head south to the limestone of the Bonifacio region along roads far from the crowds. In the north, small fishing ports and villages are scattered across wild valleys. In the centre sits the citadel of Corte, glorious walking trails and fresh streams. In the south, it’s all about white cliffs, blue creeks and beautiful beaches (actually, you’ll find the last of that list everywhere on the island). 

We like : going to the Lavezzi Islands by catamaran from Bonifacio. 

›› All our travel ideas in Corsica

6

Road Trip in the Perigord

A road trip through Perigord is to see green forests crossed by rivers, white limestone plateaus, and purple vineyards dotted with bastides (fortified towns). Black Perigord is a fertile jewel set in the valleys of the Dordogne and the Vézère – home to dark forests and hills of oak trees with dark green leaves. The Périgord region is also full of caves and troglodytic dwellings, fortified villages and farms with lauze (like slate, but thicker) roofs. Crisscrossing through holm oaks and junipers, the region’s hilly lanes are an absolute winner for road trips. 

We like : truffles 

›› All our travel ideas in Aquitaine

7

Road Trip in the Basque Country and Landes 

With the peaks of the Pyrenees facing the ocean, and pine forests and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, you can drive along the coastline from the Basque Coast to Bordeaux. Pass white houses in Guéthary, surf breaks, endless beaches, and forests of oaks and pines. Cross the Landes towards Arcachon Bay and Cap Ferret and enjoy the contemplative calm of a bike ride or a coffee-flavoured canelé pastry. 

We like : meeting an oyster farmer from Arcachon Bay and sampling his wares.
  

3 other Road Trips in Europe

8

A Road Trip in Denmark and Sweden 

Urban planning, fashion, fine arts, design, ..., Copenhagen is not only one of the most civilised capitals in Europe, but also a smart city model that has been adapted to combat climate change. So, when you’re there, explore by bicycle, Danish style. Then pick up your car for the drive to Gothenburg - Sweden's second largest city, which is as rebellious as Stockholm is conventional: think indie music, contemporary art, food trucks and live beer in microbreweries. Having had your fill of urban pleasures, you can take the road through landscapes of rock and water to the Weather Islands archipelago in beautiful Bohusland.

We like : discovering sensational Scandinavian cuisine.

9

Road Trip from Montenegro to Croatia 

In Montenegro, Kotor is essentially a Mediterranean fjord to rival Norway’s, but with palm trees, palaces, azure sky and warm sea. Take a road through the mountains, and you are in Bosnia, and the capital Sarajevo, home to minarets, mosques and Turkish cafes as if you’ve been transported to Istanbul. Circling back, in Croatia’s Kornati island archipelago, you can enjoy the Mediterranean way of life with your family.

We like : Exploring Kotor’s fjord by motorboat.

10 

Road Trip in Spain and Portugal 

Start in Bilbao before heading to Asturias on a road that runs through an untamed coastline and a green Spain of valleys and mountains before you cross the border. In Portugal, the landscape is full of medieval vestiges and charming villages. After baroque and Art Nouveau Porto, continue through the vineyards of the Douro Valley.

We like : cruising on the Douro River after a wine tasting. Better than driving.

 

Cover : Lucentius/Getty Images