Driving to Nice from Calais

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 6 min read
Driving to Nice from Calais

Plan an adventure to Nice that allows you to experience some fantastic French sites along the way.

See more of France with this brilliant journey to its south. You can set the pace, planning your journey to Nice that takes in more than a few sights along the way.

And even if you don’t have as much time for your trip, our shuttles will get you to Calais from Folkestone in just 35 minutes. Booking your tickets couldn’t be easier.

How long does it take to drive from Calais to Nice?

From Calais, the drive to Nice is around 11 and a half hours. It’s a great opportunity to plan stops and truly experience France’s scenery. Stay in picturesque towns and villages, driving both French motorways and winding country roads. You can sample many different cuisines and variations of French culture by taking this journey. Have fun deciding where you will stay but let us guide you with a few of our favourite locations below.

The quickest route – via A26 through Lyon

The fastest route may be your preference if you have less time for your trip or don’t want to plan any long stops. Take the A26 and this will help you get to Nice in the least time. It’s also a clever way to avoid congestion that can sometimes occur around Paris at times. Rest areas and service stations are plentiful along almost every French autoroute, so you won’t have to worry about finding a place to stop for a leg stretch either.

Via Paris on the A6

Paris is gorgeous at any time of year. You can drive there from Calais easily, and the A6 is a fantastic route to try. This autoroute is in fact called the Autoroute du Soleil, Motorway of the Sun, and links Paris to Lyon, good to know if you’re planning a stop there too!

For a longer journey – A26 & A40 via Geneva

Taking this route will allow you to travel East before you reach Lyon and enter Switzerland. Geneva is a stunning location surrounded by the Jura mountains and the Alps. Depending on the time of year you may be looking to ski or explore the city at your own pace before you continue to Nice.

fountain of water with winged horses and central figure from marble

Is driving to Nice easy?

Driving to Nice shouldn’t be difficult. France has well-connected transport across the entire country with a road network of Autoroutes and Route Nationales that allow for almost seamless travel through its various regions. Even the Routes Departmentales and Communales that connect smaller areas and rural parts of France are well-maintained and safe to travel on, making for a pleasant drive through countryside and cityscapes alike.

There are many benefits to driving to and within France instead of flying or taking the train, including no baggage limit and complete control over when and where you stop.

Places to stop and see on your drive to Nice

Depending on the route you take, a journey to Nice could contain endless possibilities. Will you stop at medieval Laon? Sip wine in Dijon, or visit Fontaine-de-Vaucluse with its stunning waterside views and enticing caves?  

The beauty of this trip is that you can make it your own. From Calais you can pace through the plains of Picardy on the A26 before stopping at Arras with its Flemish baroque architecture.

Use our guide below to choose your favourite stops, then get ready to see a whole new side of France as you drive through its mix of speedy autoroutes and leisurely-paced lanes.

Once you reach Nice itself, there’s so much to see and do. It’s been occupied since ancient times with archaeological digs revealing Celtic and Roman remains. Why not stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais that takes its name from the English expats that gifted it in 1822? You can walk, cycle or skate its 4km sweep of the Baies des Anges. Climb the staircase of Colline du Château for the best views over Nice’s red-tiled rooftops.

For a modern twist, stop by the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain where European and American avant-garde works from the 1950s to the present day can be seen. The rooftop of this museum also serves as an exhibition space and you get bonus panoramic views of Nice!

Nice carnival

Blue confetti and ribbons shooting into the air with buildings and a crowd in the background

One event that draws crowds to Nice every year is the Carnival De Nice. Nice Carnival is an annual festival in February that has been celebrated for centuries. It spans two weeks, with various parades (all set around a different theme for the year) filled with opulent floats, music, and entertainment. You can discover this year’s theme and key dates here.


Explore the beautiful Laon

Laon has been nicknamed ‘Crowned Mountain’ (Montagne Couronnée) and for good reason. It’s perched on a rock 100m up, with its cathedral's towers rising into the skies. This medieval town was once the capital of the Carolingian empire (a dynasty ruled by noble families), and is perfect for lovers of underground passages, winding streets, and layers of history.


Lying close to Calais, the drive to Reims is a lovely one in itself. And once you’re there, you can choose between numerous activities, including a visit to some of the largest champagne houses, which are dotted around the area. After supping on samples of the local bubbly, there’s also plenty of Gothic architecture to captivate you. See our guide to the things to see and do in Reims to get inspired.


One of the pretty parks in Dijon

The place to stop or stay if you adore French food and wine, Dijon has plenty of dining options to tempt you. In the centre of Dijon, Le Bouchon du Palais is famous for serving up exquisite and traditional Lyonnaise food. Known in particular for superior wines and the classic mustard, there’s also art-deco architecture to take in and a range of museums to choose from. A highlight being the Musee des Beaux Arts that sits within the impressive Palace of the Dukes.


Lyon is just a six-hour drive from Calais, and only 2 hours south of Dijon. This is France’s second-largest city, so you’re truly spoilt for choice when it comes to activities and sights. The centre is filled with Renaissance buildings and tempting bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants). Wander to the docks or visit the Musée des Confluences, which is a building that often takes people’s breath away, even before they step inside and see the exhibitions.


Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a small town in Provence France, famous for being where the source of the Sorgue River lies. This fontaine is the largest spring in France as well as one of the most powerful in the world. It’s popular because the water appears to spurt from the mouth of a mysterious looking cave and sits in a picturesque valley. Cliffs and the ruins of a castle surround the valley, making it a rather fairytale-like location. The Renaissance Italian poet and scholar Petrarch wrote about his love for Laura de Noves here, and it isn’t hard to see why. Walk the banks of the river at any time of year for a glimpse of fig trees, cliff walls, and flowing water.


The stunning architecture of Avignon is not to be missed

A little-known fact about Avignon is that it is the city where the pope lived during the early 14th century. It was then the centre of the Roman Catholic world meaning that today it has an impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture. A highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage Palais des Papes, that attracts people from all over the world.

In summer, Avignon hosts the famous Les Halles food market each Saturday, where local chefs perform cooking demos and host tastings. And for lovers of arts, culture and theatre, the Festival d’Avignon (held every July) is perfect. The Église et Cloître des Carmes, a Romanesque and Gothic Carmelite church and cloister built in the 13th century was one of the first theatre and dance venues of the Festival, but you can visit this impressive venue at any time of the year.

Start your drive to Nice with LeShuttle

Be inspired to plan your next trip to Nice, using our recommended stops or new discoveries of your very own. Begin your journey with LeShuttle — we can take you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes. It couldn’t be easier to travel with us.

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