The Best Road Trips in France

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 4 min read
The Best Road Trips in France

Experience France in a whole new way. A road trip with the French landscape as your background is the perfect holiday.

Your holiday in France doesn’t begin when you get to your accommodation. In fact, the second your car hits the tarmac at our Calais terminal, the adventure starts! Driving through France means you can take in the amazing views, stop off at the small towns off the beaten track, and uncover French history at the many historic battlegrounds, castles and artefacts. 

Grenoble Bridge overlooking the beautiful French town and cliffs

Route Napoléon

Distance from Calais: 10h 15m drive / 1043km
Stop Off: Grasse, Dignes and Sisteron 
Weather: Sunny

First on our list is one of the most famous routes in France. If you want to feel like you’re in a car advert, twisting and turning through a mountainous landscape, then Route Napoleon is for you. Unsurprisingly named after Napoleon Bonaparte, this is the journey he took in 1815 upon his return from exile in Elba. Along the drive, keep an eye out for the statues of the golden French Imperial Eagle, which marks the route.

If you drive from north to south, you will begin in Grenoble, venturing down to La Mure, Sisteron, and finally ending in Antibes. As well as its historic context, it is also a fantastic way to see the natural landscape change, from rocky mountains to the iconic sun-drenched views of the French Riviera.

As this drive is a longer route and there are many picture-perfect spots along the way, we'd recommend splitting the journey up over a couple of days to really enjoy the experience. This way, not only can you make the most of this route at a more relaxed, leisurely pace but you can spend time visiting the towns that make up the journey.

The port of Nice at dawn bursting with colourful boats and yachts

French Riviera: Nice to Fréjus

Distance from Calais: 11h 33m drive / 1225km (to Nice)
Stop Off: Cannes, Monaco, Antibes
Weather: Sunny

The South of France is a favourite destination for jet-setters, film stars and royalty to spend their summers. With the Mediterranean Sea lapping the perfect beaches, the beautiful towns and cities that make up the area, it’s not surprising! A sun-drenched road trip taking in the area’s most glamorous locations is the best way to experience the Riviera.

Start the journey in Nice, where you can spot the rich-and-famous’ superyachts lounging in the sapphire sea and visit Musée Matisse to view the great artist’s finest work. Then, there’s the historic town of Antibes, where you can either wander around the pretty streets or lounge on the beaches. Once you’re ready to discover more, head to Cannes which is famous for its film festival and is lined with sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and palatial hotels

Don’t forget you can also head into Monaco, the true home of glitz and glamour, when driving this route. Spend a few days here, taking in the culture and luxurious beaches.

On this route, avoid the highways, and instead drive along the D559, where you are spoilt with views from the cliffs and coves.

Winding Col De Turini high mountain pass in the Alps

Col de Turini

Distance from Calais: 12h 6m drive/ 1284km
Stop Off: Instead of stopping, just take in the great views!
Weather: Usually clear

Finally, the most famous road on our guide — the Col de Turini. Known for its 34 hairpin bends, sheer drops (some up to 30km long) and world class views, drivers flock from far and wide to experience the road, despite it being known as one of the most temperamental in the world. Much of the road is 30km per hour, as there are a lot of blind spots after the aforementioned tight turns, but don’t be disappointed that you can’t speed your way round. The views that act as a backdrop to the road are so spectacular, you’ll be grateful of the more leisurely pace.

It’s not just drivers who hit the Col de Turini’s tarmac. The road has been featured in the Tour de France several times. You thought some of the turns were hair-raising in a car, imagine being on a bike!

Because its safety is dependent on the weather, meticulously plan your journey in advance and keep an eye on the changes to the forecast. Avoid driving during heavy rain or high winds.

Which road will you hit first? Start your journey on the right pedal and set off with LeShuttle. It only takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, so what are you waiting for?

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