The ultimate south of France road trip

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 5 min read
The ultimate south of France road trip

Explore the south of France from the comfort of your own car with our essential road trip guide.

The south of France is utterly beautiful and a wonderful holiday destination. But don’t take our word for it, plan a road trip to the area and explore from the comfort of your car.

Driving to the south of France from Calais

This guide will help you plan places to go and stop on your trip, with something for everyone’s taste. 

If you’re thinking of taking the family on a road trip to the south of France and want first-hand advice from someone who’s tried and tested it, read our guide from Paul Trueman, who journeyed with his wife and two children from Devon to Fréjus.

A winding cobbled street with trees and ornate buildings lining it

The highlights of Provence and the French Riviera

These two areas in the south of France are incredibly popular thanks to the variety of things to see and do in each.

Provence is known for its diverse landscapes, miles of vineyards, lavender fields, and crystal blue waters. Make sure you stop in Avignon, one of France’s most historic cities, and visit the gorgeous medieval Gothic Palais des Papes. 

If you are there in the warmer months, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct is perfect for a dip in the water and only a 30-minute drive from Avignon. The Pont du Gard is one of the best-preserved Roman constructions in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

For heavenly scents and photo opportunities, head to Valensole for the stunning lavender fields.

The French Riviera is a famous part of the French coastline, banked by the Mediterranean Sea. It stretches from Marseille to Menton and includes Monaco, which is in fact a car-lover’s dream location thanks to nearby cliff-top roads.  

The region is known as ‘Côte d'Azur’ to the French and has restaurants, beaches, golf courses, and plenty of shopping to entertain.

Start your south of France tour in Marseille

At one end of the French Riviera lies Marseille, an exciting city that’s the south’s answer to Paris, with culture around every corner.

Take a break from your road trip here for fine dining, walks along the water’s edge, and the city’s excellent Museum of Contemporary Art.

A panoramic view of a big colourful city with a harbour filled with boats on blue water

Marseille to Arles

The drive to Arles from Marseille is around an hour and a half via the A7 and A54. This city sits on the banks of the Rhône River and is famed for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh. If you want to combine art and a road trip we know just the places you should stop at.

Arles to Camargue Avignon

Arles is also one of the three towns that the Camargue Nature Park stretches over, offering a wealth of natural and cultural heritage, outstanding beauty, and of course, wildlife.

A drive north from Arles to where the park sits in Avignon will take you around 50 minutes via the D57ON.

Avignon to Aix-en-Provence

As we mentioned, Avignon is full of history and a must-see city. If you can arrive in July, this city’s art festival is one of the best in France, spanning several weeks. 

Drive towards the coast for just over an hour via the A7 from Avignon to reach Aix-en-Provence. This spa town was founded in the 15th century (Aix means ‘watering place’) and is filled with museums, wonderful architecture, and traditional markets.

A fountain with the statue of a woman at the centre with a huge stone arched structure behind it in a park

Aix-en-Provence to Verdon Gorge

If you’ve had your fill of city culture and beaches on this road trip, the Gorges du Verdon is a real tonic. Around 2 hours and 15 minutes-drive via the A51 from Aix lies this natural phenomenon of cliffs and valleys, some that reach 700m tall. Stretch your legs on a hike and take in the natural beauty.

Hyères to Cannes

Hyères is on the Mediterranean coast. Its hillside old town has the remains of a medieval castle and centuries-old walls for you to enjoy, but most people come for the exquisite beaches and its three Îles d'Or (golden islands) which are all just off the coast. Porquerolles is the largest of the three.

From Hyères to Cannes will take you around an hour and a half via the A57 and A8, just enough time to build up an appetite, which you’ll need for all the fabulous restaurants in Cannes.

Cannes to Saint Paul de Vence

From Cannes we recommend a drive to Saint Paul de Vence, (an easy day trip from Nice too). It’s been inhabited since 400 BC and looks like something out of a fairytale with its quaint stone buildings and abundance of flowers in spring and summer. Sit back and relax in any one of the sheltered courtyards with a coffee or something a little stronger. 

A pretty white stone building covered in green foliage with purple flowers with an alleyway leading up into the hills

Nice to Eze

Nice to Eze is only a 30-minute-drive via the M6007 and it’s well-worth every minute for the picturesque little town that awaits you. While Nice sits on the pebbly shores of the Baie des Anges and offers beaches, restaurants, and shopping experiences, Eze offers a quieter atmosphere and slower pace. Perched on a hill, you get fantastic sea views and the cobbled streets are a joy to wander.

Return to Marseille from Eze

From Eze it’s an easy drive back to Marseille of around 2 hours and 30 minutes via the A8. Although this most direct route avoids the coastline, which is via the A50 and would take you around 5 hours to drive. Choose the route which best suits you, after all that’s the beauty of a road trip.

Start your southern France road trip with LeShuttle

If you’re not quite ready for a longer road trip, we have some easy road trips for first timers you can try. However, we’re sure you’ll love being on the open road and we can get you from Folkestone, UK to Calais France in just 35 minutes. From there, the south of France awaits.

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