Ancient history, bon ton villages, cultural treasures, fine food and even finer wines – there are so many reasons to plan a road trip in France. Whether you’re planning on slowly cruising the stunning French Riviera, getting lost among the snowcapped mountains or tasting your way around well-known vineyards, chances are you will find many unforgettable routes that will show you the real soul of France.
Our itinerary: from the highest peak of Europe, Mont Blanc, to the sophisticated atmosphere of the French Riviera.
Road trip in France: the itinerary
distance: 716 Km | travel time: 7h54 | duration: 5 days
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc ↠ Antibes
Road trip in France: day 1
Starting Point: Mont Blanc. With the sheer white heights of the Italian Alps as its sensational backdrop, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in all Europe. 4.810 metres of solid rock and ice that rises impregnable above the narrow valleys of northwestern Italy. Skiers paradise in winter and hikers dream in summer, the mountain offers thrilling panoramas at every season.
From the Chamonix Valley, the French and most dramatic side of Mont Blanc, our road trip adventure begins.
Soaking up the stunning view of the Chamonix glacier and enjoying every mile of the French Alps narrow roads, we made our way south.
‘Driving at sunset is one of the things I enjoy most.
The roads open up, leaving you speechless in front of the beauty of an infinite pink sky.’
Surrounded by a beautiful countryside lit up by the warm colours of dusk, we reached our shelter for the night. With the morning’s first light we fully realised the beauty of the area. Lavander fields, vineyards and tiny villages nestled into the hillsides. Roche-Saint-Secret-Béconne, was exactly what we were looking for, a charming little town surrounded by Provençal hills.
Road trip in France: day 2
Asking the locals a few questions about the history of the place, we discovered the nearby Nyons and its ancient Roman bridge. The town, settled in the 6th century BC by a Gallic tribe, turned out to be amazingly surprising.
The town winds uphill through narrow streets and picturesque stone houses. Every corner you turn will surprise you. Walking up to the chateau you will find one of the highlights of the town: the Tour Randonne.
The Tour Randonne, today knows as Chapelle Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, was built in 1280 by the Barons of Montauban. Designed as a symbol of power it then served as a prison until 1862, when it was converted into a chapel. Its shape is extraordinary, an unusual three-story pyramid has been built on top of the original building with a statue of the Virgin Mary erected on top of that. From there you will have an excellent view of the surrounding countryside, even better at sunset!!
Road trip in France: day 3
Our third day on the road lead us to the beautiful Vaison-la-Romaine. Its Provençal charm with medieval back streets, lively squares and, as its name implies, remains of its Roman past, enchants all those who love history. The medieval ‘upper town’ and its defensive walls have sat on top of the rock cliff since the 16th Century, giving its inhabitants and visitors splendid views of the river below. Narrow steep streets winding up the hill lead to the ruins of the castle built by the Counts of Toulouse in 1195.
After exploring the Medieval town head for the roman remains. They cover 15 hectares, eight of which are visitable!
Road trip in France: day 4
Our last day on the road. Leaving Vaison-la-Romaine we made our way south choosing a panoramic road, longer but with stunning views of the beautiful Provence. One for all, the Dentelles de Montmirail: a dramatically shaped chain of mountains formed by Jurassic limestone strata forced into a nearly upright position then eroded into sharp-edged ridges.
Our road trip in France is at its last stop: Antibes and the chic French Riviera.
Named Antipolis by the Greeks, ruled by the Romans, the Christians and the kings of France, Antibes has a unique artistic vibe. The Old Town with its lavoir (public laundry fountain) where locals still rinse their clothes, the promenade and the Vauban’s sea walls, with yachts gently floating in the sea. With its charm, Antibes has stolen the hearts of many artists and writers. From Graham Greene to Max Ernst, from Monet to Picasso. The atmosphere you breath here is magical.
Road trip in France: day 5
While you are in Antibes, don’t miss a stroll down the coastal path and around the beautiful Cap d’Antibes peninsula at sunset or, even better, at sunrise.
Cap d’Antibes Walking Trail notes:
Departure point: Antibes
Distance: 4.8 km
Duration: 2 hours
Best time of year: Year round
Map & full itinerary on ActiveAzur.com