The mommybear and I recently enjoyed an epic two-week roadtrip through France!
We usually incorporate multiple countries into our euro travels, but we decided to do a road trip through France for this one, and we still didn’t have time to see it all! On my first ever euro trip, we hit Paris (and 10 other countries, backpacking over a month and a half); on the next one we visited Spain, Portugal and Morocco; and on the last euro trip we took together, we enjoyed the French Riviera, Milan/Lake Como, Italy and Mosel Valley, Germany. We were pretty close to booking Croatia for this adventure (Mumsies & I both fell in love with Croatia on our individual trips), but it came down to the convenience of the direct flight into Paris to fit with our 2 week plan (but Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia is on the list!). The mommaB is the ultimate trip planner, and we like to plan our European adventures according to Rick Steves‘ recs (but with our own twist). “Little Ricky” has such amazing detail and off the beaten path suggestions, so trying to figure out what’s worth seeing in a country (or how to get there, when to go..) is made simple.
We do not do the touristy thing. In Morocco, for example, we hopped on a local bus from Tangier to Asilah, squawking chickens and all.. So a self-guided roadtrip is a pretty ideal way to see France, in our opinion. Plus, a lot of the tours don’t reach some of the dreamy areas we explored.
Given our short time frame, we pretty much stuck to the middle of France, exploring the regions of Normandy, Brittany, Loire Valley, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, and Paris. Two weeks is not enough for Europe, but we made it work, and packed the adventures in!
If you are looking for a relaxing trip, I suggest doubling the amount of time or cutting out some of these places. For us, it was well worth the hustle. You can sleep on the plane home.
See travel tips/notes at the bottom of post.
Regions and the cities/towns visited:
Normandy: Bayeaux, the historic Normandy beaches, Arromanches, Mont Saint-Michel
Brittany: Saint-Malo, Dinard, Dinan
Loire Valley: Amboise, Chenonceau
Burgundy: Beaune, Meursault, Volnay and the other neighboring small villages (Pommard, La Rochepot)
**We even fit in a quick drive into Switzerland on the way to Colmar, just because we could hah.
Alsace: Colmar, Eguishiem, Turckheim
We couldn’t make it all the way down to the French Riviera this time around, but I absolutely recommend visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer!
- Two nights in Bayeux (or nearby). We stayed in Crepon (near Bayeaux), at the most beautiful and peaceful hotel: Ferme de la Rançonnière.
–Explore the Normandy beaches (we were here during the 78th anniversary of D-Day, so that was pretty incredible)
–Visit the famous Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Memorial in Colleville.
–Grab lunch in the fishing village of Port-en-Bessin
— Enjoy the historic beaches, and the cliff walks in Arromanches
- One night in Mont Saint-Michel (the mountain island circa the 700s!): Stay at the Hotel le Mouton Blanc (let’s just say it’s not the Ritz ha but it was cute and perfectly located).
–Explore the famous abbey (Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel) / pilgrimage site (be sure to arrive early in the morning, before the bus-loads of people)
- Two nights in the port city of Saint-Malo: Stay at the Best Western Hotel Alexandra, right on the main beachfront drag.
— Explore the historic town, originally built as a walled citadel, surrounded by 12th century ramparts. Grab drinks by the beach.
— Ferry over to the holiday destination of Dinard and hike around the island (the waterfront walkway is stunning)
— Drive 45 minutes to Dinan, a 1300 Medieval city!
- One night in a Chateau (!!) in the Loire Valley castle region: HIGHLY recommend staying at Château de Pray!! What an absolute fairytale. And they have a Michelin star restaurant.
— Visit the STUNNING Chenonceau castle (there are many castles nearby, but this one is geeeoooorrrgggiii)
- One night in Amboise: Stay at Hôtel Bellevue (castle views right out the door).
— Wander through the super cute streets; grab wine on the strip
— Pop over to Montrichard
- Two nights in Beaune: Stay at Najeti Hôtel de la Poste (the main town/sites are just across the street)
— visit the very famous hospital from the Middle Ages: the Hospices de Beaune
— drive to the wine caves throughout the tiny villages nearby (Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, La Rochepot..)
— The Domaine Delagrange Bernard et Fils wine cave in Meursault is worth a visit
- Two nights in Colmar (the cuuuute, colorful, previously German, gingerbread town!): Stay at Hôtel Saint-Martin (excellent location).
— Colmar is a colorful, storybook place, and the nearby towns are too.
— Stroll along the “mini-Venice” in Colmar
— Drive to the nearby adorable towns of Eguishiem and Turckheim
— Drive up to the Château du Hohlandsbourg castle and walk around the walls (gorgeous views).
- One night in Reims (the capital of the Champagne region). Stay at the Grand Hotel des Templiers.
— Obviously go champagne tasting!! We enjoyed sampling at the Champagne Charles de Cazanove
— Buy a bottle and sip in the park
— View the ancient Roman arch, Porte Mars
— Visit the Museum of the Surrender / Musée de la Reddition
**Return the rental car before heading to Paris, and take the train in.
Because we stayed at the airport hotel on our very last night, we dropped our luggage off at the hotel (after returning our rental car) before catching the train into Paris, packing only in a backpack for our night in Paris.
- One night in Paris (I’m sure this upsets many of you haha…oneee night only?!): Stay at the Hôtel du Champ de Mars (wonderful location). Because my mom has been to Paris many times, and I’ve spent time there on a previous trip, we decided to keep the visit short this time, since there were so many new places that we had to see.
— Purchase a metro pass (works for the metro and buses) and hop on one of the comfortable, clean buses to take in the city views (much better than being underground)
— Head to the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre district (spot the highly instagrammable pink building with the greenery)
— Picnic beneath the twinkling Eiffel Tower (each night it twinkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour)
— Visit the Louvre (and soooo many other places ugh, Paris needs a solo blog post)
— Catch the train back to the airport and check into your hotel
- One night at an airport hotel.
- Tolls and gas do add up, but traveling by car is still cheaper (and way more fun) than a guided bus tour. And, as mentioned above, there aren’t always easy public transportation options for reaching some of these destinations.
- Tolls were easy to use/figure out– just don’t get into a lane that shows a “t” logo (that’s for pass holders). We read that we may need to know our credit card PIN number for gas/tolls, but we did not.
- Renting and returning a car is fairly simple- the car rentals are just across the street, no shuttle required (although, the airport is extremely large and can be confusing).
- If you forget to pack a Type C converter, most places have USB charging anyway (devices may charge more slowly though).
- An international driver’s permit is not required to rent a car or drive– it’s only recommended in case you get pulled over by the police for a violation.
- As of our June 2022 flights, covid tests were not required.
- Verizon offers a travel plan, where you can use your data and make phone calls for only $10 a day (the high speed data runs out quickly though). If you don’t use your data/service on any given day, you are not charged (the “day” runs from the time you first initiate the usage).
- A cute go-to day backpack is a must. Here’s where I found my SUPER cute pack.
- Packing a lumbar support car seat cushion is a good idea. I grabbed this one, and used it on the plane and the entire trip, ditching it at the end.
- I always travel with this Anker portable charger. It’s a fast-charging (like shockingly so ha) and can charge a phone twice.