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Scenic road trip itinery from Northern to Southern France

Scenic road trip itinery from Northern to Southern France

Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 06:00 AM
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Scenic road trip itinery from Northern to Southern France

We are a couple who are looking to plan a driving trip driving our own car from Scotland to France and travelling throughout France for 2-3 weeks on June/July 2012.

We are looking for any advice because we would like to take a scenic route through the countryside and small towns/villages and not too much motorway driving. We enjoy seeing natural features, churches, chateaux, bridges, markets etc. and of course we are big foodies and enjoy our food and wine. We would like to stay at recommended chambes d'hotes and inns along the way.

We have only visited Provence and Cote d'Azur previously so would appreciate any advice on routes because we are novices.

Many thanks
Julie
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Head south via Loire Valley to Massif Central - one of loveliest areas in France - then head for Le Puy, Rocamadour, the Dordogne, the Goffre de Padriac - Albi, etc.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:09 AM
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You could use viaMichelin and specify non-toll roads and a scenic route, entering Calais as your starting point and a town in southern France as your end point.

Most of the pictures are geo-tagged so that it might give you some idea of things to see on the way:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7622845845243/
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:52 AM
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For stays I would recommend using Gites de France (http://www.gites-de-france.com/locat...bre-hotes.html ) and http://www.france-voyage.com/

It would be difficult to give specific recommendations unless you are willing to plan your itinerary according to such recommendations, which is doing the planning backwards, in my opinion.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 08:04 AM
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Do you want to concentrate on a specific area?

You have so many options, do you want to explore the southwest, the Basque region, Dordogne or head east toward Burgundy, Brittany, Normandy, etc. Do you plan to cross to Calais or further west to Caen or St. Malo?

I can help with suggestions for the Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon for chambres d'hote and interesting villages but it would be better if you sketched out a route.

Regarding timing, try to complete your trip before the start of the school holidays, which in 2012 begin on 5 July for all of France.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 08:06 AM
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My post reads like Normandy and Brittany are to the east....not!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 08:51 AM
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The Orne, Mayenne, and the Sarthe are three scenic departments that are just enough off the beaten path that you don't read much about them on Fodors. You could meander through just this part of France for a few weeks. We kept increasing our (originally one night) stay near Laval because in this area we found so many good restaurants, walks along the canal, flowery villages, and scenic roads. Sainte Suzanne is a really nice medieval hilltop town. La Cropte and Saulges are also very pretty villages. (I don't have my diary handy; otherwise I could name them all.)

We lucked into an excellent B&B with a warm welcome (French only), comfortable rooms with wifi, and gardens. I told the hostess, if we return to France, we will return here.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 09:23 AM
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I havent done this, but what about the wine route? This takes you through the Alsace area and the pretty vilages en route towards Colmar.
There are some wonderful war memorials (where I have been) around the Somme - very moving. These are just before entering the wine route.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 04:00 PM
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A way of planning your trip is to get the Michelin map of the plus beaux villages in France and do an itinerary that goes from one village to the other. One would need more detailed maps to avoid the major roads.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 08:16 PM
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Our last trip through France was exactly this: a scenic road trip, avoiding motorways, and visiting small villages (incl some plus beaux villages de France). One day I hope to find time to do a trip report of it on this forum. Here it is in brief:

Travelled Eurostar London - Paris. 5 days there, then hired a car. Motorway for quick exit from Paris was the only motorway we drove on in the entire trip. Got off it asap and took N20 past Pithiviers, then lesser roads via Patay to skirt around Orleans and hit the Loire at Beaugency. Continued south (Chambord, Cheverny) to join the D675 through St Aignan. A long section of the trip from here was either on the D675 (sometimes renumbered D975) or zigzagging back and forth across it. Turned R off D675 to Montresor (walk), stayed night at Loches.

Back roads to Angles-sur-l'Anglin (walk), crossed D975, followed Creuse to Argenton-sur-Creuse, then via Gargilesse-Dampier and St Benoit-du-Sault (walk) to Bellac. Had intended to overnight at Mortemart but logis closed (Monday) so overnighted Cieux instead.

Oradour-sur-Glane next morning, then rejoined D675 via Rochechouart & Nontron to Brantome, after a lunch detour to Bourdeilles. Long queue for accomm at Brantome Tourist Office, so carried on to St Jean-de-Cole (walk), Thiviers, Sorges (walk) and across country to Montignac.

Lascaux II next morning, then via St Leon-sur-Vezere (walk), Roque-St Christophe (walk), Les Eyzies (lunch) & St Cyprien (walk) to Sarlat. Stayed here a week. Stunning day-trips; wonderful walks; fantastic B&B (Les Cordeliers).

From Sarlat through back country to Figeac (overnight at a lovely farmhouse B&B out of town), then followed the Lot & Olt via Conques (walk), Entraygues-sur-Truyere (walk), Estaing (lunch), St Come-d'Olt, St Geniez-d'Olt (walk), Severac-le-Chateau and down into the Tarn Gorge to hole up for the night at St Chely-du-Tarn.

Ste-Enimie next morning, then Florac, Ales, Uzes (lunch), Pont-du-Gard, Remoulins, Orange. Next few nights at Vaison-la-Romaine. More day-trips.

From Vaison to St Remy-de-Provence for another multi-night stay. Again, stunning day-trips, good walks, friendly B&B. Some delightful surprises too. On after St Remy via Salon-de-Provence (lunch) and a stop at Aix-de-Provence to overnight at Cassis. Spectacular thunderstorm!

Across country (still no motorway) to St Raphael (lunch) and along Riviera coast to overnight at Golfe-Juan. Next day on via Antibes, Nice, Villefranche etc to Menton for several more nights. Day-trips again, this time mainly by train (a break from driving)!

We carried on to Italy from there, returning to Nice several weeks later to drop off our car and fly home. A brilliant trip, featuring many unforgettable places not mentioned in this brief summary.

A footnote: some readers may notice curious omissions. This is because it wasn't our first visit to France, so there were parts we had travelled before. Were I designing this for a first-timer I'd change these (go further west along the Loire, for example, to see other chateaux). But still, I hope you find a few helpful ideas in this.

Incidentally for a full "France corner-to corner" trip (Calais to Menton) I have designed a no-motorway Calais - Paris section! I hope to use it one day, but our next trip will be the Atlantic Coast and Languedoc-Rousillon.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 11:33 PM
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If you decide you want to come south into the Pyrenees, I can help. The are is split into rural agricultural pascal idyll type stuff- very non touristy- with lost of pretty bastide towns. and the mountains which jaggily soar above your heads everwhere you look south. Outside the mountains scenery less spectacular than along the Lot.
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Old Oct 24th, 2011, 07:28 AM
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Hi JC,

It would be very helpful if you gave us a clue as to where you would like to visit.

If you don't know, you might wish to look up France under "destinations".

A budget will also be helpful.

ira is offline  
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