There’s something to be said about heading out on the open highway, the wind blowing through the windows, the freedom to stop wherever you want, whenever you want.
One of the most memorable road trips we’ve done was from Paris to Avignon. Stopping in five towns, eating delicious food and seeing beautiful sights along the way.
After spending a few days touring Paris we picked up a car and easily jumped on the A13 heading West towards Villedieu-les-Poêles.
Just over a three-hour drive from Paris is a small town with a population of 3900 in the Manche department. Villedieu-les-Poêles’ inhabitants are called Sourdins, from the French word meaning deaf. Many people from the 800-year old copper pan-industry became deaf from hammering the pots. If you’re in the market for some authentic French copper pots, look no further, you can find all the copper your heart desires in this town.
A quick day trip from Villedieu-les-Poêles will take you to the island commune of Mont St-Michel. With the size of the crowds that rush this tourist attraction during the summer months (3 million a year), it’s hard to believe there are only 44 full-time inhabitants. One of France’s most recognizable landmarks, Mont St-Michel, and its bay were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1979.
Leaving Villedieu-les-Poêles, drive South East on the A28 and after three and a half hours you will arrive in Chenonceaux, home to 400 people. The town’s gem, the Chateau de Chenonceau, is a ten minute walk from town, its castle is distinctively built over the River Cher. It counts several gardens including a maze, vegetable garden and green garden.
Feeling like royalty after visiting the Chateau, you can splurge and stay at Le Bon Laboureur. The hotel is comprised of five charming country homes, completely renovated to include luxurious comforts, and surrounded by beautiful gardens. Starting at €134 it’s a splurge that won’t leave you with an empty wallet.
La Garde Guérin
We found this spot by chance, after driving for five hours. After booking a cheap hotel in Clermont-Ferrandthat turned out to be inadequate, we decided to continue our journey. The Auberge La Régordane was one of the only places with a room to let for miles so we booked it online and headed there straight away. The 16th century inn is located in La Garde Guérin near the Chassezac river. Climbing the tower is a bit treacherous but will reward you with amazing views of the surrounding area, including the gorge.
This small town of just over 2800 inhabitants is where we spent our honeymoon 19 years ago. It has expanded since then and gets quite busy in the summer months, but it still holds a lot of charm. The twice weekly market is abundant with local delicacies and there are at least three great restaurants nearby.
Les Vans is also a good base for many day trips including the medieval town of Carcassonne, Joyeuses, Nimes & Thines and the surrounding area is a mecca for sports fanatics with raging rivers for rafting, cliffs for climbing and loads of trails for hiking.
One of our favourite day trips from Les Vans is to the hill town of Thines. In the off season you can literally find yourself alone here. In the summer, the few residents are welcoming. It’s a great place to head for a light lunch and enjoy the views, the sun and the history.
A road trip at home or away can be exhilarating as well as comforting. Where would you like to road trip?
I love this post, so inspirational. Le Garde Guerin looks like my kind of place, especially for hiking new trails. Thanks for posting.
La Garde Guérin is a great little town if you want to hike, eat good food and relax. The hotel we stayed at, La Régordane was great.
Once the kids have flown the coop, I’d love to take a road trip through France! I’d also recommend a road trip through the US, especially the west coast and southwest: spectacular scenery, fascinating history, and all sorts of quirkiness if you drive the minor roads!
Sounds like a great plan. We’ve been dreaming of a US road trip for years, hopefully some day it will happen.
What a fabulous road trip. I visited Mont St Michel when I was 19 (a very long time ago) and loved it, although I remember rather a lot of wine was consumed at lunch 😉 You were very brave in my opinion to drive out of Paris – I once drove in on the way to Disneyland wiht the kids (by mistake) and vowed never again!
I would love to fan out from Paris in all directions, like spokes from the wheel. I love the idea of this itinerary, though, particularly because we visited Normandy for a very short time and I’d like to see this part of France in more depth.
France is a great country for slow travel, with all those old towns and hidden corners to explore. One day I’ll get round to a road trip like yours…
Although I visit France so often it’s so nice to discover new places to explore and Villedieu-les-Poêles is certainly one of those places I would visit. I feel so sorry for all those who have gone deaf from the pounding! I’ve stayed at Le Bon Laboureur and it is a great inn. I’ve been to many places you’ve mentioned….but not all! Thanks for sharing them.
waw .. really exciting for sure , when I played stricken ya hehe … it is close to the hearts but far survived the eyes hehe admin at your pleasure …
Sounds like a blast of a road trip! That’s the way we like to go! How did you decide on the itinerary and the places to stay? We would love to do this!c
Nat’s brother was ending a cycling race in France which is why we decided to go in the first place, Tim being a chef in love with copper we had to stop at Villedieu les Poeles and we decided to end in Les Vans because it’s where we spend our honeymoon and wanted to revisit. Then we picked stops in between, some at random others because of sights to see. It was a great trip and we’d to it over in a second.
We have done a couple of road trips through France over the years. Best way to see things up close and experience the culture. They are some of our best memories ever.
I love all the country areas of France with those small towns with cobblestone streets and rock buildings, it’s really fun explore all the local shops and quirky details in a smaller location especially when it really is off the beaten path.
Can I seriously book my plane ticket NOW?! What an incredible road trip. We did a similar trip through Ireland and I call it “the trip I can’t stop talking about.” The older I get, the more I love the freedom that comes with a road trip (and navigating by paper map, but that’s just because I roll old school…)
What a beautiful post (and route). We have traveled through France riverboat but never by car. I would love to do that soon!