A different kind of France- Road Trip Itinerary

A different kind of France: Road Trip Through Normandy and Brittany 

Tags: Travel guide, road trip, drop-off at another location, Normandy, Brittany, France, travel by car

 Telling your friends that you’ll go on vacation in France, they’ll probably think you’ll either go to Paris or Cote d’Azur. But this is a road trip that will take you to another kind of France. 

Even the people in this region are different – there is no famous arrogance of the Parisians and people of the French Riviera. Although the weather in this region can be worse most of the time in the year – people are friendly and more than happy to help you out in Normandy and Brittany.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Paris to Giverny- 75 kilometers (45 miles)📍 

Giverny to Etretat- 140 kilometers (85 miles)📍 

Etretat to Le Havre & Honfleur- 55 kilometers (35 miles)📍 

Honfleur to Deauville- 20 kilometers (10 miles)📍

Deauville to Bayeux- 80 kilometers (50 miles)📍

Bayeux to Granville- 100 kilometers (60 miles)📍

Granville to Mont Sant-Michel- 50 kilometers (30 miles)📍

Mont Sant-Michel to Cancale- 50 kilometers (30 miles)📍

Cancale to Saint-Malo- 15 kilometers (10 miles)📍

Saint-Malo to Nantes- 180 kilometers (110 miles)📍

560 kilometers (345 miles) in total

Planning- Before You Leave

Before you set off on your French road trip, have a look at some basic information below.

When to visit the North of France?

The best time for this road trip in France is during the European summer (June-July). But due to the closeness of the ocean, the weather can be tricky even during the high season.

Don’t forget your waterproof jackets and umbrellas, just in case. 

South of France road trip extension

See even more of France! Extend your French road trip and drive down to the world-famous South of France. Stroll down Promenade des Anglais in Nice, or go kayaking in turquoise waters near Marseille. The adventure awaits!

Click here for the guide and plan the best France road trip of all time, spanning Brittany, Normandy, and the South of France.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The overall driving distance of this road trip in France is about 11 hours. So, the minimum duration would be 1 week but this trip is perfect for a 2-week journey. 

 You can rent a car at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and drop-off at another location, or drive back to Paris. Find your suitable rental car for the journey via Rentalmoose.

 To avoid any misunderstandings don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app to take check-in photos of the condition of the car when receiving it and before starting your road trip to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee. 

Can tourists drive in France?

France is a part of the open-border Schengen Zone, this means crossing countries is quick and hassle-free. France accepts foreign driving licenses from most countries. International Driving Permits are recognized, but not mandatory. For your peace of mind, consider getting an IDP when going on any road trips in France.

Speeding in France is forbidden and the rules are strictly enforced. Tourists are required to pay any fines on the spot. Fines for speeding in France range from 45 Euros all the way up to 3750 Euros. 

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your French road trip!

 Paris

Three young girls enjoying food and drinks served on a wooden table in an outdoor restaurant. Garden terrace overlooking the eiffel tower on a clear, sunny day.

View from a cafe to the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris 

 Yes – your friends were right because your French road trip does actually start from Paris. Whilst you are already here, stay for a few days to enjoy the city of love.

What to do in Paris?

Go to restaurant Fouquet’s in Hotel Barriere to watch the people rushing by on the legendary Avenue des Champs Elysees, and treat yourself to their delicious boeuf de tartar with a good glass of red wine. 

Or go to L’Avenue nearby where rich and famous love to dine (Kim Kardashian and the Beckhams are fans!). Treat yourself to the famous Laduree macaroons but be aware that there will be a line to get into their store. 

Go check out the renovated Ritz Paris hotel which is said to have a secret underground tunnel through what celebrities come and go. 

Of course, do some (window)shopping in the fashion capital of the world – either at the famous Avenue Montaigne where the high-end designer boutiques are, or see one of the prettiest shopping malls in the world – Galleries Lafayette

Parking in Paris

 Parking in Paris can be really hard to find and also the traffic is crazy in the city so you might want to use public transport there. Rent your car when you begin your road trip in France, or choose a hotel with a car park where you can leave your rental car. 

Where to stay in Paris?

Paris hotels are one of the most expensive in the world so it might take some time to find a good one with a price that’s more down-to-earth. A glamorous 5* hotel with a more reasonable price would be Castille Paris

A great 4* hotel would be La Villa Saint Germain Des Pres

Once you’ve explored Paris, it’s time to hit the road and begin your France road trip!

Next on your road trip: Giverny, 1 hour 30 minutes

Giverny

claude monet garden in giverny. Green wooden bridge with tourist on it, overlooking green pond surrounded by trees and bushes on a sunny day in france.

Claude Monet Garden in Giverny

Giverny is not the final destination of the first day but it’s a stop on this road trip that is a must for people interested in art and history. 

What is special about Giverny?

This is the place where the famous French artist Claude Monet lived.

His house and its garden is now a museum and it’s possible to recognize the locations of many of his famous paintings in here. His garden is as beautiful as it’s seen in his paintings.

 Monet was so proud of the water garden that he liked to host his guests here, and spent hours contemplating it. A full-time gardener, in charge of its maintenance, removed each dead leaf to ensure the perfect beauty of the pond.

Rentalmoose tip: Buy the tickets online before your visit, this way you don’t have to wait in line in front of the house. Buy them here.

Just 3 minutes by car from the Monet house there is an amazing hotel and restaurant Le Jardin des Plumes. If you’d like to stay longer in Giverny then this would be a nice place to stay. 

If you are going to drive to the next location to spend the night, then enjoy your lunch at this place. With nice weather, eat in their beautiful garden. The restaurant has Michelin 1* so book your table ahead of the visit. 

Hit the road once again, the next stop on your French road trip is the coastal town of Etretat.

Next on your road trip: Étretat, 2 hours

Étretat

etretat france, dramatic coastline with large cliff. Calm ocean, green grass and sunny yet cloudy weather.

The cliffs of Étretat

 Welcome to the North coast of France. Étretat is another place that can be familiar to you from the museums – its rocky cliffs Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille (the Needle), a pillar rising up from the sea – are in famous paintings. 

Why is Etretat famous?

The cliffs and the associated beach attracted artists including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet. Two of the three famous arches are visible from the town, the Porte d’Aval, and the Porte d’Amont. The Manneporte is the third and the biggest one, and cannot be seen from the town. This is a good reason to take a walk on the wild nature cliffs. 

Please be extra careful here when traveling with small kids as the cliffs are steep and there can be quite strong winds. 

 If you happen to be a golf player then Golf d’Étretat has views that are hard to beat! I am sure this course isn’t easy to play and there are hundreds, if not thousands of golf balls found in the sea below these cliffs. But the views and experience itself are hard to beat! 

The course is open every day from 8.30 am until 7 pm. Have lunch in the golf club restaurant “Restaurant du Golf” which, of course, has magnificent views as well!

 If you don’t play golf you can take a walk in Étretat village instead and relax in beautiful Étretat Plage (with a view of the needle cliff!).

Where to stay in Etretat?

 For a hotel (and restaurant) consider The Dormy House Étretat – a hotel among the cliffs. Needless to say – with an amazing view again: overlooking the sea and the village of Étretat. The hotel and restaurant are open since 1955. 

Next on your road trip in France: Honfleur, 50 minutes 

Le Havre & Honfleur

pont de normandie modern bridge, detail closeup photo of the bridge's rods and support elements on a clear day in france.

Pont de Normandie

Le Havre

 Detour: Just about a 40-minute drive from Étretat village is Le Havre – a major and very windy port city. It’s up to you if you want to extend your French road trip and go there. The port of Le Havre is the second-largest in France so you can imagine how busy the city actually is. The name “Le Havre” itself means “the port” or “the harbor”. 

In 2005 UNESCO inscribed the central city of Le Havre as a World Heritage Site. So it’s worth to see the place. 

For example, visit The André Malraux Modern Art Museum – it is the second of France for the number of impressionist paintings. And there is also a great lunch spot – gourmet restaurant Jean Luc Tartarin

Honfleur

 The next stop on your road trip in France would be Honfleur – it’s up to you if you rather skip the busy port town Le Havre and go straight to Honfleur from Étretat or you’ll drive through the big city. I personally recommend adding Le Havre to your road trip.

Honfleur from Le Havre is another 40 minutes drive and straight from Étretat it is about an hour of driving. 

Either way, you’ll be driving through Pont de Normandie – a modern cable-stayed toll bridge that spans the river Seine. Its total length is 2,143.21 meters – 856 meters between the two piers. It is also the last bridge to cross the Seine before it empties into the ocean. 

Construction of the bridge began in 1988 and lasted 7 years. The bridge was opened on 20 January 1995. At that time it was both the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, and also had a record distance between piers for a cable-stayed bridge. The record was lost to the Tatara Bridge in Japan in 1999.  

The total cost of the bridge was an unbelievable 465 million US dollars. 

After crossing the bridge you have arrived in Honfleur! This is also a port town, but rather a quiet, old, fishermen port – called The Vieux-Bassin aka the old dock. 

The houses with slate-covered frontages are very well known and have inspired many artists like Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet, and Johan Jongkind. 

What can you see in Honfleur?

Go see the Sainte-Catherine church which is the largest wooden church in France. It is recognizable because its bell tower is separated from the principal building.

If you do have any time left in the city and you feel like shopping then head no further than to Honfleur Normandy Outlet. There are no high fashion boutiques but rather mid-priced fast fashion stores. 

 Another reason to visit Honfleur is food! This place has so many great restaurants! 

Go to 2* Michelin restaurant Sa Qua Na, which is run by chef Alexandre Bourdais and his wife Delphine, the head waiter. Other great restaurant options are Le Breard and L’Absinthe.

The next leg of your France road trip is a short 30-minute drive down to Deauville.

Next on your French road trip: Deauville, 30 minutes

Deauville

hermes luxury boutique in Deauville. Upscale store located in an authentic medieval building, surrounded by other traditional structures on a cloudy day in france.

Boutiques in Deauville 

 Just about a 30-minute drive from Honfleur and you have arrived at your next location on your road trip in France- Deauville! A place where Parisian rich and famous have escaped from the summer heat for ages. It’s also been named the Parisian Riviera because of that. 

Why is Deauville famous?

This place has so much history! Did you know that Coco Chanel opened its very first boutique in this city during the summer of 1913? Ironically, there is no Chanel boutique there nowadays but there are its biggest competitors Hermes and Louis Vuitton for example. 

Sadly, the only thing left in the Chanel’s first boutique location is just a poster. I was expecting more.

On the other note – what wonderful boutiques there are – and I am talking about their Anglo-Norman architecture. Deauville has such pretty wooden houses next to classical Belle Epoque architecture. This city needs at least 2-3 days to fully enjoy it. So take your time and don’t rush away from here. 

 Besides its beautiful buildings, Deauville is known for its Grand Casino, wide sandy beach, horse racing, International Film Festival, and sumptuous hotels. 

What can you do in Deauville?

Book your stay at the legendary Hotel Barriere Le Normandy, get yourself a horse racing ticket,  relax on Deauville’s beach and walk its Promenade Les Plances – a famous boardwalk that was built so that the ladies long skirts wouldn’t get sand all over them. 

The changing rooms at the promenade are marked with the names of famous actors who have visited the town during its American Film Festival which takes place in September. The event has been taken place there since 1975. 

Where to eat in Deauville?

 Of course, a perfect holiday wouldn’t be so perfect without great food. And Deauville has you covered on this as well. Treat yourself to amazing courses in either of these restaurants: Le Spinnaker, L’Essentiel, or La Peniche

 Another great thing to do in Deauville is to hop on one of the hotel’s bikes and pedal yourself to the next village: Trouville-sur-Mer. It will be about a 10-minute ride with a bicycle.  

Trouville is France’s original seaside resort from 1860-1880, it got popular through the paintings in the museum which caught the attention of wealthy Parisians in the Louvre looking for a new place for their holidays. 

There used to be a joke that Deauville was for the wives and Trouville for the mistresses. With the arrival of the rich and famous an extravagant mansions started to pop up next to the seashore. And they are still there, in all their glory. 

One of the most famous buildings is Hotel des Roches Noires which has also been painted by Claude Monet. A lot of big names used to visit that hotel, like Marcel Proust and Marguerite Duras. The painting of the hotel can be seen in Musem d’Orsay in Paris. Today there are apartments in this building. 

Only 1 minute from there is Villa Montebello – a Trouville museum.

For a lunch in Trouville-sur-Mer go to Chez Alain – there is a seafood market and this is a simple place with an amazing seafood choice! 

Rentalmoose order tip: Treat yourself to some moules marinere and a glass of champagne.

Next on your France road trip: Bayeux, 1 hour

Bayeux

exterior chateau la cheneviere hotel located in a medieval castle. neatly cut lawn in foreground and trees in background, photographed on a sunny summer day in france

Chateau La Cheneviere

Is Bayeux worth visiting?

For sure! Bayeux is an amazing old town with cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses with an awe-inspiring Norman-Gothic Cathédrale de Notre Dame. It is a must-see on any road trip in France.

Rentalmoose recommends visiting the Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux Museum where are exhibits and artifacts on D-Day landings. 

The landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune was often referred to as D-Day which was the largest seaborne invasion in history. There are also many memorials and war cemeteries around to remember the thousands of dead soldiers. 

 While in Bayeux Museum go see the famous Bayeux Tapestry –  an embroidered cloth nearly 70 meters (230 ft) long and 50 centimeters (20 in) tall.

 The Tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It is thought to date to the 11th century, within a few years after the battle. 

Bayeux Tapestry tells the story from the point of view of the conquering Normans but is now agreed to have been made in England. 

On 18 January 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the Bayeux Tapestry would be loaned to Britain for public display. It is expected to be exhibited at the British Museum in London, but not before 2020. It will be the first time that it has left France in 950 years. 

The tapestry is now still in its place in Bayeux Museum.

 Even if you decided to stay in Bayeux we still suggest visiting Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, the Omaha beach and 4 other beaches close-by – to see the historical places where the tragic events of D-Day landing happened. 

The dining recommendation would be in the old town in the historical house, in La Rapiere. Another great restaurant in Bayeux would be L’Angle Saint Laurent which offers an elegant Norman cuisine.

What are the best hotels in Bayeux?

 A great place to stay in the city is Domaine de Bayeux which has great quality for the price they ask!

Or would you prefer to stay in the French countryside? Where there is no traffic and you can wake up to the sound of singing birds? Then drive out from Bayeux city in the direction of Port-En-Bessin. 

In the midway, there is  Chateau La Cheneviere – a former 18th-century castle. The hotel has 29 elegant rooms, each decorated in a unique style. 

Larger groups (up to eight people) can opt to stay in their Escures House, a romantic cottage located just minutes away from the property. 

The hotel has two restaurants on-site, one gastronomic and one outdoor garden terrace, as well as a tucked-away speakeasy bar where guests can enjoy a nightcap of the region’s finest calvados. 

Breakfast includes a buffet, à la carte eggs, and honey made on the castle grounds. A  place of pure relaxation! 

Another similar great place suggestion would be Hotel Chateau de Sully, also a bit out of Bayeux center. 

Next on your road trip in France: Granville, 1 hour 30 minutes

Granville

the childhood home of christian dior that has been turned into a dior museum in granville france. traditional home, neat lawn and no tourists. Photographed after rain.

Christian Dior childhood home in Granville

 Your next pit stop in this road trip will be Granville village – another Normandy seaside resort. But the reason to visit this place is not sunbathing.  It’s actually to see the house where the world-famous fashion designer Christian Dior spent his childhood.  

A pink Anglo-Norman villa “Les Rhumbs” with an amazing rose garden is the place that has inspired Dior a lot. The house and its garden were a dream of his mother – Madeleine Dior, who asked his father Maurice Dior to buy the place when Christian was just an infant. 

Today it’s a museum in honor of sir Dior. It’s managed by Jean-Paul Claverie, the LVMH director’s counselor.

 After visiting the museum drive down to the Granville center, have a walk and a nice lunch in its cute cafe & tea house Picorette

Next on your road trip: Mont Saint-Michel, 1 hour

Mont Saint-Michel

le mont sant michel castle on an island, seen from one of the tourist bridges. Tourists looking at info boards in foreground. overcast weather in france

Le Mont Saint-Michel

 After a short break in Granville, continue driving to your next destination – le Mont Saint Michel – a famous abbey and monastery on an island about 1km / 0,6mi from mainland France. This famous spot is an essential stop on any road trip in France!

One of France’s most recognizable landmarks, visited by more than 3 million people each year, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. 

Nowadays you can reach the place through a bridge – but way back it was only reachable by a tidal causeway which was uncovered from water only at low tide. This was extremely dangerous as the tides can vary greatly, at roughly 14 meters (46 ft) between the highest and lowest watermarks. 

On rare occasions even today the tidal circumstances can produce an extremely high “supertide” which can submerge the new bridge. 

Rentalmoose tip: The car park for visiting the island is about 2,5km / 1,5mi from the island. Leave your rental car there and either walk to the island, use the shuttle bus, or, for a fancier visit – a horse carriage to reach the place. 

 For food, we recommend trying Mont Saint-Michel’s famous La Mere Poulard which is open since 1888. 

Annette Poulard devoted her life to preparing meals for pilgrims, visitors, and the most famous figures of her time. With 40 years in the kitchen, she was an expert in French cuisine. By the way – their specialty is an omelet, so don’t forget to try that! 

The famous omelet is cooked over the fire in the grand fireplace. 

Where to stay near Mont Saint-Michel?

La Mere Poulard is also working as an inn – so when you plan to stay on the island for longer, check their place out!

If you want to wake up with a view of the monastery, then Le Relais Saint-Michel will be the place for you. 

Next on your French road trip: Cancale, 1 hour 

Cancale

cancale france shoreside oyster farm by the ocean. Locals working on farm, parked minivan and ocean in the distance on a sunny day.

Oyster farm in Cancale

When you are ready to leave the impeccable Mont Saint-Michel behind, then you also exit the Normandy and another great region of France welcomes you – Brittany. The next destination on your road trip in France will be the village called Cancale. 

Why is Cancale famous?

This is the place where great French oysters come from. If you happen to love oysters then this place is a must for you! History has it that Louis XIV had his oysters brought to Versailles from Cancale. 

Centuries later, the farming of oysters is still a major activity in the port and there are oyster beds covering about 7.3 square kilometers easily seen from the pier at the harbor. These beds harvest about 25,000 tons of oysters each year. 

Take a break from driving and enjoy this place either in one of the restaurants in the port – La Houle, or just buy different oysters from the stall at the port and taste them with a view to their farming and with a nice weather even Mont Saint Michel. 

If you are a foodie and love cooking, treat yourself to an Olivier Roellinger Cuisine Corsaire cooking school. Olivier is a retired three-star Michelin chef who will teach you how to turn simple seafood into a gastronomic feast. He also has an amazing chateau hotel and restaurant in Cancale – Les Maisons de Bricourt

Next on your road trip in France: St-Malo, 30 minutes

Saint-Malo

saint-milon plage du sillon public beach in france. Sandy beach filled with tourists, full swimming area and visitors sunbathing. Two tourists walking in foreground.

Plage du Sillon in St-Malo

The beautiful coastal city in Brittany will be your next location to spend a night. St-Malo is a historic place which nowadays is a popular tourist destination. It has a long history of piracy – this is how the city earned its wealth. The city has always been different – meaning doing things its own way. In the 1590s it even declared itself an independent republic.

Take a walk on the cobbled streets in St-Malo old town and take a look at the lavish homes of people who got rich from privateering in the 17th and 18th of centuries. 

You will notice that St-Malo is a walled city – the circuit of the ramparts is 1,75 kilometers long. When you do the walk be sure to have some literature with you, because every gate, bastion, and view has a story to tell. 

What can’t you miss in Saint-Malo?

Go up to see the beautiful panorama of the sea, the Grand Bé island, Fort National, Dinard across the water and the magnificent granite homes of the city’s wealthy ship-owners. Explore the Chateau de Saint-Malo. 

Then, come down to buy a nice souvenir from the shop or fill your energy again at one of the crêperies. Then, after the historic city tour, get some rest in the fine sands of Plage du Sillon

If you have more time in hand, you can also opt to visit the two Channel Islands: Jersey and Guernsey from here. The ferries to these islands depart from St-Malo port. 

Although they are not part of the United Kingdom, they are part of the British Isles which means the UK is responsible for the defense and international relations of the islands. So when traveling from St-Malo then don’t forget to bring a valid passport or National Identity Card with you. Check the ferries here.

Where can you find the best food in St. Malo?

 In the evening go to enjoy the food St-Malo has to offer. For dessert and a lovely cup of tea, take a walk to the Salon de Bergamote.  

Where to stay in Saint-Malo?

A nice restaurant and hotel suggestion in Saint-Malo would be Grand Hotel des Thermes. Good boutique hotels in the area are Hotel La Villefromoy and Villa Saint Raphael. 

Next on your road trip in France: Nantes,2 hours

Nantes

city view of nantes, france. river in foreground, parked military ship and traditional french buildings lining the coast. highrise building in background, on a sunny day in france.

Nantes city view. Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

 Nantes – the sixth-largest city in France – is your final destination on your road trip in France. You can make an optional pit stop at Rennes as well as the road will drive through it and this way you don’t have a long drive.

What is Nantes famous for?

 Nantes has 100 public parks, gardens and squares covering 218 hectares (540 acres). The oldest is the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden created in 1807. It’s also one of the tourist attractions in the city.

Some other attractions before heading back home would be museums. History lovers can go see the Château des ducs de Bretagnemuseum at the seat of the Dukes of Brittany or Arts Museum of Nantes.

Literature lovers can visit The Musée Jules Vernea museum dedicated to the French writer Jules Verne. 

Families with kids should see the Machines of the Isle of Nantes -a massive puppet-automaton machine created by French artist collective Machines de l’Ile. It’s an artistic, touristic and cultural project. 

On-street parking in the city center of Nantes is pricey and limited. For a longer stay, you have to park in one of the car parks in the center. The parking capacity is limited in the city center and at the railway station. 

Free parking is available on the outskirts of the city. See the detailed price list and locations here. 

Where to stay in Nantes?

When spending a night in Nantes a nice hotel with great prices to look at is La Pérouse

What’s more, probably one of the fanciest Radisson Blu hotels is in Nantes and their prices are really reasonable!

 You can drop off your rental car at the Nantes Atlantique Airport. Browse through car rental options that support drop-off at another location via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on your French road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your road trips in France. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your road trips in France online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Ultimate South of France Road Trip Itinerary

This Southern France road trip itinerary ideal for passionate hikers and nature lovers. Explore the best of the South of France by car!

 When thinking about the South of France, people mostly start imagining the Eiffel tower, croissants, wine, the riviera, ski resorts, etc. Our first thought is probably never hiking. But did you know that the European version of the Grand Canyon is in France? That you can find crystal blue water just like in the Maldives, in France too? 

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Nice to Castellane- 85 kilometers (55 miles)📍 

Castellane to Verdon Gorge- 30 kilometers (20 miles)📍 

Verdon Gorge to Calanques- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 

Calanques to Camargue- 115 kilometers (70 miles)📍

Camargue to Montpellier- 70 kilometers (50 miles)📍

470 kilometers (290 miles) in total

 Yes – France is a dream road trip destination for hiking in picturesque nature. And you don’t need to be a professional hiker with all the gadgets, A pair of New Balance trainers will do just as fine! These places are all about enjoying yourself and the amazing scenery, perfect to be explored during a road trip in France.

 Hiking trails and nature parks from this article are located in the South of France. When planning your road trip, try to find flights to Nice Côte d’Azur airport. If it’s your first time there, then take a few days to rest and see the place before hitting the road.

Planning: Before you go

The road trip starts from Nice and ends in Montpellier. If your flights arrive and leave both through the Nice airport, return to Nice after visiting Camargue National Park. The route is 255 km (159 miles) and will take about 2,5 hours.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

 The length of this road trip is about 310 miles (about 500 km / 310 miles) and the total driving time will be about 8 hours. The total duration of the trip depends on you – how long you plan to spend time at each destination.

The minimum recommended program would be 3-4 days but Rentalmoose suggests taking a week off so you can fully enjoy all the locations. 

What is the best time to visit the South of France?

The best time for this road trip would be late Spring (end of April until June) or early Autumn (September – the beginning of October) – it’s also ok during the summer months but weather temperatures and prices are way higher than usual and places are definitely more crowded this time of the year.

Keep in mind that it is recommended to have excess coverage when booking your vehicle through Rentalmoose. Make sure to take check-in photos of the rental car to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee. Please also be aware not to leave anything valuable in the car.

There are plenty of rental car options in the Nice airport to fit all of your needs (traveling as a couple, with kids, a group of friends, etc).

Take a look at available car rental options for your travel dates using Rentalmoose.

Road Trip Extensions

If you have the extra time, consider extending your road trip even further! Check out these two recommendations by Rentalmoose.

Basque Country

Drive west to the scenic Basque Country and experience one of the best gourmet experiences in your life. See wonderful cities in France as well as Spain. Click here for the guide.

Normandy & Brittany

After you’ve seen the best of Southern France, make your way up north to Paris. After a few days in the city of love, continue onwards to Normandy and Britany for a total change of scenery, before finishing in Nantes. Click here for the guide.

Can tourists drive in France?

Yes! France is a part of the open-border Schengen Zone, this means crossing countries is quick and hassle-free. France accepts foreign driving licenses from most countries. International Driving Permits are recognized, but not mandatory.

Speeding in France is forbidden and the rules are strictly enforced. Tourists are required to pay any tickets on the spot. Fines for speeding in France range from 45 Euros all the way up to 3750 Euros. 

Traffic in France is on the right-hand side of the road.

Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive into this French road trip itinerary!

Nice

the coast of nice, france. Promenade des anglais, pebble beach, green palm trees and buildings in the distance. cloudy day in cote d'azur. Visit the city during a France road trip

The heart of Nice looks stunning, even on a cloudy day.

 Welcome to the French Riviera! We recommend taking a few days to get to know the city and its pebble beaches before beginning your road trip.

What can you do in Nice?

Day trip to Cannes

You can visit Cannes – a glamorous city where the annual Cannes Film Festival takes place (it’s the end of May, so if you happen to be there at the same time, maybe you’ll see Brad Pitt or Sharon Stone walking around town). 

Go see the two famous hotels: InterContinental Carlton and Martinez where all the stars live during the festival. Or why not stay in one of these hotels if the price range is acceptable for you. Cannes is just a 50-minute drive from Nice. 

Pebble beaches

 When discovering Cannes is not on your list of things to do and you just want to relax on the beach then you can either enjoy the pebble beaches that Nice has to offer or drive to some beach club close-by. 

Plage Blue Beach nice france pebble beach during off-season, no tourists, pretty blue sea and calm waves, green hill and villas in the background on a sunny day in cote d'azur, french riviera.

One of Nice’s pebble beaches.

Anjuna Plage beach club

There is an amazing tropical restaurant & beach club just about half an hour driving distance from the center of Nice – Anjuna Plage in Eze Sur Mer.

And when talking about Eze – it’s a small ancient village in the mountains just above that beach club. Add it to your road trip itinerary if you’re in the area. Continue reading to learn more about it.

Eze

When planning to visit the beach, visiting the village itself is a must! It is about a 15-minute drive from the beach. The views from there are something you’ll never forget so take your camera with you.

Post your best photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

promenade des anglais, large boardwalk filled with tourists in nice, cote d'azur, south of france. Tourists and segway tours, palm trees and luxury hotels in the distance on a sunny day in the french riviera

The famous Nice Promenade des Anglais

Where can you find a parking spot in Nice?

There are public parking lots and most of them offer 1-hour free parking. And for paying, keep in mind that the parking machines take only coins. So keep some cash with you always! Read more about the detailed parking plans here.

Parking in Nice can be tricky because it’s not always very easy to find. There is no free street parking downtown – so you might want to check if the hotel you book has a parking space or not. 

Once you’ve explored Nice, it’s time to hit the road and begin your French road trip!

Next on your Southern France road trip: Castellane, 2 hours

Castellane

medieval well-preserved church in the heart of castellane village in the south of france. Green plants in front of the entrance to the small church, empty town with mountain in the background on a sunny day in cote d'azur.

The historic center of Castellane. Photography by Yannick Moschetti.

Rentalmoose tip: The road trip goes through Route Napoleon- a picturesque Alpine road which has been named as one of the top 10 best roads in the world, don’t miss it!

Route Napoleon- Scenic Driving Road

 The Route Napoléon is the route taken by Napoléon in 1815 on his return from Elba, when Napoleon Bonaparte first set foot on Golfe-Juan beach, after one year of exile. By his side, 1200 men ready to conquer Paris and sit their emperor on the throne once again.

 It is now concurrent with sections of routes N85, D1085, D4085, and D6085. The road was inaugurated in 1932 and meanders from the French Riviera north-northwest along the foothills of the Alps. It is marked along the way by statues of the French Imperial Eagle.

The route itself is 315 km long so this road trip doesn’t cover all of it. Our road trip will continue along Route Napoleon until Castellane. 

scenic driving road outside of nice, cote d'azur, france. Single-lane paved road with a right-chicane, surrounded by low trees and green bushes, cliffy mountain in the background. clear, sunny day in the french riviera.

When driving around Southern France, you are bound to run into spectacular scenery!

 Take the route through Mougins and Grasse to make sure you’ll get to drive the famous Route Napoléon. Both are cute small villages so if you have more time, feel free to check these out too! 

 Rentalmoose lunch stop recommendation: A few kilometers before Castellane, in a village called La Garde there is an amazing Michelin Guide restaurant “Auberge du Teillon”

The next stop on your Southern France road trip is the European equivalent of the Grand Canyon!

Next: Gorges du Verdon, 1 hour

Verdon Gorge National Park

verdon gorge national park, turquoise calm lake surrounded by large limestone cliffs covered in green bushes. No tourists on this sunny day in french riviera, cote d'azur.

Boating in the turquoise water of Verdon Gorge

 You have reached the European Grand Canyon! Yes – the water in Gorges du Verdon is exactly as blue there as in this picture here! The park is an absolute must-see on any road trip in France, be sure not to miss it.

Rentalmoose recommends taking some time off and staying here for a few days if possible. One day, take your rental car to lap a circle around the edge of the gorge – only from up there, you can see how deep it actually is. 

If you are really lucky like I was – you can see a vulture as well. A huge bird who lives in the caves of the gorge. 

Another day, go and see the gorge from below – either rent a small boat or a kayak to discover the breathtaking beauty of the place. 

You can easily spend half a day there, so take some snacks and water with you. Take it easy – sunbathe and swim and enjoy to the fullest what this unique place offers.

Where to stay near Verdon Gorge National Park?

For an overnight stay, it’s good to check hotels at the Moustiers Sainte Marie – a village that was once named the prettiest in France. 

La Bastide de Moustiers

For a more exclusive stay, check out the La Bastide de Moustiers hotel. It belongs to the world-known French chef Alain Ducasse and of course, his 1* Michelin restaurant is in the hotel. 

la bastide de moustiers michelin star restaurant by celebrity chef alain ducasse. four white-covered, fancy tables in a dining area with no guests. Moustiers Sainte Marie village in cote d'azur, france

Alain Ducasse Michelin 1* restaurant 

Le Colombier

 If you don’t plan to spend this much on a hotel on your road trip, another good hotel in the village to look into is  Hotel Le Colombier. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: Most hotels in the Verdon Gorge area offer car parking and are very helpful in organizing your stay there.

Now that you’ve seen the European Grand Canyon, the next stop during this road trip is a National Park that may remind you of the Maledives!

Next: Massif des Calanques, 2 hours 30 minutes

Calanques National Park

kayaking on the crystal clear turquoise waters at calanques national park in the south of france. Clean lake surrounded by low limestone hills covered with green trees.

Kayaking in Calanques crystal clear waters

Whenever you are ready to leave the amazing gorges, continue your road trip to Massif des Calanques – another breathtakingly beautiful location in the South of France! 

Aix-en-Provence

Drive through Aix-en-Provence and perhaps go on a walk and treat yourself to a delicious lunch in this cute French town. If you happen to be there in July, make a photo stop in the beautiful purple lavender fields that Provence is so famous for.

Remember to post your best photos using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

What can’t you miss in Aix-en-Provence?

Hotel de Caumont

 When driving inside this historic town, make sure to visit its Hotel de Caumont – it has everything for a perfect afternoon: amazing French architecture, a gorgeous garden, art exhibitions, and a cute cafe. 

Cours Mirabeau

 Also, go for a walk in the Cours Mirabeau – a great boulevard for people watching and resting your feet before hitting the road again.

Luxury shopping & local markets

 There are various markets happening on different days as well. And of course, the shopping streets which also start from this boulevard. You can find both – exclusive designer boutiques and souvenir shops here. 

Calanques National Park

About an hour more to drive before you reach your next destination: Calanques. It’s also recommended to take some time to see more of the natural wonders of this place before continuing on your French road trip.

Numerous pre-marked hiking trails in Calanques have different lengths but they will last some time so take water and some snacks with you. Especially when the weather is hot. 

 You can discover Calanques by hiking on the mountainous routes or by kayaking on the crystal clear waters. Water is very tempting for swimming but it’s quite cold there, so you can try to go swimming after you are getting too hot from hiking. 

Dinner in Cassis

Rentalmoose recommends: Treat yourself to the amazing Michelin 2* restaurant La Villa Madie in Cassis. It gets busy, tables should be booked before! 

There is also a variety of different restaurants in the fishing port – most with a view to the castle Chateau Cassis. Spend at least one evening in this beautiful port. 

Parking in Cassis

There is one parking place in Cassis that is free of charge – Parking des Gorguettes. But it is a bit further from the center so when traveling with small kids, keep this in mind.

Parking places in the center are not free. Pay with coins at the parking machines. 

Where to stay near Calanques National Park?

When deciding to spend some nights here, check hotels in the beautiful fisherman village of Cassis. Cassis has many cute boutique hotels to choose from, for example, Chambre d’hotes Clos du Petit Jésus and the beachfront Hostellerie La Farandole.

Next: Camargue, 2 hours

Camargue National Park 

a group of flamingos in shallow wetland water in camargue national park, south of france. Pictured near green fields that appear golden during sunset. must-see on a france road trip itinerary.

Pink flamingos of the Camargue National Park. Photography by Association Posidonia.

Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône delta. It’s also one of Europe’s largest wetlands and a must-see destination during any great road trip in France.

Is Camargue National Park worth visiting?

Most definitely! From watching thousands of flamingos to horse riding at the beach – there are a lot of fun things to do. The Camargue offers great hiking and cycling opportunities for those who like flat terrain and no hills. There are tracks and trails across the Rhone delta. 

Deserted beaches

To the east of Saintes Marie, there are miles of largely deserted sandy beaches, only accessible along tracks or on foot, on horseback or bike. Some places are accessible by car, but not all.

Bullfighting

 You can also go on the river trips or see the bullfights (which are not like the Spanish ones – meaning no one gets harmed). Tickets to the bullfights can be purchased in the city or online, which will save you some time from standing in the queues.

Aigues Mortes & the pink lake

  

Also, why not visit the medieval city Aigues Mortes which used to be a Mediterranean port back in the day. Don’t forget to see Salin d’Aigues-Mortes, one of the few pink-colored lakes in the world. 

Parking in Arles

There are 2600 regulated parking spaces in Arles which are divided into 4 different pricing zones. Some of them offer the first 1 hour for free. For detailed information and map see here.

Where to stay near Camargue?

When spending the night in Camargue there are a few options – Camargue has only small establishments that need to be booked in advance.

There are more options to stay are in the city of Arles which is about a 20-minute drive from this Wild West of Europe. 

L’hotel Particulier & Hotel le Rodin

For a more fabulous (and costly) stay opt for the L’hotel Particulier. A really nice hotel is also Hotel le Rodin which is a better option money-wise.

After a day (or more!) in Camargue, it is time to hit the road one last time and drive to the last destination on this Southern France road trip.

Last stop on your road trip: Montpellier, 1 hour

Montpellier

famous place de la comedie main square in montpellier south of france. Grand architecture, people rushing around the square and clear, sunny skies. See the city during your road trip in France

Place de la Comedie in Montpellier. Photo by Ennelise Napoleoni-Bianco

It’s about a 50 minute trip from Camargue to Montpellier airport – the final destination of your French road trip. But it’s also always a good idea to see a new place – so if you haven’t been to Montpellier before it’s a great reason to go now. 

Rentalmoose recommends going to enjoy a cup of coffee and croissants in one of many beautiful terraced cafes on pink marble Montpellier city court (pictured above). Or take a little walk to the popular Coldrip Food & Cafe for a great brunch. 

What can you do in Montpellier?

Go walk in Place de la Comédie – the link between Old Montpellier and newer city districts.

This area has a lively ambiance with many of its bars, restaurants, and shops. Wonder in and around the Fabre museum which holds one of the best collections of Baroque art. 

See Montpellier Cathedral and Arc de Triomphe and if traveling with kids – go see the Montpellier Zoological Park.

There are more than 750 animals in the park and an educational farm for the littlest visitors where are tamed goats and sheep to feed. 

Where can you park your rental car in Montpellier?

Overflow car parks are located on the outskirts of the city and linked to the tram line (car park+tram), covered or outdoor car parks and parking areas (nearly 5000 spaces).

This option is recommended when doing a day trip to Montpellier.

If you’re staying overnight and your hotel doesn’t offer a private car park, see your options here.

Drop-off

If your flight goes from Nice and not from Montpellier airport, you can return back via the highway and return your rental car in Nice. If you do find a flight back from Montpellier, you can just drop your car off at the airport.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

biarritz plage grande main beach with tall waves, surfers and city in background during sunset in france

Gourmet Experience In Basque Country- Northern Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Are you one of those people who plan their road trips around food? Then there are two options – you either have been to Basque Country or you are already planning to go. Check out our curated Northern Spain road trip itinerary!

 Either way, check out this comprehensive Spain road trip itinerary around the Basque region in Northern Spain and the South-West of France. It’s an unforgettable weekend getaway, perfect for foodies. During this road trip, you’ll be able to see some of the best places to visit in Spain.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Bilbao to San Sebastian- 100 kilometers (60 miles)📍 13.95 Euro Highway Toll

San Sebastian to Biarritz- 50 kilometers (30 miles)📍 5.6 Euro Highway Toll

Biarritz to Dune of Pilat- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 11.4 Euro Highway Toll

Dune of Pilat to Bordeaux- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

390 kilometers (240 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, road trip, drop-off at another location, Basque country, Spain, France, gourmet, short trip

Planning: Before you go

What is the best time to visit Northern Spain?

The best season to visit the North of Spain is during the Summer months, as well as early September. Even during those months, the weather can be tricky due to the region’s location next to the ocean. Be well prepared and pack some warmer clothes and a rain jacket, just in case.

How much time should you dedicate for this road trip?

 There are just about 6 and a half hours (about 450km / 280 miles) of driving in total. However, Rentalmoose recommends taking some extra time to enjoy the locations to the fullest. So foodies, ready to pack your bags?

 This road trip can be done in both directions – whether you land in Bordeaux and depart from Bilbao or vice versa. 

 You can rent a car at either one of the airports and drop off at another location. Find your suitable rental car for this road trip in Spain via Rentalmoose.

Don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app and take check-in photos of the rental car before starting your journey to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee.

Road Trip Extensions

You can extend your Spain road trip to explore the nearby regions even further! Take a look at these possible road trip extensions. 

The South of France

Once you’re in Bordeaux, consider driving east and exploring the picturesque French Riviera. See the European Grand Canyon, stroll down the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice, or try some of the regional delicacies. Click here for the travel guide.

Normandy and Brittany

This road trip requires the least amount of driving. When you’re in Bordeaux, make your way to Nantes (roughly 3 hours away) and explore the best of Normandy and Brittany, before finishing in Paris. Check out the guide here.

Costa del Sol and Andalucia

This trip extension is ideal for long trip lovers. Drive south across Spain for around 8 hours until you reach the sunny city of Malaga, one of the hotspots on the dreamy Costa del Sol. Sunbathe at the best beaches in Europe and indulge in delicious seafood. Don’t forget to check out our travel guide when planning your trip.

Can tourists drive in Spain?

 Yes! France and Spain both accept most driving licenses in the world. Although International Driving Permits are recognized, they are not mandatory when driving in either of the countries. Click here to find out all you need to know about International Driving Permits for any of your future trips.

Make sure to follow the speed limits carefully when driving around Spain. There are lots of speed cameras set up all over major roads, some of them are nearly impossible to spot.

International tourists are required to pay their fines on the spot, or online via the DGT website. Keep in mind that the price will be two times higher if you decide to pay online. Speeding tickets range from 50 to 250 Euros, depending on the excess speed and the road type.

As the driving goes through wine regions, don’t forget that both France and Spain have extremely strict drink driving laws – 0,5mg/ml of alcohol per liter in your blood. Don’t take any risks to drink and drive.

Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive into your Spain road trip!

Bilbao

gugenheim museum unique architecture and small river in foreground, seen during sunset on a sunny day in bilbao spain.

The Guggenheim museum photographed by Phillip Maiwald/Wikimedia Commons.

Your road trip in Spain starts in the city of Bilbao. Take some time for the cultural program the city has to offer. Bilbao is a genuinely cool place – it has a rich history as well as the vibe of a young and modern metropolis. 

What are the best restaurants in Bilbao?

Nerua Guggenheim at the Guggenheim Museum

 Just take a look at the architecture of the Guggenheim museum! And of course take a look at the inside of it, too. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bilbao, and a top pick for any road trip in Spain.

Whilst already there, why not try out the Nerua Guggenheim restaurant? It is a bit more expensive than other places in town but the food is totally worth the price.

Azurmendi

 Another fine-dining restaurant that the locals swear by is Azurmendi. The restaurant was chosen as Elite Traveler’s reader’s favorite restaurant in the world and used to be number 38 in the official World’s Best Restaurants chart back in 2017. One thing’s for sure, it is one of the best restaurants in the North of Spain.

juicy delicious gourmet meal decorated with three red flowers served on a white plate. Delicacy served at Restaurant Azurmendi in Bilbao Spain.

One of the many delicacies at Restaurant Azurmendi. Photography by Dale Cruse/Flickr.com

Kate Zaharra

 If you are over the molecular gastronomy and want to eat something simple (but good!), then head over to Kate Zaharra. The cozy eatery is located in a charming farmhouse that overlooks the city, providing a breathtaking backdrop during your meal. Open for lunch between 1 and 4 PM, all week long.

El Puertito

Do you love seafood? Especially oysters? Then El Puertito is a place for you! The very first oyster bar in Bilbao. There is the best oyster selection you can dream of! But if you don’t love oysters, then El Puertito may not be the ideal place for you. 

Don’t worry if your hotel doesn’t have parking, as Bilbao has many car parks around the city center. Find the closest ones to your locations on the map here.

What to see around Bilbao?

Bay of Biscay

Before continuing to San Sebastian, consider taking a little break at the picturesque coast of the Bay of Biscay. 

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

 An optional trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – a castle on the rock at the sea. This is a short 50-minute drive from Bilbao. As there is just one road, you’ll need to come back using the same way. All in all, there is around an hour and a half of driving in total. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe was one of the shooting locations for Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of the show, the castle is a must-visit!

Asador Etxebarri

 On your way to San Sebastian, Rentalmoose suggests making a slight detour from the main road to one delicious restaurant. The detour will add less than 20 minutes to your trip, but the cuisine is well worth it! Be sure to drop by for lunch at Asador Etxebarri. Thank us later.

The next stop on this Spain road trip is the wonderful city of San Sebastian.

Next: San Sebastian (1 hour)  13.95 EUR Highway Toll

San Sebastian

traditional spanish buildings, small square with a palm tree and church in background on a cloudy day. view from maria cristina hotel room in san sebastian spain

View of the city from 5* hotel Maria Cristina 

 One sentence is enough to convince you why San Sebastian is worth visiting during your road trip in Spain: 

This northern Spanish city holds one of the highest numbers of Michelin stars per square meter in the world. 

Michelin star restaurants in San Sebastian

 Three of five 3-Michelin-star restaurants in Spain are in this city, complemented by another great selection of restaurants that add up to 16 Michelin stars in total.

 If ready to pay a higher price, try to visit the 3-Michelin-star restaurants: Arzak, Akelarre, or Martin Berasategui. Don’t skip Mugaritz, the famous 2-Michelin-star restaurant. 

 Rentalmoose insider tip: These restaurants need to be booked way ahead. Check their websites for details.

Pintxos- a regional delicacy

If you don’t plan to spend a  fortune on food then don’t worry; one of the foodie treasures in San Sebastián is its famous pintxos; culinary bites ranging from the original slice of bread piled with food to tiny miniature haute cuisine creations. 

Where are the best pintxos in San Sebastian?

 There are many pintxos bars around the town, for example Bar Sport or La Cuchara de San Telmo. Find these two, as well as a long list of other spots here.

colorful frog-shaped gourmet dish on a shining plate. The petit fours served at arzak restaurant in san sebastian

The petit fours at Arzak restaurant

Parking in San Sebastian

Parking in San Sebastian can be hard to find during high season, although there are many underground parking places around the town. Unfortunately, these are not free of charge. 

 The best places to park in the city center are Parking de la Concha, Parking Boulevard, Parking Okendo, Parking San San Martin and Parking Buen Pastor. 

 There are also many parking places just outside the town and if you park in one of those, public transportation to the city center will be free for you.

Where to stay in San Sebastian?

 San Sebastian has two very good and recommended luxury hotels: Hotel Maria Cristina and Hotel de Londres y de InglaterraWe recommend taking an overnight stop here before continuing on your Spain road trip.

For a budget-friendly stay, consider booking a room at Villa Soro or Arima hotel. 

Next: Biarritz, 50 minutes 5.6 EUR Highway Toll

Biarritz

biarritz grand plage sandy beach and wavy ocean with surfers, colorful buildings seaside buildings in the background during sunset in france

La Grande Plage in Biarritz photographed by Moibtz.

 San Sebastian was the last stop in Spain, now it’s time to cross the border into France! Head to Biarritz – a seaside city that was once the favorite spot of Empress Eugénie, Napoleon’s Spanish-born wife. The city lies just about 35km (22mi) from the Spanish border, and it is another stop on your road trip.

Why is Biarritz famous?

In 1854, the emperor Napoleon III and Eugénie bought several acres of dunes in Biarritz. The couple gave the engineer Dagueret the task of establishing a summer home surrounded by gardens, woods, meadows, a pond and outbuildings. 

 Napoleon III chose the location near Spain so his wife would not get homesick for her native country. The house was called Villa Eugénie, which today is Hôtel du Palais

 The presence of the imperial couple attracted other European royalties, like the British monarchs Queen Victoria and the Spanish king Alfonso XIII. This, of course, made Biarritz extremely well-known. 

Biarritz has one of the highest real estate prices in France to this day. The luxurious seaside tourist hotspot is also known for its oceanfront casinos, and its surfing culture. It’s a great place to stop for a day and soak in the sun during your road trip!

Where can you find the best food in Biarritz?

Villa Eugénie

 For the best fine dining experience, don’t wander further from the Hotel du Palais. Their gourmet restaurant has the same name the building once used to have – Villa Eugénie. This is definitely one of the most royal experiences you will have in Biarritz. The spectacular ocean view is the cherry on top.

 With spectacular views of the Basque Country coastline, the lighthouse, and the famous Grande Plage, this restaurant is fine dining at its finest. Expect white tablecloths, multiple sets of cutlery, and impeccably dressed waiters with a strong focus on showcasing local and regional dishes.

The best seafood

 If you happen to be a fan of seafood then Chez Albert is a must for you! Open between 12:15 PM and 2 PM for lunch, 7:30 PM and 10 PM for dinner service. Closed on Wednesdays.

Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t forget to try their seafood soup which Chez Albert is very famous for.

Or just go to Port des Pêcheurs – a small and romantic fisherman port, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants with a selection of fresh seafood. Don’t expect to find glamour here, though these places serve high-quality food!

Marché aux Halles de Biarritz

  Foodies should definitely visit also Marché aux Halles de Biarritz. Built in 1885, it’s not only the main local market but also a place to have a drink and meet friends. You can find everything you need there, fruits and vegetables, the best local products, meat, cheese, bakeries and a few nice places to eat.  

 The second and smaller part of the market is dedicated to fish and seafood where you can buy a plate of fresh oysters for 6 euros. You should know, however, that the market isn’t very cheap. Don’t count on staying on a tight budget when visiting it.  

What are the best things to do in Biarritz?

La Grande Plage

An absolute must when visiting Biarritz is going for a swim in the ocean. When you plan to have a break from all the eating and wandering around the place, go to relax in Biarritz’s famous beach La Grande Plage. If you are traveling with kids, keep in mind that there are quite big waves.

Plage Port Vieux

 If you want a quieter beach with safer swimming options for kids, go to Plage Port Vieux. It’s located on a tiny bay between two cliffs creating a very sheltered beach which makes it the safest place for kids and adults to swim. 

Promenade & Le Phare Lighthouse

If you are not the type who can sit still and sunbathe all day, take a walk along the promenade to the famous Le Phare Lighthouse. Go to the top and see the whole view of Biarritz from above. 

Biarritz Aquarium

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit the museum of the sea – La musée de la Mer. It’s an aquarium in the Art Deco building just in front of the sea. It’s possible to see countless underwater creatures there. 

Where can you park in Biarritz?

Trying to find parking in Biarritz? There are seven payable parking houses in the heart of the city. These are the best free car parks in Biarritz: 

  • Jai Alai d’Aguiléra, 
  • Floquet (Avenue Charles Floquet), 
  • Hippodrome des Fleurs, 
  • SNCF train station, 
  • Atabal (Allée du Moura), 
  • Biarritz Lighthouse, 
  • Lac Marion, 
  • Plage Marbella et Milady, 
  • Club Hippique.

Where to stay in Biarritz?

 When you plan a lavish and extraordinary vacation then why not walk in the footsteps of Napoleon and Eugénie and stay in the Hotel du Palais which is so full of history. 

For a bit modest and less-costing stay check the La Maison du Lierre or Hotel Georges VI

Next: Dunes of Pilat, 2 hours 11.4 EUR Highway Toll

Dune of Pilat

pilat france largest sand dune in europe large sand hill with people climbing and green trees in background

The tallest dune in Europe photographed by Julia Casado.

 Take a break in Dune of Pilat which is on the way to Bordeaux, the last point of this Spain road trip itinerary. Dune of Pilat is the tallest dune in Europe at 110 meters above sea level. 

 Due to its exposed location along the sea and steep angle, the Dune of Pilat is a famous paragliding spot, so if your soul wants some action then this is an option for you to try. 

 Pick your activity, whether you like climbing on the sand dunes to see the marvelous views, or try paragliding – this place offers you a rush of adrenaline before driving to your final destination, Bordeaux, where you can continue indulging in delicious food.

Next: Bordeaux,1 hour

Bordeaux

bordeaux france traditional white building with large windows, at a cobblestone square with tourists on a sunny day

Bordeaux photographed by Niki Nagy.

  Now you have reached your final destination on your great road trip, it’s time to find your hotel, park your car and enjoy the best of what France has to offer – wine! Bordeaux is a very famous wine region and its unique due to its closeness to the sea. The city is praised as the wine capital of the world! 

Well, there has to be something special about Bordeaux. Even the Queen of England herself claimed that Bordeaux is “the very essence of elegance”. It’s a must-see!

What can’t you miss in Bordeaux?

Museums and Art Galleries

Bordeaux offers plenty of attractions for art lovers. If you love the work of old masters, go to The Musée des Beaux Arts

If you are a fan of modern art, you should head to the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art instead. 

Day trip to the vineyards

When you plan to stay longer in Bordeaux, a day trip to a vineyard is a must. You can either drive there with your rental car (but in this case you’re going to need a sober driver) or visit the Tourist Office where the transportation will be organized for you. That way, you can enjoy the amazing wine as well. 

Day trips from Bordeaux

 Other day trip options are the beautiful town of St Emilion, then Médoc (home to many famous Bordeaux wine châteaux like Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild) and also Arcachon – an endearing seaside spot known for its oysters. 

La Cité du Vin

 When talking about wine, Bordeaux has the greatest wine museum in the world – La Cité du Vin. The building is odd in architecture but it’s well worth a visit. Of course, there is a wine shop (with 800 different wines!) and wine tastings there. 

This isn’t a museum of Bordeaux wine but Bordeaux’s museum of world wine – from Greece to Chile, you can learn a lot about world wine cultures there. 

What are the best places to eat in Bordeaux?

 Yes, wine is great in Bordeaux. What else is amazing? Food, of course! The French chef Joel Robuchon has said: “Bordeaux has produced that is world-famous: oysters from the Bay of Arcachon; milk-fed Pauillac lamb, grazed on the Médoc marshes; and cèpes de Bordeaux, in my opinion, the best mushrooms in France. They grow superb raspberries just a few kilometers from here; their ducks for magret de canard (duck breast); and the asparagus, too, is wonderful.” 

La Grande Maison

Robuchon used to have his restaurant in Bordeaux, but it has now been taken over by another famous French chef – Pierre Gagnaire. The Michelin 2* restaurant is in a fabulous hotel La Grande Maison which belongs to the wine magnate Bernard Magrez who predominantly owns Bordeaux wine estates (and also other wine regions in France, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Japan, Morocco, and the US).  

 Of course, the hotel and restaurant are both very expensive. However, the restaurant offers a great deal for weekday lunch: a 3-course menu for 60 euros. This way you can enjoy the grand architecture and interior design of this amazing place on a slightly tighter budget. 

The best restaurants in Bordeaux

On top of La Grande Maison, other great restaurants in town that Rentalmoose recommends trying out are Le Chien de Pavlov, Garopapilles, and Racines

Parking in Bordeaux

There are very limited options to park your car on the street in Bordeaux. Cheap parking is offered on the outskirts of the city in several locations. 

Rentalmoose parking tip: park your car in one of the car parks in the city center, which is closest to your destination and is not expensive.

Where to stay in Bordeaux?

 There is a huge selection of grande 5* hotels in Bordeaux, each of them has a gourmet restaurant as well. But there are many gorgeous options which don’t cost a fortune. Try your travel dates at Villa Victor Louis or Hotel Burdigala. 

Drop-off

For maximum convenience, drop off your rental car directly at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport right before leaving. Browse through rentals that support drop-off at another location via Rentalmoose.

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