Tag: France

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)đź“Ť 

Castellane to Verdon Gorge- 30 kilometers (20 miles)đź“Ť 

Verdon Gorge to Calanques- 170 kilometers (105 miles)đź“Ť 

Calanques to Camargue- 115 kilometers (70 miles)đź“Ť

Camargue to Montpellier- 70 kilometers (50 miles)đź“Ť

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 CĂ´te 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 NapolĂ©on is the route taken by NapolĂ©on 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 NapolĂ©on. 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 JĂ©sus 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 ComĂ©die – 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)đź“Ť 13.95 Euro Highway Toll

San Sebastian to Biarritz- 50 kilometers (30 miles)đź“Ť 5.6 Euro Highway Toll

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

Dune of Pilat to Bordeaux- 70 kilometers (45 miles)đź“Ť

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 EugĂ©nie, 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 EugĂ©nie 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 EugĂ©nie, which today is HĂ´tel 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 EugĂ©nie. 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 PĂŞcheurs – 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 MarchĂ© 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 musĂ©e 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’AguilĂ©ra, 
  • Floquet (Avenue Charles Floquet), 
  • Hippodrome des Fleurs, 
  • SNCF train station, 
  • Atabal (AllĂ©e 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 EugĂ©nie 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 MĂ©doc (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 CitĂ© 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 MĂ©doc 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.

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

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