Isn’t a road trip around France a wonderful project to accomplish at least once in your life? We do believe so! France is the country where the most popular conversation topics are food, the weather, strikes and immigrants. It’s also been a time of reconnecting with my home country and being reunited with old friends. Ironically it’s since leaving that I’ve taken the take to explore the place where I’m from. For our trip around France, we went on a road trip along the Atlantic coast – less touristic than the Mediterranean, but equally magnificent!
The Stunning Places You Must Visit On a Road Trip in France
I had no idea Brittany would have such a big effect on me. People told me Saint-Malo was a beautiful town but I had no idea exactly how beautiful until I set foot there. High walls demarcate the old town, which give it an extraordinary charm from both within and outside the walls. And what an atmosphere there was at the within the ramparts. The sea views all along the fortifications were magnificent. The tide was low and the kids loved running and playing on the beach.
Among the large towns of France, Bordeaux is my favourite. The architecture is unusual and the spacious design of the town eliminated any feeling of suffocation which is so common in other French towns. This town can win over pretty much anyone’s heart with its good quality of life.
Another beautiful discovery was the gigantic and mythical beach of La Baule. We felt like we were the only people in the world on that beach, we enjoyed digging in the sand to hunt for seashells, cockles, crabs and fish. As the tide was out, we had to walk 500 metres to reach the water. And even after wading for 200 metres we were still barely knee-deep!
If we had to choose one village out of them all, it would have to be Rocamadour. Walking through the streets we felt like we were in in a different era. Hanging off a cliff, this “citadel of faith” is an ancient site of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. This place is also among the most visited tourist sites in France.
In Strasbourg, it’s like being in France and Germany at the same time. This town captivated us with its imposing cathedral and its Alsatian houses on the side of the canals. Not to mention the majestic storks gliding over our heads and contemplating us from the top of their nests built on the roofs of town houses!
More stunning places (see photos at the end of the post)
After having landed at Basel-Mulhouse airport, we rented a car and set off with my parents and sister to Besancon before heading to the Southwest of France. We drove north following the Atlantic coast and, after a short spell in Benelux, we returned via the Northeast of France for the national celebrations on the 14th of July and the world cup final! We visited huge megacities as well as tiny adorable villages. All these regions, both familiar and new, enchanted us with their quality of life. The beauty of the landscapes, the sunshine and the good food conquered our hearts.
Here is the list in order of the places we visited:
- The village of Martel, Lot
- The village of Rocamadour, Lot
- The village of Monflanquin, Lot-et-Garonne
- The village of Issigeac, Dordogne
- Toulouse, Haute-Garonne
- The castle of Bonaguil, Lot-et-Garonne
- Bordeaux, Gironde
- Saintes, Charente-Maritime
- L’île d’Oléron, Charente-Maritime
- La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime
- The village of Clisson, Loire-Atlantique
- Nantes, Loire-Atlantique
- Baule, Loire-Atlantique
- The village of Guéranof, Loire-Atlantique
- Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine
- The Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche
- Saint-Malo, Ille-et-Vilaine
- Caen, Calvados
- Deauville, Calvados
- The Bridge of Normandy, Calvados
- The cliffs of Étretat, Seine-Maritime
- Rouen, Seine-Maritime
- Metz, Moselle
- Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle
- Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin
- The village of Eguisheim, Haut-Rhin
- Colmar, Haut-Rhin
- Belfort, Territory of Belfort
- Besançon, Doubs
- Basel (Switzerland)
For a better preparation
We rented a Renault Grand Scenic to get around. We were 7 as we were travelling with my parents and sister. With 7 passengers, the trunk was ridiculously small, so we had to compromise by only bringing the absolute essentials in our Osprey bags. This experience was actually very useful as it made us realise that our 4 cabin bags had far too many non-essential items for our world trip. At the end of our tour of France, we reduced the total weight of our cases from 40kg to 34kg. And we’re aiming to reduce it further to 28kg when we are in Asia! Pray for us!
For 10 out of 19 nights in France, we were able to enjoy the hospitality of family and friends. We spent the remaining 9 nights in 7 different hotel/apartments.
What a pleasure it was to finally eat tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, apples that taste like apples, milk that tastes like milk and pastries that taste like France! Do you know what I’m talking about, fellow Quebecers?
We forced ourselves (without much difficulty and with a lot of pleasure in fact) to try the regional specialities.
And in the regions with a coastline, we never forgot to eat oysters, like here at Oléron.
The biggest component of our expenses was the transport. When returning the rental car, the counter indicated that we’d added an extra 5700km during our trip in France and Benelux. Petrol costs, toll fees, and parking quickly ramped up the transport budget.
The expenses listed below are those which we made exclusively in France. I’ve subtracted 3/7 of our accommodation and food costs, which make up my parents and sister’s contribution. I haven’t subtracted transport costs as travelling without them wouldn’t have saved petrol, toll and parking costs.
All in all, the real cost of our trip to France for our family of 4 is totaled at:
- 2.224,00 EUR (2,506.00 USD)
- 117,00 EUR (131.84 USD) per day;
- 29,25 EUR (32.96 USD) per person per day.
In detail :
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flights||58,00 EUR / 65.56 USD|
|Accomodation||433,00 EUR / 489.46 USD|
|Transport (including gas, toll, parking)||1.177,00 EUR / 1,330.48 USD|
|Eating out||331,00 EUR / 374.16 USD|
|Groceries||209,00 EUR / 236.25 USD|
|Activities||17,00 EUR / 19.22 USD|
|Total||2.224,00 EUR / 2,514.01 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2018-06-19 to 2018-07-02; 2018-07-10 to 2018-07-16|
|Number of days||19|
|Cities we visited||Toulouse, Bordeaux, Saintes, Oléron, La Rochelle, Nantes, La Baule, Rennes, Saint-Malo, Etretat, Rouen, Metz, Nancy, Strasbourg, Colmar, Belfort, Besançon|
|Inbound||London to Basel-Mulhouse by plane|
|Outbound||Basel-Mulhouse to Berlin by plane|
|Mode of transport||Rental car|
|Distance travelled (car & foot)||4300 km|
|Number of photos taken||5200 (275 per day)|
|Currency||The Euro (1,00 EUR = 1.13 USD)|
The second month of our world trip has gone smoothly. Although it was not always easy, we were on familiar ground being in my homeland. We have recuperated well and are now continuing our adventures in Germany.
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I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the summary of our exceptional world tour as a family!
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