A French road trip
Are you ready for a European road trip? Flying to Paris is just the beginning...
Do you fancy seeing a little more of the dreamlike country that is France? Flying to Paris can be just the beginning. Why not rent a car and head out to see some of the breathtaking and unbelievable sights France has to offer. Here are some highly recommended destinations just a few hours away from the city of love. Bon WOWage!
THE CITY OF REIMS
An hour and 50 minutes-drive to the east-north-east will take you to the city of Reims. Reims is the ideal destination for history buffs and champagne lovers. Situated in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France this is where the drink was invented and where it is still made today. It’s only real champagne if it comes from these parts and for the authentic champagne experience visit some of the manufacturers in the area. Highly recommended is Pommery where you can learn about the process, explore the caves where the bottles are kept, and have a taste of course! Make sure to check out the Reims Cathedral so you can stand in the footsteps of Joan of Arc and marvel at Marc Chagall’s stained glass windows.
Directions: Take the E54 out of Paris and then get onto the A4.
Giverny is a commune just an hour and 20 minutes-drive northwest of Paris. It is best known as home to Claude Monet’s house and garden where you can spend a lovely afternoon roaming through the painter’s study and amazing living room and walking around his gardens and ponds; scenery very recognizable from many of his paintings.
Driving to Giverny takes you through one of France’s most scenic routes. The trip will take you through one beautiful village after another in an amazing setting of the Vexin region.
Directions: Head into the 8th arrondissement and get onto the A14 that later turns into A13. Follow A13 to Avenue Aristide/D113 and then get onto D201 to Rue du Grand Val in Giverny.
PÉRIGORD LIMOUSIN NATURAL PARK
Four hours south of Paris is Périgord Limousin Natural Park where you’ll find Camping de L’étang, our most favorite campsite in the world. Situated in a forest next to a small lake, it’s run by a Dutch couple who built the place up from scratch. They rent out cozy little huts, run a nice bar and restaurant with a pool table and dartboard, have good spacious pitches for tents and motor homes, a little beach on the lake with a boat you’re free to use anytime and their dogs and cat absolutely love your company. Charming villages surround the campsite and you can easily lose track of time walking in the woods or shopping from the local farmers.
Directions: From the 13th arrondisment head on to the E15/E50/A10/E5 and follow signs for Orléans/Chartres. By Orléans follow signs for A71/Toulouse/A20/E9 and drive on until you get close to Limoges where you turn onto N520/Rocade Nord-Ouest. Follow signs for Angoulême until you get onto D13, turn left unto D27, then right onto D50 and finally another right onto D112.
CAMPING IN FRANCE
If camping is your thing, then France is your kind of country. Wherever you go you’ll find excellent campsites with hot showers, good accommodations for caravans and motor homes, swimming pools, game areas, horse rentals, etc. Camping in France can be a wonderful experience and requires minimal research to be a great success. That said, you can also find charming and comfortable accommodations in B&Bs, gîtes (private holiday homes for short-term rent) and of course the little hotels in every tiny village. When traveling through the smaller villages of France, a good rule of thumb is to head for the usually very visible church tower and there you’ll find everything you need; shops, markets and cafés.
Don’t be afraid of the French, they will spend a good 10 minutes mimicking rifles and pigs in a game of charades (looking for wild pigs at the local butchers) if you don’t speak a word of French and it will make their day if you appreciate their local produce. Just make sure whatever you say ends in “madame” or “monsieur” and you’ll be alright.
While driving on the country roads keep an eye out for handmade signs pointing to a farm where you can buy produce straight from the farmer; fruits, vegetables, meats and best of all: the nut and olive oils! Always try the local produce from the region as it is the region’s specialty, made with a passion most other nations can only dream about. French cuisine is renowned for a reason and a big part of that reason is the quality of the products. Be aware that the French take their lunch breaks very seriously and almost everything shuts down between 12 and 14 (sometimes even 15 if they’re very relaxed). They’ll be enjoying their lunch at a nice restaurant with a nice glass of wine before heading back to work a couple of hours later. Take a leaf out of their book; eat, drink and relax!