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Go on a road trip holiday to France

France is an enchanting travel destination. So enchanting, in fact, that it attracts the most tourists worldwide every year. This is most likely due to the incredibly many reasons to visit the country: the history, the architecture, the food, the nature... you name it! Whether you head north, south, east, or west, you'll encounter experiences and impressions worth writing home about to grandma and grandpa.

The French cities are brimming with life, color, and beautiful architecture from many different eras, and when it comes to culture, art, and history, France is almost an inexhaustible source. In this article, we've gathered some of the best France has to offer, for you who want to experience the country on a road trip. Cool for France is that the whole country is within a manageable driving distance. For example, if you're on a road trip to Italy (LINK), it's just too far down to the tip of the "toe".

We've also gathered a number of tips that will hopefully make your road trip an even better experience. So buckle up, practice some French phrases, and look forward to the sweet, sunny life in France. We guide you on the way to a fabulous French vacation!

NOTE: this article assumes your road trip/vacation begins in Scandinavia


Historienørdens paradis

Kør-selv-ferie Frankrig - Normandiet

In northwestern France lies our first recommendation, Normandy. Normandy is a region in France that, with its coastline along the English Channel, has always had a significant position in Europe. Fortunately, it is perfectly placed for road trips and camping. And just to make it even better, the region plays a huge role in European history.

The history of Normandy stretches far – in fact, all the way back to the Viking Age, when the area had major problems with Viking raids. In 911, the area was handed over to the Vikings, and hence the name "Normandy," which refers to "men from the north". The Viking Rollo, who is likely from Zealand, converted to Christianity and became the first Duke of Normandy as well as the ancestor of the ducal dynasty that, about 150 years later, conquered England with William the Conqueror. And yes, the British royal family as we know it today descends from William the Conqueror – but that's a longer story.

In Normandy, there are countless artifacts, statues, buildings, churches, and much more that testify to the history of the region's medieval past. Among these are the 70-meter long and 1000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, Rouen's impressive, towering cathedral, and the abbey island of Mont Saint Michel (see the beautiful picture above) to name a few.

However, the storytelling doesn't end here – far from it, in fact. Fast forwarding a thousand years to the 20th century, we find Normandy in the midst of World War II. Normandy was among the areas in France that were under German occupation from 1940. The most pivotal event in Normandy was the infamous D-Day, where the Allies landed on the beaches and coasts of Normandy as the first step in Operation Overlord, the larger mission to liberate Europe from German occupation. D-Day led to several bloody battles in the region, which you can get a glimpse of through the many museums and memorials that reflect and tell about this terrible, but historically significant, war period. Places like Omaha Beach and Normandy American Cemetery are must-sees, but be sure to look closely at the list of attractions at the bottom of the section, as there are many to choose from.

Your road trip to Normandy doesn't have to focus solely on history. The area is also renowned for its culinary prowess, especially in terms of fish, shellfish, and notably Camembert cheese. For those interested in art, this is also where Claude Monet made most of his impact. It's even possible to visit his famous house and garden in Giverny.

Moreover, the region is home to plenty of towns, both large and small, that are worth visiting. One of the highlights is Normandy's capital, Rouen: an old, charming city filled with churches and half-timbered houses. The Cathedral of Rouen, which is the tallest in France, is not only incredibly beautiful; it's also where you can find Rollo's tomb. In addition, there are numerous charming port towns like Honfleur, Fécamp, and Deauville to explore – and of course, the region's other major cities, Caen and Le Havre.

With a visit to Normandy, don't expect soaring temperatures – but you can look forward to unbelievably beautiful coasts, tides (don't fall asleep on the beach!), and an insight into history that is unparalleled. Normandy must be every history nerd's biggest dream and worst nightmare – because there's so much to explore that it's nearly impossible to cover it all in one trip. However, by taking the car, you've made it easier for yourself to see as much as possible.

So perhaps you and your family should follow in Rollo's footsteps and take a trip to Normandy. We'll take care of the boat ride, but only to Germany – the rest of the expedition and the conquest of Europe is up to you!

Normandy is perfect for: History enthusiasts, nature lovers, hikers, foodies, camping aficionados, and art lovers

Major attractions in Normandy: Omaha Beach/Normandy American Cemetery, Mont Saint Michel, Abbaye aux Hommes, Bayeux Tapestry, Falaise d’Aval, (the paratrooper in) Sainte-Mère-Église, Monet's Garden (Giverny), Memorial de Caen, Airborne Museum, Bayeux Cathedral, L’Abbaye-aux-Hommes

Great day trips in/from Normandy: Rouen, Caen, Falaise, Bayeux, Le Havre, the Seine, Paris, Somme, Dunkirk, Honfleur, Fécamp, Deauville

Distance from Rødby: 1100-1300 km (13-15 hours by car)

The wine route in Alsace

Hvidvin og vandreture i Vogeserne

Kør-selv-ferie Frankrig - Vinruten i Alsace

We're moving straight on to another fan favorite in northern France. In direct contrast to Normandy's western shores, we now turn our noses towards northeastern France, where the region of Alsace is located. Technically, the region isn't entirely its own anymore, as it became part of a new, larger region – Grand Est – in 2016. But Alsace's name and status as a wine region are certainly not something anyone can or dares to take from them anytime soon.

For Alsace is especially world-renowned for its wine culture and romantic style. The area is dotted with vineyards, as the slopes of the Vosges Mountains create the perfect conditions for producing especially white wine. Indeed, it is the wine that takes center stage in Alsace, and thus it is also the wine route in Alsace we emphasize. This is despite the area's otherwise rich Franco-German history, which is easy to sense in both town names and culture. The wine route stretches 170 kilometers and winds past over 100 wineries and several small, captivating towns. Maybe you don't have time to experience them all, but we have a few that you should set your GPS for:

  1. Strasbourg: Though Alsace's capital, Strasbourg, is not officially part of the wine route, it lies right by the starting town Marlenheim, making it an obvious starting point for your tour. It would almost be regrettable not to take the chance to experience it as well. Not only is Strasbourg the capital of Alsace and Grand Est, but it's also home to the European Parliament. The city is full of French charm with beautiful parks, cozy streets, stunning buildings, canals across the city, and a huge cathedral.

  2. Bergheim: About halfway along the route, you'll find the medieval town of Bergheim. Cobblestones, flowers, and half-timbered houses decorate the town and create a tranquil, medieval atmosphere. Bergheim is France's golden spot for peace and quiet, making it an ideal stop for a cold glass of Alsatian wine. Just a little over 10 km from Bergheim, you'll find Haut Koenigsbourg – an impressive medieval castle beautifully located on a hilltop, which would be a shame not to visit.

  3. Kayserberg: About 25 kilometers south of Bergheim lies the old town and fortress of Kayserberg. The town is characterized by its colorful streets, old-fashioned houses, a beautiful river, and the castle that sits at the city's highest point, making Kayserberg something truly special. The streets are, moreover, filled with delicacies when it comes to food and drink.

  4. Colmar: Probably the most popular destination on the wine route, Colmar, is also the largest. Like the other towns, Colmar has all the good stuff – just even more of it. The city is also known as Little Venice, mostly because of the many charming canals that meander through the city, and the picturesque cityscape with narrow streets and beautiful houses. Colmar has a medieval character from both French and German history, fantastic food, vineyards and wineries, museums, markets, and whatever else your heart may desire. Not far from Colmar lies Neuf Brisach – a historical fortress that from above almost looks like an octagonal flower. The city has retained its original, military design, making it a unique experience to be "let in" through the city's gates.

  5. Eguisheim: Despite of its small size, Eguisheim is known as one of France's most beautiful towns. The town's unique architecture and layout have made it one of the most charming and popular destinations on the wine route. The wine tradition goes far back in Eguisheim, which is among Alsace's oldest wine towns. Surrounded by vineyards right up to the city wall, Eguisheim offers a memorable walk through the world of wine.

With the wine route in Alsace, you get an experience that is tailor-made for a road trip – especially for wine lovers, as there are plenty of Grand Cru wines to learn about in the area. But also for those curious about European history and who want to mix it with beautiful nature, architecture, and atmospheric city life. If you visit Alsace during the Christmas period, you can also explore the Christmas markets in many of the towns along the wine route.

Alsace is perfect for: wine connoisseurs, foodies, history buffs, hikers, photographers

Major attractions in Alsace: Notre-Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg, Haut-Koenigsbourg, Neuf-Brisach, National Automobile Museum, Le Petite France (Strasbourg), Unterlinden Museum

Great day trips in/from Alsace: The Wine Route, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Le Grand Ballon, Belfort

Distance from Rødby: 800-1000 km (10-12 hours by car)


Storbyen over alle storbyer

Kør-selv-ferie Frankrig - Paris

When it comes to France, there is one city that is hard to bypass. That city is Paris.

When people from all over the world head towards the popular metropolis, it's often with high expectations. That's why it might also be easy to get disappointed, because even though Paris is known as the city of love, you shouldn't expect that everything is always as romantic in Paris as you might have always heard. Having said that, there's a reason why Paris is so popular: few cities can match Paris’ cultural, architectural, and historical wealth – and we will help you experience it in the best possible way.

It makes sense to drive to Paris – it's not that far. However, it's probably best to park the car once you arrive. It's more likely to be in the way. Fortunately, many attractions are within walking distance – and if not, it's easy to get around using public transportation.

You might have heard of some of the major attractions before: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Versailles, The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame de Paris, Musée d’Orsay – there's plenty to choose from, so you don't need to worry about a lack of things to see. Remember, though, that there can be long lines, especially at popular attractions like The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and of course, The Eiffel Tower, so it is often worth it to buy tickets in advance.

If everything seems to involve long lines, fortunately, there are also many other ways to experience Paris. Take, for example, a lovely walk along the Seine, and be led past Paris’ most beautiful parks and biggest attractions. It's also along the river that you get the best view of The Eiffel Tower, which is almost right beside it. Paris’ streets are filled with countless restaurants and sidewalk cafes where you can sit and enjoy city life. And as a true fashion capital, Paris naturally offers endless shopping opportunities. With or without children, a trip to Disneyland Paris might be appealing. It definitely won't be hard to get the little ones into the car if the Disney card is played.

In Paris, there are thousands of things that will capture your attention. Therefore, it's smart to be well prepared on what and when, if there are many things you want to do. Even though Paris is always full of people, you can avoid a lot of tourists by traveling outside of the summer months.

Paris is perfect for: Urban explorers, art lovers, foodies, café and croissant enjoyers, history buffs, photographers

Major attractions in Paris: The Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, Versailles, The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame de Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou, Luxembourg Gardens, Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Montmartre), Musée de l’Orangerie.

Great day trips from Paris: Orléans, Reims, Troyes, Rouen, Le Mans, Auxerre, Normandy

Distance from Rødby: 1000-1100 km (12-13 hours by car)


Provence and the French Riviera

Party in Provence

Kør-selv-ferie Frankrig - Provence

If you're willing to put a few extra hours in the driving seat, a true French classic awaits you down south – the Provence region. It is here, on the Mediterranean coast, where you can truly bask in the sun – while also enjoying magnificent, colorful nature and culture as far as the eye can see.

Provence is located right in France's southeastern corner, where Central Europe turns into Southern Europe – and where you can expect it to be a notch hotter than in the rest of France. The warmth, white sandy beaches, and beautiful promenades are very attractive – and are often spiced up with a bit of French arrogance in cities like Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, and the principality of Monaco, which lines up along the French Riviera. Especially in the Riviera area, it's all about luxury and more. The area is characterized by luxury and wealth, which is reflected in the picturesque cityscape and the long, lavish beach promenades. All in all, Provence and the Riviera are an obvious destination for a luxury camping and beach holiday!

However, it's not only the glamorous that shines through in Provence. The region offers a wealth of small towns and natural areas with unique features. Old, historic towns like Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and Ezé Village showcase the charming medieval style with beautiful buildings, winding streets, popular squares, and fantastic views. Should you, against all odds, run out of charming small towns, you can always head for something bigger – and that might well be Marseille, France's second-largest city. Marseille is a historic port city that offers both the best and worst of city life. Here you can find beautiful cathedrals, palaces, cozy shops and streets, museums, and much more. It's just about finding the authentic gems.

The nature in Provence is a palette of colors: green mountain landscapes, azure seas, purple lavender fields, and of course, the sandy beaches. The lavender fields are a hallmark of the region, but it's especially the meeting between the green mountain landscape and the Mediterranean that takes your breath away. This can also be experienced in various national parks – for example, Calanque National Park, located just outside Marseille. The southern part of the Alps is also found in Provence, so there are good opportunities for an alpine excursion.

Provence is perfect for: Swimmers, hikers, history buffs, urban explorers, jet-setters, foodies, camping enthusiasts

Major attractions in Provence: Calanque National Park, Pont du Gard, Papal Palace, Verdon Gorge, Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, Promenade des Anglais, Le Vieux Port, Château d'If, Tour de France

Great day trips in/from Provence: Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nice, Cannes, Toulon, Saint-Tropez, Ezé Village, The French Alps, Nîmes, Montpellier

Distance from Rødby: 1500-1700 km (17-20 hours by car)


Experience Tour De France on a road trip

Kør-selv-ferie Frankrig - Tour De France

It has only become more popular to head to France to follow the world's most popular cycling race, the Tour de France. And is there any better way to follow Vingegaard and co. than by driving out to the French mountains and roads yourself? It may look good on TV, but being there yourself and experiencing the festive, enthusiastic atmosphere among the audience makes it all even better. A road trip is the best and easiest way to experience it.

While Paris and Provence are almost always part of the race, Normandy and Alsace are also included from time to time. So if you're headed to one of those destinations, you might just find the Tour de France passing by. Each year, the route of the race is slightly different, but fortunately, it's easy to get informed about this year's route on the official Tour de France website.

If you want to follow the route and cyclists over several stages, a motorhome is an obvious solution. You can head out with one from home or rent one along the way. It makes everything a bit easier on the roads when you have a bed, kitchen, and toilet on four wheels.

Pick the perfect pit stops

Kør Selv Ferie - Pause

Before you can indulge in sunshine, white wine, Viking history, and arches of triumph, a lengthy drive awaits you. And although many destinations technically can be conquered in one long stretch, it's often a good idea to plan some good breaks along the way. Both short ones, where you can stretch your legs, and longer ones with overnight stays and perhaps a bit of sightseeing. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic places for an overnight stay.

On your way to France, you'll be crossing straight through Western Germany. This means that beautiful cities such as Hamburg, Bremen, Heidelberg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Brussels, Liege, Frankfurt, Saarbrucken are just a motorway exit away, depending on your route. These are all cities worth a holiday in their own right. If you're mostly looking for something quick and easy, there are also many "stopover" hotels near the German motorways.

With a break along the way, you avoid the drive becoming too exhausting. At the same time, you become less dependent on European traffic when you need to reach your final destination.

Your first break already comes on the ferry to Germany. Here, you have the opportunity to fill your stomach, shop, or just lean back and enjoy the view of the Baltic Sea. Meanwhile, children can experience a boat trip and burn off a lot of energy.

Tips for the road trip to France

To conclude, we have a series of tips for before, during, and after you're in the car on your way to "La Belle France". Here are 9 tips for your road trip to France:

  1. Plan good pit stops: The first tip has already been given. Find some good pit stops so the journey doesn't become uncomfortable and exhausting – especially if you're traveling with children.
  2. Preparation and car check: Before you set off, it's a really good idea to have your car checked, make a checklist, and get familiar with the driving rules in Europe. You can get help with all of this on our site, but make your own checklist as well.
  3. Planning vs. spontaneity: Decide with your fellow travelers how much you need to have planned. Some need the trip planned down to the smallest detail, while others prefer to get in the car and be surprised.
  4. Environmental zones in Germany, France, and other transit countries: Be aware of the environmental zones in Germany and France. In both countries, many cities and areas require environmental stickers or driving permits. They can be different for the two countries, so read up on both if you want to avoid fines!
  5. Drive on Sundays in Germany: If possible, plan one of your driving days in Germany to be a Sunday. There are (almost) no trucks on the highways due to the German ban – and therefore less traffic.
  6. Avoid peak season: If you have a choice, it's a good idea to travel outside of the peak season (June-August) when vacationing in France. Spring and autumn are warm enough for most people, and you'll avoid a lot of tourists.
  7. Entertainment: It's a really good idea to have entertainment ready for the drive. Music quiz, playlists, bingo... We've already provided some inspiration.
  8. BorderShop on the return trip: If you have space in the car, it's a great idea to pop into the BorderShop on the way home. Then you can find something nice for the backseat and stock up for the upcoming summer party!
  9. Enjoy the drive: Consider the drive to France as part of the experience. It's not every day you get the opportunity to cruise through Europe's fantastic nature and culture. For some, it becomes the most memorable part of the holiday. So remember to enjoy the journey!

NB: Vi tager forbehold for ændringer i faciliteter og seværdigheder for de forskellige byer og områder.