Discover France in your Motorhome

35
Every year, in winter and summer, plenty of motorhomers travel across France on the promise of much warmer weather in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and beyond.

Many of us find the drive through France is a chore and some people dread it. Especially when they have little time and are travelling almost exclusively on motorways. Thousands of people decide to get a ferry direct to Spain and not drive through France at all.

Plenty of people use the ferry to avoid France

Loading at Plymouth. Avoiding France by catching the ferry to Spain.

On a trip to say, Benidorm; the Spanish Ferry might save over 600 miles but the cost of the ferries are high, and there are no real savings to be made unless you have a big American gas guzzling motorhome. Many ferry users feel that the holiday starts as soon as you are onboard. They tell us that missing out on all that travel in France is sensible, especially when all they want to do is get to the sun. It must be said, as long as the Bay of Biscay is behaving itself, then these trips can be very pleasant.

We are not all the same, so while some are getting excited about their 24-hour mini cruise (sometimes it’s a 24hr vomit-fest) from Portsmouth or Plymouth, plenty of others are equally enthusiastic about finding yet another scenic route or detour through France. I say another because there is always another! The country is vast, and if you have never been, you only have to watch the Tour De France highlights to appreciate how much there is to see, and even then, you are just scratching the surface. France is a delight to tour, lots of open roads and very little traffic.

If you are in a hurry you’ll likely decide to stick to the autoroutes (motorways), these are certainly quicker, but you’ll pay a price for that speed in Toll Charges; which, depending on the weight of your motorhome might well be considerable. With heavy twin/tag axle motorhomes the tolls might cost as much or considerably more than the fuel.

Motorhome France

Whenever you are in France never be in a hurry because you miss so much.

A quick intro to the French roads classifications.
In France, Motorways are not M roads as in the UK, they are known as Autoroutes and are A roads. You’ll pay to travel on most all these A roads. There are exceptions, and some motorways are free, especially those that form the fast ring roads around cities. The free ones carry green signs the toll road signs are blue. Toll roads are efficient and pretty boring. When you study a map to find alternative routes to paying a toll. You’ll quickly appreciate that some tolls are great value for money; saving time, stress and a great many miles. Others offer much less advantage and when using them you are blindly whizzing through and missing some spectacular sights and plenty of real France.

Motorhome in France

The alternative is the N Road. Route National is the main road network, and roads are known as ’N’ roads. You can travel anywhere on this network. Some of these roads are often as straight as the autoroute and only marginally slower. On all of them, you will find yourself slowing down as you travel through towns and villages. This is not a disadvantage as when you slow up you’ll see lot’s more glimpses of French life, along with plenty more scenery than on the autoroute. You’ll be able to stop to eat at restaurants and maybe buy local wine. If you like what you see, you’ll find even some of the smaller villages will have somewhere for you to park for the night and enjoy the locale often for free!

The other type of road is the ‘D’ these are generally good local roads, but should not be considered suitable for long distances. You should study routes with D roads carefully if you intend to use them in mountainous areas.

So what scenic route should I take?

There is so much to see and experience when travelling through France, so many detours and places to explore. The place to start your planning is http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/

What should you include? Honestly, it’s much harder to decide what to leave out. Could you go to your grave without seeing the Gorges of the Ardèche? Have you ever ventured onto Route des Grandes Alpes? Marvelled at the vistas on the Cote d’Azur, watched early morning surfers in Biarritz. How could you speed by Bordeaux; known for much more than it’s wine and worth a visit any time of year? Have you ventured into the Loire Valley; full of castles and culture that will amaze while following the last truly wild river in Europe?  So much to see. The best advice – Whenever you are in France, never be in a hurry.

Tell us about your trips through France. What sights and experiences should we take in during out scenic tours of France?   Thanks in advance for your input.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown

Jim is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. Averaging 12000 motorhome miles a year. He has owned many motorhomes both British and Continental. His present motorhome is a 27ft C class RV.
Jim Brown
Like
Like x 18
Share.

About Author

I started out with nothing and I've still got most of it left.

35 Comments

  1. So Funsters, add the places you suggest we should not miss on our next visit to/through France (y)

  2. We visited Normandy on our first jaunt a triad and took in the D day beach landings.

    Fortunately, the weather was kind and enabled us to experience the outdoors.

    This year, we've extended Normandy to also visit Britanny and onto Belgium.

    Had I not pre booked and paid for two sites in Britanny, I think we would have explored the South of France as the weather is looking changeable.

    Still, given the choice of northern France or southern England, This is probably the only time that I'm happy about France winning!

  3. Just got back from a months touring around France and Italy, just above Cannes and Antibes on The Cote d Azur you will find The Gourges de Loup, a fantastic drive through on the way to the small village of Gourdon, fantastic views from this high perched hamlet.

    St Paul de Vence close to Cagnes Sur Mer, Cabris and Pillion are also well off the beaten track and worth the effort, Pillion is an old medieval town, no cars allowed, narrow streets and beautiful rotary hand pumps dotted around the village supplying drinking water.

    Let`s be honest the whole area is just a beautiful place to drive around.

  4. We had a wonderful 7 weeks in April/May (first time unaccompanied) we started in Normandy and then onto Brittany finishing in Loire valley. We only used Aires and all of it was lovely.  We partularly enjoyed Joselyn and Fougeres (Brittany) both medieval towns and Cerisy La Floret (Normandy) which has a beautiful old Abbey. 

    Liked it so much going back in September for 6 weeks.  Will be wandering down to the meet at Twin Lakes and looking in at Parc Verger but that's the only firm plans we have.

  5. This is an absolute must, Gorges Verdon/Lac de ste Croix.   Paddled up the gorge last week,  this pic was taken 10 mins before we got on the water.  Best go for half 8 as it gets quite busy.  This pic taken before anyone started paddling up. one of most memorable moments in life ………..

  6. Moustiers Ste Marie wonderful as were the Valensole plains, the lavender was incredible. Anywhere on the Cote d'azure is just beautiful, our fave is Nice, loads of historic stuff there, however, little hilltop town of Biot wonderful, spesh if you love templar knight stuff or art/pottery.

  7. A great city and also a great venue for motorcar racing enthusiasts is Pau. Generally 2nd weekend in May the Pau Grand Prix closely followed by the Historic Grand Prix the following weekend. I'll have some photos when I get home if you would like some.

  8. We stayed at a campsite in Pinsac next to the Dordogne for a week a few years ago. The peace and quiet was wonderful. Plus the bonus of being able to step out of the van and have a swim.

  9. If you don't mind "spooky" spend an hour or few at Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin (probably the pic with the car in need of a bit of tlc above).

    But Google it first.

    Particularly poignant for us as our commune is about the same size.

  10. Far too many places to mention and there's almost always a convenient aire.

    We stayed at PV a few days ago and that is the one and only campsite I can ever see us using in France.  Aires are so plentiful and so convenient there's no need to use anything else.

  11. France is brilliant and we would be happy just to go there if there weren't so many other places to explore.

  12. Its all well an good posting stunning pictures of France if you dont say where or what part they are from :(:(

    Bit like showing a child a candy wrapper saying you could have had this :LOL::LOL:

  13. Its all well an good posting stunning pictures of France if you dont say where or what part they are from :(:(

    Bit like showing a child a candy wrapper saying you could have had this :LOL::LOL:

    Here you go!

    1 Alsace

    2 Aquitaine

    3 Auvergne

    4 Basse-Normandie

    5 Bourgogne

    6 Bretagne

    7 Centre

    8 Champagne-Ardenne

    9 Corse

    10 Franche-Comte

    11 Haute-Normandie

    12 Ile-de-France

    13 Languedoc-Roussillon

    14 Limousin

    15 Lorraine

    16 Midi-Pyrenees

    17 Nord-Pas-de-Calais

    18 Pays de la Loire

    19 Picardie

    20 Poitou-Charentes

    21 Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur

    22 Rhone-Alpes

         

    See Also

  14. Gouffre de Proumeyssac,  Cathedral of Crystal.  caverns with 1'000's of minerals in the water that sparkle.  You can buy ornaments that have been placed under the dripping water from the Stalactites that take on a crystal coating…

    Ile de Ré,  Beautiful.  Lots to see.  Salt farms, Beautiful castle, lots of bike rides, great beaches and restaurants.

    Dun de Pila,  Largest sandune in Europe.  Amazing and a great day.

    Any of the Vauban fortifications. Brilliant mathematical constructions designed to withstand all seige weaponry, cannons and other weapons.  You have to try and imagine how you would attack it.  He thought of everything…

    Futuroscope in Poitier.  Tried to visit twice and both times it was closed.  But apparently it is amazing.

    Castillon-la-Bataille  But only during the show.  The show is bloody amazing and well worth a detour to see.

  15. Hello fellow motorhome dwellers!

    This will be our first time in France and using aires,so any helpful information would be appreciated.We have been on various sites doing research but feel a few recommended aires would "ease"us in gently!

    We are booked on the ferry to st Malo at the end of this month and would appreciate any suggestion s of aires initially in the St Malo area.

    We intend to visit Mont St Michelle and Dinard so will spend a week in the area(possibly more).

    Our intention is to then explore Brittany for a few weeks before moving on to Normandy then back home for December.

    So any recommendation in these areas would be very much appreciated.

    Many thanks

  16. North Coast

    Bridge at Castelanne.

    Aire at Chichillian.

    Chateau at Sercy.

    Madonna, Burgundy.

    Canal at Ecuisse.

    Local florist St Gengoux-le-National

    Chareauneuf.

Leave A Reply