France is the most visited country in the world and no wonder, world famous gastronomy, culture, historic cities, snowy alps, bucolic countryside, gorgeous beaches and more is on offer.
One of the best ways to see France is to take a road trip, get out of the centre of the city or simply travel from one part of a region to another. Hiring a car in France is easy and means you’ll get to experience as much as possible of this diverse country.
See the most beautiful villages of the south of France by car
Grasse is the perfume capital of France. There are around 30 perfume makers in this fragrant town, a great place to buy a souvenir of your trip and even do a workshop. On a hot summer’s day, the public park makes for a perfect place for a picnic, there are sprays that are jasmine scented – absolutely lovely…
Sizzling St Tropez
For a contrast, head round the coast to the heart of the French Riviera – St Tropez around an hour a half by car from Grasse through beautiful villages like Mandelieu-La-Napoule and through floral countryside where the perfume ingredients are grown. Colourful and vibrant St Tropez is nestled on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and a magnet for jet setters, but it retains the charm of the fishing village it once was. Azure blue waters, wall to wall sunshine, boutiques and art galleries and of course golden sandy beaches make it a stand out location.
Picturesque hill top towns of Provence
From St Tropez, it’s a picturesque drive to the poster boy city of Provence, ever lovely Aix-en-Provence the city of a thousand fountains. The famous Cours-Mirabeau, a wide avenue fringed with tall plane trees and stunning 18th century buildings is ideal for sipping a glass of rosé and watching the world go by. Plan to be there on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday morning and you’ll experience one of the loveliest markets of Provence. Park in one of the peripheral, municipal car parks and enjoy the stroll into town to avoid the traffic in the small winding roads on market days.
From Aix, it’s easy to get to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of France. Criss-crossed by skinny green canals peppered with mossy green waterwheels and the iconic Bassin de la Sorgue, a tranquil lake that reflects the blue sky by day and the twinkling lights of the cafés and restaurants that line it by night. There are hundreds of second-hand shops and on Sundays a terrific flea market takes place on the Ave des 4 Otages.
En route to this lovely town, you could stop off at Menerbes, made famous by the late great, Peter Mayle in his book, A Year in Provence, as well as Lourmarin, Bonnieux, colourful Roussillon with its dramatic ochre cliffs and gorgeous Gordes.
If you have a car in this part of France, you can see it in all its glory at your own pace, diverting as and when you like, and stopping off when you see somewhere that’s so special you know you just have to stop.