France is such a huge and diverse country that exploring it in its entirety would take a lifetime. That said, 1 million one-night trips are taken by British people every year – and a huge number of those people head straight to France. With flight times making the rest of Europe easily accessible… why is France so popular?
The fact is, France has some absolutely stunning one day trips that can be traversed via car, train or flight. It’s long been a popular road trip destination and that applies even for short trips. The variety of places to visit and things to do makes it possible to enjoy the country, wherever you head for, even flights to the far south are short enough for a long day trip.
A word on safety
Before embarking on any French road journey, make sure you’re clued up on safety. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have comprehensive speed driving tips. Most importantly, ensure that you stay safe by checking your insurance cover, carrying a valid license and keeping vehicle documents with you. Driving regulations are different, and certain devices – like speed camera detectors, are completely illegal, even if deactivated. Be aware, and don’t get caught out.
Exploring the Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi is perfect for riverboat and cruise tours, encompassing a gorgeous stretch of countryside between Toulouse and Etang de Thau. Driving between the two takes just over two hours, and, if turned into a day trip, can easily stretch out, enjoying the delights of Castelnaudary and fairytale Carcassonne (amongst many others) en route. Dripping with culture and architecture along the way, this short drive can be the perfect getaway.
Les Baux-de-Provence and its beauty
Les Baux-de-Provence, which has been inhabited since 6000 BC, is a stunning hilltop village that today has a population of just 450 people. However, 1.5m visitors arrive every year to experience its attractions, especially what the Daily Telegraph describes as the greatest of Roman aqueducts – the Pont du Gard. This is easily completed over a one-day road trip, during which nearby hilltop villages in the Provence can be visited. This is excellent for a foodie, with olives a main crop in the region.
The Fontainebleau Forest
For something completely different from the stereotypical wine and food of France, look no further than Fontainebleau Forest. Just outside of Paris and reached easily through the A5 route to Melun, the forest offers a scene akin to a fantasy novel. Ingrained in French culture and history as the King’s former hunting grounds, wild animals still stalk there so – be wary. However, a road trip and stay at one of the nearby villages or towns can easily be done in a day, with a lot of benefit to be gained in terms of satisfying your curiosity and providing an element of calm through nature.
France could take you years to fully explore. Or, it could take a single day. With your packed lunch and a car, there are several gorgeous spots that you can easily explore with a minimum of fuss.