If the idea of picking up a motorhome rental and touring France sounds like a dream come true but you just need a little help prepping for your trip, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s not always simple to prepare for a trip to a country you’ve never visited before. There are so many different things to plan and remember that it’s easy to miss things. But you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. Read on to discover all the important info that you need to create the perfect French holiday. With events you can attend, activities to dive into, popular routes to travel and more, crafting a superb itinerary is a cinch. If you’re hunting for more specific information that will impact your travel, like where to look for rest areas and dump stations, head to the On the Road tab above.
Keen to discover the history, culture and cuisine of this beautiful country but not quite sure where to go? Below you can find a few suggestions for places to see and routes to travel once you pick up your campervan rental in France. Even for those who prefer to set their own itineraries and travel as the whim takes them, some of these locations may spark ideas that will lead you in a direction you never would have expected.
Starting out in Brittany will allow you not only to breath the seaside air of the region’s port towns, like St-Malo, but also discover out of the way gems like medieval Dinan or the picturesquely bucolic Paimpont. Continuing down the western side of France in your motorhome rental will see you crossing the Loire River in the lovely city of Nantes before eventually arriving in Bordeaux
, the wine capital of the world.
The southern coast
If it’s sun you’re seeking, then the south of France is the place to go. Launch your campervan or RV rental journey from Nice, a coastal city that inspired some of history’s most outstanding painters - make sure to take the time to enjoy Nice before heading on in your campervan hire. Cannes is only half an hour down the road, famed for its international film festival and many luxurious accommodations. Further on, you’ll encounter the beaches of Marseille
and the cutting edge culture of Montpellier
Starting in Paris, head to Chartres (obviously taking a good bit of time to explore the City of Love first!) to stand in awe of the city’s impressive gothic cathedral. Then drive north in your France motorhome rental to witness the unique island commune of Le Mont-Saint-Michel, pay tribute to sacrifice of Allied soldiers on the beaches of Normandy and spend a bit of time exploring the quaint little towns on the way from Caen back to Paris.
The Route Napoléon
Following the direction taken by Napoléon Bonaparte on his return from Elba to Grenoble, the actual route begins at Antibes, between Nice and Cannes, and is marked by golden imperial eagle statues. History buffs will love the fact that they can retrace the steps of Bonaparte on his journey back to Waterloo.
Although France is replete with history, antique architecture and cities that are over a thousand years old, it’s not all about the past. In fact, if you make the effort to engage with local events along the way you’ll soon find that your France campervan hire trip will be enriched and made far more memorable than if you were to simply rush from attraction to attraction. Whether you choose to indulge your inner gourmand at a food or wine festival, feast your ears on fine music at one of the country’s lauded musical events or experience French culture firsthand at an arts fest, there’s no denying that getting involved with local events will make a real difference to the quality of your vacation. See below for just a few of the events you be part of on your next motorhome rental journey in France.
Bastille Day: Known locally as Fête Nationale, this is France’s national day and commemorates the storming of the Bastille fortress two days after the start of the French Revolution. Parades, fireworks and military aircraft flyovers are all on the agenda, so if you’re in the country on July 14th make sure to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Be aware that many businesses are closed on Bastille Day, though most restaurants in tourist areas will still be open, as will Paris bakeries. Be prepared to get the cooker up and running in your France campervan hire!
WWII Victory Day: May 8, 1945 marked the end of the second World War in Europe, a milestone which is remembered annually on May 8 in France with the Fête de la Victoire 1945. France was right at the heart of the war, subject to blitzkrieg, occupation and the turmoil of the Allied counterattack (starting with the Normandy beach landings on ‘D-day’), so this day of remembrance is particularly poignant for the French. Parades and commemorative church services are held to celebrate the end of Nazi oppression. Like Bastille Day, this is a public holiday so many businesses will be closed on May 8.
Food & Wine
Salon du Chocolat
(October/November - Paris): Chocolate has long been lauded as one of the most indulgent foods known to man, but you have no idea just how mouth-wateringly perfect this sweet treat can be till you’ve attended the Salon du Chocolat. Chocolatiers from all over the world come together to show off their finest creations, while visitors marvel at the stunning array of confections on display. There’s even a Chocolate Fashion Show and the chance to try your hand at making something delicious with free pastry and chocolate workshops for both kids and adults. Grab a France motorhome rental from Paris and drive south to Versailles to experience the festival.
Fête du Citron
(February/March - Menton): The quirky yet incredibly popular Lemon Festival has been making an annual appearance in the small town of Menton since the 1920s. 120 tonnes of citrus fruit is used decorate floats and specially built structures, with every year bringing a different eclectic theme such as Italian cinema, world music, or Disney. This is one of the biggest events on the French Riviera, outshining even the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, and provides a chance for international visitors to discover a truly unique festival. A France campervan hire is a perfect way to get there.
Bordeaux Fête le Vin
(June - Bordeaux): You don’t have to be a wine expert to know that the Bordeaux region of France produces some of the most prestigious wines on Earth, so it’s safe to say that a wine festival set in the city of Bordeaux itself is one of the best places in the world to discover a superlative vintages on your France motorhome rental roadtrip. Wine isn’t the only reason to attend this festival of course. The city itself is incredibly picturesque and the fest shows Bordeaux off to stunning effect, and festival goers will also be able to enjoy concerts, fireworks, art exhibitions and sound & light shows!
(June - Paris): Held every year at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, Solidays is a massive three day music event which brings together more than 150 artists - all the proceeds from the fest go to charities dedicated to fighting AIDS and the performers appear either for a reduced fee or free in a show of solidarity. Bungee jumping is also a regular feature of the Solidays festival, so thrillseekers can get their adrenaline fix and go straight back to listening to great music. Get on down to the festival and park up your campervan hire.
Le Printemps de Bourges
(April - Bourges): Launched in the 1970s, this music festival traditionally boasts an eclectic mix of artists representing diverse genres. With both well known artists and hot new talent making an appearance at Le Printemps de Bourges, this is a great place to broaden your musical horizons while still enjoying tried-and-true favourite artists. For five days of eye-opening music, make sure you’re in central France during April. Why not start your France motorhome hire trip from Paris and head across to Bourges?
Fête de la Musique
(June - National): This isn’t a single festival, but rather a national day (21 June) which celebrates the beauty of music. Free concerts abound on on this day, and both amateur and professional artists are encouraged to perform in the streets. Most of France’s major cities get in on the act, and the event has become so successful that it’s spread around the world to 120 different countries. Make sure you’re out and about in the city on the 21st of June so you can be part of this wonderful celebration. Or alternatively, get out of the city in your motorhome rental.
Arts & Culture
Cannes Film Festival
(May - Cannes): Arguably the most famous film festival in the world, the Festival de Cannes is respected internationally as a benchmark for excellent cinema and the Palme d’Or award is one of the most highly coveted marks of distinction in the world of film. The festival is an invitation only event but the Cinéma de la Plage, an open air cinema, is available to the public and screens a combination of Out of Competition films and Cannes Classics. For invitations to these screenings, get in touch the with the Cannes tourism office. Book a France RV rental early to ensure you don’t miss out for this event.
(February/March - Nice): The only event on the French Riviera which can rival the Fête du Citron, the Nice Carnival has been around at least since the 13th century, lasts two weeks and brings more than a million visitors to Nice every year. There is no better place to be in France for Mardi Gras - parades take place day and night, and over one thousand musicians and dancers entertain festival goers - this is spectacle on a scale that few people ever get the chance to witness.
Nuit Blanche (October - Paris): On the first Saturday of every October, visitors to Paris can discover an enthralling dusk-to-dawn free carnival of art, music and theatre. The event takes over the city for one night, inviting tourists and locals alike to engage with cutting edge art in new and exciting ways. With the amount of incredible artistic efforts on display, you won’t want to sleep one wink, so make sure you rest up the day before in your France camper rental!
(July - Avignon): With a rich tradition of theatre and art that stretches back to the 1940s, this festival represents the lifeblood of French performing arts at their finest. Balancing cultural preservation with contemporary creation, the Festival d’Avignon aims to skillfully render and represent the complexity of our modern world in an artistic context. If you’re a bit of a culture vulture or theatre buff, you won’t want to miss this prestigious Provence festival. There are plenty of local campsites in the region to park up your France motorhome rental.
Tour de France
(July - various locations): This is the world’s most well known bicycle race and has been held every year since 1903 except for during the World Wars. The Tour de France is a multi-stage race and while the route changes every year, there’s always the stage passing through the Alps and the grand finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. If you’re planning to catch some of the action, be sure to research the route to find the piece you’d most like to watch. France motorhome renters and owners are a common sight at the annual event - be sure to get a rental locked in quick.
UEFA European Championship
(June/July - various locations): More commonly known as Euro 2016, this football championship is the 15th edition of one of the sport’s premiere events next to the FIFA World Cup. The championship is drawing attention worldwide and is a must-attend event for hardcore football fans.
Monaco Grand Prix
(May - Monte Carlo) Although it’s not technically an event that’s held in France, the country of Monaco is so tiny that it might as well be a French city and it’s easy to get to Monte Carlo from the French cities of the Riviera. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious auto races in the world, and seeing the specially built Formula One cars navigate the streets of Monaco is a truly incredible experience even if you’re not a massive motorsports enthusiast.
Travelling to any new country offers you the chance to jump into new activities that you can’t experience anywhere else, but with a motorhome rental in France you not only have the freedom to take things at your own pace, you’ll be exploring one of the world’s most culturally rich nations. The opportunities for adventure, exploration and discovery here are manifold, so make sure you set aside a decent amount of time for your French vacation - it would be a shame to rush through this magnificent country.
This legendary city is bursting with activities for you to try and unique experiences for you to indulge in. While you’re in the City of Love, it’s a good idea to set aside some unplanned time when you can simply wander Paris at your leisure without having to rush to the famous sights - but that doesn’t mean you should pass over these places entirely.
For anyone of medium fitness, climbing the Eiffel Tower is an amazing experience, particularly at night when the city stretches out sparkling with light before you. While you have to take an elevator to get to the very top of the tower, climbing to the second level will still afford a spectacular view. If don’t feel like climbing, you can take the elevator to any of the three levels - just be prepared to queue if you’re visiting in peak season.
Visiting the Musée du Louvre, known to most simply as the Louvre, is an activity that really can’t be missed. The Louvre is the largest museum in the world and contains more than 35,000 artifacts dating from prehistory right through to the 21st century. It would be easy to get lost for an entire day in this immense place, such is the depth of its fascinating exhibits. The Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Law Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon are just a few of the most famous examples of historic items on display at the Louvre - you never know what you could discover here.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is almost one thousand years old and although over the centuries it has suffered some damage, the building is remarkably well preserved and undeniably impressive. The sheer scale of the cathedral is staggering, but it’s the loving artistry of the place that stands out most. Few other buildings in the world still standing have the weight of history behind them that the Notre-Dame Cathedral can boast.
If your appetite for amazing museums hasn’t been satisfied by your visit to the Louvre, heading to the Musée d'Orsay should do the trick. While the Louvre contains virtually every kind of historical artifact imaginable, the Musée d'Orsay is more of an art museum, containing many masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and Cézanne. Art aficionados will be in heaven here.
The Palace of Versailles stands as a magnificent symbol of the power of the French monarchy. Although the monarchy was spectacularly deposed during the French Revolution, Versailles remains and today is one of the nation’s leading tourist attractions. The Hall of Mirrors (or Galerie des Glaces) is arguably the most famous part of this immense royal château but it’s certainly not the only location worth visiting. Wandering the impeccably crafted château gardens is an awe-inspiring experience, and a visit to Marie-Antoinette’s estate reveals a more rural charm.
These are just some of the most well known things you could do during your time in Paris - be sure to do a little research of your own if you feel like discovering Parisian gems that are a bit more well hidden. Be sure to lock in a France motorhome rental during your time in Paris, and discover the rest of the country too.
Elsewhere in France
There’s far more to France than its capital city of course. The rest of the country offers a multitude of opportunities to delve into amazing experiences - all that you have to decide is what kind of holiday you want to have. We may be biased, but a France campervan hire is an incredible way to see the countryside.
If you’re heading to France in winter, there’s a good chance that you’re an avid skier. This is a country that is blessed with a surfeit of world-class ski resorts, so picking a place to spend your days on the slopes is mostly a matter of narrowing down your choices from good to superb. Heading to the renowned Three Valleys ski area, for example, will allow you to select from eight major ski resorts which cater for beginners and ski veterans alike. If you’re really wanting to push yourself, the Grand Couloir run at luxurious Courchevel is well known as one of the most thrilling descents in Europe. France also has a thriving après-ski culture - after all, the French Alps is where this tradition began - so if you’re looking to party after a day on the powder, you’ve certainly come to the right place. It may be colder in the winter months, but a France campervan hire is still a great option - just ensure you are plugged in at a local campsite with the heating switched on.
Food & Wine
The French are particularly proud of the food and wine they produce, and for very good reason. This is a country that takes fine wining and dining seriously, so it would be a terrible waste to visit France without making an effort to enjoy the best of the nation’s epicurean delights. As mentioned above, Bordeaux is well known as a superb wine region, but it’s far from the only place to go to enjoy fine food and the fruit of the vine. Head up to the region of Champagne in your France motorhome rental, an obvious choice for those with a taste for the classic effervescent wine, while heading east to tour Alsace is perfect for those with a sweet tooth as the region is renowned for its Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines. Alsatian cuisine is also quite unique, characterised by full flavours, hearty portions and a strong Germanic influence. If you’re hunting for the true heart of French cuisine however, you’ll need to visit Lyon. This city has been described as not only the centre of French fine dining, but the gastronomy capital of the world. Lyonnaise cuisine is characterised by the use of fresh, regional produce and interesting types of meat combined with traditions that have their roots in 16th century Florentine cooking. Gourmands, amateur and professional alike, could hardly contemplate a visit to France without planning a good bit of time in Lyon, sampling the delicious Lyonnais culinary creations.
It’s no secret that France has a rich historical tradition, but it may surprise some foreign visitors just how many tangible pieces of the past remain extremely well preserved today. Many of France’s most popular historic sites have already merited a mention above, like Notre-Dame Cathedral, Mont-Saint Michel and Versailles, but there are far older sites than these that can be discovered by those taking a motorhome tour of France. Visit the southerly city of Nimes to discover ancient Roman structures that have weathered the millennia surprisingly well. Nimes Arena is possibly the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world, putting the Colosseum to shame, and provides visitors with a real feel for the experience that Roman spectators would have had all those years ago. La Maison Carrée is another Roman site you’ll want to see before you leave Nimes - it’s remarkable preservation is probably due to the fact that it was converted from temple to church after the fall of the Roman Empire. Delving much further back in time, you could visit Grotte de Font de Gaume. This cave has vivid prehistoric wall paintings, and is just one of the many prehistoric caves in the UNESCO World Heritage area of the Vezere Valley.
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