To be honest we didn’t have any great expectations from France, It is a country that we want to see but mainly to go to Paris and the French Riviera. I haven’t done much other research. We just get on the road and learn as we go. We do have a general plan of direction which involves heading into Paris and then down to the Med. We quickly learn that it is good to be flexible and follow recommendations as you go, by doing this we tend to end up in random yet beautiful places.
I think that I will just do a list of our highlights of France as we have been to so many places that to cover all would be information overload.
First stop on our France road trip is Champagne. Being August everyone is on summer holiday so literally everything is closed in the surrounding villages. Driving through village after small village is an experience in itself, the towns and vineyards are so pretty and I can imagine how much better it would be when everything is open.
The desperation for cool water to escape the heat is how we end up at Gorges Du Vernon and I am so glad we found it. It is a beautiful lake with water a vibrant blue. It’s all about cliff jumping and using paddle boats to explore through the gorge. While it is popular and there are plenty of people here, there is room for everyone and it is well worth a visit. There is plenty of wild camping around the lake and also around the gorges driving route so you will have no issues finding somewhere to park up.
After spending a day at the lake we hit the road to drive the gorge. The drive takes about two hours and you get the most magnificent views the whole way. Not for the faint hearted as a lot of the roads are extremely narrow with sheer cliffs on the side, and the roads are nauseatingly windy. Everything is well sign posted so easy to find the route. Many walking tracks and rock climbing through the gorge as well. Gorge du Vernon is known as the grand canyon of Europe and it truly is spectacular.
Wow this place is truly glamorous. Tourist central but very high end and stunning. We spend two weeks travelling down doing trips into Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St Tropez.
Monaco although its a separate country is only a 20 minutes train ride from Nice. If you are into cars and boats this is the place to go spotting the most luxurious cars and super yachts. Shopping was a bit out of our budget here but we enjoy roaming the streets and seeing how the rich and famous live in Monaco.
Nice is a larger town than Monaco with good shopping, glamorous housing and great markets, it is well worth the visit. The old town is beautiful French style and does not disappoint.
A quick stop over into Cannes left us wondering why we hadn’t planned to stay longer. The city had a relaxed feeling to it with great shopping, food and sights.
Lastly to St Tropez, we take the ferry from St Maxime over as the parking will not be the best for Baloo (our car). We luck out and arrived on the Tuesday markets. These markets are so large and extravagant with everything you could want from a market including the most beautiful range of linen clothing. You could easily spend hours walking the pastel coloured old town and have all of your shopping needs met. We spend a lot of our time walking around the marina admiring all the super yachts.
South of France
The claques are located just south of Marseille they are in Parc national des Calanques. Limestone cliffs form the most spectacular inlets with crystal clear water. During peak season you need to hike down to these but they truly are beautiful and a place we would both love to live if we could choose anywhere in France. Cassis is the nearest village. A small fishing town that is simple and gorgeously French.
Who knew we would find wild white horses and pink flamingos in France? Despite it being clearly signposted and a fairly simple route we manage to take a wrong turn near the ferry crossing. After tackling an extremely rocky road we end up at a large stretch of a beach where 100’s of kite surfers all camp out in their Kombis to catch the best surfing conditions. It is such a cool experience to sit and watch them in action. After carrying on the correct way we see loads of flamings and horses the whole trip. We ended in the main Camargue township which is interesting to have a look around and there is a great beach. We are also able to spend the night for free at a local vineyard.
West coast of France
Originally we hadn’t planned to visit the west coast of France but i’m glad we somehow end up here. Our highlights of this coast line start at Lacanau.
Lacanau is a surfing township with one of the best surf beaches in the world. We hire boards and go for a surf. Although our skills are very weak we have a great time attempting to catch some waves. The town is filled with great shopping and fun beach bars. On either side of the township is a large forest, if you drive along the roads through the forest you will easily be able to find a wild camping spot beneath the trees. Easier for us in the defender as it is very sandy terrain and also very secluded and quiet.
Moilets et Ma
Moilets et Ma, Another surf beach just south of Lacanau. We spend 4 nights here visiting a friend and creating a base for a couple of days. Up until now we have been on the move constantly. Moilets et Ma is a smaller township where many of the most popular surf camps situate themselves. The beach is large with cool restaurants and a very chilled young vibe to the town. Worth checking out if you are in the area.
Lastly on the west coast of Spain we visit Biarritz. A glamorous town for the rich and famous. A beautiful beach surrounded by beautiful architecture. A surfing vibe mixed with the upper market glamorous lifestyle gives everyone something to do. Amazing markets and shopping is another reason to come to Biarritz the beginning of the Basque Country.
We love our time in France but time restraints require us to head over to Spain sooner than we would have liked. We manage to get a good insight into the country and all it has to offer. We have now eaten enough baguettes and pain au chocolat for the year and its time to head into Spain for some paella.