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Road Trip in France: our itinerary

I had planned to prepare 3 blog posts about our first stay in France together a few weeks ago to help you prepare your stay in France. You can read the first one “Prepare your trip to France” and the second one “Organize your stay in France“.

I wanted to finish with our itinerary. For information we travelled by train or by car. Considering the price of gasoline in France, I highly recommend you to consider the train. Then I find that much less tiring.

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Day 1 – My hometown: La Voulte sur Rhône

I didn’t plan anything for the first day except to go get a pain au chocolat. The program was rather simple since we had arrived the day before and were leaving in the evening for the French Riviera. Friday is also the day of the market in my village so I took the opportunity to introduce him the most famous market of all the villages around (yes it is one of our pride!). Then we took a walk around the Castle of La Voulte, only outside, it is in full renovation so for the moment we can visit it only at certain period of the year. The sight of the outside remains really nice, to walk in the streets is also worth the blow, it is funny but younger I did not realize it at all.

Day 2 – Monaco

We strolled along the harbour and then climbed the stairs to the Palais Princier hoping to see the changing of the guard which takes place every day at 11:55 am, no luck the day we went there the changing was cancelled due to an event. The view going up the stairs was really nice and the view at the top on the port is also nice. We went down again by the small streets to pass in front of the magnificent Chapel of the Visitation, you can visit it, really magnificent. Then we made a small pause on the kind of esplanade next to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco to have a beautiful view on the sea. If you watched the vlog that I posted on our passage on the French Riviera it is at this moment that we heard my mother saying that she was hungry and that it was the time to go to the restaurant haha! We had not made any scouting for the restaurant but while strolling in the street Princess Caroline we fell on the restaurant Le Bilig, very good address. We also took a walk on the passage where takes place the Grand Prix of Monaco so that Monsieur could see in real what he had seen in TV.

On the way back to Cannes we had been recommended to stop in Eze, a very small village, the view is magnificent. Unfortunately it was rather difficult to find a place of parking in the village so we stopped further on the side of the road and the sight was also magnificent. We crossed Nice so that it has a sight and we joined the hotel in Cannes, we stayed in the B&B Cannes La Bocca, it was the second time that I went there, super well located, accessible beach on foot.

We ended up the end with a sunset on La Croisette, it was so nice.

Day 3 – Saint Tropez

Another place that Monsieur wanted to see: St Tropez. If you’ve never been there, I’d rather warn you that it’s quite small and there aren’t many things to see. But it’s still pretty well represented internationally, for example in American music and by the stars, so it makes North Americans want to come and see for themselves. I enjoyed walking through the square where the old-timers used to play petanque. Then of course we passed by the port to finish in the center of the village to eat at Pêché Mignon. Super address and very good reception.

My family was leaving on Sunday afternoon so they dropped us off in Saint Raphaël to take a train to Cannes. We strolled along the seaside, had a drink on the terrace, really nice. Then we took the train to Mandelieu La Napoule. Two things: the train ride (TER, slower trains than the TGV) was beautiful, view on the seaside all along, red rock, a breathtaking view. I recommend it. Second thing: I spent a lot of time in Mandelieu when I was younger and I wanted to show him quickly the village and the castle on the seaside. We then walked during one hour on the seaside: really canon!

We finished the evening in a restaurant which was recommended to me by a friend of childhood, so nice, so good with an adorable team. In a street where we would have never gone of us even therefore very happy for the recommendation: Tredici.

Day 4 –  Sainte Marguerite Islands

Our last day in the south I wanted to go to the Sainte Marguerite Islands which are in front of Cannes and accessible in 15 mins with the ferry. I used to go there often with my younger parents, I wanted to go back with him and I was not disappointed. You can book your tickets online here. I really think this was the best part of our stay for me. The island is beautiful, cut off from everything and as the weather was great we were able to find a small private spot to swim. Out of season the options are quite limited to eat there so I recommend you to take your picnic before. We preferred to eat after and I wanted him to taste the pan bagnat. Quick Google search on the ferry back and I found a little stand that is apparently super recommended: Philcat. The pan bagnat was huge and super good.

To note: we would take the train back to Valencia the same evening and I didn’t want us to carry our luggage all day so I found a concierge option. It is one of my discoveries of our stay in France: Nanny Bag! And apparently it is available in many countries. Youhouuuuu! It’s a luggage storage service, in France for 6€ and in Canada for 10$ per luggage, per day, you can leave your luggage with someone who will watch over it in your absence. In our case we found a Nanny next to the Cannes train station (I talk about it in this vlog). The big advantage of this service is that the Nanny is in fact an office, so instead of being a single fixed place with a locker for example, there you have options from everywhere! We really recommend it.

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Day 5 – Valence

After a very busy arrival in the south, I had planned a more quiet day in Valencia. I already have several articles about Valence so I won’t spread out too much here.

Day 6 – Les Gorges de l’Ardèche

Often when I tell people that I am from Ardèche they think directly of this part of our beautiful department. It is a very touristic and well known part. The good thing about going there out off season is that you can enjoy it without rushing. I obviously recommend you to go to the Pont d’Arc, a jewel of nature. The borders of the Ardèche river have been developed in the past several years to allow you to enjoy the view: and what a view! You have 11 lookouts (you will find the list on this site) with parking, there is also the one in front of the Pont d’Arc, and my 2 favourites: the Serre de Tourre lookout and the Templiers lookout. You will probably meet some wild goats there, so be careful.

We also visited the Grotte Chauvet, which is a reproduction of the real cave discovered in 1994. The park around is really nice, the layout in general is really well done. The visit too. For your information, there is a visit per day in English (in any case it was the case in September) but if you miss it (because you have mi the address of the real cave instead of the reproduction and that they are in 25 min the one of the other… if you wonder yes this example is totally drawn from our stay) you will have the option to ask for an audio system available in several languages.

As I said in my vlog about our stay in the Gorges de l’Ardèche, you have to know that you will have less options in the off season.

There are thousands of activities to do in the area, canoeing, hiking, etc. I recommend you to have a look at the Ardeche tourist office website.

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Day 7 – Tournon sur Rhône

I am incredibly lucky to come from a region that has a lot to offer. Only 30 minutes away from my village we were able to discover (and rediscover for me) the castle of Tournon (Monsieur wanted to see castles) that I had already visited a few years ago with the tourist office of Hermitage. The visit is fast but the view is incredible: on the Rhone, on the vineyards in front. We ate in the restaurant La Peniche Slow Food, which carries well its name since it is a barge on the edge of the Rhone (you did not expect it did you? haha). Apparently there are 2 of them (one in Tain l’Hermitage on the other side) but the big advantage of the one we tested is its panoramic roof which brings an incredible luminosity. The restaurant offers a fixed menu, local products, drinks are also local (he tested the beer of Valence and me the lemonade of Chabeuil!), you have even the possibility of coming to play board games, to pose you to work. I loved this place.

Once you are in the area, you must absolutely go to the Saint Christophe chapel on the heights of Tain l’Hermitage. You will drive between the vineyards to find a small path where you will hope not to meet anyone because it is so narrow (but I promise you it will pass) then you will have a parking lot and the possibility to walk to the chapel. Personally we stopped a little before the chapel on the left to make some photos because the life was really beautiful (photo below!).

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Day 8 – Rest and travelling to Savoie

Day 9 – Lac du Bourget and around

L’an dernier j’avais visité Chambéry pour voir ma cousine. Entre temps elle a déménagé un peu plus loin et on a exploré autour de chez elle pour cette première journée. Honnêtement pour nous tout était nouveau et “seulement” se promener autour est magnifique, les paysages sont beaux n’importe où que vous regardiez.

  • We visited the abbaye d’Hautecombe, by the lac du Bourget, beautiful inside and outside.
  • We visited  Chanaz, one of the most beautiful village of Savoie, little advice, you can park towards the campsite and cross the bridge rather than struggling to find a place in the village.
  • We finished the day by walking on the banks of the wild Rhone, so different from the Rhone that I know.
  • In the evening we went back to Chanaz to eat at the restaurant L’Auberge de Savières. In summer you can eat by the river, in winter you can eat near the majestic fireplace. We really enjoyed ourselves.

Day 10 – Annecy

One of Monsieur’s favorites during this stay. After his love for the French Riviera, he also adored Annecy. And there is plenty to do. I had planned to impress him even more by booking a paragliding jump but the weather decided otherwise. The only rainy day of the trip. If you’ve been following our adventures on Instagram you know that I also had to cancel hot air ballooning this summer for the second time. I guess we’re just not meant to fly. In Annecy we took a walk along the lakefront. This view of the lake surrounded by mountains is really hot, obligatory passage on the “Pont des Amours” then stroll in the old Annecy before landing so that Mister can taste his first fondue. Another revelation: he loved it and he was very expressive about it in the vlog. We ate at the restaurant Estaminet in the small streets full of charm. And of course we finished the day by tasting a Savoy cake.

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Day 11 – Travel back to my hometown and rest

Day 12 – Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval

We started to get tired after almost 2 weeks quite intense. It was the last full day in Ardeche, we chose to do something I wanted to do for a while: the visit of the Ideal Palace of the Factor Cheval. A truly exceptional monument, the letter carrier built his palace by collecting stones every day for 33 years. If you are in the area you should go there, it’s a very inspiring and incredible story. In fact they made a movie about it that I still haven’t seen.

We finished the day with the family for the last night of the month. Papi had chosen the restaurant that I really recommend you too: Le Poivre d’Ane à Coux.

Day 13 – Beauchastel and leaving for Paris

The time to leave the Ardèche has arrived for Monsieur. We spent the last day to take our time and to walk in the village of Beauchastel, which is part of the most beautiful villages of Ardeche. To walk in the village until the Theatre of greenery: a real pleasure. We even met a couple upstairs with whom I chatted for a while, exchanging our favorite places to visit. Yes I say I because I am the chatterbox between us 2.

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Day 14/15 – Paris

And our stay ended with 2 days in Paris. We have a lot… a lot… a lot of walking! And honestly we spent a great moment to just walk in the streets. To summarize:

  • We visited the Louvre obviously (think of taking your places in line not to wait)
  • We made a stop on the terrace of the Galeries Lafayette for a beautiful sight of Paris.
  • We went to see the Eiffel Tower, too bad the Place du Trocadero did not offer the best view with the wooden barricades, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champ Elysées.
  • We made a tour in the Marais, in the BHV and to see Notre Dame.
  • We had breakfast in Montmartre before going to admire the view of the Sacré Coeur.
  • We ate at L’Atelier du Marché with a couple of friends from Toronto who now live in Paris.

 

And here it is, it gives you an idea of what we had planned. Obviously we could have done more or differently but in 2 weeks we have to make choices. I can’t wait to go back and continue exploring our beautiful country.

Excellent voyage à vous.

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