Driving holidays to France

Date posted: June 3, 2014

If you live in the UK it’s fairly likely you’ll take at least one trip to France during your lifetime – many people have memories of camping trips as children, while other associate the country with romantic breaks to Paris. Whatever your reason for visiting, there’s one option that allows you the freedom to go wherever you please – by driving yourself there.

Why drive?

It might seem like a lot of work, driving yourself around all holiday, but the benefits usually far outweigh the occasional inconvenience.

For a start, packing is made a lot simpler when you don’t have to think about how much you can carry – and you’ll be able to keep the kids and the family pet in tow with minimal fuss compared to spending hours at an airport or trying to navigate a foreign city by train.

Plus there are all sorts of opportunities for adventure with a car – get the kids to do some map-reading, or pick a direction and start driving to see the best of the French countryside!

Getting there

Depending on where you are in the UK, there are two main ways to get over the to west coast of France. Many people choose to take the Channel Tunnel, which runs from Folkestone to Calais. This is a as simply as driving up onto the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, which carries you, your car, your pets and your luggage from point A to point B in just 35 minutes. The other option is to take a ferry, and there are several leaving from around the south-east coast. These tend to take a little longer, but they are easy to arrange, and will deliver you anywhere on the north-west coast of France from Roscoff to Le Havre.

Where to go

There are plenty of places to visit within driving distance of the coast. We’ve picked just a few favourites, but don’t be afraid to set your own route!

Paris is just two hours away from Le Havre, making it ideal for those looking for a city break. It’s worth remembering that driving in the centre of France’s capital city is likely to be a bit of a pain, but once you’re there you’ll at least have the freedom of heading out of the city for a few days in the country, if you so wish.

The beautiful and often-overlooked city of Le Mans is only a couple of hours’ drive from St-Malo. Most famously recognised as the host of the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race, the city itself is a gorgeous example of French architecture and culture set right in the Pays de la Loire region, and it’s usually quite quiet outside of race season.

Alternatively, go everywhere! There’s no harm in stopping somewhere for a couple of days, then moving on to another region or another city. Explore and go where your instincts take you!

What you’ll need to arrange

Before you go, you’ll need to be aware of certain rules about taking a car abroad. First of all, remember that you’ll be driving on the right-hand side of the road!

You’ll also need to make sure that your insurance is up to date, and that your provider knows you’re taking the car abroad – European breakdown cover is an excellent way to ensure you’re protected if the worst should happen.

Finally, make sure your hotel or campsite can accommodate a car, and check whether you ned to pay extra for parking. Other than that, have fun, and enjoy your driving holiday!

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