Places to Visit in France
Traveling in France
Living in the South of France as an expat means that every now and then we need to get back to the UK to visit friends and family. There are obviously options on how you can get back to the UK, including flying, a coach trip, going by train or driving.
The practicalities are really about how long you are taking for the trip and whether the mode of travel suits the time frame, plus of course the cost. The only way to establish the cost is to investigate the different options for the dates you want to travel, but a general rule of thumb is that if you are less than four people travelling there is a good chance you will save money by taking a budget airline option rather than driving. Also depending on your personal circumstances there are some great deals for taking a coach or even the train, so don't rule these options out either.
On our most recent trip back we were returning to the UK for 3 weeks and we were attending a wedding in Scotland, travelling south into England to visit friends and family and then returning to France via Germany where we wanted to visit more family.
Given the length of time we were taking for the trip and the different locations we had to get to, it became a bit of a no brainer which option was the best and we decided it would be a really good idea to go by car and have transport readily available. Of course in terms of visiting places in France, this has to be one of the most flexible and easiest ways to plan your trip, because you can literally pick your own route, schedule and manage your costs more easily due to that level of flexibility. For example you can select out of town accommodation, get bed and breakfast at a Chambre d'Hote or even camp if that is what you want to do.
Once our decision was made we concluded that it would also be a good idea to turn the whole thing into an extended sightseeing trip and that we would use our trusty Sat Nav to negotiate the route without using a single peage (toll road). This would obviously add time onto the journey but would allow us to select a route that would take us through a series of locations we had long wanted to visit. One of the main advantages you will get from avoiding the toll roads (called Peage in France) is that you actually get to go through the towns on route and see a little bit more of France than you would by sticking to the toll roads and bypassing all the towns and cities.
So off we went on our little adventure, camera at the ready and the first stop was going to be just north of Paris. You have probably realised that a lot of sightseeing was going to be using a drive by option because to get north of Paris from the South is still a pretty long jaunt and would be probably around 8 hours of driving. Not so bad if you share the driving and can take a break here and there. Which is what we planned to do.
Places of interest on route: -
We didn't get to photograph all of these but we saw enough to know that we would love to go back and stay a night or two in any of these places.
Oh by the way, understanding that this is a little back to front for anyone looking for great holiday destinations in France I have added some links to information on lots of other cities or places in the South of France if you need a bit more detail on some great days out and/or places you could potentially stay.
Check out the list at the bottom of this hub, these are places close to where we live and we have been able to visit them regularly, some really nice places with lots of photographs to give you an idea of what they are like.
An Interesting and Engaging Route Through France
On route to ParisClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ex-Pat Life in France Can be Highly Amusing
Paris to Bury St Edmunds & The UK Stage
Having negotiated the outer peripherique we passed by the Charles de Gaulle airport and then headed for the nearest hotel which is actually the next exit after the airport (might be the 2nd exit) and you can see the hotels from the motorway so they are nice and easy to find.
Incidentally if you are heading north towards Paris from Orleans and want a good route to the other side then the best option is to just follow the signs to Lille, this applies whether you come up the A10 or the N20, you will eventually end up on the A86 via the A6 doing this and then you just slip up the A3 onto the A1 and hey presto, no inner periphique and other than the odd accident it is usually pretty quick so you hear yourself saying 'Paris traffic's not that bad is it', well most of the time anyway.
So after a quick pitstop and a night sleeping off the Macdonald's in luxury accommodation (an F1 Hotel, yes I know), we were off to the ferry and didn't really expect to find much to photograph this side of Paris.
We didn't have too much time but when we hit Senlis, I just had to take a couple of photographs. I was also a bit gutted to find that there is a F1 hotel here as well and it wasn't much further on than where we stayed. We didn't go and look but I would hazard a guess we would probably have got a friendlier welcome and slightly better accommodation, one to put down for future reference I think.
If you are planning to be near Paris anytime soon it is probably worth having a look at this hub as well Theme Parks in France especially if you have some children to entertain.
Wasn't too long before we were on the ferry and heading to the UK, that's when the rain came down, about halfway over the channel.
Well this hub is about France so I won't say too much about the UK and Germany but I did take a few photos on route which are probably worth a look.
Isn't Senlis a nice little town
The UK stageClick thumbnail to view full-size
Guide Books & Maps from Amazon
Back to France
Its amazing how quickly 3 weeks can pass and before we knew it we were on our way back to France from Germany. The Sat Nav said go via Paris again, that is until we entered an alternative route through Clermont-Ferrand which would take us right down the centre of France, just had to be done.
We decided to do the trip over 2 days but unfortunately the weather was horrendous so no photos for the first stage. We stayed the night in Clermont-Ferrand and the next day we left the hotel and went straight on the A75 motorway heading towards Beziers via the fabulous Millau Viaduct the World's Tallest Bridge
For a motorway the A75 is a great sightseeing road, it gets up to some pretty impressive altitudes giving some fantastic views across the country side and you get to go over or under the Millau Viaduct.
For us on a non-peage route we needed to come off the motorway at Millau and then drive under the bridge, this turned out to be a really good move. We got some nice shots of the bridge itself and found the information centre for the bridge which is located directly underneath it, not to mention driving through the town of Millau which looks a really nice place and is definitely on my list of places to visit when we get a chance to go back.
Clermont-Ferrend to Millau and the Millau ViaductClick thumbnail to view full-size
Home James Home
After leaving the Millau Viaduct we just took instructions from the Sat Nav and as a result took some routes we would never of dreamed of taking. Going across country from Millau to Issel in the Lauragais region, just beyond Revel, there is some really gorgeous countryside, French towns and villages. I am sure it took about 2 hours longer than it needed to, but it was worth every minute for the scenary and views we got to enjoy.
See the map for the general location and if you haven't got a Sat Nav, you probably need to make an investment.
We shared the driving on this last stint so we could both get a look at the countryside and before we knew it we were going down the drive to Le Moulin where we have our home and a gite which we let out for holiday rentals. If you are ever looking for a Photography Course in France check out French Holidays Aude to see if it suits your requirements, the link to the website will give you lots of details on the property and the location. You can also use the travel advice pages to help plan your holiday in France and if you need any accessories there is a travel shop with some useful items you can purchase.
Another great place to make your travel arrangements for Europe, whether you are flying, driving, going by bus or on the train is Euro Traveller UK.
Millau to Le MoulinClick thumbnail to view full-size
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