|Tour France on your own by car in
easy 3 to 5 day driving
trips, from Paris,
and at your own leisurely pace. For tour buses and
mini-bus tours around
Be sure to check and plot out your destination with the France
Autoroute Planner in
English because this will save you time, and have backup
information in case you need it! This will show if there's
construction going on, an accident or weather. But review
the ROAD SIGNS it may save your life or keep your from having an
accident. Not all road signs are similar to US road signs.
And vary even from country to country in Western Europe.
'Special Places' to visit around France
- all excursions are unique learning adventures.
From the lovely quaint villages, to the fantastic scenery, and
of course visiting
the grand historical monuments. Enjoy your easy self-drive
tours, and/or hop on that bus for a comfortable tour without the
hassles of driving. We've briefly noted trips to the
north, west, south and east of Paris. Just click on the
heading of your choice for more information.
On our self drive tour you can see many of
France's great monuments as well as the countryside. France is roughly 600 miles Long and
590 miles wide, not quite the size of Texas [790 miles long and
660 miles wide], to give you a rough idea of the land mass.
France is fairly easy to drive around the countryside, but
we caution you to learn about the right of way and the
signs before you attempt to drive in France.
If you would rather take a bus tour instead of driving, tours
are noted with a red
side of the tour, then just click on the T link for more information, and to make a reservation. For the latest on
French Travel Resources, or click to
Discount Travel Cards or
Museum Passes. For a list of all museums and monuments [over 60] that you can visit with the
Paris Museum and Monument Pass [view
You can view more specific tours throughout France
We must mention that the 'Da Vinci Code Tour'
T is still a very popular tour,
movie came out. This tour has been well visited for the
last few years, so be sure and book this tour before your leave home!
More Info On This Tour.
Cruising or Barging around France is Fantastic!
This even beats train
travel which is very relaxing and enjoyable while enjoying the
French countryside. However, cruising the rivers and canals of
France and Europe is a truly exceptional experience and very in
these days. These river barges and
river cruiselines are designed for your maximum comfort,
fine cuisine where you'll truly discover the beauty and wonders
of the French country side. These are luxurious hotel boats, if
you will, that create the ambiance that will ensure rest,
relaxation, or as much activity that you so desire, and of
course the finest gourmet dining and wines. Shore destinations
area a treat . . . and this is an excellent way to travel with a
group of friends, club or special family events.
River barging or cruising is for all age groups
Here you go . . . just select an area of
travel for more info!
Head West and North from Paris
First stop is at the
Palace of Versailles
Rouen, then on to
and along the Normandy coast, to the
Next is a stop in the beautiful artists village of
Honfleur, then a side trip to the Abbey Mont St.
Or take the
Normandy three day Grand Tour
[more detailed info] &
Head North from Paris
The first stop should be
family fun activities, so a stop at France Miniature
is a winner. Next a visit to
Chateau Thoiry, with a drive-thru Wildlife Park, a zoo and a petting zoo,
and a visit the chateau as well. Then on to
Rouen [Joan of Arc]
Amiens, and the beautiful Cathedral where
'Kings' were crowned. [more
Definitely take the train. Train travel in France
is wonderful, so go by train
the TGV the fast train] to Nice, then take side day trips by car to
Saint-Paul-de-Vence [an artists village] or a day
trip to walled
Papal city of Avignon, and of course a visit to
the famous artists museums is a
must see. Aix is a lovely college town, great to
promenade around, sit at a cafe, or visit the fresh
markets. Then it's back to Nice or Monaco [a very
short drive] for local sightseeing, and then try your
luck in the evenings at the casinos. [more
detailed info] & [Avignon
Head East from Paris
Definitely plan a
Reims in Champagne
and visit the
houses. Tastings and Tours are scheduled ahead of
time. For more information please refer to our
Champagne Houses that offer tours and champagne
The next day head out for
Nancy to visit Place Stanislas for the day, it's
lovely, and there are some great bistros and shops to
enjoy. The third day is a must visit to the city
[and country] of Luxembourg, where the people are
friendly, and a stop at their famous chocolaterier.
The next day drive south to the beautiful
city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament
Headquarters. Strasbourg is a 'UNESCO'
world heritage site - a definite must visit!
Here you get the best of both worlds of French & German.
The Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in France, and a
cruise through 'Petit France' [and locks] is most enjoyable.
Try some roasted marrons [chestnuts] from the street vendors.
This trip includes a lot, it is at least a 5 day driving trip.
[more detailed info]
Head South from Paris
The first stop
is at the
Palace of Fontainebleau
Be sure to visit the village of Fontainebleau as well as
the Forest Park [great for biking, jogging or walking].
Then with an early start the next morning, you can visit
France's 'Valley of Kings'....the
you'll visit the magnificent and extraordinary
Chateaux of the French Royalty
For more Loire Valley tour options
Families mustn't forget
easy day trip from Paris. [more
following links to find Tour information quickly:
All Excursions to Other France Regions - Cruises & Packages
All excursions from Paris
- all trips that originate from
All Loire Valley tours and packages.
All France Vacation Packages - the best of France
All Top London and England tour packages.
All of Italy's best selling tours and packages.
All the great Roman Tours!
and Bruges Belgium Tours [Bruges is the little Venice of Belgium]
Information on the Special Places to visit in France
is the way to go in France and around Europe. It's the
relaxing way to see the beauty of each country, and where you'll
meet the most interesting people. Get
train schedules and passes here.
With all of the magnificent
and their gardens in France, the
Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the
Louvre in Paris, there are still untold unique and beautiful
places to visit around France. Please take a few minutes
to read this information -- it's just good information about
some special places to visit and to help you organize your
Paris has not only the Louvre, but over forty-three
world class museums, and over one hundred museums in all.
monuments and statues displayed all around the
Ville-de-Paris and surrounding arrondisements [districts].
Paris is of course a gourmet's delight. You will find
every kind of cultural food here besides the gastronomical
delights and pleasures of Paris bistros and restaurants. Just to
sit at a side walk cafe and enjoy people watching as the
Parisians do, is so very entertaining and relaxing. A
for Paris and France Regions.
Architecture is so unique and diverse in Paris, but in just a
few hours drive or shorter train ride, you will find some of the
most magnificent and splendid architectural designs around
France. So we'll take you on a little journey here with
some of the more well known 'special places' to visit.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you head west of Paris, stop and
take in the
Versailles. Then you'll continue west towards
Normandy, stopping in
Rouen. This is where Joan of Arc faced her Heresy
Trial and was ultimately burned at the stake. A new church
sits on the exact spot next to the famous centuries old wall
clock [L'Orloge]. Joan was beatified by Pope Pius X in
1909 and in 1920 Pope Benedict XV declared her a saint.
Rouen has one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France,
especially the alters and stained glass windows.
On westward and we're in Normandy now, where you'll find one of
the most visited places in France, and that is
Monet's home and gardens. They are
every bit as spectacular as people say they are. It
doesn't matter what the season is, there will be something
blooming. Monet was very comfortable here, and the
soothing ambiance educed his spectacular paintings of his 'Lilly
Pond' and surrounding grounds.
On west to
Le Havre, which will soon be the largest Port in Europe
after it's new expansions are finished. Crossing over the
beautiful architecturally designed expansion bridge, you'll find
one the most quaint and popular villages in France.
That would be
Honfleur, a beautiful little town on the coast with
flowers everywhere. It's one of our favorite spots and a
real treat to visit for a few days. Honfleur has more art
stores than restaurants, as it's an artists haven. You'll enjoy
some of the best moules [mussels] that you'll ever taste and
pastries to die for, especially the almond - chocolate
croissant! Enjoy a stroll along the
waterfront, the charming boutiques, and don't forget
to pick up some Calvados brandy while you're there.
Stroll through the charming shops, the churches, and
then stop at an outdoor cafe or restaurant and enjoy
some wonderful seafood and view the harbor - bon appetit! We're
off again, and we'll drive along the coast line and
D-Day Landing areas and war
memorials. This is beautiful pastoral topography, that
you can enjoy
on your own, or you might like to opt for one of
several good day tours for more in depth information on the
memorials and landing sites.
The Abby Mont St. Michel
was built in the early eighth century in the northwest corner of
Normandy, right at Brittany. It sits on a small
island approximately one kilometer from the mainland, accessible
by a causeway that was built in 1879. It is a magnificent
structure and one must climb all the way to the top of
Mont St. Michel
to experience this great architectural accomplishment.
This is not for the faint of heart, there are hundreds of steps
to the top. It will take you a good half hour or so just
to climb the stairs without stopping. The village is quite
quaint, and you feel the centuries as you pass through it.
Please note, this is somewhat a remote area and a good day trip
out of Honfleur, there's only limited small motels within 5
There are very dangerous tidal surges here, and the lower
parking lot is not accessible during high-tide. It is most
dangerous for people to go walking out on the sand flats at low
tide, if they don't know the tidal times, and when the tide will
come back in. Many people have been killed by these
incoming tidal surges which measure 14 meters from low to high
tide. So be aware, and find out tide times before
venturing on the sand flats. Best bet is to go with a
Heading south you're now in
Pays-de-la-Loire [the western Loire Valley]. You
can start your visit of the great and beautiful chateaux of
Loire here. Keep in mind, that the Loire is
made up of two French Regions [the other is Centre or Loire
Valley]. Check our our
Chateaux page to
locate chateaux for this Region. Angers is one of the
oldest medieval castles in France and dates back to the 1st
century. it has known both Viking and Roman rule and
suffered vast physical ruin. If you travel during the
weekdays you shouldn't have too much of a problem finding a nice
B&B [Gite or Maison d'Hote in French], or even a small quaint
boutique hotel. The food is always wonderful and so
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you head south out of Paris,
Fontainebleau the gardens and the Forest of
Fontainebleau. The chateau is truly spectacular,
definitely schedule a visit here. This was just one of
many Royal Chateaux and home to many Kings. For more
detailed information on Fontainebleau just
Another truly magnificent Chateau is Vaux-le-Vicomte, and should
definitely be a stop on the way to the Loire Valley. The
first magnificent formal gardens were here, and designed by
André Le Notre. This really launched his architectural
landscaping career. Thus he was commissioned to do the the
Royal Palace gardens at Versailles.
We're still heading south and now we're in
[the Loire Valley] that is the eastern part
Loire. There are so many spectacular Chateaux to
visit within a day's drive of each other. Again visit our
Chateaux page for
days that the chateaux are open, and hours of visitation.
Most chateaux or closed either on a Monday or a Tuesday, so
check individual Chateaux information for hours of operation.
Please Note: Some chateaux are national monuments,
and others are privately owned, so they do not fall under the
The chateau as being noted the most beautiful in France in
This was 'les chateau de dames', the chateau of women. Chenonceau
was used as a hospital during WWII. Chenonceau was once
owned by Royalty, but is now a private residence.
It really is advised to look at your map before leaving Paris,
to outline which chateaux that you would like to visit,
because you'll probably end up stopping at a few more places
than you intended to. This is the Valley of the Kings, and
that being said, here are some of the other chateaux to visit in
Azay-le-Rideau - also noted as one of the most beautiful
smaller chateau in the Loire Valley. From the Moyen
Age, this lovely chateau is similar in a way to Chenonceau,
but was always riddled with problems. It was a private
chateau, changing ownership many times through the centuries
and now is a national monument.
Amboise - this
is a grand fortress perched on a cliff overlooking the Loire
River on one side and the arched gateway and cobble stone
streets of the village on its other side. Only
twenty-five percent of the Chateau remains, another royal
and quite extraordinary walled chateau and village.
Blois - of
course sits in the middle of the town. As with all
castles, the town was built around the castle. Chateau
de Blois is now a museum, with the famous Renaissance
designed staircase. The chateau is comprised of
several different styles of architecture, Gothic,
Renaissance and Classic, as different Kings ruled and
added their own touch.
one of the most magnificent and beautiful Royal Chateaux in
France. Chambord has the twin staircases within the
castle, where armies could literally ride up, and down and
through the castle, without seeing others going up or down
the other identical staircase during times of siege.
It is said that Leonardo DiVinci designed this truly
beautiful and unique staircase.
Now mind you, the French government was broke, Francois
already owned Amboise, Blois and Chenonceau castles, but he
acquired 10,000 acres, and still proceeded with this project
even though his two sons were imprisoned and being held for
ransom in Spain and the government couldn't pay for their
Chambord has 440 rooms, fireplaces large enough for a man to
stand in and look dwarfed, it's truly awesome.
Chambord is the most magnificent of the Loire Valley
chateau, and a must see on your list.
- Chaumont - in 1560 became
the property of Catherine de Medici [another chateau for
Catherine] who in turn forced Diane de Portiers to exchange
Chaumont for Chenonceaux.after King Henri II's death.
built entirely in the Calssical Style, is a privately owned
chateau, and has been lived in by the descendants of
the Hurault, marquis de Vibraye family for over 6 centuries.
Usse - was
changed from a feudal fortress [mote, towers and
battlements] after the main structure was destroyed in the
17th century to the beautiful structure you see today. .
It is said that this is where Charles Perrault after
visiting the chateau, got his inspiration for the fairy tale
'Sleeping Beauty' .
tragic setting for the downfall of Fouquet [French Minister]
who was framed due to jealousy and revenge. Prior to
the downfall, under Fouquet's protection, Vaux was a haven
for leading French artists, writers, poets, painters and
is known for the most spectacular gardens in France.
Only the keep is left, but this is a must visit if your
enjoy beautiful parks and gardens.
If you head east out of Paris toward
the first stop would be
Reims, the champagne capital of the world. Plan on
spending the night there, visit the Cathedral [one of our
favorite Cathedrals] where the Kings of France were crowned.
Then take a champagne tour early the next day. When you
visit the Champagne producers like Vieuve Cliquot, your tour is
taken down in the limestone caves. These caves date
back to Roman times, and have a huge inter-connecting system of
tunnels throughout the area.
Next on to Nancy [the city of Nancy is really the result of the
blending together of the two old fortified towns. The
medieval town to the north, the Ville-Vieille, was combined with
the 16th century town to the south, the Ville-Neuve], stopping
to see the sites.
Then go north a short way to Metz and visit the Gothic Cathedral
of Saint-Étienne. Perched upon a hill overlooking the
Moselle, it was mainly constructed during the 13th through 16
centuries. It’s interior is lighted by Gothic and modern
stained glass windows, including one by Marc Chagall.
Since you're so close to the Luxembourg line, pop over the
border [about an hour from Metz] and visit the city of
Luxembourg within the country of Luxembourg. It is quite
charming, and don't miss buying some of their world famous
chocolat. Back to Metz and if you're adventurous and a
real wine enthusiast, you might want to drive the Alsace Wine
Route [Alasacien route de vin].
Now we'll head back south to
Strasbourg. This is an amazing and beautiful city
that is situated on the Franco-German border. With scenic
canals [be sure to take a cruise through the locks],
is known as the crossroads of Europe.
A must see is Kléber Square. It's a wonderful combination
of shops and quaint bistros hidden-away down the allies
surrounding the square where the Gothic styled Cathedral stands,
dating back to 1175. You can get to the cruises from
Strasbourg is the home to the European Parliament
[the Council of Europe] and the Central Commission for the
Navigation of the Rhine River were formed here. This is a
beautiful city, and there is much to do. If you take the
cruise, you'll go through a section called 'Petit France', it's
If you head north-northwest out of Paris your first stop would be at France Minature,
25, route du Mesnil (Bd André Malraux), 78990 Elancourt
A mini Mont St. Michel is shown below, and you'll see many
minature France monuments in this great family park.
Then your next stop would be Chateau Thoiry
and Wildlife Park. This is a drive-thru park that is
always great entertainement for the whole family. If you
haven't been to a drive-thru wildlife park, this is a great
opportunity and beautiful scenery.
Next stop will be
Amiens, where it's said that Amiens cathedral is the
most beautiful in France, It certainly is one of our favorites.
Spend the night here and see the town sites and have dinner at
an outdoor cafe.
Heading back southeast the next morning, you'll want to stop and
visit Disneyland Paris for the day.
You'll definitely want to
make your reservations in advance to spend the evening here.
Traveling to Provence and you're
on a limited time schedule -- then it would be best to take the
from Paris to
Nice, or fly directly into Nice, then rent [hire] a car and
start your trip to
Avignon. You'll return back to Nice to enjoy the
markets, do some shopping and a quick visit to Monte Carlo, and
of course enjoy some great seafood by the seashore.
We head west out of Nice to
St. Paul-de-Vence the quaint small walled
village that you will totally fall in love with. It is the
perfect petit village that you would expect to find nestled away
in France, complete with window boxes full of flowers, artists
at work and you're totally in another world. Enjoy an
outdoor lunch here before continuing your drive.
Continuing west later that day you'll drive to
Aix-en-Provence. Another quaint and pretty university
town known for it's famous artist Cezanne, and it's hot mineral
springs for healing health problems. Plan on spending the
night here, and have dinner at an outdoor cafe. In the
morning, enjoy the outdoor markets, some sight-seeing, and take
in some of the art museums. We found a small chocolat
boutique on the way to our hotel that was painted Red - and
looked just like the Chocolat shop in the movie 'Chocolat'.
Late morning it's off to
Avignon, the walled city and Palace of Popes
[Palais de Popes] where Popes were installed from the 14th
Century and Avignon remained papal property until the French
Revolution. Spend the night here, then head back to Nice
the next day.
Heading southeast toward the coast road to enjoy the
Mediterranean Sea and landscape on the way back to Nice. Upon
arrival find a place to park at the market, and enjoy lunch at
one of the many outdoor cafes under striped awning tents.
regarding receipt of passes, or picking passes up passes
in Paris --
Vouchers-Passes [in PDF].
For a list of over 60 museums and monuments
that you can visit with the Paris Museum & Monument Pass,