Road Trip Through France: Where You Need to Stop

The best part about driving on vacation instead of flying? All of the little sites and cities you get to see that otherwise you wouldn’t have. We love driving when we visit Europe for that exact reason…especially in France. Our roadtrip started in Spain, actually. We flew to Paris. Then flew to San Sebastián. Then from there drove our way back up to Paris again.

Pau

In Pau you can see the amazing views of the Pyrenees mountains range. It was high on my list to see this trip because I’ve been reading a lot about Andrée “Dedee” de Jongh. She was the leader of the Comet Line who lead hundreds of downed, allied pilots from France to Spain over the Pyrenees. (More on that later in a post about the books I read in 2018). The views were stunning. We only stopped here for the views, but I’m thankful we did.

view of the pyrenees mountains from Pau

Bordeaux

We stayed the night in Bordeaux. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but it’s a lovely little town. We filled as much time as we could walking around, eating, and of course, drinking the wine! It was a hit with our daughter because of all the ice cream shops along the streets!

Saint-Émilion

Gah! This town. I want to move here. And not just for the wine. This was just a stop along the way, but it was lovely. We ate lunch here and soaked up the sites. What a lovely little town. I highly recommend you spend some time here and pick up some wine when you leave. And take photos. Lots of photos.

Nantes

We spent so much time in Saint-Émilion, that we didn’t get to Nantes until dinner time. We ate outside in the city center with the fountain and left early the next morning.

Nantes, France fountain

Rennes

Rennes is another one of those cities we would have loved to spend more time. It was on the way to Saint-Malo. We stopped for lunch and really enjoyed ourselves. We found some galettes (which are more/less gluten free crepes!). They were heavenly. We explored the city. And of course, found a carousel. We want to go back and spend more time exploring.

Cancale

Another stop along the way, Cancale is probably best known for their oysters. We stopped for a snack. And again…fell in love. The salty sea water air brought me back to my childhood. I’ve always said you can take the girl away from the beach, but you can’t take the beach from the girl. Any time I’m near an ocean I feel at home. It’s that ocean air. Even if you’re not beach-crazed, this lovely little town should jump to the top of your list to visit while in Brittany.

Saint-Malo

This city was awesome. The old city has a giant castle-like wall around itself. We stayed outside of the city wall, but within a very short walk. Inside is beautiful. Old city feel, lots of shops, great food, and incredibly kind people. We actually met another family with a toddler. They were from Rennes and came to town just enjoy the cites. When you’re here, you have to get seafood. We shared a seafood platter for one and had SO MUCH leftover. Watch the No Reservations episode about Brittany and you’ll totally understand the massive seafood tower. We stayed out well past dark enjoying the night life. Such a fun, lively city!

Mont-Saint-Michel

This place is unbelievable. It’s an island, located about .5 mile from the coast of France. It took more than 10 centuries to build it to what it is today. Photos absolutely do not do it justice. Seeing it in person was one of the most amazing experiences ever. A few things to note: it is not stroller friendly. We knew this, so we kept the stroller at the hotel. But many families did not get the memo. The entire island is cobblestone and covered in stairs.

Normandy

While in Normandy, we visited Omaha Beach, Arromanches-les-Bains (where we saw the Mulberry Harbors), and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. What a humbling and sobering experience. 9384 American men are laid to rest here; 3 American women - all whom died during WW2 in Europe (with exception of 1 who died during WW1 and is now laid to rest next to his brother). 307 of those buried are unknown; on their gravestone reads, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.”

Then we stayed at the Château La Chenevière. The cool thing about this place... During WW2 it was taken over by Nazis where they set up a communication hub. On June 4, 1944 a person in the French Resistance destroyed the Nazi communication lines in anticipation for the allies storming the beaches (they stormed the beaches two days later). The Nazis fled and the British took over the site until after the war when it was turned over the owners.


Camera: Holga
Film: Lomography color, Lomography B&W, Ilford HP5+
Developing: B&W, self developed; color, Holland Photo Imaging
Scanning: self scan