We’ve covered all regions of France in our various motorhome’s, over the past couple of decades. For us, it’s a little bit like playing a favourite song on repeat….it’s comforting and familiar, it lifts your spirits and no matter how often you hear it, it still leaves you wanting more!
Although we love all of France and it’s motorhome friendly Aire system, there are some places that have left a lasting impression. It’s those unique “WOW” factor moments when your eyes catch that first glance, the most awesome sight, that unique, special element that almost takes your breath away!
It’s our Top Must See places to visit on a motorhome trip to France!
1. The Postman’s Palace – The correct title is actually “Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval” – It’s a palace like no other, you probably won’t have seen one like it before and you’re unlikely to ever see anything like it again! It’s the result of the eccentric imagination of Ferdinand Cheval, a local postman who went about his daily rounds a little differently to your average postie, collecting stones along the way. With them, over 33 years, he built this ingenious, elaborate, almost stage set masterpiece, it would look more at home on a Hollywood film set rather in the middle of the French countryside!
2. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – If you picture the most prettiest of French villages, perch it high into the side of a cliff face, add the the ancient footings of a Medieval past and surround it with the glories of a Provencial countryside. This is Moustier, exquisite, magical and the when you first catch eyes upon the tiered stone dwellings as they cling to the rock face, it has you instantly drawn in. Explore it deeper and the tiny alleyways, dreamy views and all that heat from the Summer sun, leaves you happily hypnotised in a French fancy!
3. Annecy and its Lake – Think snow capped mountains of the Alps, throw in one of the cleanest lakes in Europe, and finish with a delightful whipped cream topping, of one of the most charming Medieval, canal-lined towns. It oozes character in every corner, floral covered bridges criss-cross canals, narrow streets lead to quirky antique markets, whilst the blue, blue Lake is level playing as one of the most scenic locations in Europe…..It’s a dreamy spot alright!
4. Lac de Sainte Croix – A little further along the road from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and you catch sight upon the brilliant blue lake of Sainte Croix. It’s WOW factor all the way, as you cross towards the Gorge du Verdon, where the blue waters meander into the narrow chasms of the high gorge walls. In the heat of a hot Summer, the water is too tempting to miss, swim, take a picnic or hire a pedalo, whichever you choose, it’s just divine!
5. Pont du Gard – You’ve got to give it to the Romans, they really did build things well! If you’ve not seen this yet, ask yourself why not?! This place is just awesome, in the most fascinating kind of way. How on earth did they build these impeccable structures 2000 years ago, hauling colossal blocks of stone to build this 160ft mega structure of an aqueduct? It was in use for around 500 years…..imagine that! Carrying water to Nimes along a stretch of over 30 miles….Amazing!!
6. Aigues-Mortes – The first time we entered this walled town, surrounded by the salt marshes on the edge of The Camargue, we couldn’t quite believe our luck at what we’d found! It was a hot, bustling July evening, with atmosphere pounding off the enclosed walls and streets filled with restaurants spilling out onto the cobbles, we were hooked! This once busy port is now a few miles from the sea, but still holds all it’s charm in the salty Mediterranean air.
7. Arles – With it’s Van Gogh connection, incredible Roman ruins and all the charms of a Provence town, Arles is just a treat! It has one of our favourite Arena’s (that’s the Roman kind!), incredibly intact, somehow it’s position is a little more intimate than some of the other Roman Arena’s that we’ve visited. With the Rhone river passing through, intricate streets and so much history, this place is pretty neat!
8. Eze – This little gem of a village perched high above the Cote d’Azur, is oozing character, class and charm at every angle. It’s tiny, with a maize of narrow alleyways, stunning views flowing out across to the Med and some very upmarket accommodation to tempt you out of the campervan! It’s a great place to explore when the sun goes down, on a balmy Summer evening, be warned, you won’t want to leave!
9. Pont d’Arc – The Ardèche river weaves its way through the Gorges de l’Ardéche, where canoeing, rafting and all things water related can be done here. We love the natural limestone arch that spans the waters of the river, a perfect viewpoint from the road above, enables you to look down over the river and arch. This whole area is a natural paradise and in Summer it’s just wonderful.
10. Hyères – Both the old historic town and the coastal splendour of the peninsula inlets, that lead from it are just beautiful. A coastal walkway through shaded pines, lead to some incredible little rocky bays and crystal clear blue and green waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a great place to be, just out of season when the crowds have gone and you can find a whole inlet just for you!
11. The Chateaux of The Loire – I’m including this as a group, simply because I can’t really choose between them but love so many! It’s a fascinating region filled with enough Fairytale magic to last a lifetime! It’s also got extra magic along the route, who can forget the mighty Loire River that follows you through the landscapes.
12. St.Tropez – It’s one of the most famous of all French resorts, but is it full of hype and shallow celebrity super yachts? Or is there really a little more to this international hot spot? If you get beyond the day trippers, the flashy image and superstar appeal, then you can see a very different side to this charming harbour town. It’s full of character at it’s core, with the added advantage of some superb beaches and a really nice coastal walkway through it’s more natural surroundings. We have to say, we really like it here and there’s always the people watching to keep you entertained too!
13. The D-Day Landing Beaches – Never has anything been so heart-wrenching than our first tour of the Normandy Landings. It’s the most compelling of sights, incredibly fascinating, being such a recent part of our history. So many reminders are still on show today, not forgetting the emotional rollercoaster, that this part of France takes you through, from the enormity of the sacrifices made.
14. The Battlefields of The Somme – The blood bath that was the Somme is forever engrained in the history of those nations whose Men were lost to the horrors of war. Trench warfare, the innocence of those so young, some just 15 years of age, signing up for a cause they could never envisage would be so horrific. Driving through this region brings home to you the savage losses, where war graves are commonplace and where the earth beneath still holds the resting place of so many.
15. Le Grand Bornand – This is our most favourite place in the French Alps, come Winter or Summer, it’s full of Alpine charm, excellent skiing, hiking and traditional quaint wooden chalets to add to the ambiance. It’s a sleepy sort of place, with not too much going on other than the occasional sound of cattle bells from the grazing cows, who, by the way, must be thanked for the fabulous cheeses produced here! If concrete is your preference, then it’s not for you, but if you like the church bells waking you at dawn and the sweet smell cooking on the open log burning fire, then you’ll just love this place too!
16. Carcassonne – It’s the citadel that everyone’s heard about, it’s big, touristy and can get very hot inside those walls, but hey ho, it’s one of those tick box towns that you just have to do! Full of interest, a maze of busy streets where you can’t help get cosy with the crowd in the hot summer months! It’s UNESCO and medieval, totally intriguing and utterly irresistible!
If you need more inspiration, here’s a few to add to this list of Must See Places to visit in France: