view of the beautiful dordogne river

2 weeks in France, our French Road Trip Itinerary

Over summer we spent a magical 2 weeks in France. We travelled from the UK by ferry and car heading straight through the centre of the country all the way down to Bordeaux and back, trying to take in some of the lesser explored parts of the Country. Here’s our French road trip itinerary so you can start planning your next family holiday to France.

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young girl and her father walking on steping stones in the dordogne river with a chateaux in the background

UK – Lille

Day One on our French Road Trip Itinerary

colourful old buildings lining a street in Lille, france

Miles Traveled:

This one took most of the day, we left home super early to catch the lunchtime ferry from Dover to Dunkerque. The sailing was around two hours. On arrival on French soil the drive from Dunkerque to Lille took about an hour and a quarter. In total this was just over 300 miles.

Where we stayed:

On arriving into Lille we immediately headed to our hotel. The Ibis Styles Lille Centre Grand-Place was the perfect location for exploring Lille. Right in the centre of town with a carpark just across the road. This was the first of several Ibis hotels we stayed in during our trip. They’re such great value, always clean with good sized family rooms.

Where we ate:

As with most meals during our two weeks in France we just wandered the town and stopped wherever had space and looked good. This time we totally struck gold. We found La Pate Brisee on Rue de la Monnaie and grabbed one of their pavement tables. This is a great French restaurant with super friendly waiting staff and great food (and wine). Of course we had to try the local delicacy, Le Welsh. It’s kind of a supercharged rarebit. Bread soaked in beer, covered in Cheese with an egg on top. Baked in the oven to make it super gooey. It was delicious but crazy rich, I could never manage it all. Piper had a fish and chips which she gobbled up and Nigel enjoyed a rich beef stew.

le welsh a typical northen france dish of beer soaked bread covered in cheese and an egg

Lille – Chantilly

Day two

chateaux in chantilly, france

Miles Travelled:

Lille to Chantilly is a fairly easy 120 miles. The drive took around two hours and included some toll roads.

Where we stayed:

We stayed at the beautiful Mercure Chantilly Resort. It’s set in stunning countryside and forests making it the perfect place for a family friendly walk. We had a family room which easily slept the 3 of us. It even has a swimming pool if you are traveling with a little mermaid like us!

young girl smiling with long curly hair holding a bread roll

Where we ate:

Eating in Chantilly was all about the cake. The bakeries lining the main road through town serve up some delectable treats and we mainly survived on these. They also create some amazing savoury treats and we enjoyed fresh pizza and pastries picnic style as we walked around town. We also stopped for a super strong coffee hit at one of the pavement cafes. Perfect!

sweet cakes and tarts in a french bakery in Chantilly

Chantilly – Versailles

Day Three

daughter and father working towards the golden gates of the palace of Versailles

Miles Travelled:

The drive from Chantilly to Versailles is just over 40 miles. It will take quite a while, maybe up to two hours as you’ll no doubt get stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Paris. It was very cool however to see the Eiffel Tower from the motorway. This route also includes toll roads. Read all about our trip to Versailles with kids and our visit to the spectacular Palace.

Where we stayed:

In Versaille we were back to another brilliant Ibis, and this one was right across the road from the train station. The ibis Versailles Chateau hotel is a great value 3 star located within easy walking distance to the Palace and plenty of places to eat and shop. We opted for a family room and had a great continental breakfast before heading off the next day.

Where we ate:

Again we wandered the streets and stopped at a pavement restaurant that looked popular with locals. We were after a bit of comfort food so shared a pizza whilst Piper opted for spaghetti bolognese. Then it was early to bed before a busy day, with full stomachs and happy memories. I recommend just wandering down the Rue de Satory and picking somewhere you like the look of.

alley of restaurants in Versaille, France

Versailles – Paris

Day Four

the eiffel tower in paris seen through branches of trees

Miles Travelled:

This was a super easy travel day. It’s around 13 miles from Versailles to Paris and we traveled by train. It took less than an hour on a direct train which was very clean and extremely quiet.

Read more about how we managed Paris in one day here.

Where we stayed:

We enjoyed our second night at the ibis Versailles Chateau hotel.

Where we ate:

On our way back to the train station we wandered past the brilliant Quai Liberte on the river front. It’s a lovely beer garden with a real “vacay” vibe. It’s only open over the summer months but is well worth stopping in if you’re passing. Food is small, fresh and simple but it’s the atmosphere that should convince you to stay!

outside restaurant at Quai liberte in paris

Versailles – Limoges

Day Five

typical french street in limoges, france

Miles Travelled:

This was a fairly intense travel day as we wanted to get down South as soon as possible. We covered over 250 miles in around 4 hours. Again there were toll roads to pass through but we were so impressed with them. It’s very easy to navigate and the roads never got too busy.

Where we stayed:

We booked ourselves in at the Novotel Limoges Le Lac mainly due to the fact it has an outdoor pool. This is always a massive positive for Piper and she loved cooling off after being in the car for so long. It’s slightly out of town in what feels like a rather industrial area but the Lake in the grounds of the hotel made for the perfect place for a post walk dinner. We saw some amazing sunsets.

sunset in Limoge

Where we ate:

As none of us could face getting back in the car we chose to eat at the hotel. The restaurant was nice and food excellent. I had a delicious Caesar salad and Piper was delighted to discover her first kids menu of the holiday. It was of course super expensive but that’s to be expected in a hotel.

Limoges – Perigueux

Day 6

narrow street between tall stone buildings in Perigeuex France

Miles Travelled: 

This was one of the easiest legs of the journey with just 60 miles to travel. We took it slow and covered the distance in under two hours.

Where we stayed:

The Ibis Perigueux Centre is a brilliant place to stay in Perigueux with kids. It’s right in the centre of town near the cathedral. So you wont struggle for things to do or great places to eat. You can park onsite for a small charge and family sized rooms are available which are great value.

Where we ate:

We stopped for lunch at a tiny bistro we found in a small town we passed through. I love these places, they often have locals indoors watching TV, enjoying an afternoon beer. Don’t be afraid to stop somewhere and give it a go.

Perigueux is very much a tourist town so you definitely won’t struggle to find good restaurants. We went boringly British and opted for Watson’s Pub. It’s absolutely huge with heaps of indoor and outdoor seating and serves pub classics such as burgers and fish and chips.

bright red table cloth and umbrella at a french roadside bistro

Perigueux – Pessac-sur-Dordogne

Day 7 to 11

vineyard with green vines in france

Miles Travelled:

Another super easy travel day and the start of our rest break. It was around 50 miles from Perigueux to our lovely Dordogne holiday rental. With a stop for coffee along the way the journey was around an hour and a half.

sandy beach on the dordogne river

Where we stayed:

Being the longest stay of our two weeks in France we chose a holiday rental for accommodation in this part of the Dordogne. We loved having the extra space to fully unpack and a kitchen to cook some healthy food in. We spent evening sat on the terrace watching the sunset over nearby vineyards. While Piper raided the DVD library and caught up with friends.

dordogne countryside seen through s small window in a french holiday rental

Where we ate:

This part of the stay was all about cooking. We mooched into town each day and stocked up of local produce and meat for the barbeque. We took picnics on our day trips and had lazy breakfasts before heading out. These slow days are so important when covering long distances and I highly recommend including some in your French road trip itinerary.

the sky lit up in yellow and orange above a balcony in the dordogne

Pessac-sur-Dordogne – Talence near Bordeaux

Day 11 and 12

young girl on patterned deck chair holding up the peace sign with her fingers

Miles Travelled:

After our lovely few days relaxing the 45 mile drive to our hotel on the outskirts of Bordeaux felt completely manageable. Although it took us longer than expected – around two hours as we got a bit lost looking for the hotel.

Where we stayed:

This had to be my favourite hotel of our stay. And was actually the reason we chose to stay in Talence rather than Bordeaux city centre. Domaine de Raba is an absolutely stunning Boutique hotel. It’s quirky design coupled with its focus on wellness and the outdoors made for a wonderful stay. They even have a private cinema you can book!

beautiful room at the domaine de raba hotel

Where we ate:

We loved the hotel so much we just didn’t want to leave so ate onsite at Les Petits Caprices. The food was amazing and the decor beautiful. I recommend a visit even if you’re not staying in the hotel.

maguerite restaurant at domaine de raba hotel

Talence – Le Mans

Day 13

girl climbing on a tree on a french beach

Miles Travelled:

And so the long trip home begins. We wanted to get as close to the North Coast as possible so covered just under 300 miles. It was an exhausting 5 hours.

Where we stayed:

We opted for the Novotel Le Mans again because it had a pool. We only needed somewhere en route, clean and good value. The Novotel ticked off all those boxes. Piper loved a dip in the small outdoor pool and we got a great nights sleep before our long drive home the next day.

Where we ate:

We ate at the hotel for convenience. It was a lovely end to the break. We opted for a charcuterie board, breads and cheeses. Plenty of fine French food for our last supper.

Le Mans – Home

Day 14

street in a french village

Miles Travelled:

Finally it was the last 500 mile stint home. This time we sailed from Calais which cut down the driving distance further but the journey did still take the whole day. We arrived home happy, disheveled and with case loads of washing and many happy memories.

chicken and prawn with pepper sauce and chips

A final thought on our two weeks in France

Long travel days call for a good hotel, preferably with a pool to burn some energy. On days when we were exploring cities, budget hotels were fine as we weren’t in them for long.

tall french flag on a tall pole above a bridge in front of a blue sky

If we were to head off on another trip around France I would hopefully extend this French road trip itinerary to include more beach time and make it further South. France is immense and varied, I don’t really feel we scratched the surface.

piper quinn in sunglasses looking tired sat on a pavement in Paris on a french road trip

For more French inspiration make sure you check out my post on Bergerac, France.

Make sure you pin for later to plan your next French road trip itinerary.

french road trip itinerary pin image

 

 

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