With no quarantine required for British and French nationals wanting to cross the channel this summer, we’ve prepared a jet-free itinerary for TLTB members wanting to visit France and stay at one of our new retreats.
GETTING TO FRANCE
The quickest and most popular option is the Eurotunnel, the car and train service from Folkestone to Calais, which takes just 35 minutes, with up to four departures an hour at peak times. Another option is with P & O Ferries from Dover to Calais, which runs up to 23 times a day and takes 1 hour 30 minutes. Calais is the best arrival point for driving to the south of France, and DFDS also offers car ferry crossings from Dover to Calais (15 sailings daily), as well as Dover to Dunkerque (2 hours), and to Dieppe from Newhaven (4 hours).
If travelling to one of our properties in Biarritz, an alternative would be to take a Brittany Ferries car ferry overnight from Portsmouth to Santander in northern Spain, and the drive will be under 3 hours. They also offer ferry crossings from Portsmouth, Plymouth or Poole for travel to Cherbourg, St Malo, Caen, Le Havre or Roscoff. For information regarding requirements for driving in France, Auto Express has very useful information. Another useful website we found regarding routes from Calais to the south of France is About France.
If you prefer not to drive, another idea to be considered is taking the Eurostar to Paris, have a stay there in one of our luxury apartments in the centre of the city, then hire a car, or continue to the south of France or Biarritz by train.For those driving, whichever route you choose to take through France, it is a good idea to have a plan in advance to break the journey, at least for one night, and take some time out to explore some of the many charming French villages and towns, historic sights and vineyards on the way.
Based on my own memories of driving to Provence and the Côte d’Azur with a young family, I would recommend taking the route to the Champagne region, including Reims, with its famous cathedral (where every French King, from 987 to Charles X in the 19th century, was crowned). From there it is a 2 ½u0026nbsp;hour drive to Auxerre, an inland port on the River Yonne, which dates back to river trade in the 1st Century. It is worth a walk around the old Marine area with its narrow, pedestrianised streets, and beautiful medieval buildings, grouped around its centrepiece, the 15th century Tour de l’Horloge.u0026nbsp;
From Auxerre it is approximately a two-hour drive to the picturesque old town of Beaune, right at the heart of the Côte d’Or, Burgundy’s famous vineyards. Surrounded by vineyards, tours and tastings can be easily arranged. Beaune is also worth exploring for its medieval architecture, including its clock tower, and great dining options. Not to be missed is a visit to the 15th Century Hotel-Dieu, with its wonderful mosaic- tiled roof, and now a museum.For finding hotels for one or several nights in Beaune and other areas of France, we can recommend looking at the Hotel Guru website, which gives a lot of useful general information about the various areas, and not to be missed sights as well. From Beaune, it is a an easy motorway drive on to Lyon (around 1 ¾ hours) where you can it is also worth spending a night if you have more time, or continue to Aix-en-Provence, (a further2 ½ hour drive), home to the Cézanne Museum (originally his studio).u0026nbsp;
OUR STAYS IN PROVENCE Just a 20 minute drive north-west from Aix, we have an exceptional historic villa rental, Villa Baulieu, within a park on a large vineyard estate. With 11 bedrooms and offering a hotel-like service, it is also an ideal property for a wedding or other celebration.u0026nbsp;Nearby, in a quiet corner of the estate is a smaller old Provençal bastide to rent, Villa Berengere, with 4 bedrooms, its own private grounds and swimming pool. The beautiful Luberon region with its pretty hill-top villages and vineyards is within a 30 minute drive from both properties.From Aix-en-Provence it is another 1 ½ hour’s drive east to the stunning Villa Terre Blanche, a perfect example of the French neoclassical sophistication.
More of our Provence additions are located in the scenic regions of St Rèmy de Provence and Eygalières. To reach these destinations, leave the motorway at Cavaillon (St Rèmy is approximately 25 minutes’ drive, and Eygalières, 15 minutes). Our favourites, the beautiful Villa St Rèmy, is located just 1 km from the centre of the beautiful village of Saint Rémy de Provence and features views over the Les Alpilles mountain, while the lush Villa Eygalières is just a 1 km from the charming village of Eygalières and a 10 minute drive from St Rèmy de Provence.
OUR STAYS IN COTE D’AZURTo reach Cannes directly from Aix en Provence, it is a 1 ¾u0026nbsp;hours drive. Tucked away in the hills of Super Cannes, just a 15 minute drive from Cannes centre, we are offering a magnificent luxury villa in a secluded, peaceful location with views to the sea.Our new additions in the Cote D’Azur include La Garde Freinet, just a 15-minute drive inland from San Tropez, complete with staff, and a helicopter – and ideal for groups and special events, the historic Villa Mistral located just a few minutes drive from St Tropez and its beautiful beaches, and the contemporary paradise of Pampelonne Beach, situated steps from the seaside and the famed Club 55.u0026nbsp;
OUR STAYS IN BIARRITZIf you are planning on driving to Biarritz, the most direct route is via Orléans and Tours (two beautiful cities on the Loire River), to Poitiers and Bordeaux, which would take around 7 ½ hours in total.u0026nbsp;You might like to stop in Bordeaux, one of our favourite French cities.u0026nbsp;A 45-minute drive south of Bordeaux, we have an exceptional eight bedroom beachside villa, on the Bassin d’Arcachon.
Last, but not least, we are offering a number of coastal (and much more budget-friendly) two and three bedroom apartments to rent in the resort town of Biarritz on the Côte Basque. The town’s fame dates from the mid 19th century, when Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III) arranged to have a palace built by the beach (now the famous Hotel du Palais where many European royalty, including Queen Victoria, were invited to stay regularly as guests). Biarritz is a vibrant, cosmopolitan town, popular for its beaches, golf courses and restaurants – ideal for a family holiday.u0026nbsp;
Stay tuned for more unique road trip features and travel with us on Instagram for inspiring post-lockdown destinations.