So you decided to arrange your independent trip by car. And immediately a lot of questions arise: where to start the trip, what should you take with you, what documents are required, where to look for accommodation and how to rent a car without spending pots of money?
Independent travel without tour operators is a real challenge for your organizational skills, your ability to quickly orient yourself in unexpected situations and make the right decisions.
But let’s forget for a moment about all the upcoming challenges and focus on the positive sides of your feature car trip through France. Where else would you find such an amazing mix of well maintained roads, calm and accurate drivers, lovely and picturesque landscapes and such unwillingness to learn or speak in English?
Here are several must-visit destinations for your car trip through France.
Route: Colmar – Nancy – Chalons-en-Champagne – Troyes – Paris
Total length: about 600 km
Fuel consumed: about 40 liters
Fuel cost: about 64 EUR
One of the most beautiful towns of Alsace, Colmar with its neat winding streets, canals, and colorful building facades will touch your very heart and won’t leave you indifferent.
Besides its unique charm of a provincial French town, Colmar is perfect as a starting point of your car trip due to the airport located nearby. There you can collect your car rental vehicle, which is recommended to book in advance at Colmar Airport.
Attractions of Colmar:
Little Venice is a small part of the city center built up with fabulous half-timbered houses, which has a striking resemblance to Venice due to its lovely canals and dozens of elegant bridges over the muddy waters of the river Loches.
House of heads.
Despite such strange and slightly intimidating name, the House of Heads, located between the Unterlinden Museum and the Dominican Church, is considered one of the oldest and along with it the most famous buildings of Colmar. And all this due to its considerable age of 400 years, the stunning architectural style of the German Renaissance, and of course over 111 masks and sculptures of heads adorning the façade.
Just two hours drive from Colmar, there is a town of Nancy, which has one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, named after the Duke of Stanislaw Leszczynski.
The vast space of the square is bordered by the classical mansion of the XVIII century, a magnificent decoration of which is complemented with gilded fences and elegant lanterns, fountains, arcades and colonnades.
And in one of the pompous pavilions of the square hides the Museum of Fine Arts, on the upper floors of which you can see works by Picasso, Rubens, Modigliani and Rodin.
Museum Aquarium. It’s one of the funniest attractions in Nancy, where you can watch about thousand cute tropical fish and other marine inhabitants. It’s worth visiting at least to admire the darling of the local audience, the 40-years-old moonfish.
Another 161 km and 2 hours of lovely car trip, and you’ll find yourself in Chalons-en-Champagne, a little town which attract thousands of tourists due to it scenic views, incomparable beauty of nature and of course its great historical monuments.
Notre-Dame-en-Vaux is not without reason considered the most popular attraction of Chalons-en-Champagne. This gorgeous basilica with its impressive gargoyles on the facade once inspired famous writers Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Paul Claudel, and now it could also give you a spark and inspiration and who knows, it might help you to wake up your hidden writing talent.
Jules Garinet Museum. It’s worth to visit this museum due to its rich collection of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures from antiquity to the XIX century. There are also numerous artworks made from bronzes, enamels, porcelain and earthenware.
It will take you about an hour to drive 90 km from Chalons-en-Champagne to Troyes, the second largest manufacturer of sparkling wines with a population of only 60 thousand people.
Multicolored Troyes is as if created for leisurely strolls. In contrast to Paris with its rapid life of a modern and large capital, the time in Troyes flows quite differently. You can wonder here for hours and enjoy each step through the narrow winding streets, medieval houses with gabled Gothic roofs, old courtyards and squares with blooming flower beds.
Here is the list of attraction you must visit in Troyes: Basilica of Saint-Urban, Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul, St. Remy Chearh, the City Hall etc. Each of these buildings is a unique architectural masterpiece.
One of the museums you must visit in Troyes is the Museum of Tools and Trade, where the world’s largest collection of antique tools is kept.
You should also pay attention to the Museum of Modern Art. It has been operating since 1982 and there are artworks of Honore Daumier, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy and many others.
Oscar Wilde said once: “When good Americans die they go to Paris”. Indeed, Paris is the paradise on the earth! So many wonderful and beautiful places to relax, so many world-known attractions to see, so many excellent and delusions dishes to try!
Paris is a capital of fashion, light and romance, the city of bold projects and vivid impressions, the city built on contrasts. Here, broad pompous boulevards are crossing the narrow modest streets; majestic monuments hide poor grey backyards; cozy little cafes compete with respectable luxury restaurants. Here on a flea market you can easily buy surprisingly expensive antiques and cheap Chinese clothes.
Once Hemingway mentioned Paris by so gentle and amazingly precise words as “the holiday, which is always with you”.
All that remains to us is only agree with the words of the great writer and wish you a good and lovely journey.
In conclusion I would like to say that the car trip is definitely worth the time you’ve spent arranging it. It’s much more interesting than to buy travel tours and in some cases it’s even cheaper!
About the author: Lily Berns is a travel writer. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and tries to learn all she can about interesting cities in the world.