Photo: Beaune Town Centre
Calais to the Cote d’Azur:
Road trip through France. Driving along the near empty autoroute in France is a delight – most especially driving from England, with our congestion, traffic and endless queues on the road! Here, you can toodle along on an empty road thinking about the delicious degustation dinner and wine you will be drinking in the evening before settling down in a cosy chateau or hostellerie.
I take my dogs along with me, Freddie and Zarya my gorgeous (if yappy) Pomeranians. Travelling with dogs is a pleasure in most of Europe and France in particular. Hotels, restaurants and Bars are, by and large, dog friendly. Tip: Make sure you have a Pet passport and allow time before your first trip to organise this with your vet. Also, before returning back to your home country you need to visit a vet for a health check and treatment and get the pet passport stamped.
Freddie and Zarya just love a road trip!
The route: Calais to Monaco, by autoroute.
Stopping: Reims – to buy and try Champagne of course!
Troyes – quick lunch stop and whizz around the shopping outlet.
Bean – Overnight stop for a delicious degustation dinner and wine.
Puligny Montrachet– Alternate between here and nearby Beaune, both are a treat.
Lyon, drive straight through, I don’t like Lyon. Take the route through town, the bypass is miles out of the way.
Hostellerie le Cedre in Beaune is one of our favourite stopovers, the michelin * restaurant is excellent, the hotel comfortable and dog friendly. http://www.lecedre-beaune.com The hotel has underground parking and is in the town. Check in and explore the town- a wine lovers paradise!
Beaune Town Centre
Beaune is delightful town and heaven for wine lovers!
Another favourite is the prestigious wine growing village of Puligny Montrachet, stay at either http://www,le-montrachet.com another dog friendly country hotel with a superb wine list and restaurant. You really are so spoilt for choice, it is worth staying at least a couple of days.
I love http://www.olivier-leflaive.com for wonderful wine pairing degustations, the best wines produced by Leflaive and interesting information on all the wine.
You can also stay and drink as much as you like. I haven’t yet discovered any super-luxe hotels along the Route de Soleil – if you know of any hidden gems, do message me please!
Well refreshed, get back on the motorway, just 5 minutes drive away, and whizz along further South. I drive straight through Lyon and keep going to Avignon and find yet more delicious wine to sample, and of course, BUY!
Avignon is a joy – home of Popes and the famous bridge – an ancient and evocative town to visit.
I don’t stop at Marseille, just bypass and keep going, enjoying the Provencal landscape as you drive along. If time permits, I will stop off in the Bandol area – pitstop to buy some Rose wine. Rose is a must-have for sitting in the sunshine by your swimming pool enjoying a catch up with friends.
St Tropez, Cannes and Nice are all on this route. Pick and choose which to stay at en route.
Menton, final destination
12 hours – the time it takes to drive from Calais to Roquebrune Cap Martin on the Coted’azur
Picnic Stops – The french motorways have picnic stops every 20 miles or so. Pack a picnic and enjoy an aire, rather than unhealthy motorway restaurant food. Lookout for signs that say AIRE.
Sunday – Is a good day to travel on french motorways, they are empty and you will see very few lorries
French Holidays – check the dates online and AVOID the first and last day of the annual holiday (Saturday nearest the beginning and end of august). Also the annual Ski holidays in February. The roads are a nightmare, you have been warned!).
Weather – Check http://www.meteo.fr Make sure the weather conditions are good throughout the country before you set off.