5 Fantastic Northern France Road Trip Ideas

5 Amazing Ideas for Road Trips In Northern France That Can Be Done in One Week!

Embarking on a Northern France road trip from the UK offers an enticing mix of easy access, rich history, and exquisite cuisine. With the Eurotunnel and scenic ferries, reaching this culturally rich region is straightforward and quick, perfect for those seeking adventure close to home.

This part of France is a canvas of historical significance and culinary excellence. Walk the beaches of Normandy, where D-Day marked a turning point in history, or explore the poignant battlefields of the Somme. Each site offers a deep dive into the events that have shaped our world.

However, there is more than history to savour. The Champagne route invites you to indulge in the world’s most renowned bubbly, pairing perfectly with the local gastronomy known for its fresh, regional ingredients. Whether you’re drawn to the echoes of history or the allure of fine dining and champagne, Northern France caters to all.

From rugged coastlines to tranquil vineyards, the region promises a blend of exploration and indulgence. Are you ready for a journey through the heart of Northern France, where every turn offers a new story and every meal is a celebration?

*All of our French road trip ideas have driving times and rough mileage covered, but of course this all depends on your exact route and places that you visit. These are rough guesstimates to give you an idea and help you plan your French road trip. 

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Download our Handy Road Trip Planner

Use our handy ready made PDF planner to help you plan your trip. We created a 9 day planner to use to plan a 1 week trip. Simply print out more copies for each week of your travels. Capture everything you need from your start and end points to where you will stay. There is space to write all the things you want to see and more. Plenty of room for jotting down notes as you plan too. 

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Getting to France from the UK

Traveling to France from the UK can be an adventure in itself, especially if you’re journeying in a motorhome or backpacking. For this article we are only looking at the details around catching Ferries and Trains.

Ferries to France

  1. Dover to Calais – This is the most popular route, with ferries running frequently. It takes about 90 minutes, and you can stay in your vehicle or explore the ferry.

  2. Dover to Dunkirk – A bit less crowded than Calais, with a slightly longer crossing time. Good for reaching northern France or Belgium.

  3. Newhaven to Dieppe – Ideal for those heading towards Normandy. The crossing takes about 4 hours.

  4. Portsmouth to Caen/Ouistreham, Le Havre, Cherbourg, and St Malo – These longer crossings are perfect if you’re heading to western France. They offer overnight options too.

  5. Plymouth to Roscoff and Poole to Cherbourg – Great choices for direct access to Brittany and the west coast of France.

Trains to France

The main gateway by train from the UK to France is via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and Eurostar services, offering different experiences:

  1. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle (Folkestone to Calais) – You drive your vehicle onto the shuttle, and in about 35 minutes, you’re in France. This option is superb for motorhome travellers as you are able to stay with your vehicle during the crossing, so great for pet owners.

  2. Eurostar (London to Paris, Lille, and Brussels) – While not suitable for motorhome travel (since you can’t take your vehicle), the Eurostar is a fantastic option for backpacking segments of your journey. The train departs from London St Pancras and can whisk you to Paris Gare du Nord in just over 2 hours.  You can pick up a hire car here to complete your road trips in the north of France.

Each of these options offers a way to cross into France, depending on your destination, budget, and whether you’re driving your motorhome or traveling lighter with just a backpack. Depending on which road trip you choose and how much time you have, if you choose a linear road trip then you could cross on one route and cross back to the UK via another route (ie routes 1 and 5 together) 

As always, time and money tend to be the deciding factors. But is is great to remind yourself of all the options available.  Always check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements, especially considering the seasonal variations in schedules and prices.

These useful links help you with aspects of planning your road trip if you are not going in a motorhome but need to rent a car and places to stay. 

The Coastal Trail from Calais to Mont Saint-Michel

Total Distance

350 miles / 560 km approx


7-10 days

Drive Time

7 hours approx

Imagine setting off from Calais, your motorhome packed and ready for an adventure along the Northern France coastline all the way to Mont Saint-Michel. This Northern France road trip offers you a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and cultural exploration. 

France RoadTrip Coastal Trail map
France Road Trip Coastal Trail

With the freedom of your motorhome, you can discover hidden beaches, taste the local seafood, and wake up to breathtaking views every day. The climax of your trip, the majestic Mont Saint-Michel, will be a moment you’ll never forget. It’s an ideal road trip for those who love the sea’s ever-changing landscape and the stories of the past.

Key Road Trip Stops:

Calais: Begin your French roadtrip with the striking Cap Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez for stunning English Channel views.

Dieppe & Étretat: Marvel at Étretat’s famous chalk cliffs and enjoy Dieppe’s traditional seaside charm.

Honfleur & D-Day Beaches: Explore the picturesque port of Honfleur and reflect at the historic D-Day landing beaches.

Mont Saint-Michel: Conclude your roadtrip in France with the breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel, a true marvel of the Normandy region.

Plan your Coastal Trail road trip with a one-way ferry trip from Dover to Calais and then return to the UK from Cherbourg to Portsmouth or Poole. This approach allows you to maximise your exploration time along the coast without needing to backtrack to your starting point.

From Lille to the Champagne Region

Total Distance

475 miles / 765km approx


7 - 10 days

Drive Time

8.5 hours approx

Let us guide you from the vibrant streets of Lille down to the serene vineyards of Champagne. This route is a toast to the spirit of France, offering both urban discoveries and the tranquil beauty of the countryside. With your motorhome, you’ll have the flexibility to stop at famous champagne houses, wander through ancient towns, and enjoy the rolling hills at your own pace on this sublime French roadtrip. 

France Road Trip Idea Champagne Trail with stops on a map
France Road Trip Idea Champagne Trail

We just love this area. So much, we have been twice, and plan to go again this year. This journey is not just about tasting the world-renowned bubbly but about soaking in the varied landscapes and rich cultural tapestry of Northern France.  Troyes is a stop to add if you have time. Not only is it beautiful, but it houses two of the lesser known champagne areas. 

Key Road Trip Stops:

Lille: Dive into the vibrant markets and rich art scene of Lille, kicking off your Northern France road trip.

Amiens: Visit the stunning Amiens Cathedral and the floating gardens known as “hortillonnages.”

Reims & Épernay: Indulge in the heart of champagne country, visiting renowned houses and walking the Avenue de Champagne.

Troyes: This medieval city’s timber-framed houses and gothic churches are the perfect finale to your roadtrips in France.

Have a big breakfast - you could be quaffing champagne from 10am and be going all day! Most champagne houses close at lunch time (probably for a nap!) Also Epernay has a great campsite - but it is first come first served...

The Battlefields of Northern France

Total Distance

190 miles


5 - 7 days

Drive Time

5 hours approx

Your journey through the battlefields of Northern France in your motorhome will be a moving experience, bringing you closer to the poignant history of World Wars I and II. This French road trip allows you to reflect on the bravery and sacrifices made, with stops at significant memorials and museums. 

France Road Trip Idea Somme with stop off points on the map
France Road Trip Idea in the Somme

The fact that you are travelling in a motorhome is a great benefit, because you have the opportunity to really connect and reflect on these quite amazing historic sites.  It really is a deeply personal trip through time. There are many, many memorials which are  dedicated to  those who fought in the wars, so take your time to wander through Frances historical wartime past.

Key Road Trip Stops:

Etaples: With over 100km of beaches, walking paths and bays its a great place to start your historical journey through wartime history. 

Arras & Vimy Ridge: Reflect on the somber history of the World Wars with visits to Arras and the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

Somme Battlefields and Beaumont-Hamel: Explore significant WWI sites and memorials in the Somme region. Be sure to research all the places around this area as there are many to see covering different countries. We found the Bronze Elk particularly moving. 

Dunkirk: The site of the dramatic WWII evacuation offers a deep historical perspective to conclude your French roadtrip.

Picardy’s Hidden Gems

Total Distance

186 miles / 300km approx


4 - 6 days

Drive Time

5 hours approx

Ready for a road less travelled? Your motorhome is your key to unlocking the hidden gems of Picardy. This region is brimming with gothic cathedrals, ancient castles, and quaint towns, offers a glimpse into France’s majestic past. Driving at your leisure, you’ll experience the quiet beauty and rich history of this lesser-known part of Northern France. It’s a journey perfect for those seeking to explore beyond the usual tourist paths, offering peaceful moments and architectural wonders.

France Road Trip Idea Map of Picardy with road stops, mileage and time to drive

Key Road Trip Stops:

Beauvais: Marvel at the intricate Beauvais Cathedral, starting your roadtrips in France with architectural splendour.

Chantilly: Explore the opulent Chantilly Castle and its extensive gardens, a highlight of any Northern France roadtrip.

Laon & Senlis: Wander through the medieval streets and admire the historic architecture of these charming towns.

Amiens: A fantastic Gothic cathedral and wonderful floating gardens are a fine way to end your trip!

The town of Amiens has Europes largest Gothic cathedral, which is a UNESCO heritage site. But not only that, it has its own type of macaroon, made from almond and honey. In fact it is such a foodie town, you might want to stock up on a few bits an pieces!

Normandy’s Coastal Charm

Total Distance

220 miles / 354 km


7 - 10 days

Drive Time

6 hours approx

Your adventure along the Normandy coast awaits, from the dramatic cliffs of Étretat to the historic D-Day beaches and the charming harbours along the way. With your motorhome, you’re set to explore this region’s rich tapestry of landscapes, history, and culture. Normandy combines serene coastal beauty with deep historical significance, allowing you to dive into its maritime heritage and picturesque towns. This road trip promises a journey filled with discovery and connection to the heart of Northern France.

France Road Trip Normandy map with stops
France Road Trip Idea Normandy

Key Road Trip Stops:

Rouen: Begin your French roadtrip in the historic city of Rouen, where you can explore medieval streets and the impressive Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Etretat: Will astound you with its striking rock formations carved out of the white cliffs and beautiful park and gardens. Well worth stopping by. 

Honfleur: Next, visit the picturesque port of Honfleur, known for its beautiful harbour and charming timber-framed houses.

Deauville: Continue to Deauville, famed for its glamorous beaches, horse racing, and the annual American Film Festival.

Caen & Bayeux: In Caen, delve into the city’s rich history, including the Caen Memorial Museum. Then, in Bayeux, don’t miss the iconic Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of England.

Cherbourg: Conclude your roadtrips in France in Cherbourg, with its rich maritime history and the Cité de la Mer museum, dedicated to oceanic exploration and the underwater world.


If you have the time, you can join this road trip up with the first one,  The Coastal Trail from Calais to Mont Saint-Michel, which will provide you with the perfect 2 or 3 week road trip, with a one way ferry ticket from England to Calais and from Cherbourg to Portsmouth or Poole. Its just great to not have to go back on yourself if you have booked a return ticket and gives you great flexibility along your French roadtrip route. 

Our Top FAQ's on Northern France Road Trips:

Do I need any special documents to drive my motorhome in France?

Yes, you’ll need your full valid driver’s license, vehicle registration document (V5C), and motor insurance certificate. Carry a copy of your insurance certificate with you as you may be asked for a green card as proof of insurance. Technically they are not required, but you still get asked for them and insurance companies rarely issue them these days. 

Both the Eurotunnel and ferries accommodate motorhomes. You should declare the dimensions of your motorhome when booking as prices may vary based on size. Don’t forget to include any extras like back boxes or bikes on the back. Check specific operator requirements and restrictions in advance, especially for gas canisters. 

France has regulations about wild camping, and it’s generally prohibited to camp outside designated areas in most places. Look for “aires” (designated parking areas for motorhomes), campsites, or specific spots that allow motorhomes. Always follow local regulations and signage. Our own experience has shown that you are generally OK away from very touristy areas. 

Remember to drive on the right-hand side. French law requires all vehicles to carry a warning triangle and high visibility vests. Breathalysers are no longer mandatory. Speed limits and other road rules may differ, so it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with them before your trip. Check our Driving in France article for full details.

France is well-equipped for motorhomes, with numerous “aires de service” offering facilities for emptying waste and refilling water and sleeping over for free or nominal amounts. We recommend you avoid the Aires on the big motorways as they have a reputation for break ins. Don’t forget there are many campsites also provide electric hook-ups and other amenities tailored for motorhome travellers.

Many motorways (autoroutes) in France are toll roads. Charges depend on the type of vehicle and distance travelled. Keep in mind that some toll booths may not have any officials, so having a credit card or change handy is advisable. Of course you can do what we do and avoid all the toll roads and enjoy a slower journey!

Yes, many wineries and champagne houses in Northern France welcome motorhome travellers. Some offer parking facilities, and a few may even allow overnight stays. It’s best to contact them ahead of your visit to check their accessibility and any specific policies. Even so, there are park-ups around for you to safely leave the motorhome whilst enjoying the delights of wine tastings!

Late spring to early autumn (May to September) offers the best weather for a road trip. However, summer (July and August) can be busy, so booking campsites in advance is wise. The shoulder seasons (late spring and early autumn) provide a quieter experience with mild weather.

You may see signs of a motorhome inside a red circle or a motorhome inside a red circle with the words ‘camping-car interdit’ or ‘stationnement au camping-car interdit’. These are not legal signs as it violates the  French law of equality. However, for the sake of peace of mind and not causing issues with the locals, it’s probably not worth staying where you are not wanted. If you are fluent in French, by all means argue your case! 

Since January 1, 2021, all heavy vehicles (so that is motorhomes or campervans over 3.5 tonnes) must have ‘Angles Morts’ stickers so that they are visible on the sides and rear of the vehicle.  A fine is imposed for failure to meet this regulation.

Our Best Northern France Road Trip Ideas Just For You

We created a selection of road trip ideas to inspire your journey, each with the potential to uncover the unique charm and diverse heritage of the captivating regions in the northern France. 

These suggestions serve as a starting point for your adventure, inviting you to delve deeper into the places that intrigue you most. Whether you’re drawn to the solemnity of historical sites, the serenity of coastal drives, or the indulgence of culinary tours, there’s ample room to tailor these itineraries to your interests and pace.

For those looking to refine these ideas further or craft their own bespoke journey, our road trip planner is an invaluable resource. Available for download, it is a great tool  you can use to modify and build upon our suggestions, with prompts about what you need to think about. This should ensure your road trip through Northern France is a personal exploration that resonates with your sense of adventure and curiosity. 

Download our Handy Road Trip Planner

Use our handy ready made PDF planner to help you plan your trip. We created a 9 day planner to use to plan a 1 week trip. Simply print out more copies for each week of your travels. Capture everything you need from your start and end points to where you will stay. There is space to write all the things you want to see and more. Plenty of room for jotting down notes as you plan too. 

1 Week/ 9 Day Road Trip Planner

*Road Trip Planner

*By downloading our planner, you give us permission to send you our newsletter. We send this approx every 6 – 8 weeks.

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