Itinerary for a road-trip in a van across France

Itinéraire France

Planning a road-trip across France in a van or camper van? Follow our guide!

What if this year, instead of flying, we (re)visited France? There’s so much to see and do in France, that setting off on a road-trip in a van or camper van is always a great way to take in the sights!

Riding unhindered through the most beautiful regions of France allows you to travel in total freedom, without having to check prices and timetables for trains and accommodation, and with the added bonus of being able to fall asleep in the middle of nature under the sound of the waves, watching the stars, and wake up listening to the song of the birds – or cicadas! – with your feet spread out in front of a rejuvenating natural environment.

Pure happiness? Just about. However, you’ll need to find a vehicle, draw up an itinerary for your road-trip in a van or camper van, and find out where you can park.

Travel by van or camper van: our itinerary ideas across France

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France has the largest road network in Europe, with 1,073,500 kilometers of roads and freeways, criss-crossing the country like a vast spider’s web covering 551,000 km²: as you know, it’s impossible to visit everything in a single road-trip. That’s why it’s essential to draw up a reasonable itinerary and target your objectives: sports and nature vacations, relaxation, gastronomy, cultural visits or a little of everything at once?

Would you like to explore Normandy, Brittany, the Atlantic coast, Auvergne, Provence, Alsace or even Languedoc with your van? Would you like to discover the wines of Provence, Bordeaux, the Cathar castles, the Loire castles, the D-Day beaches, historic towns and villages, etc.?

We’ve put together an indicative mini-guide of a few itineraries for you to choose from, based on the length of your trip:

  • Provence: the Lubéron, Avignon, the Calanques, the Alpilles massif, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and the Sainte-Victoire, the Sainte-Baume, the Estérel massif, the Gorges du Verdon, the beaches of the Var coast (Le Lavandou, Rayol-Canadel, Cavalaire-sur-Mer, the island of Porquerolles, etc.),
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • La Voie de la Liberté, a tribute to the Liberation of 1944-1945: Sainte-Mère-Église, the D-Day landing beaches, Saint-Malo, Chartres, Fontainebleau, Reims and the Champagne route, Luxembourg,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Normandy: Omaha and Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Mont-Saint-Michel, the beaches (Agon-Coutainville, Regnéville, Montmartin-sur-Mer, Hauteville-sur-Mer) Granville, Caen, Houlgate, Honfleur, Deauville, Rouen,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip in Brittany: Quiberon, Quimper, Brest, Morlaix, Roscoff, Ploumanac’h, Perros-Guirec, Trégastel, Côte de Granit Rose, Côte d’Émeraude, Mont-Saint-Michel (Normandy!), Rennes,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip along the Atlantic coast: Châteaux de la Loire (Chambord, Saumur, Angers, etc.), Nantes, Pornichet, Les Sables d’Olonne, Île de Ré and La Rochelle, Île d’Oléron, Royan and the Côte Sauvage, Bordeaux, Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat, Capbreton to Biarritz,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Languedoc: the Cévennes, Anduze, Montpellier, Sète, the Canal du Midi, Béziers, the Ardèche gorges, the Haut-Languedoc nature park, Clermont-l’Hérault and the Salagou lake, the Hérault gorges, Grau-du-Roi, Port-Camargue and the Espiguette beach,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip in Rhônes-Alpes: the Baronnies Provençales park (Drôme), the Vercors natural park, Grenoble and the Chartreuse park, the Pilat massif from Vienne to Saint-Étienne, Lyon and its heritage, the Écrins park between Huez and Gap, Mont-Blanc with Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Sallanches, the Vanoise park, Annecy, Chambéry, Geneva,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip in the South-West: Bordeaux and its vineyards, Cahors and the Causses du Quercy, Toulouse and the Canal du Midi, Castres, Mazamet, the Montagne Noire, the Cité de Carcassonne, the Châteaux Cathare (Aude), the Côte Vermeille (Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-Mer, Cerbère), the Ariege Pyrenees Park, the Pic du Canigou,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip in Auvergne: Le Puy-en-Velay, Clermont-Ferrand, Puy de Sancy and Mont-Dore, Salers, Saint-Flour, Aurillac and Auvergne cheeses, Puy de Dôme,
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    Photo credit: Caramaps

  • Road-trip in Corsica: Île-Rousse, Calvi, Calanches de Piana, Porto, Ajaccio, Sartène, Propriano, Corte, Bonifacio, Palombaggia, Porto-Vecchio, Bastia, Cap Corse.
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Photo credit: Caramaps

These are just ten itineraries, far from exhaustive, and you can of course choose to go from one to the other, mixing Brittany and Normandy, for example, or the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region with Corsica or Occitania, for example.

Buying a van: our tips and advice

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How do I buy a van or a camper van? How much does it cost, should you buy new or used, and where can you get it? Buying a van is not like buying a small Clio or Twingo. If you opt for a used van, be sure to inspect the vehicle in every nook and cranny to avoid scams.

Think of a well-appointed interior as comfortable, but it’s the mechanics that really count: the vehicle must be in good condition. The choice between a van or a converted van depends on the size of the vehicle you wish to use, as a van is larger than a converted van. There are a number of criteria to check:

  • The price of the van,
  • Mileage,
  • The body,
  • Engines and fuel consumption,
  • Number of beds available,
  • Layout (removable bench seat or not, folding bench seat or not, type of rear bed),
  • Equipment (refrigerator, water tanks, gas, toilets, heating, etc.),
  • Tire wear, corrosion, scratches,
  • Maintenance invoices, roadworthiness tests, vehicle registration documents, etc.

Of course, you’ll need to test-drive the vehicle before you buy it. To test it, you can also rent it before buying it on certain rental platforms (Yescapa Occasions and Pilote Occasions, for example).

A professionally fitted van can cost between €35,000 and €50,000, and even more than €70,000, especially if it’s new. So what should you choose, between a California Coast, a Transporter T4, T5 or T6, a Renault Trafic or Master? Discriminate between price, design, size, engine and layout.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, it’s much cheaper to learn how to convert a van yourself. So where can I buy my converted van? Here are several sites and platforms where you can find listings:

  • Le Bon Coin,
  • La Centrale,
  • Ypocamp,
  • Hanroad.

Now all you have to do is make an appointment to test-drive the vehicle! The roads of France are yours!