10-Day France Itinerary Options – North and South

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France is the third-largest country in Europe and offers a diverse range of attractions, making it easy to find something to suit everybody’s tastes. The north of the country houses the capital, Paris, a vibrant city with spectacular landmarks to explore. The south has stunning beaches and a Mediterranean climate, while the Alps offer skiing in the winter months. The French have gone out of their way to preserve their heritage and you will find castles and Medieval villages throughout the country.

France is well known for its gastronomy and wine, including champagne. It has the most Michelin-star restaurants in the world, totalling 639, but you can still find excellent budget bistros so a holiday in France needn’t cost you a fortune. As France is so big, you wouldn’t expect to be able to see all of it in one trip, so I have put together two possible itineraries, one to the north of France and the other to the south. If you are more interested in history, head to Paris and the north of the country. If you want to walk in the steps of the rich and famous and hit the beaches, the French Riviera will suit you down to the ground. I’ll first give you some tips about France which will hopefully make your trip hassle-free.

France Itineraries

Best Time To Visit France

France welcomes tourists year-round, especially in the major cities where inclement weather doesn’t stop people from visiting museums and castles.

However, the best times to visit cities such as Paris and Marseille are in the spring and early autumn when the days are warm, but not scorching hot, and there isn’t too much rainfall.

If you want to soak up the sun on some of the best beaches in Europe, head to the south coast in the summer though be warned that it does get busy.

However, you might spot a celebrity or two as between June and August, the French Riviera is the playground of the rich and famous.


The weather is still very warm in the south in the spring and autumn so it’s a good place to go if you want to avoid the crowds.

Temperatures drop in the winter, but the museums and other attractions stay open so if you don’t mind a bit of inclement weather, head to one of the cities during the winter months.

In December, many of the towns and cities hold Christmas markets which create a magical atmosphere.

If you enjoy skiing, you can choose between the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Vosges. The season starts in February.

How To Get To France

France has 34 international airports, so it is an easy country to get to.

They are scattered throughout the country and include Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Montpelier, Toulouse, Biarritz, and two airports in Paris.

If you are travelling within Europe, you can easily get to France by train.

If you are doing a lot of travelling by train throughout Europe, a Eurail or Interrail pass will save you money.

The Eurostar channel tunnel connects London to Paris and only takes two hours and 16 minutes from the centre of one city to the centre of the other.

The Eurostar also connects Amsterdam and Cologne to Paris.

If you are coming from the UK, there are ferries to 10 destinations in France, including Calais, Cherbourg and Dunkirk.

Finding Accommodation

As France is a year-round destination and can therefore get busy at any time, I suggest booking in advance otherwise you could waste good holiday time searching for accommodation.

These are good websites for searching for accommodation in France – www.booking.com, www.airbnb.com, www.bluepillow.com and www.thehotelguru.com

Of course, if you prefer to be more flexible, you can take your chances especially as in these days of the Internet, you can book a couple of days in advance while travelling.

How To Get Around

France has both an excellent train service and a bus service, with local and long-distance routes.

You can get either a Eurail or Interrail France pass which allows you to travel on any train in the country at a fixed price.

However, if you want to go off the beaten track and explore places on a whim, hire a car.

There are car rental agencies at all the airports and ports as well as in many of the cities and towns.

I don’t, however, suggest that you drive in Paris as the traffic can be hectic and it is difficult to park.

Anyway, the public transport system is excellent with the metro, the RER train service, the bus, the tram, and the Montmartre funicular on offer.

To save money, buy a Paris Visite card which allows you to travel on all public transport.

You can choose to buy a card for one, two, three, or five consecutive days.

You can combine this pass with the Paris Passlib’, which gives access to museums, walks, and monuments.

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Money vs Credit Card

You can use your credit or debit card at most locations in France.

However, there are times, such as if you are in a restaurant off the beaten track or at a street market, that you may need cash so it is a good idea to carry some euros with you.

Tipping isn’t typically expected in the hospitality sector as a service charge is included in the price, and unlike many countries, servers and other members of the hospitality industry receive a decent wage, paid holiday, and other benefits.

Food In France

Raspberry Tartlets Lemons The French Macaroons
Macaroons are something you’ll see everywhere during your 10-day itinerary in France.

The French love food and they consider meals to be a time to chat with friends and families and to linger over their food.

They believe that fresh food should be used and visit farmers’ markets and bakeries daily, buying in-season ingredients.

They try to avoid processed foods and breakfast is generally quite small.

The French enjoy something sweet in the morning and you will find pain au chocolate, croissants, and bread with butter and jam or Nutella on the menu.

Yoghurt, fruit, and granola are other options, but cooked breakfasts aren’t generally seen on the menu.

The French will often have a two-hour lunch break with three courses and dinner can also last this long.

They tend to eat later in the evenings, at least after 7.30 p.m and wine is usually served with dinner.

Starters will often be a salad or soup. French onion soup is very popular as is salad nicoise, which is egg, anchovies or tuna, olives and tomatoes.

If you want to try something a bit different, snails and frog legs are popular starters.

Main courses include rich dishes made with wine, such as boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin.

Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew, is popular, as is cassoulet, a slow-cooked sausage, beans, and meat stew.

If you want something lighter, omelettes are often on the menu, as is a croque monsieur, a hot ham and cheese sandwich made with lots of butter and cream.

Quiche Lorraine is another light dish as is a cheese souffle.

You will find lots of creperies throughout the country.

My husband and I found an excellent one in Calais where we often went for the day on the ferry from the UK.

When it comes to dessert, try macarons, tarte tatin, profiterole, and creme brulee.

Cheeses is sometimes served instead of a dessert and in this case, three to five different cheeses are presented.

You can be a vegetarian in France, but it is more difficult to be a vegan as many French people, especially the elderly, don’t understand the concept.

However, there are some vegan-friendly restaurants in the major towns, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, Marseilles, Lyon and Strasbourg.

www.happycow.net will help you find vegan-friendly restaurants throughout the country.

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France Itinerary 1 – The North Of France

Northern France is heaven for history lovers with plenty of museums, monuments, castles, archaeological sites, and many other attractions to explore.

My itinerary starts in the capital of the country which is an amazing city.

Days 1 – 2 – Explore Paris

Paris City Skyline With Eiffel Tower Cityscape
Paris 7 day France itinerary.

I suggest you don’t drive in Paris but take advantage of the Paris Visite public transport pass and the Paris Passlib’.

An alternative is to get a two-day pass on the hop-on-hop-off bus which stops at such places as the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee d’Orsay, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower.

You can get on and off as many times as you want and there is an audio guide.

There is even a cruise on the Seine included in the pass.

As to what to visit, you do have to go up the iconic Eiffel Tower.

It has three floors and on the first is a museum and the Madame Brasserie restaurant and lounge.

On the second floor, is the Pierre Herme Macaron Bar and you can dine in the legendary Jules Vernes, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

You get great views from any level, but, of course, they are the best from the summit where you will experience 360-degree views of Paris.

Raise a glass of champagne and admire Paris at its best.

The Louvre Museum is also a must and is where you can view many famous paintings from the Western World, including the sublime Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the Venus de Milo, an ancient Greek sculpture by Alexandros of Antioch.

Other artists showcased include Titian, Caravaggio, Delacroix, and Raphael.

The Louvre is at Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris.

The Musee d’Orsay is also worth visiting as it houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by such artists as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Gaugin, and Van Gogh.

The Musée d’Orsay is at 62 Rue de Lille, 75007, Paris.

One of the best examples of French Gothic architecture is the Notre Dame Cathedral which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built in the Middle Ages.

It has some amazing stained-glass windows and beautiful stone carvings.

If you like to shop ‘til you drop, head to the Champs-Elysees where you will find fantastic high-end shops, such as Louis Vitton, Hugo Boss, Hermes, Dior, and Gucci.

You can purchase tickets in advance to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Musee d’Orsay which will save you waiting in line.

When it comes to eating, the world is your oyster in Paris.

You can find anything from bistros and brasseries to fine dining.

Not only are there French restaurants, but there are international establishments, such as North African, American, Afghan, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese.

You can get vegetarian and vegan choices in many places in the city.

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Day 3 – Versailles

You shouldn’t leave Paris without visiting the Palace of Versailles, the home of the French monarchy from 1682 to 1789.

It isn’t far from the centre of Paris and takes just 26 minutes on the train.

Take the yellow line on the RER to the station of Versailles Château Rive-Gauche.

It is just a seven-minute walk from the station to the Palace.

Book a skip-the-line ticket in advance to save you from queuing to get in.

The ticket gives you complete access to both the Palace and the beautiful gardens.

The palace is a Baroque masterpiece with spectacular state apartments and the amazing Hall of Mirrors which has painted ceilings, paintings, and chandeliers.

Versailles deserves a whole day’s visit as there is so much to see.

Luckily there are restaurants within the grounds to suit different budgets so you can break your day with lunch and a sit-down.

Day 4 – Rouen

River Seine In France Between Rouen And Le Havre
Rouen south of France itinerary 7 days.

Leave Paris and travel to Rouen which is 136.1 km (84.56 miles) from the capital.

You can either hire a car or take the train from Paris St-Lazare Station, which has 29 trains a day and the average journey time is 1 hour and 31 minutes.

You disembark at Rouen Rive Droite which is close to Rouen Cathedral, the Old Market Square and the Ceramics Museum.

Enjoy lunch in Rouen.

There are both budget-friendly and fine-dining restaurants in the city.

As well as French eateries, you will find some international restaurants including Moroccan, Lebanese, and Indian.

In Rouen, you can get a three-course set meal with a drink for around 15 euros in several restaurants.

In the afternoon, acquaint yourself with Rouen by taking a guided walking tour.

You will see the impressive 12th-century Gothic cathedral which inspired Claude Monet to create a series of paintings dedicated to it.

The tour also takes you to the Church of St Joan of Arc which is dedicated to her.

She was burnt at the stake in Rouen by the English on the 30th of May 1431.

The symbol of Rouen is the Gros-Horloge (the Great Clock).

It was built during the Renaissance and has a beautiful facade with just a single hand indicating what hour it is.

Day 5 – Bayeux

Medieval Construction, Bayeux, France
Bayeux in Nice is a lovely spot to add to your France itinerary.

Leave Rouen after breakfast and head to Bayeux which is 156.2 km (97 miles) away.

Trains run 11 times a day and the fastest service is around 2 hours.

Bayeux is on the Aure River in the Normandy region of northwestern France, only 10 km (6.2 miles) from the coast.

Explore the Medieval Old Town with its lovely, cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and its Norman-Gothic Cathedral.

The highlight of Bayeux is the 11th-century tapestry of the 1066 Norman invasion of England which is on display in a museum.

It is spectacular and measures 66 metres (216.5 feet) long.

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum is at Centre Guillaume Le Conquérant, 13 bis rue de Nesmond, 14400, Bayeux

When it comes to eating out, Bayeux has both budget and fine-dining restaurants and anything in between.

Most restaurants are French, but you can also find sushi and pizza.

Le Florentin at 31 rue des Cuisiniers will make a vegan pizza without cheese.

Day 6 – Bayeux

Take a day trip to the Normandy D-Day landing beaches, including Omaha, Pointe du Hoc, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, and Utah.

Here you will learn about the Normandy invasion which began on June 6th, 1944, and hear about the heroes involved in this critical time in history.

Day 7- Sancerre, Loire Valley

Gardens And Chateau De Villandry In Loire Valley
Loire Valley, France itinerary 10 days.

It is better to hire a car for this part of the journey as you would have to change three times if you took the train.

The distance between the towns is 286.46 km (178 miles).

Break the journey in Le Mans, home of the famous 24-hour race where you can visit the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum and the beautiful Gothic cathedral of Saint-Julien de Mans.

Have lunch in Le Mans, where you will find anything from cheap eats to fine dining to choose from.

Arrive in Sancerre in the late afternoon.

It is a beautiful town perched on a hill offering fantastic views of the Loire Valley and its many vineyards.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum is at 9 Place Luigi Chinetti, 72100, Le Mans.

Day 8 – Sancerre

In the morning, visit La Maison des Sancerre to learn about the history of the town and the wine produced in the area.

La Maison des Sancerre is at 3 Rue du Méridien, 18300, Sancerre.

In the afternoon, visit one of the many wineries, most of which specialise in Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Family-owned Domaine Gitton is an excellent winery to have a tasting.

It has 33 hectares (81.5 acres) of vineyards, mainly with Sauvignon Blanc grapes, but also some Pinot Noir.

Another winery to try is The Chateau de Sancerre, on the left bank of the Loire River.

The vineyard covers 55 hectares (135.9 acres).

Here you have a tasting of three wines accompanied by different food, Sancerre Blanc, served with crottin de Chavignol, the famous Sancerre goats’ cheese, Sancerre Rose, served with local biscuits, and Sancerre Rouge, served with jambon Sancerrois, Sancerre ham.

Domaine Gitton is at Chemin de Lavau, 18300, Menetreil-sous-Sancerre.
The Château de Sancerre is at 6 Rue PRTE César, 18300, Sancerre.

There are restaurants to suit all budgets in Sancerre, most of which serve French cuisine.

Day 9 – Orleans – Paris

Wicker Chairs In The Main Square Of Orleans
Orleans is a popular place to add to a 1 week France itinerary.

After breakfast, drive to Orleans, made famous because of St Joan of Arc.

It is 106 km (66 miles) from Sancerre and you can take a self-guided tour on your smartphone.

It covers three kilometres (1.86 miles) and stops at places such as the impressive Sainte-Croix Cathedral, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the House of the Virgin where you will learn about Joan of Arc.

Have lunch in Orleans, where you will find a variety of restaurants from budget to fine dining.

They are mainly French, but there is an Indian restaurant as well which will suit vegetarians and vegans.

After lunch and after you have explored all you want in Orleans, drive to Paris.

It is 135 km (84 miles) away and there is a direct train which takes around one and a half hours.

Spend the night in Paris.

Day 10 – Paris – Home

Fly home from Paris.

Itinerary 2 – The South Of France

If you are looking for sun, sea, and sand, the south of France will suit you down to the ground.

Mix with the rich and famous in Cannes and St Tropez and admire their yachts and fast cars but there is more to the south of France than beaches and you will find museums, castles, and cathedrals to explore.

Day 1 – Marseille

Cities Of France Marseille
Marseille, France and Italy itinerary 10 days.

Get a ticket on the hop-on-hop-of bus and spend the day exploring Marseille.

You can get on and off at any of the stops which include the Old Port, the 19th-century Basilica of Notre-Dame with its golden statue of the Virgin Mary and child, La Major Cathedral, and the Museum which tells you about ancient Mediterranean civilisations.

The Old Port is a lovely place to have lunch, especially if you enjoy fish.

It is generally freshly caught on the day it is served.

It is also a great place to sit and have a drink while people and boat watching.

Another lovely place to have a meal is in Vallon des Auffes, a traditional fishing port, 2.5 km (1.55 miles) southwest of the Old Port.

There are various restaurants here, ranging from a family-style pizzeria to a Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Epuisette.

The area is picturesque, with traditional colourful fisherman’s houses and a 19th-century bridge.

Of course, if you are a sun worshipper, you can spend the day on one of Marseille’s beaches or you can combine the two, perhaps spending the morning sightseeing and the afternoon on the beach.

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Day 2 – Marseille – Avignon

Spend the morning on the beach and then drive a little inland to Avignon which is 103 km (64 miles) away.

There is also a direct train which takes 27 minutes.

In the afternoon, take a guided tour to the vineyards of the famous wine, Châteauneuf du Pape, in the south Rhone Valley.

The name translates to ‘The Pope’s New Castle’ and it was here that Pope John XXII built a summer castle.

The tour takes you to the ruins of the castle and then you get to taste two of the wines produced.

The vineyards here cover a massive 3,200 hectares (7,900 acres) and they produce mainly red wines from the grape varieties, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.

When it comes to eating, there are mainly French restaurants to be found, but there are also a few Italian establishments and a Lebanese restaurant, where vegetarians and vegans may fare better.

Day 3 – Avignon – St. Tropez

Take a morning’s walking tour of Avignon.

You will be able to go into the Pope’s Palace, which is the largest Gothic Palace in Europe, climb the mediaeval city walls for great views, and see the Town Hall with its clock tower, ending with a glass of Cotes du Rhone wine.

After lunch, drive to St. Tropez which is 206 km (128 miles) away.

Unfortunately, you have to change twice if you go by train so driving is the better option.

If you are keener on sunbathing than sightseeing, you can skip the morning tour of Avignon and head to St. Tropez in the morning and spend the afternoon on the beach.

St Tropez attracts the rich and famous so you will find many expensive restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs.

However, there are cheaper eating options such as pizza and Indian cuisine.

Day 4 – St Tropez

Saint Tropez Village Church Tower
Saint Tropez south of France itinerary 5 days.

The day is yours to do what you like and the town is beautiful.

Be sure to visit the 17th-century citadel which has a Museum of Maritime History in the dungeons.

There are great views from the roof terrace.

The Citadel is at 1 Mnt de la Citadelle, 83900, St Tropez.

The Musee de l’Annonciade has an impressive art collection, including paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Matisse.

It is in a chapel which was built by monks in 1510.

The Musée de l’Annonciade is at 2 Place George Grammont, 83990, St, Tropez.

If you prefer to go to the beach, Pampelonne Beach is the most famous beach in the area and is where you’ll find celebrities and super yachts.

There is a bus service which runs from the centre of town to the beach or you may prefer a sightseeing tour.

There are many restaurants close to the beach, some of which rent out sunbeds.

In the evening, head to the Port of St Tropez where fishermen, locals, and tourists alike mingle.

Enjoy a drink at one of the cafes while admiring the yachts or join an evening catamaran cruise.

Day 5 – St Tropez – Fréjus

After breakfast, drive to Fréjus which is 37.33 km (23.2 miles) away, right in the heart of the French Riviera.

It is a historical town and it is worth spending the morning exploring by foot or rent a bike.

Visit the Roman amphitheatre which was built in the 1st century and once held 10,000 spectators.

The archaeological museum houses a spectacular collection of Gallo-Roman pieces, such as a marble head of Jupiter, as well as ceramics from as far back as the 1st century.

The Romanesque 5th-century Saint-Leon Cathedral has a spectacular facade adorned with stone cravings and a magnificent marble altar inside.

The Archaeological Museum is at 3 Place du Docteur Calvini, 83600, Fréjus.

Have lunch in the Old Town which is a lovely place with cobbled streets, Roman remains and mediaeval houses.

If you want to take in the rays, try Esclamandes Beach which isn’t crowded but has beautifully clear waters and is in a wild and natural setting.

If you are in Fréjus between June and August and enjoy fair rides, head to Luna Park in the evening.

There are hundreds of rides for kids and adults of all ages.

Day 6 – Fréjus – Cannes

Drive or take a direct train from Fréjus to Cannes only 37.98 km (23.6 miles) away.

After lunch, take a two-hour sightseeing tour of the town on a classic French bus.

You pass by Palm Beach, the Palais du Festival, boutiques, and more, with a stop at a local food market.

There are beaches in Cannes as well if this is your preference.

When it comes to eating out, there is a mixture of reasonably priced bistros and fine dining establishments.

Day 7 – Cannes

City Of Cannes, France
Cannes, southern France itinerary.

Of course, you can spend the day on the beach but I think that it would be a pity not to go to the principality of Monaco which always makes me think of the romance of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.

You can take a guided tour which goes to Eze first, a mediaeval village with craft shops and amazing views, then to Monaco to visit the Old Town, and finally to Monte Carlo where you will tour the Grand Prix circuit.

It is a must for Formula 1 fans.

Day 8 – Cannes – Nice

Travel to Nice, stopping in Antibes along the way, just 12.55 km (7.8 miles) away.

There is plenty to see here, particularly in the Old Town with its narrow cobbled streets.

Visit the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la Platea d’Antibes.

Inside you will see a stunning statue of the Virgin Mary sculpted in 1515 and a crucifix created in 1447.

In the Place du Safranier, you will find the Musee d’Archeologie which houses artefacts covering 4,000 years of history in the town.

The Musee Archeologie is at Bastion Saint Andre 1, avenue General Maiziere, 06600, Antibes

If you like the art of Picasso, take a guided tour of the Picasso Museum in the Chateau Grimaldi.

You will be taken around by a knowledgeable guide and will then go outside to create your own work in Picasso’s style.

Spend the afternoon on the beach and then drive to Nice which is 26.87 km (16.7 miles) away.

Have dinner in Le Vieux Port where there are many restaurants and lovely views.

You can enjoy traditional cuisine such as moules frites (mussels and chips) or modern fusion food.

You can find French, Indian, and Italian restaurants here so vegetarians and vegans should do as well as meat eaters.

Local dishes include salad nicoise, ratatouille, onion tart, and daube nicoise, a braised beef stew.

Day 9 – Nice

Woman Turns Around And Smiling At Camera In Nice City, France
Nice, France trip itinerary.

In the morning, take a guided tour of the Old Town and Castle Hill.

You will see the Opera House, Palais de la Prefecture, and Nice Cathedral, as well as visit a local flower market.

Then climb Castle Hill for fantastic views of both the town and the sea.

After lunch in the Old Town, head to the beach or explore more of Nice.

There are plenty of museums to visit such as the Musee Marc Chagall which houses his series of 17 paintings with biblical themes.

The museum itself is a work of art as Chagall designed the stained-glass windows and the garden.

The Musee Marc Chagall is at 36 Avenue du Doctor Menard, 06000, Nice

If you want to find out more about the history of Nice, head to the 19th-century Musee Massena which houses many artefacts including Napoleon’s death mask and Empress Josephine’s tiara.

It also showcases a fantastic collection of 19th-century art.

The Musee Massena is at 65 Rue de France, 06000, Nice

Day 10 – Nice – Home

You can drive back to Marseille to catch your flight home or get a train.

It is direct and takes around two and a half hours.

Alternatively, catch a plane from Nice as has an international airport serviced by Air France and easyJet.

Looking for more itineraries? Try these:

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Irena Nieslony
Irena Nieslony was born in Windsor, England but now lives on the island of Crete, Greece, in a small village called Modi near the city of Chania. She has visited 32 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Her favourite country is Tanzania as she loves wildlife and was lucky enough to see ‘The Big Five”. She also loves Egypt, as ancient history intrigues her, the southern states of the US and the cities of Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans for music. She has a B.A. Honours degree in English and Drama from Westfield College, University of London. She has been writing for over 13 years and has 13 novels, 7 short stories and thousands of articles published.