French roads are great, which means driving in France on the back roads is a pleasure. In the title of this article I posed the question “but what makes it special?” and to be honest I don’t know where to start. I have written a book about our road trip which takes you on our journey with us so maybe a little of that to tempt you would be nice.
France is a rich tapestry of countryside; the back roads are the threads that run through the canvas seamlessly joining stunning mountains with the sea and acres of sunflowers with dense forests. It really is a feast for the senses.
Driving on the back roads of France allows you to take all of this in where rushing down the autoroute is a means to an end – it’s a different kettle of fish and in my opinion, you’re missing a treat if you take the fast road – take it slow and make the most it – much like the long French lunch in fact.
If you’re not convinced, let me tease you with a little glimpse into our trip.
Driving from the port at St Malo down to Onzain was one occasion where I was enthrawled by the landscapes around me; this drive, assuming you follow our route takes you through rural plains, into tall tree lined long straight roads and into fields of sunflowers. Yes, it really is like that.
As you move further south through the land of Chateaux it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road with such a visual feast before you. I remember driving along the riverside approaching Amboise, my head telling me to keep driving but my heart screaming stop! I’d only been on the road that morning for 20 minutes and had a 500 km drive ahead of me down to the Aquitaine so the head won, but it’s one of many examples I recall of feeling the urge to swing the steering wheel in the other direction and make the most of what surrounds.
This is what makes France so special; the unexpected beauty yet simplicity, the clarity of light and the architecture which conjures stories of past grandeur, history and culture in the making. Getting off the main roads and meandering aimlessly is the only way to go as far as I’m concerned, call it getting away from modern technology or call me crazy, I don’t mind – I know that the feeling of not knowing what is around the next corner and gasping at the sight of such great beauty is unbeatable.
During our road trip we covered almost 3,000 miles and took in diverse landscapes. This website together with our book will take you on that journey with us. Over the coming years, please enjoy the photos and imagine the smell of fresh air and fresh bread as you come along for the ride.
Let us take you with us along those glorious back roads of France.