Take twelve days to explore the eastern side of France on this comprehensive road trip itinerary. You'll start in Paris to hit see the Louvre, then continue to Dijon for history and the best mustard in the world. Head to Annecy for a sunset sail with wine, then end your trip in the French Riviera for seaside relaxation.

Highlights

  • Go wine tasting in the Beaujolais Region
  • See the French countryside from a hot air balloon
  • Explore Dijon's art and history
  • Hike around the blue waters of Lake Annecy
  • Visit a 12th-century monastic community and taste traditional wine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour Paris
Day 2 Drive from Paris to Dijon via Ancy le Franc & Fontenay Dijon
Day 3 Walking Tour of Dijon & Mustard Mill Dijon
Day 4 Behind-the-Scenes Visit to Lison Springs Dijon
Day 5 Dijon to Beaune via le Château du Clos de Vougeot Beaune
Day 6 Hot Air Balloon Over Meursault Annecy
Day 7 Walking Tour of Annecy & Afternoon Hike Around the Lake Annecy
Day 8 Château Menthon Saint-Bernad & Sunset Boat Tour Annecy
Day 9 Annecy to Lyon & City Tour Lyon
Day 10 Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting Lyon
Day 11 Lyon to Cannes & Lérins Islands Visit Cannes
Day 12 Au Revoir, France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! This elegant capital boasts centuries of history, art, fashion and, of course, romance. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel by private car. Take some time to settle in and relax before heading out to explore the streets near your accommodation before dinner.

Paris is alive and thriving with activity, day and night. It's the perfect city to indulge in a little shopping, with department stores like Lafayette and Printemps housing some of the best local designers around, and small boutique shops offering unique high-quality wares. 

Colorful boulevards and historic monuments invite visitors to stroll through the downtown, while narrow alleys and cozy cafes create a romantic atmosphere. For art lovers, spending time at Paris' smaller museums is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the city has one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Alternatively, lazing around in the parks or at a sidewalk cafe on a sunny day is simply blissful. 

After settling into your hotel, head out for your first look at the city. Spend some time walking around downtown and enjoying the sights. In the evening, meet with your private guide for a 3.5-hour exploration of the Trocadero Esplanade and Eiffel Tower. Start at the Trocadero to see its statues, monuments, and city views. Continue to the Iron Lady herself with skip-the-line tickets, giving you the most time to visit both floors and take in the incredible views from the top.

Day 2: Drive from Paris to Dijon via Ancy le Franc & Fontenay

Château d'Ancy-le-Franc
Château d'Ancy-le-Franc

In the morning, hit the road for your drive to Dijon, the capital of Burgundy. This is a particularly scenic drive, with plenty of small villages and peaceful countryside outside the window. Take your time this morning, stopping to admire the unique architecture and atmosphere of the small villages along your route. 

Stop at Ancy le Franc to visit its beautiful palace, formerly the lands of the Dukes of Burgundy. You'll travel back in time while exploring the royal chambers and the large collections of Renaissance murals and paintings. Stroll through the magnificent gardens of this palace and visit its lovely little chapel.

Afterward, head to nearby Fontenay Abbey, a historical monument whose history dates back to the 12th century. Spend some time exploring the building and nearby gardens, as well as the buildings that supported the abbey, including the church, dormitory, cloister, and forge. 

Afterward, continue your trip to Dijon where you'll spend the night.

Day 3: Walking Tour of Dijon & Mustard Mill

Notre Dame church in Dijon
Notre Dame church in Dijon

Spend the day exploring the capital of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, discovering the city, and tasting regional culinary products. 

Dijon's city center is completely pedestrian, so start your day with a wander through the old city streets as you take in the timbered houses, and Roman and Gothic churches. You can also spot 17th- and 18th-century mansions, former homes of les Ducs de Bourgogne (the dukes of Burgundy).

Follow the path of the owl from Darcy square until the buttress of the Notre-Dame church. Legend has it that if you touch the owl sign with your left hand, your wishes will come true. Other notable city sites include the Tower of Philippe le Bon (climb to the top for panoramic city views), as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, located in the eastern wing of the Le Ducs Palace

In the afternoon, visit a local mustard mill to discover why Dijon is famed globally for its mustard. You'll stop by to see Burgundy's last independent family mustard mill, which has been in continuous operation since 1840. Here, you'll learn about how the expertise and skill necessary to produce the spicy mustard has been passed between generations. Follow it up with a tasting, and shop around for gifts to bring back home.

Day 4: Behind-the-Scenes Visit to Lison Springs

Sources du Lison
Sources du Lison

This morning, head to the beautiful town of Salins-Les-Bains.

This city earned its name thanks to the saline waters that shaped its history, climate, and landscape. You will be able to explore its historical saltworks, taste delicious specialties of Jura and enjoy the salty climate that has been renowned for its health benefits for millennia.  If you are feeling adventurous, go for a  hike on Mount Poupet, a mountain overlooking Salins-Les-Bains that is perfect for exploring wild nature.

A great way to see the city is with a guided city tour, with a behind-the-scenes tour of the thermal spa. At the end of your visit, you will be able to relax in naturally warm thermal water and spend some quality time with your loved ones.

In the afternoon,  head to Les Sources du Lison (Lison Springs), where the Lison river begins. This place is a colorful safe haven for plants & animals. You might even encounter a great horned owl, among other surprisingly wild animals.

In the evening, return to Dijon.

Plan your trip to France
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 5: Dijon to Beaune via le Château du Clos de Vougeot

Château du Clos de Vougeot
Château du Clos de Vougeot

Today you'll continue your road trip. Your next destination is Beaune, one of the most iconic wine cities in France.

On your way there, stop at the beautiful Château du Clos de Vougeot, a vineyard hidden in the heart of Burgundy. Originally a farm established by local monks in the 12th century, the chateau's castle itself was built only four centuries later. Its unique atmosphere of medieval architecture and renowned vineyard attracts history and wine-lovers from all over the world.

Explore the traditional architecture of this castle, savor the locally produced wines, and snack on delicious appetizers prepared by the chef de cuisine.

Afterward, continue to Beaune where you'll overnight.

Day 6: Hot Air Balloon Over Meursault

Hot air balloon ride
Hot air balloon ride

This morning, you will have a very early start as you will be hot air ballooning over Meursault Village at sunrise and enjoy watching the French landscape spread out below you. This area is widely famous for its white wine produced in vineyards and Châteaux that have been preserved successfully since medieval times. You might even see the local gothic church of the village that seems to touch the clouds.

Please note that each flight is different, your experience will be unique & the itinerary might change from a ride to another.

At the end of your tour, head to Annecy where you'll overnight.

Day 7: Walking Tour of Annecy & Afternoon Hike Around the Lake

Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc

This morning, your guide will pick you up for a walking tour of the city. 

Together, you will explore the historical center of Annecy: you will see the Palais de l'Isle, the famous Canal de Thiou, and savor the local cheese at one of the best cheese shops in France. 

After your lunch break, with the help of your local guide, choose from one of many hiking options to fill your afternoon. For an easier option, try out the trail to the Angon waterfall or through the Roc de Chere nature reserve.

If you're up for a bit more of a challenge, trek up to the Tournette and Parmelan mountain hut on a 5-hour, 5-mile (8 km) trail.  From the Tournette, you can see all the summits above Lake Annecy along with the Aravis Range and Mont Blanc. There are many ibexes on this trek that you can easily approach and photograph. Be careful however as you reach the summit: these same ibexes can trigger rockfalls.

Day 8: Château Menthon Saint-Bernad & Sunset Boat Tour

Boat tour with apéritif
Boat tour with apéritif

Today,  head to Château de Menthon, a magnificent medieval castle located in heart of the French Savoie Region.

The history of the castle goes back to the 12th century when it was just a courtyard used by local villagers for protection. Later, during the Renaissance era, the fortress was transformed into a residence with luxurious furniture, paintings & beautiful passages.

Nowadays, the castle still belongs to the same family of Menthons and has its own chapel, a unique library with rare book editions and ancient manuscripts illustrated by monks of the Middle Ages. Explore the hidden chambers of the château, ancient kitchen, and grand hall, and enjoy the unforgettable lake views.

At the end of the afternoon enjoy a boat tour on Lake Annecy, one of the largest lakes in Europe. During the cruise, you will be able to see magnificent sceneries of the mountains, forests, and cliffs, explore the wonders of the lake, and enjoy an apéritif as you watch the sunset 

Day 9: Annecy to Lyon & City Tour

Presque Ile in Lyon
Presque Ile in Lyon

In the morning, make your way to Lyon, a 1.5-hour drive. 

Lyon is France's third most populous city—behind Paris and Marseille—and is more compact, allowing visitors to explore easily by foot. An excellent place to start is the city's UNESCO-listed Old Town and the Presque Ile—a piece of land surrounded by the Saône and Rhône Rivers. Here you can wander the narrow cobblestoned streets in search of the famous traboules (hidden passageways). Get a view of it all with a walk up to the Fourviere Basilica for a panorama of the whole city. 

Silk weaving is an important part of this city's history, explore ateliers (workshops) where this tradition is still alive.

In the afternoon, take a private walking tour to explore the city center. Start at the gothic Saint-Jean cathedral to discover a cobblestone labyrinth of courtyards, passageways, gothic staircases, and Italian galleries. 

For dinner, choose from hundreds of restaurants, from family-owned restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, informal brasseries, to Michelin-starred restaurants like the iconic Auberge de Collonges, founded by the famous chef Paul Bocuse.

Day 10: Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting

Crushing grapes for wine
Crushing grapes for wine

In the morning, enjoy your tour of Beaujolais, a historic province and wine-growing region just north of Lyon. 

Often compared to Tuscany, this beautiful countryside dotted with hilltop villages offers a gentle pace of life. Your cultural and gourmet itinerary leads you around the southern part of Beaujolais, which is famous for its Beaujolais Nouveau and golden stone, which lends a unique charm to the surrounding villages. 

Along the route, your knowledgable driver guide will pass on his or her passion for the region to you during this rural excursion. You'll also get an introduction to wine and meet with a winemaker who will invite you to enjoy a tasting experience.

The rest of your day is free to explore Lyon at your own pace.

Day 11: Lyon to Cannes & Lérins Islands Visit

Sunset on the Lérins Islands
Sunset on the Lérins Islands

This morning, head to glamorous Cannes.

After you check in at your hotel,  take a ferry to Saint-Honorat Island for a visit and wine tasting. This island's rich history goes back to the 11th century when it was built as a fortress. However, a monastic community has been living on the Island since the 5th century.

The monastery is fortified and surrounded by turquoise waters that make this place a little oasis hidden from people’s eyes. The monks have been producing their own wine and liqueur for centuries, and what’s more, the ancient production process remained untouched to this day.

Visit local chapels, get to know the life of monks, and enjoy a magnificent view from the cliffs as you taste hand-made French wine right from Middle Ages.

The rest of your day is free to explore the area.

Day 12: Au Revoir, France

After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!

More France Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to France? Check out these other 12-day France itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.

Looking for a different duration? Check out this 11-day version or this 13-day version of this itinerary. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen. 

Map

Map of Eastern France Roadtrip: Paris, Dijon, Beaune, Annecy, & More - 12 Days
Map of Eastern France Roadtrip: Paris, Dijon, Beaune, Annecy, & More - 12 Days