Eat and drink your way from Paris to the Mediterranean coast on this three-week, self-drive adventure. Start in Paris with wine, cheese, and chocolate tasting, move on to Annecy for lakeside cycling and fondue, then continue to the Alps to summit glacial peaks and soak in hot tubs. After touring the gastronomic capital of Lyon, Provence's "easy life" beckons before winding down with sailing and beach time along the stunning coastlines of Marseille, Le Lavandou, and Nice.


  • Go wine tasting in Paris, Beaujolais, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • Witness mountains, white-water, and glaciers in the Haute-Savoie
  • Eat your way through Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France
  • Cycle and cruise through the most beautiful parts of southern France

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Cheese & Wine Tasting, Seine River Cruise Paris
Day 2 Montmartre & Sacré Coeur, Pastry & Chocolate Tour Paris
Day 3 Hidden Paris Bicycle Tour, Free Afternoon in the Marais Paris
Day 4 Train to Annecy Annecy
Day 5 Cycle Lac d'Annecy, Cheese Fondue at La Ferme de la Charbonniere Annecy
Day 6 Drive to Chamonix, Montenvers Train to Mer de Glace Chamonix
Day 7 Aiguille de Midi Alpine Cable Car, Rafting in Chamonix Valley Chamonix
Day 8 Relax at QC Thermes Chamonix Mont Blanc Chamonix
Day 9 Drive to Lyon Lyon
Day 10 Cultural & Culinary Walking Tour, Hot Air Balloon over Beaujolais Lyon
Day 11 Lyon Food Tour, Drive to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Saint-Rémy
Day 12 Explore the Alpilles by E-Bike, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tour Saint-Rémy
Day 13 Luberon Markets & Villages Saint-Rémy
Day 14 Drive to Marseille, Cruise in the Calanques Marseille
Day 15 Drive to Le Lavandou Le Lavandou
Day 16 Day Cruise to Port-Cros & Île de Porquerolles Le Lavandou
Day 17 Drive to Nice via Saint-Tropez Nice
Day 18 Day Trip to Monaco & Eze Nice
Day 19 Market Tour & Cooking Class, Cannes, Antibes & Saint-Paul-de-Vence Nice
Day 20 Boat Ride to Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cap Dramont & Île d'Or Nice
Day 21 Depart Nice  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Cheese & Wine Tasting, Seine River Cruise 

Wine & cheese tasting
Admire the Eiffel Tower

Welcome to Paris! Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. Once settled in, get ready for cheese and wine tasting in central Paris with your passionate expert guides. Taste aged and well-ripened artisanal cheeses in a 17th-century cellar, a chalet near Place de la République, and the famous Canal Saint-Martin. During this workshop, you'll learn the art of matching gruyere or camembert with wine and discover the wonders of great pairings. Enjoy a great diversity of combinations that will wow your guests at your next dinner party.

The Seine River is the lifeblood of Paris, and this evening you'll get to explore it by boat on a one-hour cruise starting from the Eiffel Tower. Your boat will have all glass windows with an open-air observation deck, ensuring that your river excursion will offer the best possible views of the "City of Lights." See the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Day 2: Montmartre & Sacré Coeur, Pastry & Chocolate Tour

Quiet street in Montmartre
 A quiet street in Montmartre

As one of the authentic must-see neighborhoods of Paris, Montmartre offers a romantic glimpse into an era when raucous cabarets, bohemian soirees, and unbridled creativity were the norm. On this self-guided exploration, start in front of the Moulin Rouge and continue to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Explore this village within a city and discover great food locales, tiny trendy boutiques, and a bird's-eye view of Paris that you've got to see to believe. If you want, stop at Picasso's studio and admire Montmartre's old-world village charm that inspired the Impressionists.

Combine your love of sweets with your passion for Paris as you stroll the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with an afternoon walking tour. Alongside your guide, delight in this tasty mix of desserts, history, and culture as you discover the neighborhood's pastry shops, bakeries, and chocolate boutiques. Learn how many French specialties are produced and how to choose the best chocolates and pastries. With multiple tastings of iconic French products such as chocolates, macarons, pastries, and bread, this tour will show you the best desserts Paris has to offer.

Day 3: Hidden Paris Bicycle Tour, Free Afternoon in the Marais

Place Fernand Laffargue
A quiet street in the Marais

Discover Paris' charming back streets, local neighborhoods, and untold stories on today's one-of-a-kind bike tour. Seek out secret gardens, Roman ruins, hidden passageways, and many more surprises as you traverse the city on two wheels. With your guide, start in the Marais district and follow a carefully planned route through quaint little streets and bike lanes. Along the way, see famous Paris graffiti, Paris' ancient city walls, the Place des Vosges, Jim Morrison's house, the Bastille, the Instagram-famous Jardin des Plantes, and the Grande Mosquée de Paris.

After your bike tour, you're free to explore the Marais at your own pace. Begin at the Hotel de Ville and the esplanade, the site of public executions back in the day. Visit the elegant Place des Vosges, the second oldest square in Paris and home to many historical characters, such as writer Victor Hugo, Colette, and dancer Isadora Duncan. No less than 36 private mansions were initially built around this royal square. Stroll through the historic Jewish quarter on the medieval Rue des Rosiers and enjoy this bustling and fashionable Marais artery.

Day 4: Train to Annecy

Annecy's canals

Today you'll take a five-hour train ride southeast to Annecy. Nestled on the northwestern shore of its eponymous lake, Annecy is the jewel of the Haute-Savoie. From its crowning Château d'Annecy down to its gurgling canals, the Vieille Ville (Old Town) is infused with antique charm. Made significant by the medieval Counts of Geneva and augmented by the Dukes of Savoy, the city still has numerous 16th and 17th-century buildings, now in shades of peach and rose, which house restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques. Canals trickle through town, earning its reputation as an "Alpine Venice."

Once settled at your hotel, your first stop should be a stroll along Lac d'Annecy, with swans and rowing boats. It's said to have the cleanest waters in Europe. From there, stroll through this quaint town with its cobblestone streets as you'll pass plenty of shops selling regional products. Perhaps scope out where you'll have dinner, as you'll find that there is no shortage of restaurants serving traditional Alpine dishes.

Day 5: Cycle Lac d'Annecy, Cheese Fondue at La Ferme de la Charbonniere

Bike around Lake Annecy

Set out on a scenic bike ride following the shores of Annecy's turquoise-blue lake. Enjoy fantastic views stretching from one side to the other as you pass quaint villages and beautiful castles. With snow-capped peaks in the background, there are many exciting places to stop and admire the view or even have a coffee halfway through. In the summer, bring your bathing suit for a dip in the lake at the end of your ride and relax in the sun with warm croissants and coffee.

No trip to the Haute-Savoie would be complete without a traditional cheese fondue. Reward yourself after this morning's hard work with a visit to La Ferme de la Charbonniere, a working dairy farm nestled in the mountains overlooking the lake. Its rustic restaurant offers authentic mountain specialties, and you'll enjoy the best local cheeses while taking in marvelous views of the stables, mountain ranges, and lake.

Day 6: Drive to Chamonix, Montenvers Train to Mer de Glace

Chamonix Mont Blanc
Chamonix at the base of Mont Blanc

Pick up your rental car this morning and head to higher altitudes as you make your way to Chamonix, where the mountains loom large almost everywhere you look. Chamonix has a long history as a winter sports hub, and its downtown hums with life, boasting streets lined with Michelin-starred restaurants, sports gear shops, and some of the French Alps' fanciest hotels.

After settling in, hop on the famous cogwheel train for a scenic trip to Montenvers station on the northern slopes of Mont Blanc. At an altitude of 6,233 feet (1,913 m), you'll enjoy a magnificent panorama of the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France, along with the Grandes Jorasses mountains in the background. Depending on weather conditions, you can visit the Ice Cave, which is a 20-minute walk, and the Glaciorium, a museum dedicated to glaciology.

Day 7: Aiguille de Midi Alpine Cable Car, Rafting in Chamonix Valley

Aiguille de Midi Cable Alpine Car
See the Aiguille de Midi by cable car

Aiguille du Midi is one of the highest mountain peaks near Chamonix and is an unmissable destination. In just 20 minutes, a ride on the Aiguille du Midi cable car will take you from the center of town to the high mountains, reaching an altitude of 12,604 feet (3,842 m). On arrival, you'll access the viewing platforms offering a breathtaking view across the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. A lift will then take you to the highest deck, where you can take in an uninterrupted panorama of Mont Blanc. Thrill seekers will love the glass viewing box as you look down over 3,200 feet (1,000 m) below. 

After spending the morning among the peaks, it's time to head to the valley floor and explore by rafting along the glacier waters of the Arve, a legendary playground of the Mont Blanc region. Get your adrenaline going as you weave down white-water rapids covering a length of over 4 miles (6 km). With your guide, you'll navigate through the turbulent mountain river waters along a fun route for the entire family at the foot of Mont Blanc.

Day 8: Relax at QC Thermes Chamonix Mont Blanc

Relaxing time at QC Thermes Chamonix Mont-Blanc
Pamper yourself with a day of Alpine wellness

After several days of cycling and exploring mountains and rivers, soothe those aching muscles at the Alpine wellness center of QC Terme Chamonix. This spa echoes the philosophy of ancient Imperial Rome, which placed water at the center of satisfying body and spirit. As in the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Diocletian, and Trajan, the aqueduct water is heated to 93°F to 96°F (34°C to 36°C), making the experience unforgettable. Enjoy using the hot baths, massage treatments, sauna, and steam rooms as you gear up for a change of scenery tomorrow.

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Day 9: Drive to Lyon

Saint Georges church and footbridge across Saone river
Notre-Dame Fourviere Basilica and footbridge across the Saone river

Today you'll drive west to Lyon, France's third most populous city. A bustling university town renowned for its gastronomy, its compact center is easily explored on foot. An excellent place to start is the UNESCO-listed Old Town and the Presqu'île, 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 by walking up to the Fourviere Basilica for a panorama of the whole city.

Day 10: Cultural & Culinary Walking Tour, Hot Air Balloon Over Beaujolais

Café-lined alleyways of Lyon
Admire the vineyards from high above

Start your day with a walking tour of Old Lyon. You'll learn about its history and heritage as your guide takes you through the famous medieval-covered passageways. You can't visit the city without talking about food, so the tour will be punctuated with several tastings of local specialties. It's the perfect occasion to learn about Lyonnaise gastronomy and discover its traditional recipes and gourmet secrets. Visit Les Halles de Lyon to browse high-quality ingredients and locally-made products, then sit down at one of the many bouchons (traditional restaurants) for an authentic lunch.

Thirty minutes north of Lyon lies the rolling countryside of the Beaujolais province, whose famed vineyards are part of what makes this the "gastronomic capital of France." This afternoon you'll take to the skies in a hot air balloon to float over the scenic landscape of historic wineries and get a bird's-eye-view of picturesque hilltop villages, misty valleys, and the Alps in the distance.

Day 11: Lyon Food Tour, Drive to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Rosette de Lyon (cured sausage) sold at Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
The quiet streets of Saint-Remy

Today, delve into Lyon's gastronomy one more time with a food tour through the covered market and city center. Hear the stories of regional dishes, local restaurants, and famed Lyonnais chefs while you eat. After a copious lunch, drive three hours south to Provence. Between Avignon and Arles, within the majestic setting of the Alpilles, lies your base for the next three nights in Saint-Rémy-en-Provence. Once you've checked in at your hotel, explore winding streets, shaded boulevards, and squares adorned with old fountains, cafés, and restaurants—all invitations to slow down and enjoy the Provençal way of life.

If you're up for it, visit the archaeological site of Glanum and its ancient monuments, such as the Triumphal Arch and the Jules Mausoleum, both exceptional legacies of Late Antiquity. The town, which witnessed the birth of Nostradamus, was and still is a source of inspiration for many artists. Seduced by the setting and atmosphere, many have chosen to live here, and numerous studios and art galleries thrive in the town center.

Day 12: Explore the Alpilles by E-Bike, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tour

Stroll in the Alpilles and visit of the Carrières de Lumières by electric bike
Traverse the steep roads of the Alpilles by e-bike

Explore the steep, narrow roads of the Alpilles with ease today by electric bike. Choose one of many scenic routes to wind through amazing landscapes of ancient olive trees and precariously-perched villages to reach the immersive exhibition of Le Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Lights), which hosts an extraordinary multimedia show. On the ruins of an old stone quarry, images of masterpieces are projected onto open-air walls, the ground, and the pillars of the quarry, allowing you to enjoy the works of the greatest names in art history.

For a slower-paced excursion, spend your afternoon wine tasting at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Starting in Avignon, your local guide will lead you on a scenic drive through Rhône Valley vineyards to learn about grape varieties and terroir before sampling some of the finest wines from the region at two different estates. You'll also explore the small village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and climb to the ruins of Castel Gandolfo, once the summer residence of the Popes of Avignon and now a prime spot for panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.

Day 13: Luberon Markets & Villages

The hilltop village of Gordes - image by Romrodinka
The hilltop village of Gordes 

Embark on a full-day guided tour east of Saint-Rémy to the beautiful Luberon region, a massif in central Provence comprised of three mountain ranges dotted with medieval hill towns. Spend some time in the stone-built town of Gordes, in the heart of the Vaucluse mountains, and wander through its bustling Provençal market and along the charming rocky cliffs. This village dominates the landscape, so admire the breathtaking views.

Next, discover the village of Roussillon and its colorful houses. Get a taste of authentic Provençal life by strolling through one of Luberon's most beautiful markets, Lourmarin, also famous for its Renaissance castle. Then it's off to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, where you'll walk along the various canals and discover some of the over 300 antique shops. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might find the perfect treasure to take home with you. Drive to Fontaine de Vaucluse, walk up to the cave where the River Sorgue emerges, and soak in the beautiful panoramic views before returning to Saint-Remy for the evening.

Day 14: Drive to Marseille, Cruise in the Calanques 

Hidden coves
Calanques' hidden coves

Get ready for a change of scenery as you leave the calm of the mountains and head south toward the vibrant city of Marseille. Once you're squared away at your hotel, spend the morning exploring this historic Mediterranean hub. Start with the colorful district of Le Panier. This is the "old Marseille" where the city was founded. It's a working-class enclave near the central port and is the picture of Mediterranean beauty, with old plazas, ancient churches, and brightly colored facades on tenement buildings. You'll also find street art on the walls as colorful frescoes.

In the afternoon, head to the Vieux Port (Old Port) to take a catamaran cruise of the Calanques. Sail along the Calanques National Park coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with white cliffs that jut out of the turquoise waters. You'll pass La Madrague, Les Goudes, and Callelongue before reaching the fishing village of Cassis. Admire the rocky coastline that stretches along the Mediterranean as you swim and sunbathe. When you return, have an authentic dinner of bouillabaisse (fish stew) at the Vieux Port.

Day 15: Drive to Le Lavandou

Port Cros
The crystal clear water of Port-Cros
Leave Marseille today and take the two-hour drive toward the calm ocean breezes of Le Lavandou. This pleasant beach resort is at the foot of the Massif des Maures, along the sea between Toulon and Saint-Tropez. Once a tiny fishing port, Le Lavandou now boasts a vast marina and fishing port across from the islands of  Îles d'Or, Le Levant, and Port-Cros. With no less than 12 beaches carefully maintained and supervised, Le Lavandou is the perfect place to laze on the beach and while away the time.

Day 16: Day Cruise to Port-Cros & Île de Porquerolles

View from Porquerolles
Spend the day cruising along the beautiful islands of Port-Cros and Porquerolles. Board your catamaran from Port Le Lavandou and sail to your first stop at Port-Cros, a national park with abundant underwater sea life. Spend two hours snorkeling as you discover a magical aquatic world. Next, continue to the island of Porquerolles, where you'll get a chance to explore on your own. Discover the island by hiking or biking to spot local wildlife and enjoy the views. There's plenty of time for more snorkeling or swimming. You can also visit its museum, Villa Carmignac, before returning to Le Lavandou in the evening. 

Day 17: Drive to Nice via Saint-Tropez

Welcome to Saint Tropez
Welcome to Saint-Tropez

Visit Saint-Tropez on today's drive east up the coast to Nice. Brigitte Bardot came to this peaceful fishing village in the 1950s to film "Et Dieu Créa la Femme" (And God Created Woman) and transformed it overnight into a sizzling jet-set favorite. Despite the sexy image of oversized yachts with bling-bling visitors, this village has a quiet side. Leave the Old Port behind, meander the cobbled lanes in the old fishing quarter of La Ponche, sip pastis at a Place des Lices café, and watch older men play pétanque beneath plantain trees. Or, walk in solitary splendor from beach to beach along the coastal pathways.

Continue along the coast to reach Nice in the evening, which sits at the northern end of the French Riviera near the border with Italy. Nicknamed "Nissa La Bella" (Nice the Beautiful) for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, and crescent-shaped pebble beaches, Nice is inarguably the Riviera's most famous city. The narrow cobblestone streets of its colorful old town, Vieille Ville, are lined with pastel-colored buildings and many shops selling everything from soap to wine. Before heading to dinner, enjoy a relaxing evening stroll along the Mediterranean on the famous Promenade des Anglais.

Day 18: Day Trip to Monaco & Eze

A bird's-eye view of Monaco

Visit Monaco today but first, make a stop to discover the medieval village of Eze, one of the most picturesque sites on the French Riviera. Follow cobbled streets to reach the village's summit, where you'll find an exotic garden and castle ruins with dramatic views from 1,400 feet (427 m) above the coast. Visit the famous Fragonard perfume factory down in the village, then continue to the town of La Turbie, also called the "Monaco terrace" because of its panoramic view of the principality. Once you reach Monaco, spend the afternoon in the Old Town on "Le Rocher" (the Rock) overlooking the sea and harbor.

Possible visits include the neo-Roman Cathedral, the circular Palais de Justice, and the Oceanographic Museum. Take one of the most beautiful routes to Monte Carlo and pass the famous Grand Prix track of Formula One. Explore Monte Carlo and perhaps do a bit of gambling at the Casino de Monte Carlo, designed by the renowned architect Charles Garnier. Enjoy the lavish Gardens Casino and visit the Hôtel de Paris, which has all the charm of the grand hotels of the 19th century. When you've had your fill of Monégasque excess, make your way back to Nice in the afternoon.

Day 19: Market Tour & Cooking Class, Cannes, Antibes & Saint-Paul-de-Vence 

Shopping at Cours Saleya Market in Nice

Learn to shop and cook like a true Niçois! Your day begins at 9.30 am at the Cours Saleya Market. The narrow maze of centuries-old Vieux Nice streets opens onto this splendid space, lined with bars, cafés, and fish restaurants on either side and market stalls down the center. You'll build a meal with the chef using the best of the season's produce, fish, poultry, or meat. Afterward, head to the cooking studio not far from the market where the cooking class will take place. Finally, sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast your efforts with a glass of local rosé.

You'll also have the option to visit nearby Cannes, Antibes, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Walk on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, then follow the seaside toward Antibes and discover the Old Town surrounded by ramparts. Antibes has become a contemporary art focus thanks to Picasso, who spent a part of his life there. See the Cap d'Antibes peninsula between Antibes and the seaside resort of Juan-les-Pins, and visit Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a magnificent fortified village dating from the 11th century that attracted painters (like Chagall, Picasso, Matisse) and authors searching for inspiration. 

Day 20: Boat Ride to Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cap Dramont & Île d'Or

Return Boat Tickets to Sainte Marguerite Island (îles de Lérin)
Aerial view of Cape Dramont

It's a short boat ride from Cannes to Sainte-Marguerite, an exceptional island where nature and relaxation are never too far away. As soon as you arrive, you will be captivated by the fragrance of pine and eucalyptus in the air. Follow marked trails on a botanical and historical site tour, strolling by the Batéguier pond with its numerous species of migratory birds and on to the Pointe de la Convention to find unique plants. Continue to the Fort Royal, where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned in the 17th century. The Maritime Museum, sheltered within a fortified enclosure, offers a fascinating insight into the area's history.

For a more relaxed afternoon, you could also take a half-day catamaran cruise starting from the Old Port of Saint-Raphaël. Sail past Cap Dramont before anchoring near Île d'Or (Golden Island), where you can swim, snorkel, or paddle board. Enjoy the sea and the sun alongside snacks and drinks as you spend the final day of your French odyssey in style. 

Day 21: Depart Nice

Home Sweet Home !
Au Revoir!

After a final morning of Riviera sunshine, it's time to say au revoir and drive to the Nice International Airport to drop off your vehicle. From there, you'll catch a flight home or on to your next destination. Bon voyage!

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Map of Ultimate French Road Trip: Paris to the French Riviera - 21 Days
Map of Ultimate French Road Trip: Paris to the French Riviera - 21 Days