Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Freewheeling through France

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Freewheeling through France

Article excerpt

FRANCE seduces this traveller on every visit and not just because of the shopping, food, wine and handsome Frenchmen.

It also has some of the best scenery and historic locations in Europe and one of the best ways to explore the countryside is by car.

Driving around France gives you a sense of freedom and I can even pretend I'm one of the locals until I have to speak. Travelling by car is easy and a convenient key to unlock the best that France has to offer - you just have to remember to stay on the right side of the road.

I recommend staying off the motorways - not only are they expensive, you also miss out on all the best bits.

Picking up your car in Paris can be a nightmare. You just have to see how many lanes of traffic there are to negotiate at the Champs Elysees.

Imagine getting into that traffic and then trying to exit - you could end up there for days, just driving round and round.

You are far better to take a train to a smaller town to collect your car or pick one up from the airport. The outer ring roads are far easier to manage and then once you get out of town, head for the back roads. The locals tend to drive at a more sedate speed on these roads whereas the drivers on the motorways seem to think they are Alain Prost.

One of the delights of car travel is the independence of going where you want, when you want to.

Exploring delightful villages, calling into your favourite castle or a quick whiz around a local market are all fun things to do and so easy with your own wheels.

A few years ago I hitched a ride with my son and his girlfriend (now wife) in a leased Peugeot 370 wagon on part of their three-month jaunt through Europe. We picked up the car at Charles de Gaulle airport and headed off for what turned out to be a fulfilling three weeks exploring the back roads of France.

Our first stop was Amboise in the Loire Valley. …

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