Self-drive itinerary: 3 – 5 days in glorious Pays de la Loire, France (download)

The Loire Valley is absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of lush farmland, magnificent châteaux, wine farms, troglodyte caves, and unique museums and attractions – all with the beautiful Loire River winding through it. You could spend months here and not run out of things to see and do.

This scenic itinerary was designed with the kind assistance of the Atlantic Loire Valley tourism asssociation and has been tried and tested by British TIPS team member, Jenni. Bon voyage!

We can book all your rail travel, accommodation, car hire, and more for your fabulous self-drive vacation in Pays de la Loire, saving you time and stress. Get in touch at SALES@BRITISHTIPS.COM and we will be delighted to assist.

This itinerary is designed to take between 3 and 5 days by car but can easily be adjusted to your specifications. It will take you from Angers to Saumur, Doué-La-Fontaine, Solesmes, Sablé Sur Sarthe, and Le Mans, and then back again.

Driving a car in France is fairly easy, although you do have to bear in mind that they drive on the right-hand side of the road, whereas here in South Africa, we drive on the left. We recommend that, if it’s your first time driving on the right, you hire a car from a smaller city, rather than a large city like Paris. From Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, you can catch the direct TGV train to Angers, which takes around 3 hours. If you’re not feeling confident enough to drive, France’s public transport is excellent, with high-speed trains or local buses serving most areas. However, if you plan to visit small, out-of-the-way areas, you will almost certainly need private transport. We can book coach tours or chauffeur-driven options, whether for a few days or a few hours. The Loire Valley is also hugely popular as a cycle destination so, if two wheels are your thing, consider a bicycle tour.

We recommend a French rail pass should you be taking many trains. All of the above can be booked by British TIPS.

South Africans driving in France

You must be 18 years and older in order to drive in France. The good news is that, if you are visiting France for less than one year, you may use your valid full South African drivers license. The license should be accompanied by an official translation into French. You will also need a valid credit card when you hire a car (we can book your car hire for you but, on collection, you will always be asked for a credit card). You also need to carry all the paperwork provided for you by the car hire company, as well as your valid passport, and insurance. French roads are generally excellent, well sign-posted and easy to navigate. Remember that you will be driving on the other side of the road (on the right, not the left as in SA). If you are nervous, we recommend starting in smaller, quieter areas, rather than big busy cities like Paris. Be sure to familiarise yourself with all the local road rules before setting out on your adventure to ensure that you stick to the letter of the law. Be aware that the French authorities are very strict about drinking and driving (maximum 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre) and transgressions can lead to steep fines or jail time. If you’re longing for French wines and champagnes, we suggest a guided or chauffeur-driven tour instead.

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