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20-day Motorhome itinerary through South-West France

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We’re back.  Back in France and back in a motorhome.    In an instant, I feel as though we’ve never left, and at the same time, it feels like it’s been too long.  As the golden fields of corn pass us by and we navigate through the small villages built right on the edge of the road, it feels so familiar.  As the first boulangerie enters my line of sight, I feel right at home.  All that’s left now is to kick back and enjoy our next 20 days on the road.

Even though we have travelled substantially through France, the southwest has remained an area where we haven’t been. Wherever we go, whatever we do, travelling through France in a motorhome is akin to being in our happy place. If you haven’t already tried being in a motorhome in France, you should give it a go. We highly recommend it.

As is usually the case when we are in a motorhome, there are very few plans.  We have a start and end date, but not much more.  Apart from a tour booked in at the Remy Martin House of Cognac, and a desire to include both Bordeaux and Roquefort, the rest of the time was completely flexible. 

Itinerary of motorhome trip through France for 20 days

Itinerary by region

The map below has been put together to understand the direction we drove and the locations we visited during our 20-day road trip.  It does not cover every single location – there’s not enough room on the map!  There are various ways of driving through this area but as a general rule, we avoid the large motorways.

We usually use them if we are in a hurry, but to give you a sense of how often we used them, on this trip, it was only twice and for a relatively short period.  To clarify further, these were A roads, but not toll roads.  When you are up on the big motorways you can miss out on so much.

Built to make road transport more efficient, they serve many purposes well, but assisting slow travel is not one of them.  If we spent all of our time on these roads, we would miss the beauty of the villages that you will see below.

Hidden amongst the red map markers below is a blue one. This is Véron, our starting and finishing location. We then traveled in an (almost) circular, anti-clockwise direction.

Highlights of 20 days travelling through south-west France

Day 1 -Véron to Gron

Day one is all about the pickup and so this is an overnight stop only.  Pickups for the motorhome are in the afternoon.  By the time we do the handover and go and get our supplies to stock up the vehicle, we always find it easier to stay somewhere close by.  The small village of Gron has a great overnight camping spot, becoming our go-to place on night one.

Day 2 – Gron to Châteauroux



Department: Yonne

There are plenty of small towns like this along the way and they usually have great markets.  Nothing spectacular, just every day fresh produce markets selling amazing food.  We stopped here and bought some supplies for our first tasty lunch on the road.  We were all stocked up with fresh beetroot, triple ‘Brie de Meaux’ cheese, and a baguette.  This man below was delighted with our French attempts.  His smile alone made all the difference to me.

20 day itinerary Bleneau markets- France in a campervan routes
This guy thought we were hilarious speaking to him in our best English-French

Region: Centre Val de Loire

Don’t miss the  Chateau de La Verrerie as you drive between Bléneau and Châteauroux.  We were driving through the forest roads and saw a sign indicating there was a chateau somewhere around.  It’s a great spot for lunch, by the lake, and on the right day, tours can be taken inside the chateau.

20 day itinerary Chateau de La Verrerie - France in a campervan routes
Chateau de La Verrerie

Vierzon and Châteauroux

Department: Indre-et-Loire

Although we didn’t spend much time here,  both are equally beautiful places to visit.  We stayed overnight in Châteauroux en route to a planned tour of the cognac distillery.

Day 3 – Châteauroux to Roullet Saint-Estephe

Region: Nouvelle-Aquitaine


Department: Haute-Vienne

Limoges is famous for porcelain.  I’ll admit to having seen the label Royal Limoges on crockery before but had no inkling as to its origins.  Dating back to the late 1700s, Royal Limoges is now the oldest porcelain making company in the area.  The Old town is compact so very easy to walk around.  Parking is difficult in the city, so it’s easiest to park on the outskirts.  You’ll need a bit of fitness though as there is a reasonable climb up to the top.

Must see places include the wonderful Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins.  Built over the railway, the copper covered domes is an icon throughout the city, as is the 60m clock tower.  The Cathedral Saint-Etienne is an incredible architectural example and the adjacent Jardin Botanique de l’Evêché provide a chance to catch your breath amongst some impressive gardens.  Like any old French town, a walk around the cobblestoned old town is always worthwhile.

The beautiful Limoges railway station
The beautiful Limoges railway station

Day 4 – Roullet Saint-Estephe to Virollet-Font Paillaud


Department: Charente

This is one city I wouldn’t have missed for the world.  The city of Cognac, often I think, overshadowed by its alcoholic drink of the same name, must surely be recognised on its own merits.  With a glorious old town located on the Charente river, a river strategically important in days gone by for transportation for the cognac industry, there is history aplenty here.  Old houses dating back to the 1400s, not only still standing but looking every bit as though they’ll stand for another hundred or so years.

Quirky and quaint shops in the streets of the old town, many of them full of yummy food products which I always find hard to pass up.  There are beautiful parks, both alongside the river and mixed throughout the city.  then, of course, there’s the cognac.  Cognac, the city, is home to the big four cognac houses, plus many more.  It’s a place to soak up the history of this fascinating liquor and get yourself a taste test at the same time.

Read about our cognac tour of Remy Martin Cognac House.

Cognac old town - France in a campervan routes
Cognac Old Town

Day 5 – Virollet-Font Paillaud to Bordeaux


Department: CharenteMaritime

If you are travelling in France, you will get to know and recognise this branding.  Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.  Simply, the prettiest villages in France.  Villages gain entry into the association and therefore the ability to market itself as such through a rigorous application process.  Personally, I’ve always thought that most French villages are pretty, but have to admit that once you see the ones that make the grade, you’ll be overawed by their beauty.  On this trip, we tried to fit in as many as we could.

Talmont-sur-Gironde is an old fishing village, built high on the edge of the Bay of Gironde, with many of the ancient fishing huts still being used.  As we walked through the brightly coloured village, doors and shutters matching the bright flowers in their gardens, I felt as though I was a giant walking through a miniature town.

Talmont-sur-Gironde fishing hut
The fishing legacy is alive in this quaint village

Read our full guide on Talmont-sur-Gironde here.


Department: Gironde

Not far from Talmont-sur-Gironde is a town of a similar name.  This town was very motorhome friendly, with a municipal stopover area with services located right alongside the marina.

Montagne-sur-Gironde marina
The marina at Montagne-sur-Gironde

Day 6 – Bordeaux



Bordeaux is quite easily a city where you could spend many days or even a week.  If you have a motorhome, it’s easiest to stay out of the city and catch a bus or train into the centre.

Bordeaux is a big city, so it takes some adjusting to when you’ve been driving on the country D roads.  More people, more traffic but of course, plenty to see and do.

We grabbed a 48-hour city pass which covered all of our public transport and entrance into heaps of great places.

Historical highlights include Porte Cailhau, Palace Saint-Michel, La Gross Cloche, Pore de Bourgogne, Place Pey-Berland.  Walk Rue St Catherine, the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe (do it on a Sunday and it’s much quieter), or take in the vibrant and noisy food markets at Marche Des Capuchins.

The Miroir d’eau, a flat area on the riverside covered with just enough water to make it look like a mirror, provides a great opportunity to people-watch and have a bit of fun.  As the mist is released over the ground, people run from all over to stand in it.  On Sunday mornings, a food market takes place on the water’s edge and many a large cruise ship can be seen pulling up here to dock for a few hours.

Read our guide on what to do in Bordeaux in 48 hours.

Bordeaux view from up high
A skyline view of Bordeaux

Day 7 – Bordeaux to Lège-Cap-Ferret



Located on a peninsula on the western coast of France, one side fronting the Atlantic and exposed to its wild and woolly conditions, the other side a calm contrast on the Bassin d’Arcachon, this area is the French Riviera that no-one knows about.  Home to some of the best oysters in the world, according to my husband.  Not being an oyster eater, I’ll have to take his word for it.  Or perhaps I’ll take the word of all those who flock here to eat them straight from the ocean.  Or, the thousands of people who eat them all over France, given that this area supplies most of the country!

This area was one of my favourite places.  Sleepy, casual, beautiful and full of amazing food.  What more could you want?

Related article Why you should visit Cap Ferret on the west coast of France.

Lege-Cap-Ferrat- tip - motorhome touring in France

Day 8 – Lège-Cap-Ferret to Arcachon


Department: Gironde

Across from Lège-Cap-Ferret lies Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat.  Arcachon is a seaside town that looks fit for royalty.  Retro looking buildings line the foreshore of the Bassin d’Arcachon, reminding me of seaside resorts from the ’50s and ’60s that I would have seen in the movies. In the city part, it’s a little more modern, with the buildings having a unique feel about them.  It’s one I still can’t put a label on, but it’s definitely reminiscent of a wealthy location.  The food market in the centre of town is our go-to place once again to stock up.

Nearby, the Dune du Pilat stands 110m high and nearly three kilometres long.  Growing at 1.5 metres per year, it is Europe’s largest sand dune.  People flock here to climb the dune, either by the stairs or via the side of the dune.  Once up there, on a clear day, the views over the water are incredible.

More reading >> Arcachon France

Dune de Pilat - motorhome touring in France
The incredible Dune du Pilat near Arcachon

Day 9 – Arcachon to Cocumont

Arcachon France

Day 10 to 12  – The Lot River

Region: Occitanie

Lot River

Department Lot-en-Garonne

There are way too many small villages and towns here to mention.  A trip along the Lot River means crisscrossing back and forth over it to take in as many of the small villages as you can.  There are plenty of places to stop and pull over to make the most of slow travel along this route.

Related reading: A three-day motorhome itinerary in the Lot Valley

Castelmoron-sur-Lot - motorhome touring in France
One of my favourites – Castelmoron-sur-Lot

Lot River

Department: Lot

The towns and villages of the Lot River cross over two departments within the Occitanie region, but the same experience can be had irrespective of where you choose to include it as part of your itinerary.

Puy-l’Évêque on the Lot River


Department: Lot

The city of Cahors lies on the Lot River and as the capital of the Lot department, is a little larger than many surrounding cities.  Its Old Town is near the river and is home to several key attractions including the Cathedral Saint-Etienne.  On the other side of town, the Pont Valentré is the place to visit.  Straddling the Lot River, the bridge is one of the most iconic in all of France.  A medieval bridge with three towers it was built to defend the city in the 14th century.

Valentré Bridge Cahors
Valentré Bridge Cahors


Department: Lot

Without a shadow of a doubt, this was my favourite city during this trip.  Another Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is built up the hill,  with sweeping 360 degrees over the surrounding valley.  With it’s small, winding cobblestone streets, old stone buildings and the remnants of a fortress at the top, we got lost in here for hours.

Saint Cirq Lapopie
The hilltop village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

Day 13 –  Lac Parcaloup to Saint-Flour

Region: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes


Department: Aveyron

The home of the best cheese in the world according to my husband.  For years during our French trips, he has diligently consumed as much Roquefort as has been humanly possible.  We had, to date, however never made it to the source of this blue, smelly cheese.  Being so close to it up in the Lot River area, it only took a diversion of a few hours before we were in the home of Roquefort.  A tour of the Société des Caves de Roquefort told us everything we needed to know about this cheese and apparently validated his “best cheese in the world” beliefs.  The tour was in French, but it’s definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.

Interested in touring the caves? Read our review here.

Roquefort caves
The famous Roquefort cheese caves

Day 14 –  Saint-Flour to Saint-Gérand-le-Puy


Department: Cantal

Another day, another beautiful city on the top of a hill.  Saint-Flour is a little unusual in so far as the buildings are built from the volcanic rock that surrounds the area.  As a result, many of the buildings are dark grey, instead of the more often seen sandstone coloured buildings.  The view from up here is great, and there’s plenty of wonderful artisanal food shops to wander through too.

Saint Flour


Department: Puy-de-Dôme

This was the town where no-one was home!  Another “pretty village of France” with a medieval past.  It makes for a nice stop, just don’t expect to do too much whilst you are here.

Châteldon – not a soul could be seen when we were here


Department: Allier

What an interesting past this city has had.  We first met Vichy on a rainy day, when it was packed with people visiting a bi-annual market day.  Food growers and producers from across the department had made their way here to tease us with their goodies.  Vichy, is a spa town, a town known for the healing properties of the thermal spring water that lies beneath the surface.

In the Parc des Sources is the Hall des Sources, a retro glass building where locals come to drink from the source.  Here, numerous taps sporting names like “Celestines”, “Grande Grille” and “l’Hôpital”, water containing various minerals and at different temperatures are the centre of attention.

Vichy has a history that it can’t shake where Nazi Germany is concerned.  During World War Two, France became divided into occupied and non-occupied areas.  With the north of the country occupied by the Germans, Vichy and its government became a puppet state to Germany carrying out the orders of the Nazi administration.

The wealth of a previous era is on display here with incredible buildings and architecture.


Day 15 – Saint-Gérand-le-Puy to Moulins


Department: Allier

The best way to see Moulins in a motorhome is to park on the other side of the river in one of the best municipal service areas I’ve seen in France.  A quick ride over the bridge and you can be in the centre of town in a few minutes.  The usual suspects of cathedrals, old town precincts and museums are on offer as is a covered market in the centre of town.


Day 16 – Moulins to Saint-Martin-sur-Nohain

Region: Centre Val de Loire


Department: Cher

This town, another Les Plus Beaux Villages de France was a funny story.  We had become accustomed to not seeing a lot of people in small villages, but this one was closed.  Yes, closed.  Everything in this village where people would normally work was closed.  The Chateau d’Apremont, where one might visit, was closed.  Windows had messages taped to them stating that the town was closed for the year from a particular date and wouldn’t re-open until next year.

We read them several times, stopping to look at each other with a confused face.  “Does this say the town is closed”, I asked.  A quick search online confirmed this fact.  This town opens each year in late March/early April and closes at the end of September.  It’s a moment in time I’ll never forget!





One of the best ways to see this city is to follow the thin blue line that takes you around the narrow, sometimes hilly, cobbled streets.  It will take in the Cathedral of Saint-Cyr and Sainte-Juliette and the Ducal Palace.  Nevers is another medieval town located on the banks of the Loire, a beautiful part of France.  Many of the buildings here date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Parking for motorhomes is easiest on the other side of the river.

Ducal Palace Nevers

Day 17 – Saint-Martin-sur-Nohain to Saint-Père-sur-Loire

Region: Centre Val de Loire


Department: Loiret

In Briare, we were fascinated by the Briare Aqueduct, built over the Loire River.  Built in the late 1800s, the aqueduct facilitates the crossing of the Canal Latéral à la Loire over the Loire.  At 662 metres long, it is the largest steel canal in France.  With large yet intricate posts at each end, it’s a beautiful spot to watch the canal barges pass through.

Briare Aquaduct
Briare Aqueduct

Read about our canal cruise in France through the Loire Valley and along the Briare Canal.


Department: Loiret

A fairytale city built along the Loire (are you seeing the trend?), joined to the other side of the river by yet another stunning Loire River arched bridge.  With tree-lined roads along the river, matching rooflines and a picture postcard setting, it’s hard to imagine this city has been mostly rebuilt following its complete destruction in World War Two.



Department: Loiret

The Loire is full of exquisite chateaux, but we remembered this one from a previous motorhome trip back in 2012.  The Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire is the main reason for stopping here.  It’s a magnificent chateau and if you are following the Loire River, as we have done previously, this will be one of many that you will have the pleasure of seeing.

Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire
Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire

Day 18 – Saint-Père-sur-Loire to Paroy-sur-Tholon



Department: Yonne

We spent hours here getting lost on their walking trails that took in all of their old town and the major sites.  There’s plenty of maritime history to be found both down by the water and in some of the buildings close by.  As a major city in this region, it is also supported by a strong cruising tourist population.  In the shoulder season, the barge crowds drop off, making it a more peaceful time to visit.


Day 19 – Paroy-sur-Tholon to Gron


Department: Yonne

Our final city on this trip and what a fantastic one it was.  With our 20 day trip behind us, we took time on our final day to hang out in the coffee shops by the covered market and to wander the streets of yet another beautiful French location.   We sat by the river eating lunch, watching work being carried out on the barges, covered up and moored ahead of the winter season.


Day 20 – Gron to Véron

Having stayed overnight once more at the village of Gron, we were well placed to return the vehicle the next morning at the required time.


Covering nearly 2,500km gave us a great opportunity to spend some quality time in this area.  While 2,500km might sound like a lot to those who aren’t used to driving, over a 20-day period, this really isn’t much at all.  We had a couple of days where we drove a little more to get to a preferred location, but they weren’t huge distances.  The largest driving day we did was only 263km whilst the lowest (excluding the first and last days) was 31km.  Average driving per day was only 131km.

Breakdown of cost

One of the great things about travelling in a motorhome is that most of the cost of the trip is sunk before you start.  With deposits and balances needing to be paid prior to pick up, meaning you can budget for this well in advance.  Once onboard the only additional costs (as a general rule) relate to diesel, gas and toilet chemicals.  All other costs are usually discretionary (eg food, wine, travel costs etc).

Note: We once had costs for fuel noted in here but it becomes irrelevant very quickly with the volatility of fuel prices.

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Where to stay when travelling in a motorhome

Generally speaking, there are five choices of overnight accommodation spots when travelling in France in a motorhome.


The first is the official campground.  These are great if there are no other options in a town or if you require services like electricity or showers/toilets.  Some people prefer to stay in campgrounds every night, liking the implied safety and security of such an area.  Depending on the time of year you travel, some campgrounds can require advance bookings (peak season) or may be closed (off season).  Staying in a campground is something we try to limit as much as possible due to personal choice.

Aires de Service

The other option is to stay in Aires de Service, an area set aside, usually by the municipal council that offers some basic services for motorhomes.  Whilst some will only offer the services, others may offer an overnight stay option.  Mostly, these locations are nothing special in terms of location but borne more out of a pure servicing option.  They are useful to know about, as sometimes they might be your only option.  We’ve stayed in some great Aires, so definitely worthwhile keeping in mind.

More reading >> Read our guide on aires des services in France.

France Passion Network

Our favourite place to stay when motorhoming in France is in locations that belong to the France Passion network.  Here we choose from over 2,000 winemakers, farmers and artisanal producers to spend a night on their property.

We have been so fortunate in staying at some incredible places such as working goat farms, working vineyards, chateaux, vegetable farmers and duck farms.  We’ve got to know countless farmers and their families, usually their dogs too!  We’ve supported local communities by buying their products direct from the farmer, and we’ve contributed hopefully, to keeping this amazing France Passion service alive.  It’s a free overnight stopover if you can believe that.

With no obligation to pay, it’s all about building community.  Of course, being the people we are, we tend to spend more than a few euro in each location, making our hosts very happy indeed.

More reading >> Checkout the types of places we stayed at in France Passion locations during the 20-day motorhome journey through south-west France.

Wild camping

You can, of course, do what we have also done in the past and wild camp.  Wild camping means just pulling up somewhere that you feel safe and it’s legal to do so.  We’ve stopped by the Loire River for example, in beautiful park areas (that aren’t official parks) and generally in spots where we are both out of the way, safe and not annoying anyone.

Camping-Car Parks

In recent years, the brand Camping-Car Parks has popped up around Europe. A mix between a campground and an aire, they are a low-cost alternative where you can still get all of the services like electrical hookups, water and dump stations.

You can read more in our detailed guide on Camping-Car Parks here.

More motorhome planning resources

More motorhome itineraries


15 thoughts on “20-day Motorhome itinerary through South-West France”

  1. What a fabulous and comprehensive itinerary! And your photos that accompany the guide are beautiful. This is certainly a must-read guide for those interested in touring France in a motor home! Something like this would be an absolute dream with the family.

  2. Wow – you really maximized your time there with so many sights to see in just 20 days. I would love to see more of France with your post – and that cheese – that must have been good!

  3. So glad you got to experience the south west of France – it’s an incredible region isn’t it! That said I’ve not traveled in a motorhome before, we’ve always jumped on the train. Motorhome sounds like a great way to explore, would love to plan a trip at some stage. As you’ve said I think the biggest benefit of this type of travel is the freedom and flexibility to explore. Picking a start date, and then an end date, and figuring it all out in-between sound awesome – love the spontaneity! Thanks for the tip on France Motorhome hire!

    Thanks for sharing your rough itinerary. Chateau de La Verrerie in particular looks so beautiful. I really loved Bordeaux as part of our trip too – the wineries were our highlight here, though would have to be mindful of drink driving in the motorhome lol!!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your motorhome adventures!

  4. This is like a dream come true. Travelling across France in a motorhome must indeed be one of the most thrilling and satisfying experience.What I also love about this epic trip is the fact that you have fixed only the start and end dates and left the itinerary flexible. This is definitely what real travel means. A great opportunity to have an immersive experience, to go where the heart wants and to enjoy every moment of the experience.

  5. A 20 road trip around south-west France sounds wonderful! I like that you do limited planning for these types of road trips. It’s great to have flexibility and it’s also a good idea to take the smaller roads like you did. Makes it a lot easier to find cute spots to stop along your trip! The Dune du Pilat near Arcachon looks really neat to see and I’d love to check out the area near the Lot River—it all looks so pretty! The Roquefort cheese caves would definitely be stop on our itinerary too if we are able to do something similar someday! Thanks for the cost breakdown too–really helpful for planning something similar!

  6. I am so utterly jealous (in a super supportive way, of course!) of this amazing, amazing trip. We saw a good deal of Paris last time we were there, but this looks so much better and more robust, from cheese to wine to beaches to chateaux. I never would’ve thought of motor homing through the countryside, but it’s completely brilliant. Definitely showing this to Luke tonight – maybe we’ll get to have an adventure like this in 2018 :)

  7. Can’t believe how many places you were able to visit! I’m a huge architecture and landscape fan, so you’d probably find me in places like Bordeaux, The Lot River, Cahors, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Saint Flour, Bourgogne-France-Comte, and Villeneuve-sur-Yonee. These photos are so fantastic! I’ll definitely have to make a trip myself one day!

  8. I love the idea of renting a motor home and exploring France but 20 days (although to gorgeous places) sounds like a lot doesn’t it ? Very inspiring and impressive that you did it :) Love all the places you visited and your pictures.

  9. I love a great road trip. Thanks for all the suggestions from itinerary to booking a RV. I drove around the South of France in the mid-70’s and still remember how much fun it was.

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