And off we go! A road trip from France to Italy, this is going to be a trip of a lifetime unquestionably! In this blog post, we share our Itinerary from St. Tropez in France to Tuscany in Italy by car. Immerse yourself in the Mediterranean area with beautiful beaches, viewpoints, cities and villages and delicious food. You will experience a mix of cultures crossing the border with differences in lifestyle; from jetset, glitter and glamour to adorable historical memories. And two countries with their own unique characteristics and stories to tell. A wonderful and diverse trip is guaranteed!
General trip information
First: we can tell you so much about this area and our trip! But then this blog post would be endlessly long. Therefore, below you will find more general information about the locations we visited during this road trip. This way you get a proper first impression and can start creating your dream holiday. Soon more information will follow on each destination visited specifically.
This beautiful trip was our first trip after the European lockdown in spring/summer of 2020. We crossed the borders on the very first day they opened again and there was basically no tourism yet due to Corona. Our experience can be different compared to the ‘usual’.
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Map of France and Italy
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Where to stay during this road trip
There are many gorgeous places to stay during this road trip. You surely need to book accommodation in the areas that you will visit for longer periods. We highly recommend the following places to stay:
- Hotels in St. Tropez: perhaps not in the village, but in the beautiful surrounding for a great start.
- Hotels around Nice: perfectly located in the middle of all places to visit in France
- Hotels in Cap D’Ail: to avoid high costs in Monaco, we stayed around the corner in an apartment with beautiful views in Cap d’ail.
- Hotels in Menton: we love Menton! It’s an amazing city to enjoy your holidays
- Hotels in La Spezia: convenient to visit Cinque Terre and Pisa
- Hotels in Cinque Terre: in case you wish to stay in THE famous villages of Italy
The diverse route from France to Italy
In general, the South of France (also known as French Riviera or Côte d’Azur) is a king in offering beautiful sunny days, clear waters and pretty beaches, a lovely Mediterranean kitchen and jet-set vibes. The area is very popular due to several big cities like Monaco, Cannes and Marseille. But it also has beautiful inland provinces with stunning views. It is easy to say that the South of France is the full package for anyone who loves to be amazed on day trips and enjoy a summer break with some beach days. Unfortunately, we did not have time enough to visit Nice, but this will come another time. We do recommend you to make a stop in this city if you have the opportunity.
Crossing the border to Italy you will immediately see a difference in scenery. The architecture and cultural vibes welcome you friendly into a different adventure. Italy is a very diverse country on its own with many interesting big cities like Rome, Florence or Milan. But it is guaranteed that every region will catch your eye for its own uniqueness. From picturesque hill towns in Tuscany to the beautiful lakes and mountains in the north to traditional Puglia in the South. Italy is IT!
To sum it up why you need to go:
- Two different countries with their own lifestyle and culture
- Different cities with their own unique characteristics and stories to tell
- Mix your holiday with days in cities, nature and beaches
- You can enjoy the Mediterranean kitchen in different ways from seafood to pizza and pasta
- Be surrounded by busy places to find serenity and peace the day after
- From jetset, glitter and glamour to adorable historical memories
Can’t get enough of Italy? Puglia, in the south of Italy is waiting for you! Check out the perfect itinerary Travel in Puglia – the must do 7 day itinerary
Travel from France to Italy
Itinerary for France and Italy – min. 9 days to 3 weeks
Destination #1: St. Tropez
Dream away in St Tropez! Several big music hits were released over the last few years singing about the St Tropez lifestyle; glitter, glamour and luxury while partying & living the good life. And that is exactly how we experienced it seeing the expensive cars, mega yachts and tempting boutique stores with more ‘exclusive’ clothing. We loved it to wander around the harbour, the boulevard and to just sit and relax on the terraces to be entertained by everything that passed by.
This might be the image St. Tropez has, but there is absolutely more! The town has lovely streets to walk around, and around the bay, there are many nice beaches and scenery to drive or walk. Do not only stay in the bay area but extend your trip to the southern part of the area like Ramatuelle with public but also many more ‘secret’ beaches close by. Time to explore! You will probably also see the ‘zigzagging’ scenic routes in the area on great heights through mountains and viewpoints on cliffs. Do not miss out on this.
Destination #2: Cannes
THE place of the big red carpet for one of the biggest events of the year worldwide? Yes, the Film Festival of Cannes! A time when many actors will enjoy themselves. But this place is definitely worth visiting for you too, even if it is just to immerse yourself in chic France. Cannes is the place to be for a stroll around on the icon street ‘La Croisette’ – a path in between the city and the beach. If you feel you want to catch some sun rays, do not hesitate to take a moment at the beach or beach club.
Our favourite part, which also showed how diverse Cannes can be, was to walk around in the neighbourhood ‘Le Suquet’. You here you will find many coloured buildings which did us very well! From here you can proceed to the viewpoint that will give you beautiful views over the harbour. Also a hotspot for sunrise or sunset.
Destination #3: Eze
Is this new for you? The same for us, we only heard about this place on the day itself and it is a really unique destination travelling from France to Italy. Eze is a picturesque ancient village in between Nice and Monaco. The village on top of the rock is maybe the most unique spot along the coast, so absolutely adorable and worth a visit. You feel like you end up in a different time age due to the architecture of the buildings and the narrow streets. Really, are you even still in the French Riviera?
There is also a tropical garden (‘Jardin’) to wander around and enjoy some incredible viewpoints. Unfortunately, the garden was closed when we were there, but seeing photos on Instagram, it is definitely worth visiting. If that is ticked off the list you can always enjoy yourself in some of the small boutique shops or cafes with great views.
Looking for more beautiful European destinations? Check out A spectacular 7 day itinerary for your Mallorca holidays, a beautiful summer trip!
Destination #4: Monaco
Our favourite destination of France for this trip! And that love grew on the day we visited the country itself. Country? Yes, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world. And wow, Monaco exceeded all our expectations. The city has several areas that will guarantee a pleasant visit. Monaco is known for its luxurious lifestyle, and yes you will see this all around you!
Monaco is diverse. One moment you are walking through an area with high and modern-like buildings and the other in the old village which is overloaded with beautiful colourful buildings in “Monaco Village”. This is also the area where you will find several incredible viewpoints, Museums, a famous Cathedral and the palace of the Royal Family. The Royal family has a great history which is also worth reading into before going.
For a car addict like Nadiim is, Monte Carlo was the place to be. Not because of the famous and one of the world’s most exclusive casinos (which is a wonderful building and present in several big Hollywood movies) but for all the cars around. It is for everyone enjoyable to see all the glamour around you. Again it feels like you are in a different world which is lovely to experience!
We enjoyed Monaco a lot and will dedicate a separate blog post for Monaco only as soon as possible with all the ins and outs.
Destination #5: Menton
You are at the final destination in France of this France to Italy road trip. This world has some skylines that you just cannot stop staring at. Menton has one of them! It might not be “the typical” skyline with the biggest skyscrapers, but it is maybe even better with beautiful buildings with on top a church tower, which is altogether very pleasant for the eye. Without a doubt, the scenery around the city is not any less – Mediterranean waters and mountains that provide lovely views.
It is absolutely fun to walk through the city centres’ small and colourful streets and to walk up to the churches. You will find some very interesting photo spots there in case you would like to capture some holiday memories. You will notice right away that there are lemons all around you. That is correct as Menton is well known for its lemons – they even have a ‘Menton lemon festival’.
The city has a different vibe compared to its neighbouring cities. You will feel a mixture of a French and Italian vibe already, and not just because of the lovely Italian ice cream they are serving here. The city feels more laid back, relaxed and there to provide you with a great time. Make sure you bring your towel and bathing suit to take a fresh dip while enjoying the lovely views from the water.
Destination #6: Portofino
Time to cross the border to Italy! Travelling from France to Italy you might already see a cultural difference right away. And no place better to be welcomed to this new country than in Portofino. It ended up so high on our “love list”. The drive towards Portofino is already fun. You will enjoy a coastal ride through small streets with some turns around cliffs. But after each turn, you are amazed once again by the views. If that isn’t a great part of your road trip…..
The area is green with hills around you and before you know you see a small colourful gem showing up: Portofino! It is a small village and it might be hard to park your car here. There is public parking but the entrance is very narrow. Do not try to go in here with your van, only by car. Even then, we were here when the village was nearly empty. During tourist/high season we would leave the car somewhere else. On the way to Portofino, we saw more people hiking their way to Portofino.
Once in the centre, you will feel the jet-set vibes right away with exclusive linen boutiques. OH, WE LOVE IT! Wish we could buy it all. When walking a bit further down the road you will get closer and closer to the most admirable place; the harbour. It is a movie scene, a fairy tale! The colours, the green surrounding, the buildings around the nice waters, great restaurants, Italian music and boats – small to yachts. We sat here on the terrace for a long time, sipping on our drinks while taking in all this beauty we were surrounded by. Given these points, you just cannot skip Portofino!
Destination #7: Portovenere
Are you still looking for a sort of hidden gem in Italy? We truly believed Portovenere is this place straight away. We are sure tourists know how to find this place, but it is less busy and crowded compared to the villages in Cinque Terre, while it still has the same vibe! Locals told us that no matter how many years pass by, Portovenere did not lose its charm due to mass tourism.
Undoubtedly it is easy to combine a visit to La Spezia and Portovenere. We stayed in La Spezia as we would visit Cinque Terre from here. Portovenere has a wonderful harbour with lovely views. The village itself is small but there is much to do around it. From here on you can do several activities in nature around the village or on a boat trip. We understood that it is also possible to hike from here to the villages in Cinque Terre. It is however advised to check this beforehand as some hiking trails might be closed. It is definitely a place to visit to enjoy some time at the water, to buy some (artistically) handmade local products or food (real pesto shop!) in the tiny stores and to get lost in the small streets.
Destination #8: Cinque Terre
Time for one of the most interesting places in the world – at least according to Instagram. No, we surely agree… these villages were fun and a must-visit! Luckily for us, there was no tourist around, except for Italians enjoying their weekend. Already now we thought it was quite busy, we cannot imagine what it would be like during the high season. Obviously, we highly recommend you to go early if you do go in the popular months.
Cinque Terre are the five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Basically, all of them are easy to visit by train from La Spezia for a one-day trip. We visited four of them, and despite having the time we did not go to Corniglia to focus more on the other villages. It is up to you whether you want to visit them all but we highly recommend you to at least visit Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore if you are short(er) on time. Monterosso al Mare is highly recommended for beach time with surprising turquoise blue waters.
Cinque Terre deserves a blog post on its own, we are working on it and will make sure you can read the ins and outs soon.
Another real hotspot in Europe like Cinque Terre is Santorini, we will share all you need to know for the perfect trip in Visit Santorini now for these 10 fun activities
Destination #9: Pisa
Off to a new region; wonderful Tuscany. Driving towards Pisa you will already notice that the landscape changes. Certainly, those incredible views and hilltop towns are coming closer and closer and are a masterpiece painting with a glow from the sun over the fields.
Hold it, keep it straight! Yes, that is the Tower of Pisa. Pisa is most famous for its leaning tower where you can create the most fun photos. It is a perfect destination to make a stop en route to for example Florence or in our case, Siena. Pisa is not a very big city, so you can get an impression of the highlights in a relatively short time. The leaning tower is not the only iconic building, but the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta absolutely has its own charm. This architecture is just perfect for details! Do not forget to enjoy some Italian ice cream before hitting the road again.
Destination #10: Siena & Tuscany
The final destination of this France to Italy road trip. We were SO determined to make sure we would see Siena, a medieval city (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and feel romance in the Tuscany scenery. We drove from La Spezia this morning and had a stop in Pisa. The afternoon and evening were dedicated to this dream destination. It was a rather quick visit, but more than worth it!
Following Pisa, we drove towards the charming Val d’Orcia in the south of Sienna. We drove through the smallest and most bumpy countryside roads with fascinating views. Every kilometre you drive is another experience. You will pass through adorable towns and will be entertained by the local lifestyle. Don’t forget, The area is famous for its wines and it is possible to go for wine tastings. But no tipsy driving roadtrippers!
After a drive in Val d’Orcia, we went back up north to visit the city Siena. It is great that the sun goes down late during summertime, we had long days and managed to see the city before the sun would set. Following a walk around the city with a great history to tell, we ended up on the main plaza for a nice dinner. It was right after the Corona lockdown and we could see that the locals really enjoyed being out again. The atmosphere on the plaza was very enjoyable.
The sun set and we were still sitting out on the terrace in the dark. Another city came alive – Siena by night. It is lovely with all the lights around on the most appealing buildings. We really needed to do a city walk at night before we would have a (long) drive back to La Spezia. And it was rewarding. What a romance and vibe!
We hope we could inspire you for a new road-trip from France to Italy. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or to leave a comment below.