Driving guides

Driving to Nice from Calais

Plan an adventure to Nice that allows you to experience some fantastic French sites along the way.

See more of France with this brilliant journey to its south. You can set the pace, planning your journey to Nice that takes in more than a few sights along the way.

And even if you don’t have as much time for your trip, our shuttles will get you to Calais from Folkestone in just 35 minutes. Booking your tickets couldn’t be easier.

How long does it take to drive from Calais to Nice?

From Calais, the drive to Nice is around 11 and a half hours. It’s a great opportunity to plan stops and truly experience France’s scenery. Stay in picturesque towns and villages, driving both French motorways and winding country roads. You can sample many different cuisines and variations of French culture by taking this journey. Have fun deciding where you will stay but let us guide you with a few of our favourite locations below.

The quickest route – via A26 through Lyon

The fastest route may be your preference if you have less time for your trip or don’t want to plan any long stops. Take the A26 and this will help you get to Nice in the least time. It’s also a clever way to avoid congestion that can sometimes occur around Paris at times. Rest areas and service stations are plentiful along almost every French autoroute, so you won’t have to worry about finding a place to stop for a leg stretch either.

Via Paris on the A6

Paris is gorgeous at any time of year. You can drive there from Calais easily, and the A6 is a fantastic route to try. This autoroute is in fact called the Autoroute du Soleil, Motorway of the Sun, and links Paris to Lyon, good to know if you’re planning a stop there too!

For a longer journey – A26 & A40 via Geneva

Taking this route will allow you to travel East before you reach Lyon and enter Switzerland. Geneva is a stunning location surrounded by the Jura mountains and the Alps. Depending on the time of year you may be looking to ski or explore the city at your own pace before you continue to Nice.

fountain of water with winged horses and central figure from marble

Is driving to Nice easy?

Driving to Nice shouldn’t be difficult. France has well-connected transport across the entire country with a road network of Autoroutes and Route Nationales that allow for almost seamless travel through its various regions. Even the Routes Departmentales and Communales that connect smaller areas and rural parts of France are well-maintained and safe to travel on, making for a pleasant drive through countryside and cityscapes alike.

There are many benefits to driving to and within France instead of flying or taking the train, including no baggage limit and complete control over when and where you stop.

Places to stop and see on your drive to Nice

Depending on the route you take, a journey to Nice could contain endless possibilities. Will you stop at medieval Laon? Sip wine in Dijon, or visit Fontaine-de-Vaucluse with its stunning waterside views and enticing caves?  

The beauty of this trip is that you can make it your own. From Calais you can pace through the plains of Picardy on the A26 before stopping at Arras with its Flemish baroque architecture.

Use our guide below to choose your favourite stops, then get ready to see a whole new side of France as you drive through its mix of speedy autoroutes and leisurely-paced lanes.

Once you reach Nice itself, there’s so much to see and do. It’s been occupied since ancient times with archaeological digs revealing Celtic and Roman remains. Why not stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais that takes its name from the English expats that gifted it in 1822? You can walk, cycle or skate its 4km sweep of the Baies des Anges. Climb the staircase of Colline du Château for the best views over Nice’s red-tiled rooftops.

For a modern twist, stop by the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain where European and American avant-garde works from the 1950s to the present day can be seen. The rooftop of this museum also serves as an exhibition space and you get bonus panoramic views of Nice!

Nice carnival

Blue confetti and ribbons shooting into the air with buildings and a crowd in the background

One event that draws crowds to Nice every year is the Carnival De Nice. Nice Carnival is an annual festival in February that has been celebrated for centuries. It spans two weeks, with various parades (all set around a different theme for the year) filled with opulent floats, music, and entertainment. You can discover this year’s theme and key dates here.

Laon

One of the pretty parks in Dijon

The place to stop or stay if you adore French food and wine, Dijon has plenty of dining options to tempt you. In the centre of Dijon, Le Bouchon du Palais is famous for serving up exquisite and traditional Lyonnaise food. Known in particular for superior wines and the classic mustard, there’s also art-deco architecture to take in and a range of museums to choose from. A highlight being the Musee des Beaux Arts that sits within the impressive Palace of the Dukes.

Lying close to Calais, the drive to Reims is a lovely one in itself. And once you’re there, you can choose between numerous activities, including a visit to some of the largest champagne houses, which are dotted around the area. After supping on samples of the local bubbly, there’s also plenty of Gothic architecture to captivate you. See our guide to the things to see and do in Reims to get inspired.

Dijon

Lyon is just a six-hour drive from Calais, and only 2 hours south of Dijon. This is France’s second-largest city, so you’re truly spoilt for choice when it comes to activities and sights. The centre is filled with Renaissance buildings and tempting bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants). Wander to the docks or visit the Musée des Confluences, which is a building that often takes people’s breath away, even before they step inside and see the exhibitions.

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Peillon looks as though it were carved from the rock face it sits upon

Peillon is a delightfully-small commune seated atop a cliff in the Alpes-Maritimes department in South-eastern France, just 18km from Nice.

On arrival, visitors must leave their cars behind as the only way to get around once within the tiny, tranquil town is by foot. Strolling amongst the incredibly charming, ancient stairways and walkways is a joy, and the town’s little restaurants and cafés provide guests the opportunity to dine like a true local. Those who visit will also forever remember the breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains and the Paillon Valley.

Avignon

The lavender field at Sénanque Abbey

Some may have already heard of Gordes as it is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in not just Provence, but the entirety of France. Similarly to Èze and Peillon, Gordes is also a hilltop settlement, much like many of the towns and villages in Provence. With its collection of terracotta rooftops, church towers and narrow passageways, Gordes is most stunning when bathed in the glowing light of the setting sun.

A 15-minute drive from Gordes is the Sénanque Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque), a Cisterican abbey founded in 1148. The monks who call the abbey home, tend to honey bees, as well as a number of lavender fields which are open for visitors to stroll through. The best time to visit is during warmer months as the lavender is particularly spectacular under the French summer sun.

 

Start your drive to Nice with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Be inspired to plan your next trip to Nice, using our recommended stops or new discoveries of your very own. Begin your journey with Eurotunnel — we can take you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes. It couldn’t be easier to travel with us.

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Inspired to visit Nice on your next road trip in France? With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35-minutes

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