Most French autoroutes between major towns and cities are toll motorways, which whilst often offering fast and uncrowded dual-carriageways, can nevertheless add significantly to the cost of a trip through France – e.g over €107 (over £90) on a one-way trip from Calais to Nice (1226km of motorway driving about 760 miles).
However there are significant sections of autoroute which are toll free – most often these are around major towns and Cities (Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon etc).
In the North, the A16 is toll-free from Boulogne (J29) to the Belgian border (J36) via Calais and Dunkerque. The A25 from Dunkerque (J20) to Lille is free, so you can reach Lille from the main Channel ports without paying a toll!. Also all routes from Lille to the Belgian border.
The following autoroutes are toll free (as at September 2007)
- A16 (part of the Autoroute des Estuaires (estuaries)) from Boulogne-sur-Mer (J29) to the Belgian border(J36)
- A20 (L’Occitane) from Vierzon (J6 junction with A71) to Brive-la-Gaillarde (J53) via Chateauroux, Argenton and Limoges
- A25 from Dunkerque (J20 with A16) to Lille
- A28 from Abbeville (J1) to Rouen (J14)
- A30/A31 (Autoroute de la Vallée de la Fensch) from Thionville (J1) to Toul (J12) via Metz and Nancy
- A38 from Dijon (J33) to Pouilly-sur-Auxois (J24 and the junction with the A6
- A63 (Autoroute de la Cote Basque) from Bordeaux to Bellin-Bellet (J20)
- A64 (la Pyreneenne) from St Martory (J20) to Muret (J25)
- A68 (la Tarnaise) from Monastruc (J3 NE of Toulouse) to Albi (J11) via Gaillac
- A75 (la Meridienne) from Clermont-Ferrand (J15) to Pezenas (J59) (except for the Millau Bridge) via Issoire
- A750 (L’Héraultaise) – the branch which connects the A75 to Montpellier from Saint Felix-de-Lodez
- A77 (Autoroute de l’Arbre (trees)) from Pouilly (J26) to Nevers (J37)
- A84 from Caen (J46) to Rennes (J25) via Avranches
If you have to use a toll autoroute in France consider getting a Télépéage badge
The number of budget airline routes to France from the UK is continuing to grow, as is the number of French destinations – no longer restricted to the major cities. This really does open up some of the less well-known parts of France.
The list below shows the extent of the coverage – and this excludes flights to Paris which are available from most local airports. Some flights are seasonal, so please check with the airline for timetables and availability.
An innovative project has been launched which links 2 attractive regions either side of the channel through their respective abundance of gardens to visit. French gardens are often interesting to visit, especially as some aim to create what they think of as a “jardin anglais” – usually with lawns and “cottage garden” features, whilst others, particularly in the grounds of stately homes and chateaux, can be very formal.
Normandy clearly has a wealth of gardens open to the public – “The parks and gardens of Normandy, whether botanical, landscape or historic have become important points of reference. Connoisseurs as well as novices will be enthralled by the wealth of different species as well as the beauty of the individual sites. You will find 40 sites, all members of the association, which have been selected not only for their beauty but also for their hospitality. Visitors can discover a wide range of surroundings and secret walks which change daily according to the weather, plant cycle and with a little help from man.”
They range includes the famous Monet gardens at Giverny (27 Eure, Haut-Normandie) near the Seine, the magnificently named Jardins de Bellevue at Beaumont le Hareng (the herring?) (76 Seine-Maritime, Normandie) which houses 2 national collections and Agapanthe (“a contemporary garden, burgeoning with plants, takes the form of a series of sharply contrasting intimate spaces ; a botanical walk which also pays tribute to man-made structures, artistically blending the mineral and vegetable kingdoms.”) at Grigneuseville (76 Seine-Maritime, Normandie); and as far west as the Jardin des Plantes at Coutances (50 Manche, Normandie). There are also the gardens at Chateau Champ de Bataille (Castle Battlefield?) at Le Neubourg (27 Eure, Normandie)
Also see our calendar of events in France
A selection of Normandy gardens
- Jardin d’Argences at Saussey (50 Manche, Normandie)
- Parc Floral et Colline des Oiseaux, Caen (14 Calvados, Normandie)
- Jardins des Pays d’Auge at Cambremer (14 Calvados, Normandie) on the Normandy Cider Route!
- Jardin du Prieure St Michel at Crouttes (61 Orne, Bas-Normandie)
- Roseraie et Parc du Chateau Mesnil-Geoffroy at Ermenouville (76 Seine-Maritime. Normandie)
- Jardins Agapanthe at Grigneuseville (76 Seine-Maritime. Normandie)
- Parc et Jardins du Chateau de Miromesnil at Tourville-sur-Arques (76 Seine-Maritime. Normandie)
- Parc et Jardins du Chateau de Canon at Mezidon Canon (14 Calvados, Normandie)
- Jardins du Chateau Vendeuvre at Vendeuvre (14 Calvados, Normandie)
- Jardin Botanique du Chateau de Vauville (50 Manche, Normandie)
- Parc du Chateau de Nacqeville at Urville Nacqueville (50 Manche, Normandie)
- Jardins d’Elle and nursery at Villiers Fossard (50 Manche, Normandie)
- Abbaye St Georges de Boscherville (76 Seine-Maritime, Normandie)