Are you going on holiday to the South of France? Here are the essential steps for your road trip on the Nationale 7!
Fancy a road trip in a motorhome or van on the Nationale 7? The “holiday route” or the “Blue road.” With a total length of 996 kilometers, this mythical ribbon of asphalt is the backbone of the map of France.
It was the longest national road in France. From Paris to Menton, it symbolizes departures for holidays in the sun, from Paris to the song of cicadas.
The alternative to the A6, A77, A7, and A8 motorways embodies the slowness, the 1960s, hippie wave, local products, and food and wine.
The Nationale 7 will take you through beautiful regions to explore in France: the Centre, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, Provence, and the Côte d’Azur.
Would you like to explore France at your own pace? Here are the essential steps of a road trip on the Nationale 7: crisscross the villages of France while revisiting their history, culture, and heritage!
Road-Trip On The Nationale 7: Itinerary Tips
Stage 1: From Paris to Nevers
To begin with, it should be noted that the Nationale 7 has been renumbered many times since the 1970s. Today, it has retained barely half the length under its name. The Nationale 7 starts in Paris, between the Porte d’Italie and Le Kremlin-Bicêtre. This first stage of 235 kilometers takes you to Nevers.
At the end of Paris, do not miss the Khânh-Anh pagoda in Evry. No, you are not in Thailand but Essonne. It is the largest pagoda in Europe.
In the heart of the Regional Natural Park of French Gâtinais, visit Barbizon, nicknamed “the village of painters.”
On the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau, it is an emblematic village of French painting. Corot, Daubigny, Dupré, Millet, Monet and Renoir went there to find inspiration.
The Château de Fontainebleau makes you (re)discover the royal history of France, from Francis I to Napoleon I. Then, leave the Île-de-France after Nemours, and visit Montargis.
On your way, do not miss the Briare Canal Bridge on the Loire. To the west, the Castles of the Loire are close.
To the east and south, the Burgundy wine route starts. This section of the Nationale 7, with its mythical terminals, scours the villages and their castles, the vineyards to Nevers. Before Nevers, don’t miss the Church of Notre-Dame de la Charité-sur-Loire.
Step 2: From Nevers to Roanne
After visiting the must-see monuments of Nemours, Montargis and Nevers, head to Moulins. Your route crosses the Nièvre, then the Allier, where the first hills of the Massif Central take shape. The villages of Bessay-sur-Allier, Varennes-sur-Allier, Saint-Gérand-le-Puy punctuate your route.
In Saint-Loup, a museum dedicated to the history of the Nationale 7 is the subject of a cultural break. You enter the Loire, visiting the municipalities labeled “Villages and Cities of Character”: Le Crozet, Ambierle, Saint-Haon-le-Chatel.
A return to the Nationale 7 then takes you to Roanne: we can already observe some southern tunes. Taking a stroll through the old center of Roanne is worth the detour, especially to see the keep of a castle from the eleventh century.
The Monts de la Madeleine is a must-see if you like hiking with the Puy du Montoncel.
Stage 3: From Roanne to Valence
Along the Nationale 7, there are also the gorges of the Loire, with its breathtaking panoramas. On the east side, the Beaujolais mountains announce the Lyonnais. In Joux, pass the Col du Pin-Bouchain: the highest point of the N7 (759 meters).
Afterward, visit the Presqu’île de Lyon, its central center, and its historical and cultural monuments (Fourvière, traboules, squares, and parks) before stopping in Vienne (Isère).
An ancient city, you should not miss its Roman ruins. These include the Temple of Augustus and Livia, the archaeological garden of Cybele, and the old theatre where the famous Jazz Festival in Vienna takes place.
On the Rhône side, the heights of the Pilat Natural Park and the vineyards of Condrieu are nearby. For hiking, the crest of the Œillon is the highest point of the Pilat massif.
Stage 4: From Valence to Avignon
From Valence, the Rhone Valley welcomes you to Provence and the South. Stroll through the alleys of the city before continuing.
Make a small detour to Romans-sur-Isère, and the villages of Vercors (Combovin, Chateaudouble, Peyrus, Léoncel, Saint-Jean-en-Royans).
Then, take the direction of the charming town of Crest leads you almost to Drôme Provençale. Visit Mirmande, one of those villages that are the pride of French heritage.
Once you have walked in the heights, return to Montélimar and pass by the Palace of sweets and nougat.
The suite is an anthology of villages and must-see sites. It is easy to recognize the beautiful names of these places because of their heritage and the beauty of the Provençal landscapes.
These are those of Saint-Paul-les-Trois-Châteaux, Lapalud, Mornas, Piolenc (Musée de la Nationale 7), Orange (Roman ruins), Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vaqueyras, Gigondas. The Rhone wine route under the sound of cicadas!
Stage 5: From Avignon to Aix-en-Provence
We no longer present Avignon, the city of the Popes. Capital of Vaucluse, this city is an essential passage during a road trip on the National 7.
Famous for the homonymous bridge, the Palais des Papes and its theatre festival, Avignon is classified as a “City of Art and History.” It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is a charming city with a leading historical, architectural, and cultural heritage. If you love culture and heritage, stop for a few days in Avignon.
Take the time to discover the city’s museums and stroll through the intramural center’s pedestrian streets.
Also, stroll through the Parc du Rocher des Doms, with its overhanging view of the city and the famous Saint-Bénézet bridge. Finally, enjoy the bars, terraces, and restaurants towards the Place de l’Horloge.
Head south-east, with the Alpilles massif, Les Baux-de-Provence and the Luberon Regional Park. Aix-en-Provence is the cultural capital of Provence.
You will find an abundance of Flavors and Colors of Provence and historical monuments (Cours Mirabeau, the Rotunda, mansions).
Stage 6: From Aix-en-Provence to the Côte d’Azur
After your Aix getaway, explore the sumptuous Provençal hinterland: including the villages (Vauvenargues, Puyloubier, Tourves, Pourcieux), the Sainte-Victoire mountain and its pine trees in the background, and the Sainte-Baume Massif.
In the Var, it almost feels like arriving, at the end of the wheel, at the magnificent beaches of the Big Blue. It almost feels like you’ve arrived at the end of the wheel, at the dazzling beaches of the Big Blue. The old route of the Nationale 7 takes you close to the Var coast and its renowned seaside towns (Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Saint-Tropez).
The journey’s end is near, but the Côte d’Azur offers an uncountable amount of things to see and do. For example, go through the Adrets-de-l’Estérel.
Further on, the chiseled cliffs with red hues of the Massif de l’Estérel flow into the sea. Return to city breaks, visiting the cities of Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Monaco, and Menton.
Stage 7: From Cannes to Menton
In the Alpes-Maritimes, take the opportunity to stop in Grasse, the world capital of perfume. This city is perched on the heights of the Parc des Préalpes d’Azur.
Although Grasse is not on the Nationale 7, it has an unmissable cultural heritage. In your wake, join Nice from capd’Antibes. Nice and its hinterland are superb.
Don’t miss castle hill and the Promenade des Anglais in the old town. You can also take a height on Mount Boron, which is less crowded.
Finish your road trip on the Nationale 7 with a visit to the village of Èze, a picturesque village perched above the sea. The trip ends with the Rock of Monaco and the city of Menton, also known as “the city of lemons.”
Menton is a preserved city along the Italian border, where an undeniable tranquility reigns. Classified city of Art and History, Menton can be visited by strolling and taking its time. That’s good; your road trip on the Nationale 7 has just ended!