Our pick of the best accommodation and eateries on the Route des Vacances. All that culture and shopping can be tiring – here’s where to rest, refuel and recharge. Note: This article is part of a bigger magazine feature called “Taking the Slow Road to the French Riviera”.
Wine-lovers touring the N7 can explore outstanding wines from the southern Loire Valley (Sancerre, Pouilly-sur-Loire, and the lesser-known Côtes de la Charité) to Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône (including Crozes-Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Saint-Péray close by) to Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence (around Brignoles) and the Côtes de Provence. Plus, there are plenty of fantastic eateries and accommodation along the way.
Restaurants & Cafés
La Table du Parc
Fine dining within the château parkland at Fontainebleau with contemporary French and local cuisine served. Attractive covered terrace. Accommodation, too, in the boutique hotel, La Demeure du Parc.
Le Bar à Fromage at La Maison du Fromage
Fresh and simple seasonal dishes, centred on cheese made on the premises in Nevers. Fridays and Saturdays only. If you don’t have time to stop, the boutique is open every day and you can order ahead for your cheese selection.
Like coals to Newcastle, this Salon de Thé Britannique, in La Charité-surLoire, is run by ex-pat Brit Charles, who makes a proper cup of tea if you’re desperate for a builder’s brew, as well as homemade sponge cakes and scones. The vintage tearoom occupies an excellent spot, overlooking the Loire river.
La Brasserie de Lavoir
If you’re taking a detour to Apremont-sur-Allier, take time to enjoy a meal at La Brasserie, with cosy and humble but affable dining in a very desirable building. For light bites with a view, Les Petites Causeries offers a sun terrace on the banks of the River Allier.
Le Café Comptoir Abel
A typical and certified authentic bouchon in Lyon, serving hearty local cuisine in a convivial setting. This is allegedly the oldest bouchon in the city and has an interior that must be seen. The traditional menu includes much meat; this is not the best place for vegetarian diners.
Le Bar du Coin
One of those fabulous little places that you happen to stumble across, Le Bar du Coin is in the perfect location, directly on the N7, for a quick stop-off. As its name implies, it’s on the corner of the main street in Mornas, has a popular outdoor terrace and serves traditional Lyonnais food. There’s a large, free car park opposite.
Auberge des Templiers
On the D2007 at Boismorand, between Nogent-sur-Vernisson and Briare, this five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel is an historic staging post along the route and today has very comfortable bedrooms and apartments, and a renowned Michelinstarred restaurant. A beautiful building in extraordinary grounds.
Cours des Loges Hotel
Five-star luxury in the heart of Old Lyon, this Renaissance building oozes character, elegant bedrooms with period furniture and fine dining in the Michelin-starred Les Loges Restaurant, or in the bistro. Book a wellness treatment in the Pure Altitude Spa.
Relais 500 de Vienne
It may not be the most sumptuous of hotels, but for a clean and basic overnight stop and authenticity true to the N7, this is the place to stay. It was set up as an American-retro style motel in 1959 as a stopover for travellers on the N7 and has been in the same family for more than 50 years. Includes 35 rooms (including six family), two restaurants, and a swimming pool. Chonas-l’Amballan is midway between Paris and Menton.
Moulin de Vernègues
Directly on the N7 at Mallemort, 31km northwest of Aix-en-Provence, this modern four-star hotel, set in its own idyllic, verdant estate, has the charm of an old Provençal farmhouse, yet with 100 rooms and a spa. Have a tipple from the Bar Lavande while relaxing beside the fountain.
Château de la Chèvre d’Or
This complex of medieval buildings set within acres of gardens in Èze offers five-star luxury with five-star views over the Riviera. Relax in the Jacuzzi overlooking the sea, then retire to your sea-view room or suite for a siesta before a Michelin-starred dinner.
Royal Westminster Hotel
Treat yourself to a Mediterranean sea-view balcony when you reach Menton. It has a grand, wedding-cake façade and the contemporary-furnished rooms are spacious and comfortable. If you can’t book the Westminster, try the neighbouring Balmoral.
Camping Le Parc Saint-Michel
Tucked into an old olive grove on a plateau above Menton, offering glamping units together with pitches for tents and camper-vans, this campsite offers a quiet, leafy retreat from the hustle and bustle of the town centre, with spectacular views of the mountains, sea and basilica.
The N7 begins at the Place d’Italie, Paris, initially as the D7, then N7. Downgraded over the years, the N7 has different names in different places; nonetheless it’s the same historic route. In order, it becomes the D607, D2007, D907, A77, N7, D7N, DN7, D6007, M6007, D6007.
Île de France www.visitparisregion.com
Fontainebleau Tourism www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com
Loire Valley www.loirevalley-france.co.uk
Loiret Tourism www.tourismeloiret.com
Burgundy Tourism www.bourgogne-tourisme.com
Côte d’Azur Tourism www.cotedazurfrance.fr
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Château de la Chèvre d’Or offers five-star views of the Riviera © Relais & Châteaux
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