Driving guides

Driving to Saint-Étienne from Calais

Stunning landscapes, incredible architecture and tempting vineyards are just some of the highlights of a trip from Calais to Saint-Étienne. Find out more in our driving guide.

Driving to Saint-Étienne from Calais

Saint-Étienne is a UNESCO Creative City that has history and art in abundance as well as being well known for its design culture and love of sport. Its position in the mountainous Massif Central region in the south-east of France means there is plenty for thrill-seekers in Saint-Étienne.

Saint-Étienne is also one of the host cities for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, staging four games at its famous Geoffrey Guichard stadium, including two of Australia’s pool matches.

Here is a guide for rugby fans or holiday-makers considering driving from Calais to Saint-Étienne. 

How long does it take to drive from Calais to Saint-Étienne?

You can drive to Saint-Étienne from our Eurotunnel Le Shuttle terminal in 8-9 hours, via a number of routes (with tolls). The shortest distance between Calais and Saint-Étienne is 504 miles (812 km). 

The quickest route – the A26 via Reims and Dijon

The quickest way to get from Calais to Saint-Étienne is by taking the A26 all the way down past Troyes, where you pick up the A5 and A31 and then the A6 via Lyon. 

Places to visit en-route

Canadian National Vimy Memorial 

An imposing white war memorial stands on a raised area of land

The route of the A26 runs through what was once the Western Front. Around an hour and a half into your journey from Calais you will reach one of the great memorials to the fallen of the First World War. 

Over 10,000 Canadian soldiers were killed or injured in the Battle for Vimy Ridge in April 1917. After the war France permanently ceded a part of the land around the ridge to Canada for the purpose of creating a national memorial. It was opened in 1936, and remains one of the most moving reminders of the catastrophic loss of human life in this part of France little more than a century ago.  

Dijon 

Dijon really does cut the mustard! As the capital of Burgundy, it spoons out rich dollops of history, gastronomy and culture. There is something for every taste here, whether it is the culinary delights of its restaurants, its 14th-century cathedral with its magnificent tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy, or its atmospheric medieval streets. If you want to leave Dijon with a spring in your step, find the owl on the wall of the church of Notre Dame, because it is said to bring good luck if you rub it with your left hand. 

From Dijon you have around two hours 50 minutes left of your journey time to Saint-Étienne. 

The A1 and A71 via Paris & Orleans

The travel time of this route is about 9 hours, taking you close to Paris before heading on the A10 and A71 motorways via Orleans and Clermont-Ferrand.

Points of interest en-route

Versailles 

Around the outskirts of Paris you come close to the awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles and its gardens. The symbol and seat of French royal power during the 17th and 18th centuries, the palace and park is one of France’s greatest tourist attractions, and visiting it should be a once-in-a-lifetime event at the very least! 

The thing is, you will want to return because there simply will not be the time to fit everything in during a few hours at Versailles. There is the palace itself – with its cavalcade of sumptuous rooms, from the Hall of Mirrors to the King’s State Apartments –  the estate of Trianon and the ornamental gardens and park with its many sculptures, fountains, paths and groves. 

Clermont-Ferrand

A Gothic cathedral with two spires stands out amidst lower buildings of a lighter colour of a cityscape

Rugby fans will certainly be familiar with Clermont-Ferrand, the home of one of France’s leading clubs. Clermont Auvergne have been French champions twice and three times Heineken Cup runners-up, and play at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. 

The city is a hidden gem, full of architectural and natural wonders, only an hour and a half from Saint-Étienne. The city’s most distinctive landmark is its black lava stone Gothic cathedral, so dark and dominating across the Massif Central plains it is as if it has landed from another time and place (which in a way it has). Star attraction in the area is the Puy de Dôme, one of the dormant chain of volcanoes that surround Clermont-Ferrand. The crater is easily accessible from the city and a train goes up to the summit if the hiking routes don’t appeal. 

The A1 and A6

This route involves the shortest distance of the three, but takes a more easterly sweep south of Paris through the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions. 

Places to visit en-route

Compiègne

Two hours and 40 minutes from Calais you pass close to the town of Compiègne, which 
came into fashion in the early 19th century when Napoleon extravagantly redecorated the Château.

But Compiègne is perhaps most famous for its forest, where the armistice of 1918, ending the First World War, was signed in a specially requisitioned railway carriage. When France surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940 Hitler selected the same symbolic location for another, more chilling armistice. The armistice carriage has been recreated and is on display in the Armistice Memorial museum. The site of the original forest clearing where world history was made on two occasions is now a tranquil area of quiet reflection. 

Chablis 

A peaceful river runs alongside an old industrial building with colourful wildflowers in the foreground

Not far from Auxerre, about three and a half hours from Saint-Étienne, you will find tempting signs for Chablis – if the surrounding vineyards had not already given the grape away! 

The town that gave its name to one of France’s most famous wines is just delightful. The buildings are of the whitest sandstone, and include the city gate with its twin towers, the Domaine Long-Depaquit and the Abbaye de Pontigny. Wander round the charming streets and you will find wineries behind most doors, with plenty of tempting tastings! 

How much are the tolls from Calais to Saint-Étienne?

You should expect to pay between €60-70 in tolls each way driving from Calais to Saint-Étienne on the routes mentioned above. If avoiding tolls is a priority, you could plan your route in more detail and look to avoid some of the major routes south of Paris. 

An Emovis tag will help speed up your passage through the tolls. We have an exclusive offer saving customers €10 on the application fee of an Emovis tag if you apply with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

The snow covered Planetarium of Saint-Étienne at night

Drive to Saint-Étienne with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Driving to Saint-Étienne starts with a 35 minute crossing from Folkestone to Calais with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Got the driving bug? Why not check out our other driving guides for destinations across France?  

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Drive to Saint-Étienne with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

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