Lyon is the third largest city in France and is one of the main destinations to hold the football tournament this summer. It's an exciting city with a thriving nightlife, bustling student scene and fascinating history.
Located in France's southern Rhône-Alpes region, it takes about seven hours to drive from Calais to Lyon directly by taking the A16 from Calais, before using the French autoroutes (predominantly the A26, which is known as the 'English Autoroute'). However, no one likes to be stuck in the car for hours, especially when it's hot outside! Travel smart this summer and see some of France along the way, by using our guide to some of the best places to stop at when travelling from Calais to Lyon.
Lyon is especially beautiful in the summer months © Image by Flickr user Keith Laverack
About two and a half hours from Calais on the A26, is the city of Reims. In France's Champagne-Ardenne region, Reims is a wonderful place to stop off for a night and indulge in local wines and chocolates. The city's gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral is adorned with statues and sculptures, many of which outline important religious scenes, such as the Last Judgement. It's an incredible structure and one of the top attractions in Reims.
Just down the road from Reims is the commune of Hautvillers, which is the birthplace of champagne – just the thing for celebrating a big win at the football! Surrounded by picturesque vineyards, Hautvillers is a thriving town with lots to do, but one great way to spend an afternoon is by enjoying a champagne tasting in the summer sun. Afterwards, head to Le Restaurant de l'Abbaye Hautvillers for beautiful French cuisine in a pretty setting. If the sun's out, enjoy lunch al fresco, with lovely views over the surrounding vineyards.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral at Reims. © Timothy Brown
If you drive for just under two hours from Calais along the A26, you'll arrive at the commune of Saint-Quentin, in France's Aisne department. Saint-Quentin has a grand central square, the main feature of which is the town hall and bell tower, which have been built in a gothic style. A perfect spot for a coffee and lunch, the buildings around the square are an eclectic mix of architectural styles, from gothic to art deco.
Saint-Quentin was almost completely destroyed in the First World War and just outside of the town centre you'll find WWI memorials, such as the one by the town railway station which commemorates soldiers lost during the war. There are also several military cemeteries dotted around the outskirts of Saint-Quentin.
The central square of Saint-Quentin comes alive in the summer.© Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose
Troyes is a bustling town with a beautiful centre, lined with gothic architecture. On your way to the football, step out of the car and stretch your legs by exploring the historic old town, such as rue de Vauluisant and rue Champeaux, both of which feature incredible 16th century half-timbered houses. It's a great town to visit to get a sense of France's history, boasting a vast cathedral, plus museums such as the Musée des beaux-arts de Troyes and the Musee D'art Moderne.
One particularly interesting street in Troyes is ruelle des Chats. While wandering down rue Champeaux, as mentioned above, you might miss this small, dark alley, which can be found about halfway down the street. Known as the Alley of Cats, ruelle des Chats is a long, narrow and dimly lit passage, which will make you feel as though you've stepped back in time, its dark walls and cobbled streets reminiscent of the Middle Ages.
Pull up a chair in sunny Troyes. © openroads.com
Just one hour and a half north of Lyon, the commune of Chalon-sur-Saône is nestled in the heart of the Saône-et-Loire wine-growing department in central Burgundy. The town hosts a regular morning street market, on Wednesdays, Sundays and Fridays, each week at the main square, Place St-Vincent. The area surrounding Chalon-sur-Saône is famous for its wine production, and you can sample local wines at La Maison des Vins, near to the river Saône.
If you're looking to pick up supplies for your journey, stop by the local bakery, La Meulière. It's a favourite with the locals and sells beautiful fresh bread and biscuits, plus homemade preserves and cheeses. Visiting during the summer means that you can enjoy the splendid weather, so take in the scenery of the Saône by booking a seat on one of the many riverboats, which offer guided river tours.
When you arrive in Lyon, check out the Lyon Tourist Office and Convention Bureau for more information on things to see and do.
Travelling to France for the football?
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