Six corners of the Hexagon

I am in the midst of planning the vacation of a lifetime, at least for this die-hard Francophile. It’s such an incredible trip that I can’t even say that it’s a dream come true, because I’d never imagined something so extensive: my husband and I are going to spend three months driving along the borders of France in order to visit the 6 corners of the hexagon (one of France’s nicknames is l’Hexagone), not to mention a bunch of other cool places along the way.

We’ll start by heading north from Hyères (with a brief detour around Lake Geneva), before spending two weeks in a tiny town in Alsace, near the first corner. Then we’ll visit Nancy and Metz (and – finally! – the new Pompidou museum, which I’ve been looking forward to for years) before heading to Lille and Calais for a few days (second corner). After that we’ll continue along the coast a while before detouring to Paris and Tours for a week each, then head back north to Mont Saint-Michel (my husband has never been there!) then drive all the way along the border out to Finisterre (third corner), before following the coast all the way down to Saint Jean de Luz for another week (fourth corner). Then we’ll continue leisurely through/along the Pyrénées, detouring briefly into Andorra, before spending a week in Argelès-sur-mer (fifth corner), and then follow the Mediterranean coast all the way to Menton (sixth corner).

The way we’ve mapped it out, we’ll be driving no more than 4 hours most days, so we’ll have plenty of time to visit the towns we spend the night in, and we’re also going to check out all of the Plus Beaux Villages and Plus Beaux Détours within a reasonable distance. We’re going to visit a spa in the Pyrénées, take some incredible scenic train rides, follow the wine route (Colmar) and champagne route (Reims), and pretty much cut my list of “must visit” French towns in half, at least. It’s going to be amazing.

Read about the trip:

Week 1: Hyères to Lake Geneva
Days 8, 9, 10
Days 11, 12, 13
Bastille Day
Week 3
The first corner

Lorraine
Champagne-Ardennes
Beautiful towns
Lille
Second corner

Nord Pas-de-Calais
Picardy
Normandy
Detour: Paris
Detour: Loire Valley
Bayeux
Mont Saint Michel
Saint Malo and Dinard
Bretagne
Third corner

Atlantic coast
Basque country
Fourth corner

Map: Six Corners of the Hexagon

21 thoughts on “Six corners of the Hexagon

  1. Ajeet Khurana says:

    Hi Laura, this is the type of journey that most people can only dream of. I am so happy to see that someone can actually make a dream come true. Congrats. I look forward to reading all about it on this blog.

  2. I’m actually planning to start working on a different book this fall, but then after that, yes, I think this trip might turn into another book.

  3. Richard says:

    This sounds amazing! I’d love to do a trip like this. Is there a blog/book planned?

  4. Elaine Rawling says:

    Bon voyage – sounds superb! Our little village, Puivert, with it’s many interesting hamlets just might be on your route (D117) from Foix heading east to the Mediterranean past many Cathar castles looking down on you from their crags. Argeles is a lovely place to spend time with the many coves along the Côte Vermeille for sea-food and swimming,

  5. David Conrad says:

    Aside from envying the hell out of you, your itinerary is slightly freaking me out because I’ve always thought of the hexagon of l’Hexagone as going clockwise, and I normally think of the first corner as either around Biarritz or Brest. So you’re going the wrong way!

    One day I hope to follow in your footsteps. Only, backwards. :)

  6. Thanks everyone. You can imagine how excited we are – I just hope I make it through the next two months!

    Elaine – we’re taking the route further south, in order to take a quick look at Andorra.

    David – LOL. You’re right of course, but the thing is that we want to get the best weather. September is just fine in the south, but in the north it would be rather chilly. And since we’re starting from the south, Hyères, it only makes sense to go “backwards.” I think it’ll be ok. :-)

  7. Emily says:

    Wow, sounds like an amazing trip! I’ve only connected the bottom two points of the hexagon, but it was still among my favorite trips ever. There are so many lovely towns and villages to discover that aren’t featured in any guidebook.

  8. patti says:

    Lovely trip! Have a great time!
    The only trouble is that the corners of the hexagon don’t take you to one of the most magic places in the interior of France – the northern part of the Perigord Noir.
    The Dordogne around Montignac, the Vezere, and Saint-Amand-de-Coly makes me say, at least three times a day (this morning already before 8 o:clock) “What am I doing here?) Cape Cod is beautiful, but even at age 80, I long to be in the Dordogne full time.
    Bon chance(sp) on your trip.

  9. patti says:

    Elaine – Puivert is so memorable. My dear departed husband and I saw it in 1992 and I can still remember it piece by piece. The castle on the hill with the view of rolling green hills and inside, the stunning musical bosses. Then, down below in the museum, each boss magically come to life in a constructed instrument.

  10. Clare Jones says:

    Bon voyage! I am in awe of such a wonderful voyage! Please take note of any great second hand book shops you find along the way, especially in Paris or in the north near Calais that you could tell us all about. I’m always on the look out for somewhere cheap to buy my French books and would love to pop over the channel for a book buying tour!

  11. Lorena says:

    Laura – Your planned trip around l’Hexagone sounds fantastic. I’ve been to a few French cities – Paris, Chartres, Avignon, Aix en Provence, Rochelle, Bordeaux, St. Emilion – but I would love to experience the other regions of France some day. I look forward to reading your blog in September. Bon voyage!

  12. Betty says:

    WOW! What a delightful journey this will be. As a French teacher in the US, I can only dream of doing this myself some day soon. Bonne chance!

  13. Patricia Naylor says:

    Salut Laura,
    Any chance you will visit Pont-Aven in Finisterre? It is a jewel of a town and is where Gauguin spent much time painting in the day. My grandparents owned a cottage nearby when I was growing up and I have so many beautiful memories of my times there. Brittany is really a hidden treasure of France without all the mob of people!
    Amusez-vous bien!

  14. Jon says:

    We’ve got a little B&B in Mayenne about 90mins from Mont St Michel. I can recommend Cancale if you like oysters, a little bit further west on the coast.

    As a fan of your “about” website since I (re)started to learn French in 2005 I’d be glad to heberge you if we aren’t too far off your route

  15. Jos says:

    Sounds fantastic. My first real trip around France is still the best holiday I’ve ever had. Wouldn’t do it in July again of course, beaucoup trop de monde! Have a great time :)

  16. Lauriate Roly says:

    Almost anyone who knows about France would agree, such a trip as this, is truly a gift from heaven – and no one is more deserving of this gift than you Laura. I’ve loved following you and your husband along the way. There’s no question that a book about it, under your authorship, will be most interesting and enlightening.
    Lauriate.

  17. Susan Druding says:

    What a fantastic Idea – I read your French newsletter this morning about your summer trip and came here to see photos, too.

    A dream trip, for sure.

    Susan Druding

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