Routes to the south of France
Route guide & hotels for the A26 motorway via Reims and Dijon
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Leave Calais on the A26 / E15 autoroute / motorway following signs for Reims.
Carry on past Arras and Laon, always following A 26 Reims. Do not take the A1 in the direction of Paris, whatever your TomTom or Satnav tells you. Continue straght on following the A26 / E17 .
A few kilometres after the the toll station at the northern approach to Reims, the A26 joins the A4 Motorway. There is a cluster of hotels just off the A4 motorway at exit 22, Reims Tinqueux, immediately after the motorways join. Otherwise, keep following the direction Chalon en Champagne and Strasbourg. Follow the autoroute A4 almost as far as Chalons en Champagne, where the motorways divide: take the right-hand lane to rejoin the A26 / E17 following signs for Troyes and Chaumont.
At Sommesous, after Châlons, there is a pleasant small service area with restaurant and snack bar, which is not usually too busy. If you visit this service area, take care when leaving. Unlike most French motorway service areas, there is no separation between northbound and southbound traffic, and it is therefore possible to rejoin the motorway in either direction; make sure that you remember to follow Troyes if going south, Reims if going north.
At Troyes, the A26 / E17 meets the A5 motorway. From here keep following Chaumont Dijon and Lyon. At Chaumont, the A5 turns into the A31 / E21 , which you now follow as far as Dijon.
At Dijon you will meet an intersection with the A39 motorway. At this point you have two options. Either continue down the A31 > A6 in the direction of Chalons-sur-Saône and Lyon, or else turn off onto the A39 following Dole and Besançon. Either route will take you to Lyon.
The A31 route is a bit shorter but far busier. There is an All Seasons hotel (*** with pool) on the southbound motorway service area at Macon - St. Albain, just north of Macon. If you choose the A31, just keep straight on as far as Lyon, where, if heading further south, you will be directed round the full length of the orbital motorway. Traffic gets very dense after Châlons sur Saone, where the A31 joins the A6 from Paris, France's main north-south motorway.
The A39 route is much quieter and easier driving (not many trucks / HGVs), but a little longer. If your destination is Switzerland or Italy, the A39 route via Dole is strongly advised. For the south of France, follow the A39 motorway to its end at Bourg-en-Bresse, where it joins the A40. Twenty minutes before Bourg, there is an Etap hotel (**) actually on the "Poulet de Bresse" service area, which is a fairly quiet service area in the middle of the country. The hotel is well back from the motorway.
After Bourg keep following Lyon or Geneva/ Milan depending on your ultimate destination. On approaching Lyon, follow directions for Grenoble or Marseille, depending on your destination.
To skirt round Lyon, follow signs for St Exupéry airport, then keep following Valence & Marseille, or Grenoble, depending on your destination. If following Marseille, take great care when you join the A 43 Grenoble-Lyon motorway, just after the airport. Traffic bound for the south must take the next exit off this busy eight-lane (2 x 4) motorway, after just five kilometres. The exit is not the easiest of motorway intersections, so keep the signs for Marseille firmly in view, as you do a 270° exit onto the A 46 Lyon outer ring-road.
From then on just follow "Marseille". This will quickly lead to the A7 Rhone valley motorway; at Orange, traffic bound for Languedoc and Spain branches off onto the A9 motorway. There is an Ibis hotel (**) at the Montpellier-Fabrègues service area just southwest of Montpellier.