My first road trip in my super cute blue Fiat 500 was a three day trip from Paris to Innsbruck. It would have been nice to have taken a little longer to stop more often or to take a few side trips but I had plans in Innsbruck so only stopped twice along the way. The first stop was in Belfort in France, just near the German and Swiss borders and the following night we stopped in Vaduz in Liechtenstein.
Day 1 – Paris to Belfort, France
My decision to head to Belfort was based on playing around on Google Maps and picking somewhere which was more or less half way between Paris and Vaduz. Belfort seemed like a good choice as a mid-sized city with a couple of well known tourist attractions.
Unfortunately these so called tourist attractions aren’t particularly attractive and there wasn’t an much to do but to enjoy an apéro in one of the many bars and then have a bite to eat.
That’s not to say we didn’t have a look around. It’s a nice walk up to the citadel where you can get close to the Belfort Lion but it’s not a particularly exciting place.
Belfort has always been an industrial city but as many of those industries are in decline the city is now trying to reposition itself as a cultural centre. I’m not sure they’re going to pull it off but if you do happen to stop by you might want to check out one or two of their upgraded museums.
Where to Stay in Belfort
I arrived in Belfort without a hotel booking but stumbled upon the All Seasons Belfort which is part of the Accor group. It’s a basic 3 star hotel but at €55 per night including breakfast, parking and free wifi I didn’t hesitate to take the room.
All Seasons Belfort
Rue Gaston Defferre
Day 2 – Belfort to Vaduz, Liechtenstein
There was no point in sticking around Belfort so we headed straight for Liechtenstein. Vaduz is 3 hours from Belfort and getting there includes a brief trip through Switzerland.
Tip: Try to avoid driving on the motorways in Switzerland where you need to pay €40 for a vignette/sticker (valid for one calendar year). That wouldn’t be a problem if you plan on doing a lot of driving in the country but when you are just passing through it’s a major unwanted expense.
I’ve always been curious about Liechtenstein and was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. It’s such a small country which isn’t often talked about so I wanted to check it out for myself as well as crossing it off my must see countries list.
While I had heard some good things about it like the castle and beautiful location, I was not impressed when I arrived. Even the royal palace isn’t particularly interesting and you can’t visit it as the Prince of Liechtenstein and his family lives there.
One fun thing to do in Vaduz is to go to the post office and get your passport stamped. There is no border control in Liechtenstein but it’s fun to get a stamp to prove you have been there.
At least you can find good cocktails in Vaduz. We had a couple at Nexus but at 15 CHF (13 euros) each we couldn’t afford to eat afterwards.
Where to Stay in Vaduz
The little tourist office in the city centre (at the bus station) can give you a list of places to stay in the region but they don’t make bookings. I picked Landgasthof Au guest house based on it being fairly close to the city centre and having free parking. They also happen to have a shady beer garden where can get good but very expensive food.
Prices in Liechtenstein are similar to those across the border in Switzerland, in other words it’s an expensive country. They also use Swiss francs as their currency so be prepared to change money when you get there or do as I did and pay for everything by credit card.
Day 3 – Vaduz to Innsbruck
Sometimes you really have to put your faith in the GPS and accept that even though the signs suggest you’re going the wrong way, it’s going to work out in the end. It usually always does. On this occasion my trusty GPS took us through all the back streets of Vaduz and through some way off the beaten path villages before finally making it to the Austrian border and the motorway. Passing through so many cute villages was probably the best part of Liechtenstein and makes me think we would have enjoyed the country more if we hadn’t stayed in Vaduz but out in the country.
Tip: Don’t forget to buy a vignette from a petrol station if you use the motorway in Austria, otherwise you risk getting a fine. At least in Austria they offer one day and weekly vignettes so it’s no where near as expensive as Switzerland.
I can’t say I loved either of the stopover locations on this road trip although I was happy to have finally made it to tiny Liechtenstein. What did make this trip worthwhile was driving through the stunning Austrian countryside and finally making it to Innsbruck. I spent 10 days in and around Innsbruck and can’t tell you how much I loved everything about the region. The food, the laidback atmosphere and the stunning mountains at every turn really did it for me and I hope to go back sometime soon.
If I was going to do the road trip from Paris to Innsbruck again I would most likely stop in Strasbourg which is one of the prettiest cities in France and then one or two small German towns on the way to Innsbruck.2