My wife and I are planning a driving trip between Lyon and Bordeaux in late April. We will have about 9 days, and would like to see various sights, especially the "les plus beaux villages" along the way. We prefer to avoid the freeways, and to take the smaller roads. We are getting up in age, so we do not want to travel too many miles in one day. If you have a suggestion for an itinerary, we would welcome it. Also, any suggestions on where to eat (not too expensive) and stay along the way (we prefer gites to hotels). Thanks in advance.
Adodd, you should post your question under the Destination Q&A section, France. You would most likely get a better response to your question. This area is for folks to post their Trip Reports on traveling they already accomplished.
You'll most likely end up on an autoroute (similar to a U.S. interstate highway) for at least part of your trip. Smaller highways are Nxx (national highways) and Dxxx (departmental highways).
A good start to your trip, if you like to see Roman ruins, would be head a little south of Lyon to the town of Vienne along the Rhône River. It has a pretty large set of ruins of the Roman commercial and residential area of Vienne (the town's name refers to the wine produced in the area), along with a good museum next door that explains the setting and has some remarkable mosaics and floors uncovered in the archaeological excavations. You could spend half a day there, grab some lunch, and head west. To save time, you could pick up a sandwich and a bottle of water at a boulangerie in town before hitting the ruins and nibble while you walk among the ruins.
One stop you may want to consider is Le Puy-en-Velay. My wife and I spent a couple of days there a few years ago. It's in a volcanic terrane and there are steep hills capped with a chapel and another with a large statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus (it's called Notre-Dame de France and is made of metal from Russian cannons captured during the Crimean War). Le Puy has a very nice cathedral in town (at the top of a long series of steps). The town is on a pilgrimage route to Spain, so you'll likely run into some pilgrims if you visit.
Be prepared: lots of steps are involved if you want to see the views from these features. It's a good workout.
There's a regional park dedicated to the volcanic terrane as well, west of Le Puy: Parc Naturel Régional de Volcans d'Auvergne. There are volcanic peaks and hot springs scattered around the park.
Lots of fans of the Dordogne on this board (west of the area I'm addressing), so if you post your question in a better location as suggested by brushtim, you'll likely get plenty of suggestions for that area.