My thoughts about travelling through France...for what they are worth.....
We have travelled through France many times and in the beginning always had to rush because of commitments , however later we realised what we were missing so started more relaxed and leisurely treks.
I like driving but always stop every 2 hours, sometimes short breaks but often for more than an hour when we come away from the highway and visit small villages, just meandering around looking at churches and monuments etc., and maybe stop for a drink in a local cafe/bar to try to soak up some of the local culture.
And we also make regular detours to visit some of the small supermarkets, like Leclerc, where we buy some local produced wine, reasonably priced and easy to spot because we watch what the locals buy.
As for sight-seeing we have found that it's better to stop in one place for a few days rather than 'whistle-stop touring',and for instance Caen is a good base and first stop would be the Caen Memorial Mueseum,about 20 euro's entrance fee, but worth every penny, in my opinion, it really takes half a day to do it properly and when you leave you would have a much deeper understanding of the 'D Day Landings' and WW2 in general, some great gardens to relax in also.
As for hotels, there are many and we prefer to book in advance, and we try to find smaller B & B's, sometimes more expensive than the Motel type hotels, but more comfortable and secure.
We stayed once for a week in a 'budget type' hotel in Caen, it was clean and the food was good and the staff helpful and friendly, however the room was very small and the bathroom even smaller, I suspect that it was designed by someone who had previously been involved in the production of accommodation for space travelling monkeys ,it was necessary to reverse into the toilet area and was a very 'neat fit' .
For up to date rules and regulations may I suggest that you visit 'The Connexion' website, online newspaper, you can trawl past editions and keep updated.
Gordon the Onion Seller....