Backpacking through France and explore well the country
Backpacking through France
France is an interesting country to visit. Every region has its own identity but also landscapes. It is usual to hear travellers being surprised by the wide variety of landscapes France can have not far from each others seaside, countryside, mountain etc. Also, architecture and houses are different from one region to an another.
For example Brittany houses are tiny and made usually with granite stones when the region next by Normandy has completely different houses typically half-timbered and thatched.
France is a beautiful country to visit, one of the most beautiful and interesting in Europe but France suffer of bad reputation because of … the French! Do not worry, French are nice people and we are giving you some tips to travel wisely and Backpacking through France easily!
Check the different regions
As we said France is not one unique and similar place to visit, but many regions nice to visit. First of all, ask yourself what do you like the most while travelling. Do you like cities? nature? going to museum? beaches? meeting locals?
Once you know what you like, try to determine where you should go. It can seem a bit cliché but if you like cities and fashion areas, then you should stay in Paris. If you like nature and wild area, then come to see us in Brittany. If you cannot live without sun then head to Nice and if you like wine and food then you can go everywhere in France!
Go off road
French are rude? If you stay to Paris we won’t contradict you but maybe Parisians are just like in any big cities in the world: they are pressed! If you want to know more about French people and culture, we really encourage you to go off road and stay in villages. You will see how France is a welcoming nation and despite of barrier language they will help you to discover around. Use your common sense, if you do not speak French, use your hands, use pictures/ maps or google translation! Who said being an explorer was easy?
For us backpacking is not going to big cities with a backpack, backpacking is exploring around, getting lost and meeting locals!
Train is really well developed in France and will main you to every village you can see. Travelling by bus is possible since only few years in France so the network is not completely developed. However, buses are the cheapest way to travel from cities to cities.
Speed trains are quite expensive but local trains are cheap. Check what we call TER, it is French regional railway network. With local train you can go everywhere you want. Just check schedule!
In Brittany, here is the network (but every region has one!)
There is always seats in local trains so you can plan your daytrip at the last minute and travelling with freedom. For example, most of our client decide at the last minute if they want to spend their day in Saint-Malo which is a seaside town or to Dinan, a medieval town. Weather is often the decisive point.
If you decide to travel by train in France & Europe, check Eurail website, they sell train passes to visit Europe!
Stay in hostels or camping
Travelling in France as in many developed countries can be an expensive choice. To save money, save on accommodations by staying in hostels or camping. In France a bed in an hostel is from 24 to 30€ depending of the season.
Hostels are not yet well developed in France but no worries it is coming. In 2018, lot of openings are planned!
If you want to visit a region where there is no hostel, then the cheapest options are camping. We have camping everywhere. They can be quite expensive in South of France during summer.
Live like a local
Backpacking is all about getting lost in villages or cities, do not stay only on main streets, escape to left or right and explore around. Getting lost you will see more how locals are living, you will discover shops and restaurants that are not on your guide, you will picture nice moments, nice houses…
What we like to do when we explore abroad is to “visit” a supermarket. It is a real experience to see different products and habits of a different culture.
We also like to seat on a terrace of a well located pub or café and observe the life. If you are lucky you can even make friends. In villages, it is easy to make friends for a night in local pubs 😉
Also, to discover French culture do not forget to go to a local market. Check when it is. Normally in every single village in France there is a weekly market. For example in Dol de bretagne it is every Saturday morning and we love to go there! Feel local spirits!
Food = France (and maybe Italy 😉
We have so many plates you should try! Ask the region where you stay what are the specialties and try them it is delicious! For example in Nouvelle Aquitaine (Bordeaux area), try “Canelé”, in Alsace try the famous “choucroute”, in Brittany you must try the “galette” and local beers in the North of France! There is not one but many specialties in every region.
Go to restaurant and check the menu. While Backpacking through France go to local markets to feel the spirit but you can also try local food in local market! Did you know in Brittany the local hot dog is a crepe with a sausage? (see picture here) If you go to a local market you will see long queue in front of food truck 🙂
Get inspired by History
France has a strong history. The most famous one is our king’s period but we have many other interesting periods that let us some unique sites to explore. In some places you can see traces of early men, see houses dating back to the 5th century or visit sites of the second world war.
If you are interested by history, France will be an awesome destination. To get more info about the cities where you are staying, do not hesitate to ask to the Tourist Information Center. They will help you to discover unique sites in villages and cities.
Check the weather
Weather is changing a lot within a day in France and can be really different from one region to another.
Before planning or going somewhere you can check Meteo France , the most popular site for weather forecast.
Do not forget your raincoat in your backpack if you are heading west of France. It is often rainy but its wildness still beautiful.
Check local agenda
Many activities are organized by different association or city hall. In France, cultural life and scene have a big agenda even in small cities. Get in touch with the reception of your hostel or go to tourist information to know what is going on. If you read French, buy local newspaper!
For example in Dol de Bretagne, we often have events such as local music playing in the main street or dance contest or we also have bigger events like the international month of the photography. If you go somewhere, try to look for local agenda. Around Mont Saint-Michel, it is easy, just check our blog 😉
France is a really wide and nice country. It is really interesting to visit because of its diversity in culture, landscapes, food & history.
Remember: when you are Backpacking through France go to countryside and off road, you will know the local experience : “France is not only Paris”!
Bretagne, Tips, Train
In: Very favorite