France is the world’s top tourist destination thanks to breathtaking art, delightful history, ironic culture, and some of the most delicious cuisines. The country reports over 89 million tourists every year, which is the most of any country in the world. And despite its trifling scope, France bustles with plenty of attractions for tourists to gobble on every year. Therefore, the chances are high that you might have to visit more than once to exhaust its rich domain fully. However, for any traveller to experience France’s hidden, most exciting, and cost-friendly side, they have to embark on backpacking in France.
Before moving permanently, I have visited France on two occasions. The first time was in 2019 where I did the standard “touristy” routes such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. An excellent experience, I admit but not wholly satisfying. In the beginning of 2020, however, I was lucky enough to fully scoured both the city and backcountry thanks to backpacking. Backpacking not only allows you to mingle freely with the locals but also accustom oneself to the language and culture. As a result, I had a better view of the rich cultural set from ground level than my hotel’s balcony in 2019.
Best season to visit France
Statistics show that most of the country’s visitors reserve summer as the best time to flood the land. However, the hot July and August temperatures can make this journey quite unbearable sometimes.
However, visiting during spring (between April and June) makes a lot more sense because the temperatures are warm enough for you to enjoy a great stroll outdoors. Alternatively, a visit during fall or autumn may also be a great idea since the weather isn’t cold enough to disorient your travel.
There are positives to traveling in the off-season (fall and spring), such as less congestion and the cut-price cost of doing it.
Where to backpack in France
Given how rich France’s destination is, you might want to sit down and compile a travel itinerary aligned with your time and budget. For most of the country’s visitors, Paris is a good enough itinerary. However, the cultural riches of France span beyond the precincts of its capital.
The budget of your trip will be determined by different factors such as accommodation, suitable means to get around, activities, and desire for comfort. We all experience travel differently, and in most cases, that is down to how deep our pockets are. Nevertheless, there are a couple of must-sees that every traveller to France must incorporate into their itinerary. The following are some of the beautiful places to backpack in France.
You can’t claim to have travelled the country if you haven’t been to Paris. For many, Paris is the cultural headquarters of the globe. Paris has played host to some of the globe’s most celebrated events, such as the Tour De France. Therefore, regardless of your final destination, you will probably want to visit the famed Paris. With famous landmarks such as Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel tower coupled with the Louvre, Paris alone is an extensive enough itinerary for most of the country’s visitors. Depending on how pressed for time you are, you can fully exhaust the capital’s destinations in 2-3 days.
2. Normandy region
Famed for rich memoirs of World War II, Normandy is situated just east of the capital. The region is known for its historical tales and some fine cheese in Camembert. So if you desire an off-the-beaten-path, then perhaps traveling to the backcountry in Rouen and Bayeux.
3. Provence Region
The Provence region is another excellent backpack place, a makeup of cities such as Marseille, Nice, and Avignon. In addition, the area offers some beautiful sites such as picturesque vineyards where you can enjoy a memorable picnic in the backcountry.
4. Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region
France is one of few destinations where you can enjoy a fine glass of wine. And the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region is the best place to do so. So naturally, Bordeaux is the most visited in this world-famed wine region. However, you can also enjoy nature walks and bike trails for a great outdoor experience.
5. Occitanie Region
The region known as the southernmost administrative wing of metropolitan France is known for medieval Roman cities, long sandy beaches, and its seaside resorts. Travelers can also enjoy its backcountry with nature strolls in the hilly and mountainous landscape. Montpellier is the capital and most visited in the region.
How to backpack in France
Backpacking in France is a beautiful experience, especially if you do it right. And two factors must be put into consideration if you plan to backpack in France.
Travel in the country
If your ideal means involve taking short flights within the country, it is best to scour the internet and compare flight charges. For example, you could use flight comparison search engines such as Kiwi and Skyscanner to offer guidance on what flight is the most convenient in terms of time and cost.
You could also opt for trains and buses to get around since these are more cost-friendly. However, depending on your general preference, buses are well-equipped with modern conveniences whereas trains offer the fastest transport between cities in France. Depending on your itinerary, you can check Omio to see which trains, buses, and flights suit you best.
Accommodation in the country
Given the country’s status on the world stage, France has some of the finest accommodation spots globally. From wallet flaring hotels in the Louvre area and Champs-Élysées to the pocket-friendly Latin Quarter commonly known as the student hub, the accommodation prospects are immense in the capital.
However, you could opt for alternative means such as camping and Couchsurfing, an exciting prospect to catch up with family and friends.
Safety and equipment for backpacking
Like most travel safety tips, travellers to France are encouraged to keep their passport, cash, and other valuables in a hotel room safe or with a concierge. In addition, when visiting Paris and other cities, only carry photocopies of your travel documents. Also, keep the standard protocols such as not taking drinks from strangers, traveling alone to remote and dark areas.
Regarding what equipment to carry, opt for a backpack instead of wheeled luggage given the narrow and uneven sidewalks. Aside from the personal items such as wallet, travel documents, medications, and necessary tech, travellers are encouraged to carry along items such as:
- Mini-first aid kit
- Water bottles
- Lip balm
- Mini flashlight
Do you have a favorite backpacking region in France that you care to share? Please do in the comments. Thanks for reading the complete guide to backpacking in France!