A Complete List of France Travel Tips
France is more than just the City of Lights. Beyond the central metropolitan focus of Paris, the country is one of the only a few in Europe to touch bother Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
Home to some of the best wineries in the world, a renowned film festival and the French Riviera where the rich and famous play, the diverse country is tops on people’s lists for vacations to take. Let’s take a look at what the country has to offer and some in-depth backpacking France travel tips.
Why Visit France?
Traveling in France isn’t just about eating all the wine and cheese (but, let’s face it, you really should while you’re there); it is about experiencing the rich culture, scenery and historic sites around the country.
Another reason to travel to France is because it is a main travel hub of Europe. If you book early you can find some insanely cheap flights to Paris, France from major cities in the USA for a phenomenal price.
Backpacking Tips From Traveling in France
When to Visit France
France is a year-round country in terms of when to travel. While the weather differs between the seasons, what is important is what your trip aims to achieve.
Do you want to hit the infamous ski slopes or sip wine as the sun sets on the Mediterranean?
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a trip to France when the locals take their holidays.
It is advised to skip visiting the country when the French vacation because the country – minus tourist operations – shutter.
The last six weeks of summer (think mid-July through the end of August) should be avoided. Other than that, it depends on what you prefer.
Peak Season- Peak season in France is the typical summer season – May through September, plus around Valentine’s Day and during major sporting events like F1 and the Tour de France.
For winter sports enthusiasts, you can’t avoid peak season on the slopes.
Weather – France has a climate similar to New York, with a few microclimates tossed in to keep people on their toes as they move through the country.
Expect higher humidity and cooler summers near the Atlantic and Channel. Paris and the central part of the country have cold winters and warm summers – just like New York and the Mid-Atlantic States.
Southern France features ridiculously hot summers while absolutely freezing winters cause tongues to stick to poles in places like the Alps and along the German border. These are important things to consider when traveling in France.
France Travel Tips for Packing; Pack carefully and know the what the weather is before you go. Actually that is a good tip when you are packing for Europe in general.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
It is a question I get a lot ” Can I travel without insurance?”. You can, but travel insurance isn’t that expensive and it protects you from many things that could happen while traveling. At certain points I have traveled without insurance and t has cost me a lot of money. Now I never travel without insurance.
Hopefully, you will never need to use your travel insurance, but it is important that you have it. Yes, even when traveling in France.
So is travel insurance worth it?
It is up to you, but my opinion is to be better safe than sorry.
I use Roam Right and they are a company I recommenced.
The insurance is affordable and they offer fantastic coverage. They have phenomenal customer service.
Here are some of the things Roam Right Covers.
Cancel for Work Reasons
Emergency Accident, Sickness Medical Expense, and Dental Medical
Personal Effects Accidental
Cost of Traveling France
Depending on where you are going, backpacking in France can either break the bank (Paris, I’m looking at you) or allow you to experience the country without damaging your wallet more so than other Western European countries.
The cheapest way to get around the Europe is via second-class train or bus, or searching for inexpensive domestic flights on budget airlines.
One France travel tips is to always budget for a month in France a little more than what you are thinking.
Daily Budget – Depending on what you want to eat and transportation needs, expect to budget between $65 and $80 a day.
How Much To Budget For A Month In France
For a month in France, expect to spend just shy of $3,000.
That includes hostel dorm rooms, eating out, partying (just a little), transportation and checking out the all-important sites like the Louvre.
One suggestion to take note of when traveling in France is save as much a you can before leaving.
Paris has some of the best bakeries in the world.
Eating in France
Eating cheaply in France can be done, if you’re ok sustaining yourself on crusty baguettes, cheese and fresh fruits and veggies.
Groceries will cost about $12 a day, $84 for the week.
However, France is also a foodie’s paradise, so if you’re craving some of the renowned French cuisine, budget far more a day… to the tune of $20 to $30 – and that is without factoring in the wine.
If you want to eat your way through the bakeries, expect to spend between $7 – $10 a meal.
Ways To Get Around France
There are plenty of different ways to travel through the country. As one France travel tip I suggest using on of these three ways.
Eurail –Perhaps the most popular is Eurail, the vast network of trains, which run through the country. Purchasing a pass is the way to go, as individual tickets can easily tack on quite a few Euros.
Busabout – A hop-on/hop-off bus operator, is another way to see the country without spending too much money.
Getting around the cities – Locally, cities have buses and metro systems, which typically average around $2.50 each use.
Tour Companies in Europe I recommend.
G Adventures – One of the top tour companies in the world. G Adventures offers fantastic tours of Europe.
Intrepid Travel Tours – Another very popular tour company. Intrepid focuses on small group tours, and also gets you off the beaten path a bit.
France Travel Tips- Where to visit?
Traveling in Paris
The City of Love, Paris is a must-see when visiting France.
3 Things to see in Paris
Climb the Eiffel Tower – Head to the top of the Eiffel Tower to check out the view from the landmark spot. If you want to save some money, instead of taking the elevator, opt to climb the 700 or so stairs to the top.
Explore the Louvre – Sure, the Mona Lisa is a lot smaller in person than you would imagine, but no trip to Paris can be complete without a stop in the infamous Louvre.
This art museum is home not only to this work of art, but Aphrodite and more masterpieces to delight.
Stand in the Shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral – Check out the French Gothic architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral. Opened in the 1300’s, this iconic church is a must when in town.
3 Things to do in Paris
Take a River Boat Ride – Hop on board a boat that cruises down the Seine and see Paris from a different perspective. Some operators even offer hop-on, hop-off opportunities at major Paris landmarks, along with champagne.
Snap a Photo in Front of Moulin Rouge – The easily recognizable red windmill makes a great pic. Stop inside and witness where the can-can dance was born at this French cabaret.
Get Cozy at a Boulangerie – Try Maison Kayser, which serves up more than 60 different kinds of bread.
Of course, they is much more the see in Paris.
3 Things to see in Nice
Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain- Head to the Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain to check out the pop art and new realism collections.
Cathedral of Saint Nicolas – Sure, churches are everywhere, but the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas offers one of the best examples of Russian Orthodox architecture outside of Russia.
Nice’s Flower Market – One of the most famous spots in the city, Nice’s Flower Market offers gorgeous fresh petals and produce, plus cafes and shops. Bonus: every Monday, the market switches up and turns into an antique one.
3 Things to do in Nice
Take a stroll down the French Riviera – via the Promenade des Angelais. Chill out, bike, jog or just take in the beauty of the area.
Wander through Vieux Nice – The old Nice oozes old world charm and is worth some time exploring.
Hike up Castle Hill – Climb the 100 or so steps and treat yourself to a sweeping view of the Alps and sea.
Traveling in Lyon
3 Things to see in Lyon
Tour Metallique – Often called the Eiffel Tower’s little sister, check out the Tour Metallique. It measures in at 80 meters high.
Visit Perouge – A popular spot for filmmakers, this medieval city takes people back in time. It’s built into the side of a hill and behind ramparts, adding to the charm of the old village.
Snap a photo of The Great Stone – The Le Gros Caillou. This stone has a story – apparently it is the heart of a bailiff who was turned to stone – and dates back to the Jurassic period according to geologists.
3 Things to do in Lyon
Have an Afternoon Tea – It may seem like a more British thing to do, but Lyon has some great spots for afternoon tea and snacks. For something different, try Cha Yuan, an Asian café with more than 100 teas.
Eat All the Time – Yes, eating is a necessity, but the food offerings in Lyon are fabulous. Try Magali et Martin, owned by a French-Austrian couple. You won’t be disappointed.
Wander through the Maison Thomassin – This 14th-century mansion was built by a family of cloth craftsmen. Today, it is restored and offers gorgeous sculptures and more to take you back in time.
Traveling in Avignon
3 things to see in Avignon
Don’t miss the Palais des Papes, Palace of Popes – This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest gothic palace on the continent and gorgeous. One of my France travel tips I have to mention is the wine! France has amazing wine, I suggest drinking it even if you are not a wine lover.
The Notre Dame des Doms – Not to be confused with Paris’ Notre Dame, Avignon’s version – the Notre Dame des Doms delivers a gilded Virgin Mary and cathedral, as well as being the final resting place of Pope John XXII.
The Pont St-Benezet – Clocking in at more than 800-years-old, the Pont St-Benezet is a fantastic ruin. While under 1/5 of the original structure still stands, visitors are treated to spectacular views of the city and beyond.
3 things to do Avignon
Take a wine tour – This region in France has got some great wineries and tours that leave from Provence and head into the Cotes du Rhone.
Shop ‘til you drop at the Les Halles – Avignon’s largest covered market, 40 merchants sell everything from fresh cheese to spreads and beyond.
Running every day but Monday, Saturday mornings there are free cooking lessons from local chefs. Sample the cuisine and then wash it down with some wine.
Get active – Either hire a bike and treat yourself to the numerous paths or get a boat and hit the water.
Other Things to do When Backpacking in France
Sip champagne in Champagne. Because … isn’t it obvious?
Honor those who died in battle and experience the beach in Normandy for an afternoon.
Live it up in the south of France and hit up Cannes (preferably during the Cannes Film Festival) and pretend you’re a celeb.
Visit Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris.