Gap Years in France
Ah, la belle France, je t'aime! The land of love, fine dining, and questionable driving holds a top spot on any list of must-see countries in Europe, and you'd be remiss to ignore it.
The main event is Paris, a capital city so fine that it gives Japanese tourists a syndrome as a leaving present. It's almost impossible not to fall in love with world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre, one of the world's largest museums. Then there's the bouncing nightlife, unparallelled restaurants, and world-beating cultural attractions. Few cities are more worthy of the 'something for everyone' stereotype.
Elsewhere there's the Mediterranean glow of Marseille on the glittering south coast, historical Bordeaux, and Lyon, a city with vastly underrated nightlife.
There's plenty to do outside the cities, too, with the the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera and its beaches, the otherworldly medieval stack of Mont Saint-Michel, the rugged Brittany coast, and Europe's highest sand dune just outside Bordeaux. There's skiing in the Alps during the winter, and mile after mile of bucolic countryside all over the place if you fancy something more gentle.
Although you could easily spend your entire trip in France, many who go backpacking in Europe do so by InterRailing, the French cities acting as welcoming hubs before you head elsewhere. This is a fantastic way to see France on your gap year - just be sure to make the most of your time there.
Top Experiences in France
France is an incredible destination whether you're interested in sightseeing, countryside, fine cuisine, shopping, or whatever else you might be into. This list is far from comprehensive, it should be enough to get you started!
Climb the Eiffel Tower
Okay, so this is an obvious one, but you can't visit Paris without climbing one of the world's most famous landmarks. Prepare for some stunning views of this incredible city.
Drink too much wine
France is world famous for its wine, and whether you're sipping a glass at a Paris street cafe, glugging a bottle in eccentric Marseille, or gearing up for a night out on the Riviera, it's guaranteed to be a fantastic drop.
Get stranded on Mont Saint-Michel
This island commune in Normandy is straight out of a fairy tale, streets and spires towering into the sky and sometimes getting cut off from the mainland. It's an experience you won't forget.
Relax like a movie stair in St. Tropez
Anywhere along the French Riviera is absolutely lovely, but St. Tropez is arguably the most glamorous. The town is incredible, but it's the pristine beaches that'll keep you busy for the duration of your stay.
Eat, eat, and eat some more!
French food is as good as everyone says. Head to Lyon for incredible bistros, to Marseille for delectable seafood, to Brittany for lipsmacking crepes, and to Paris for pretty much anything you can imagine.
Marvel at Notre-Dame Cathedral
Paris is hardly short of spectacular architecture, but this historic cathedral is a beautiful example of French Gothic, and probably the most impressive church building you'll ever see.
Wander the French countryside
France has miles of bucolic countryside just begging to be appreciated. You can wander through the quaint villages of Alsace, the rugged coasts of Brittany, or the rolling fields of Gascony.
Get lost in the Louvre
You can't leave France without absorbing some culture, and where better than the Louvre? It's an enormous and well-revered space packed with some of the finest art in the world. Try not to actually get lost.
Visit war memorials
Although they can be sombre sights, the war memorials across France are a sad and beautiful reminder of the war-torn past of the country.
Hit the winter slopes
At the right time of year the French Alps host some of the finest ski resorts in the world. From Chamonix to Tignes to Les Orres and more, there's no shortage of powder to carve and gravity to embrace.
Make the Most of France
There is a huge number of ways to see France and live the Gallic lifestyle. You can experience it as part of a backpacker tour or multi-country trip, giving you plenty of time to sample French delights as well as a range of other European countries, or you can seize your independence, seeing it as your own pace before moving on with InterRail pass.
You could take a job or volunteering placement, spending your gap year teaching English in a rural French school, walking the halls of the famous Sorbonne like a scholar of old, or keep it simple and brush up on your catering skills. Whatever you decide, we're bound to have something to get you started.
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Advice & Tips on Backpacking in France
As this page makes abundantly clear, there's rather a lot of things to do in France. If you're feeling a bit confused or unsure, we have you covered. Short on time? Click on any of the categories to the left for quick fix advice on what you need. If you have a bit more time, here's a selection of articles written by French aficionados who have been there, done that, and would definitely love to do it again (but probably need a break from all that cheese).
France travel articles
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