Backpacking in France on a Gap Year

Countries  »  France

Why go?

A Gap Year 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 cities

The main event while backpacking in France 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.

The Louvre Gallery in Paris, France

The scenery

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 on your French gap year.

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.

The French Riviera - Gap Year

Convinced? If not we demand you get off our website (not really please stay we love you).

Best experiences

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 on your gap year in France!

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.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

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.

French wine by the glass

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.

Mont Saint-Michel, France

Relax like a movie star 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.

St. Tropez, France

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.

Delicious French food, gap year

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.

Notre-Dame Cathedral, France

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.

The countryside of France

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.

The Louvre Gallery, France

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.

A war memorial and cemetery in France

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.

Chamonix, France


Oui, Oui, Take Me There!

There is a huge number of ways to go backpacking in France on your gap year 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.

Experience France

Backpacker Tours France

European Discovery

InterRail Passes France

InterRail Global Pass

Multi-Country Trips France

Grand European

Europe Flexitrip

Europe Flexitrip

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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

Teaching English in France

Teaching English

How to Survive a Ski Season

How to Survive a Ski Season

Travel Tips France

Travel Tips

France Food


View all France articles