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A Gap Year in France

Why go backpacking 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.

You know all about capital city Paris already – city of love, fine dining, high fashion, and so on. You might hop between cities for the duration of your stay – Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Toulouse – and you wouldn’t regret it.

Still, there’s so much to see in the countryside. Think verdant, rolling greenery to the north, shimmering coastline to the south, and some of Europe’s best skiing in the mountains when the season is right. Whether you’re staying a while or taking a stop on a wider InterRailing adventure, backpacking in France is always worth it.

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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 (why not go sailing, you’re worth it), historical Bordeaux, and Lyon, a city with vastly underrated nightlife.

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.

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