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.

Thinks to do in France

Check out our current top picks


Become a Ski Instructor

from £380

5 - 56 days


Snoworks GAP offer a range of BASI endorsed Ski Instructor Training Courses in Tignes, France. Expert tuition from BASI trainers...

Combined TEFL Course Paris

from £1283

8 days


Join our 8-day combined TEFL course in Paris and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

In-Class TEFL Course in Paris

from £1530

20 days


Join our 4-week TEFL in-class course in Paris and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

San Sebastian Surf Camp

from £60

1 days

France, Spain

Our little slice of paradise, our flagship destination. It's a perfect blend of beautiful landscape (mountains and beaches baby), the...

Language Assistant in France

from £1250

28 - 84 days


Live in the beautiful city of Montpellier in Southern France, learn the language, embrace the culture, meet new friends, and...

Adventures in London, Paris & Italy

from £21000

7 - 84 days

France, Italy, United Kingdom

Join us for this great European adventure; 2 weeks in London, 1 week in Paris, 1 week in South of...

Latest advice and inspiration for France

Check out what our writers have been up to in France


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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