See France Your Way
France has some of the best transport and travel networks in Europe, so whatever your budget or time restrictions, there’s no excuse not to experience everything this amazing country has to offer while you’re backpacking across it or simply flying through on your gap year adventures.
France by car
The roads in France are well developed, but most of the big roads have tolls on them you will need to pay in order to access. If you’re driving around France you’ll find all sorts of roads from single lane windy ones in the countryside to major highways joining all corners of the country, so where you go might depend on your confidence level.
Also, it’s quite important to remember that they drive on the right in France. And, um, the French can be ‘aggressive’ drivers.
Car hire is easy enough to find and is available at all the major airports and other places you would expect to find it. If you’re planning on taking the car outside of France check with your supplier first.
If you’re a nervous driver it might be best to use public transport – France is well connected, after all.
France by train
Trains are a great way to get around in France. The TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse – High-Speed Train) will get you anywhere in just a few hours. If you have time though, take a slow train and enjoy France’s beautiful landscapes out the window. If you’ve decided to forego the interrailing pass and want to see France at your own pace check out the “Carte 12-25” to save some money (you need to be under 26 though). It costs, but if you’re doing a few journeys you can save a fortune.
When it comes to booking, take a look at a few different sites as the results are often different, and you can save a few euro here too.
One of the main things you need to remember if you’re making the most of the train travel opportunities in France is to stamp your ticket at the ‘composteur’ to validate it for travel. This is a yellow and grey machine situated just before you get on the train. If you fail to punch the ticket you may get fined – don’t pretend to just not understand, them’s the rules.
If you do happen to board without stamping your ticket you need to find the conductor immediately and tell him what’s happened, before he finds you.
If you prefer to combine your travel with your accommodation there are night trains available. Just ask at the information desk if this is something that interests you. It’s great for longer journeys and makes you feel like you’re in a Hitchcock movie.
France by bus
There’s an intercity bus service that runs through France, as well as a Eurolines service. Both the intercity and city buses are great value and are usually the cheapest way to get around. But they are, of course, also quite a bit slower, so make sure to factor that into your itinerary.