Review of our 2 months roadtrip in Brittany during the fall of 2021. Itinerary ideas and budget for a van trip
Backpacking France: all our travel tips and favorite places
France: the most visited country in the world with its 89 million annual tourists. I'm not hiding it from you, I totally ignored that fact.... We know that France is a touristic country, but I was ignoring that it is the most visited country in the world!
In other words, for us who live right next to this beautiful country, it was really time to go and explore it a little more. Being Swiss is funny, because the country may be right next door, but we had to wait until 2016 to come here for the first time. Since then, I think we can say that we've made up for it! In total we spent nearly 10 months travelling in France (all this in only 3 years ,it's not too bad) ;)
A large part of this number comes from the fact that we traveled across the country for almost 7 months during the writing-process of our book "Randos bière en France" - Beer hiking in France (we will tell you more about it later on this page).
- France: The Map of our articles
- Travel budget in France
- Holiday accommodation in France: alternatives
- The most beautiful hikes in France
- Plus belle ville de France: notre sélection
- Beer Hiking in France - Randos Bière en France
- Spécialités françaises à goûter
- Ressources utiles pour préparer ses vacances en France
- Our blog posts about France
France: The Map of our articles
We have published a lot of articles on France. During our roadtrip in France we have travelled quite a few regions and below you will find a map where all our items can be easily found.
Travel budget in France
The budget of a trip to France will depend on many different factors such as the type of accommodation, the mode of transport, the desire for comfort, the activities etc.... But overall France is not a very cheap country, even if it is still possible to travel there on a small budget if you are careful (and like camping) ;) .
The season also has a very significant impact on the budget. During our 7-month trip we noticed a drastic change in the price of accommodation as soon as we arrived in the summer holiday period. (As a reminder, we had made our great trip to France from March to September 2018).
the average budget per person for a trip to France is 63€ per day and per person.
For our part, we were quite a bit below that figure. Over our 7 months of travel we spent an average of 36.1€ per day and per person. This figure includes our transportations (gas, parking, tolls), accommodation (airbnb, bed and breakfast, camping and stays with friends), food (shopping at the supermarket, restaurants, bars, etc.) and activities.
Note: In the article above we also give all our advice to reduce car costs during a long trip to France.
Holiday accommodation in France: alternatives
Staying overnight in France is extremely easy and there are really options for all budgets! Here is a list of the different options available to you:
- Stay with friends/family or couchsurfing: France is huge and the chances of you knowing someone are not zero. Or else there is still the option of couchsurfing. Let's face it, this option is not just about free housing, it's about more than that... During our trip to France it was a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and share great moments. It's a little less "intimate" , but it's so much fun! To book? Make a call to your friends;)
- Camping: In France there are campsites litterally everywhere. Pice-wise it is very variabl as well. During our roadtrip we travelled with our tent and regularly stopped by campsites. The quality is often top notch. Budget level we found prices ranging from 10€ per pitch to nearly 40€! So take a good look at the infrastructure you need.... For our part, we are not fond of campsites with swimming pools and entertainment and as a result, in general, municipal campsites suit us very well. Simpler, they are also much cheaper. To book? In high season it is better to book if you are going to a popular destination. The best thing is still to call or go through the campsite's website. For our part, however, with just a small tent, we only book very rarely...
- Holiday accomodations in campings: Many campsites offer small mobile homes for rent. Again we are not fond of large holiday clubs but even in small campsites you can find some "houses" for rent. Note: these rentals are generally by the week. To book? Contact the desired campsite
- Bed and breakfasts: An option we love! The B&B is often a cocooning option, not too expensive and in the great majority of cases we land in the homes of adorable people. To book? It is possible to book via platforms... but honestly, for small independent places we prefer to encourage you do make a direct reservation. To find them best is often to type "Chambre d'hôte" - followed by the name of your destination in search engines or to ask the tourist offices.
- Rent a cottage: Cottages are a very common option in France. It's very practical because they are small (or large, you might say) furnished apartments with a kitchen at your disposal. They are mainly found in the countryside and in small villages. To book? There are cottages on hotelscombined or on the website gites de France
- Mountain huts: Another one of our favourites! On hikes we love to stop in the mountain huts to sleep. We often eat very well, the atmosphere is warm and the prices are rarely excessive. Comfort is often sketchy, but this is usually largely compensated by the view.
- Apartment rentals: The accommodation method we used the most during our roadtrip.... Not being crazy planners, we tend to organize ourselves the same day or the day before to find our accommodation. In short, airbnb, abritel, Vrbo are very practical for that. In France, apartment rentals in cities have become real business but in the countryside there are still real gems! We strongly recommend that you try it!
- Unusual homes: This type of housing is growing enormously! Cabin in the trees, small floating cottages, night in a barrel, we have already tested some of them. Comparatively it is clearly more expensive than "classic" hosting for the quality of the "service", but here we clearly pay a small extra for the experience. Anyway, not for every night, but it's a nice way to make a little surprise for your belvode one.
- Hostels: Our plan B in the big cities when prices are rising. We admit it, we sleep less and less often in dormitories, but it still happens. Price and atmosphere/meetings are unbeatable, but the quality of sleep will depend on the roommates... A little thought for our Nepalese roommate that we had in Paris and that made the walls (and my nerves) tremble. 2 nights with him, and less than 2 hours of cumulative sleep for me :) To book? We generally use Hostelworld.
- Hotels: This remains a very practical option. Easy to book, you can find them everywhere, the online reviews give information on the price-quality ratio and of course there is a certain service. It is not our favourite type of accommodation, but we do use it sometimes. To book? We usually go through Hotelscombined to compare rates.
To compare easily the different accomodation types you can take a look at the map below. Simply zoom in to your desired location and use the filters to refine your search:
The most beautiful hikes in France
France is a country with spectacular landscapes and above all a crazy variety! In Switzerland we are used to our alpine and rural landscapes, but in France we have discovered a completely different variety! The contrast between north and south, the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, Brittany, the hilly landscapes of Alsace, the superb Black Périgord, etc.... In short, in terms of hiking, we clearly had fun in France.
On the hikes we have done in France here is our small selection of our favorites:
Are you travelling to Brittany? Then don't miss our page about Brittany. You'll find more infos about the region as well as all the blog posts we wrote about our several trips there.
5 days in the Gorges du Verdon: an itinerary done with our tent in June
The volcanoes of Auvergne: a beautiful hike to the Banne d'Ordanche
Most beautiful city in France: our selection
In France we have enjoyed discovering the more natural and wild places, but even if we are not particularly fond of cities, there are some that we liked more than others. Here is a small list of our favorite French cities.
- Bordeaux: I think it is the city we have preferred in France until today. The contrast between its classical architecture and the more modern parts, the good food but also the street art scene totally thrilled us. Our article about Bordeaux
- Lyon: A city very close to Switzerland where we have a lot of good friends. In other words, a city where we just feel good. :) Old Lyon is a little paradise to stroll around and of course a visit to a bouchon lyonnais is a must with every visit!
- Saint-Malo: The small fortified town in Brittany.... We first came here to attend a travel bloggers' fair in 2017 and then went back here during our road trip in 2018. A very touristy city which, in our opinion, has much more charm if you go there slightly out of season. Our article about Saint-Malo
- Montpellier: We loved the vibe and the very mild climate of this small town. We didn't stay there long enough for our taste, but we will certainly come back to it!
- Strasbourg: A very beautiful city that is located in the heart of Alsace, one of our favourite regions in France. So of course we love it, and we come back regularly!
- Lille: The last little one we visited. I don't know, we didn't expect much, but we left under the spell of Lille and Roubaix. Our favorite? The street art scene that is developing at full speed and the good vibe that it gives to the city. Our article about Lille
Beer Hiking in France - Randos Bière en FranceAs I told you earlier, our big road trip in France was largely devoted to research and writing our new book: Randos bière en France.
The book is currently available in French. Thus, if you do not speak French this might not be ideal, even if for hikes it does not matter so much... You can still get the itinerary (maps and GPX trail can be downloaded when purchasing the book), and you'll, of course, be able to taste the beer in the end.
During this trip we made about a hundred hikes (70 itineraries are present in the book) and of course tasted a rather large number of French artisanal beers. After almost a year of work, our book was published on March 8, 2019 by Helvetiq and is now available throughout France.
This project was really what you might call a heart project. Going on a beer hike is really a unique opportunity to discover a region a little differently and above all to meet local craftsmen. But enough of the blah, blah, blah, blah... To learn more about the project I let you watch the video below.
Otherwise, to get more information about the book:
- Our article about Beer hikes in France (in french only)
- The official Beer hiking website
- Our instagram account for beer hiking
To buy the book: We invite you to visit all the good bookshop! Or if you prefer to order it online, here it is:
French specialities to taste
France is THE country of good gastronomy... And I think I can officially say that it is also the country where we have systematically gained weight during our visits:)
Each region has its own specialities and it is just amazing to see the diversity of the dishes. Generally speaking, there are some specificities of French cuisine that will always make me laugh (from a "foreign" point of view). Here is a short list of things that make me smile:
- The cheese! It is everywhere, at every meal, in all its forms... As a big cheese fan, I certainly don't mind, but it's amazing how cheese has a prominent place on the tables.
- The bread! Seriously in France it's crazy. So yes, it is excellent. But what impressed me the most was the fact that bread was present at almost every meal. France is the first country where, when you order a plate of pasta, you are brought a basket of bread "as an accompaniment". ;)
- The yoghurts. A real tradition to finish your meal with a yogurt. Personally, I probably haven't eaten any since childhood. Not because I don't like it, but simply because it's not at all our habit to end a meal with it.
Well, after talking to you about these small, rather general specificities, let's move on to the serious stuff.... Which French specialities did we prefer and in which region?
- Les galettes (crepes) in Brittany
- aligot in Aveyron
- Mussels and chips from the Atlantic coast
- The quiche lorraine (from Lorraine obviously) ;)
- The Bouillabaisse in Marseille
- The Kouign Amann in Brittany
You're still wondering why I said we gained weight? :)
Useful resources to prepare your holidays in France
Here is a list of sites, guides, and products that are useful to prepare your trips to France
getting around in France