Our brilliant roadtrip of more than 5 months in France has just come to an end! As usual we wrote down all our expense throughout our journey and so we thought we would prepare a little article for you to tell you more about our budget during this trip to France. In this article we will share our figures with you, detailing in detail how this corresponds to the way we travel, but above all we will give you our little tips that we have used on a daily basis so that this trip to France does not cost us too much money!
Note on the map: You may have noticed that I am not a cartographer:) I did my best but it’s not really to scale and the location of the cities is sometimes surprising! haha, I mean you get the idea… we attacked from the south, we went along the coast to the Basque country to go up to Bordeaux then draw a line to Switzerland. Then we went up to Alsace, in the North before going down to the Paris region and then go to Normandy and Brittany. From Brittany we crossed the Creuse to finish by the Hautes-Alpes, Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
Note bis: I put cities in reference but the majority of our trip took place in hiking areas and therefore far from the city centers 😉 Below: some pictures of our visit to “Nice” with a hike to the rock of the ormea and another in the Esterel
Our trip to France: some key figures
12300: Kilometres covered by car
1472: Kilometers hiked
134: Approximate number of baguettes we ate (a similar number can be deducted for cheese)
145: Duration in days of our roadtrip in France
3: The number of kilos of Haribo candy with which I left the Haribo Museum in Uzes… And it didn’t even last the whole trip;)
52: Number of different beds we slept in!
38: The approximate number of times we have been asked to repeat something because our “Swiss expressions” do not exist in France… Yes we “park” our car, at the cash register we ask for a cone and not a bag or a pocket, the chibre is a game of cards, etc… 🙂 hahaha
Road trip in France: Our total budget for our 5 months on the roads
As you can see above, we spent a total of 145 days in France over the last 5 months (our 6-day express trip to Switzerland was removed from this calculation). In all we spent 10476€ for the whole stay for 2 people, or if you prefer: 36,1€ per day and per person (or 31,5€ if we remove the beer expense which is, let’s face it, a non vital expense… more details on that weird expense below;) )
These figures take into account all our daily expenses spent during the trip to France but obviously do not include our fixed costs such as our health insurance in Switzerland or our phone subsrciption back in Switzerland. To learn more about it, we have given you more details below.
Travel budget in France: Our figures in more detail…
As you saw in our budget, accommodation was a major expense, but it was also quite lightened thanks to our many friends, blog readers who hosted us for 38 nights during this trip. Another huge thank you to them!
After let’s face it… when we stay with friends the accommodation budget decreases but generally the aperitif budget increases proportionally! 🙂
But in short, if we ignore our accommodation with friends we have 105 nights left. Of these 105 nights we spent 10 nights camping and 95 nights in airbnbs or rented apartments.
Budget: The budget for camping in France is generally between €10 and €30 per night for 2 people in a tent. The price difference comes mainly from infrastructures such as swimming pools, activities etc.
Municipal campgrounds are often the cheapest and are therefore best suited for overnight stops.
Our cheapest campsite: 10,5€ in the Ardennes
Most expensive: 23,6€ at Ramstein Beach, Moselle
Advantages of camping: Economic solution it allowed us either to make overnight stops or to sleep close to a tourist site where the airbnb were not/no longer available.
Disadvantage of Camping: Even if we enjoy camping, it is clearly not the optimal solution if we want to work. No or little wifi, no workspace.
On our 95 nights in Airbnb we slept in 34 different accommodations, less than 3 nights per accommodation on average. (In reality we stayed rather 1 or 2 nights when we moved and sometimes we took 5-6 days off to work).
Important: I use the term Airbnb because it simlpy makes it easier to understand that we booked studio apartments or 1 BR apartments. We often use the airbnb website, but sometimes, with the extra fees it gets quite expensive. Sites like Hotelscombined offer as well a lot of apartment option. Thus, in general we opened both Airbnb and Hotelscombined and compared the offers.
Budget: On average cost us at a little less than 32€ per night for 2 people. Of our 34 “homes”, 26 were “private apartments” and 8 were “a room” in a private home. Our cheapest airbnb was 25€ per night for a studio in Dax. The most expensive was a barrel in the Bitche country at 78€ per night. (but it was absolutely awesome! No regrets);)
Advantages: For us there are many advantages! After a day on the move we have a quiet space with wifi to work and we can cook for ourselves. A semblance of “normal life” in our nomadic way of life.
Disadvantage: Frankly, we didn’t really have any bad surprises. Our accommodations were all very good and did not have a bad experience. I mean… yes! Sometimes wifi is indicated, but once you get there you realize that it doesn’t work or at 0.5Mb/s… #Thankyou4G
Under grocery shopping we include all food and non-food expenses made in markets, supermarkets, biocoop, etc…. This includes our breakfasts, lunch picnics, a large part of our evening meals as well as everyday goods such as shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc…
The category is called a restaurant but also includes coffee, takeaway meals and outings to bars. On average we ate twice a month in the restaurant (our average was probably around 35€-40€ for 2 in a “normal” restaurant) and on average we bought something to take away 2-3 times a month (average score 20€ for 2). Globally, we have not spent to much on eating out during this trip… Aperitifs on the other hand…. Nah, I’m kidding, we’ve been brave there too!)
Ok… I hear you laughing! But hey, this whole Beer budget was ALL purely professional expenses (I swear). 🙂 In fact, we travelled accross France for more than 5 months with a special goal: we were researching for our latest book.
How is this book called? Beer Hiking in France (or “Randos bière en France” since it, for now, only exists in french). The idea of this book is to present 70 hike itineraries accross the country which all have something in common: they end with a GOOD and LOCAL beer. Artesanal beer tends to be slightly more expensive as bad mass-produced beer, and thus, this was quite an important part of our budget. But we’re really happy we tried all the beers that are in the book (in fact we tried way more than 70… I mean we had to make sure to select the best ones).
Do you want to know more about this book? You can check out the officiel beer hiking website (in french) or have a look at the book on Amazon France. If you are travelling in France, you should also be able to see it in most book stores (Fnac, Nature & Découverte and smaller book stores accross the country).
You see? I said it was professional. 😉
The painful one of this road trip in France! In this expenditure item we find the fuel costs (the major part of the budget), some tolls (about 90€ on the whole trip), parking (about 130€), public transport tickets in the cities (about 90€) and the boat to go to the island of Porquerolles (39€)
Various / Extra
Under various are all the elements that have no place elsewhere. The catch-all category, which includes admission to museums, small souvenirs, a wine tasting at Châteauneuf du Pape and even a visit to the dentist in Strasbourg! 🙂
Saving on travel: Our tips by expense item
For this trip we almost exclusively used Airbnb for accommodation. The theme of airbnb would be worth (I think) an article on its own, but in short we will simply say that in France we have become addicted to this type of housing outside the cities!
We are not really fans of the concept of “designed” apartments for airbnb that create real problems in the local real estate market. In Prague, or the Baltic countries, we sometimes had the impression that we were in apartments that were certainly pretty but almost “too business-oriented”.
In France we were VERY pleasantly surprised by the offer! We stayed many times in small outbuildings in the countryside where we were on the land/in the owners’ house. Many of our hosts were retired people or families who had arranged separate spaces for their family or friends by refurbishing a barn, a former teenage room or a ground floor and also offered it for rent to travellers. We had some very nice encounters thanks to this platform.
We admit it to you, we did not specifically seek to save on housing. Indeed, during this trip we continued to work on our different activities and it was therefore imperative for us to have a place for the evening when we had
2) a decent work space (this includes at least a large table and 2 chairs);)
3) once every 10 days we targeted airbnb offering a washing machine.
Note: Checking that there is a washing machine is fine…. Checking that there is either a dryer or a balcony or terrace is even better!
on airbnb it is in principle possible to negotiate a little by asking your host for a discount if you stay a long time. As we never stayed more than 5 nights, we never negotiated accommodation.
On the other hand, to pay a little less but also not to pay for parking, we generally opted for accommodation outside the cities and not directly in the most tourist areas. Overall, as soon as we needed to work, we chose studios or apartments rather than rooms in order to be 100% independent and quiet and also to have a kitchen at our disposal. #EnoughPicNics
Speaking of Airbnb, are you interested in a more detailed article on how we use the platform and what we think about it?
We will not lie to each other, food is probably one of the items of expenditure that can make the biggest difference when travelling to France (we eat well in France… what do you want us to do about it? :)). As mentioned above, our accommodation choices have often been studios or small apartments rather than “just rooms”.
Admittedly this choice was motivated by our need to be calm to work but it is also a point that has an important impact on the food budget! Having a kitchen at your disposal really allows you to make significant savings. So even if a studio costs 10€ more per night than a simple room, we quickly “cushioned” this difference by cooking our own meals rather than going to a restaurant or eating things that are not always very healthy on the go.
Note: Sometimes airbnb hosts allow access to their kitchen if you rent a room but this is relatively rare…
Finally during this trip in France we ate very little in the restaurant (maybe once every 2 weeks on average… or maybe not even that often).
The same applies to meals during the day…. During this trip I believe that we have exploded our record of consumption of Baguette and cheeses of all kinds (we said healthy????? ;)). Beyond the fact that cheese is life (I swear this is true), the picnic option really saves you a lot of money in the end!
Our “classic” lunch menu often consisted of a nice baguette, a piece of cheese from the area where we were and some fruit. Purchased in supermarkets or in small local shops, our “classic and local lunch menu” rarely cost us more than 4-7€ for 2 people.
In the evening, on the other hand, we tried to balance our diet a little with fruits, vegetables and salads or something warm but relatively light meals (at least we tried).
For this trip we were travelling by car, which means that 95% of our transport costs were linked to it. (The remaining 5% being public transport tickets in major cities or the boat to Porquerolles Island).
Our tips to limit car costs:
Avoid tolls as much as possible!
It is no secret for anyone, but in France tolls are (very) expensive. In Switzerland we are used to our small vignette at 40CHF per year so inevitably the tolls hurt… After that, we took some anyway! In fact, we often used the via-michelin site to make a cost estimate. Sometimes taking the highway costs 15€ in tolls, but we save almost the same amount of fuel and above all we save a lot of time! In short, it is worth comparing travel costs and time.
Note: the via-michelin.fr website only exists in french… but if you understand (even just a little) french, then you should give it a try. It compares the different route prices by taking into account the tolls, time but also gas consumption.
Example of a Geneva-Nice trip (our first big trip of the trip):
We quickly notice that in terms of kilometres, the option without tolls is more direct. Cost level there is no comparison either: 82€ less by road without toll (taking into account petrol). Time level the difference is 2 hours (but there is an option without tolls that is only 30 minutes longer). For our part we opted for this option because it was the cheapest one, but also and especially, because the landscapes on the way are superb! 😉 You get the idea right?
Avoid parking in the centre of large cities as much as possible
In principle we are more connected to nature than big cities but during this trip we made some nice stops in some big French cities such as Nice, Bordeaux, Paris, Rennes, Lille, Lyon or Aix-en-Provence.
Every time we went to the big cities we always tried to leave our car out of the centre. 2 reasons for this:
- We don’t have the nerves strong enough to drive in city centres that we don’t know and master #SlowSwiss
- Parking in the city is expensive, even very expensive!
As a result, we opted either for car park relays outside the centre which offer advantageous packages for 24 hours of parking or we used OnePark. We discovered this app during this trip and frankly it’s great for big cities! Hotels or large car parks provide free spaces on the site and you can take advantage of great rates (provided you do not take your car out of the whole stay). To give you an example, during our visit to Paris we left our car 6 days in the underground car park of a palace in Versailles for 36€. 🙂 Might as well explain that our little car was well parked. And I mean, us leaving the 5* Hotel lobby with our big backpacks after parking the car was pretty priceless as well 😉
Put some of our trips on Bla-bla Car
Okay…. I admit it was clearly our intention during the trip and in the end we did very little! But Blabla car it really a great way to amortize your expenses for long trips and it’s also a way to meet great people you wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. For our part we draw an extremely positive balance of our few tests because it allowed us to meet a very nice professional breakdance dancer and a… bell tuner (yes yes, this profession exists! He tuned the bells for large churches). 🙂
Why haven’t we done it more often? Well, simply that often we were not able to know our travel schedules in advance and above all we really wanted to keep the flexibility to stop along the way if a village or just a spot on the side of the road looked appealing! In short, carpooling is great if you know where you’re going, when you’re going and you’re planning to go “all at once”.
(Ok… in reality another reason is that after a few weeks of roadtrip our car was so messy too that we were too ashamed to get people in it;) )
Never refuel on highways and try to find cheaper stations
The last point we paid attention to was the price of fuel! So without going to extremes we still monitored the price at the pump during our trips and if we saw a good price we would stop to refuel even if we did not yet touch the reserve. Our car runs on petrol and between stations the price per litre can easily fluctuate within a range of 25 cents. On a 50 litre tank this can represent a difference of 12.5€. Over 12’000km covered it makes a big difference quickly!
If you want to anticipate the rates on your route you can take a look at the site prix-carburant.gouv.fr (Even if you don’t decide at which station you stop exactly, it gives you a good idea of the prices in effect in the region where you are located.)
Again, this is a relatively low expenditure point for us. We have certainly visited some museums or rented bicycles in the Bitche region, but overall our “activities” have been limited to free activities such as hiking.
Travel in France: Beware of summer holidays!
Yes yes this is a great classic and it probably won’t surprise you… But even if this advice is a bit of a joke, we are just obliged to put it in this article:
To spend less, REALLY avoid the high season in France
We knew that, didn’t we? France is not the most touristy country in the world for nothing! But quite honestly we had no idea how violent the impact of the summer holidays was, especially as regards the price and availability of accommodation! So we reassure you right away, even by travelling “in our own way” (i.e. never booking anything more than 24 hours before) we have always found accommodation in our prices. But on the other hand, the summer holidays sometimes forced us to travel much further than expected to find cozy little nests and also to take rooms several times and not studios (sometimes for financial reasons and sometimes simply because there was nothing else available).
In short, we are well aware that it is not always possible to travel outside the summer holidays… But if you are flexible on your holiday dates then don’t hesitate for a second to travel outside the summer holiday period of July-August!
Review of our adventures in France: We will come back!!!!!
If you follow us on social networks you will probably have already noticed it, but France and us are on the way to becoming a beautiful (and long we hope) love story! The last 5 months have been simply magical and it is totally under the spell that we are leaving France.
France, the variety of its landscapes, its gastronomy (we managed not to lose a single gram despite our nearly 1500km of hiking!!!!), but also and especially its people….
During this trip we saw friends we met during our round the world trip, we visited blogger friends all over France, we met many readers at a few organized aperitifs or even randomly. In other words, we had a great time!!!
It is with a smile to the ears that we leave France and we have only one thing to say: See you soon!
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