I was excited by the very word France. Since childhood and all throughout my college days, I would fantasize about a country that was taught to me in my geography and history lessons.
During my college days, when I took up political science, the French revolution stories were the favourite part of my lessons.
After graduation , this was the one thing I was determined to accomplish. I was going to travel across France.
No matter what it took.
Travelling across France wasn’t easy. It was often said that the Parisians were very rude to the tourist. The huge inflow of tourists made them a bit annoyed. This was not going to be a reason not to visit.
I also had to look into the cultural and language barrier that needed to be overcome.
With all this in the back of my head I did my research, spoke to other solo female travellers and crafted a list of things to do in order to travel safe and fruitfully across France.
These are some of the things I did when I traveled across France, I hope it helps the readers too.
My fashion and style of dressing was minimalist. The concept of less is more is very popular among the French and I didn’t want to stand out as a tourist. Thus I stuck to the most basic of the dresses and outfits. I also carried a scarf along with me so that I didn’t feel too cold and I could cover myself up from the pollution.
The cobbled streets of Le Vieux Carré (the Old Quarter) or through the vineyards in the South, one has to walk a bit in France, that’s why I packed my comfortable shoes. Not one but two pairs. I left the stiletto heels at home and opted for a pair of comfortable sandals or sturdy boots. My feet thanked me at the end of the day.
Years of being a Francophile helped me a lot. How? Well, I would watch French movies, listen to French music and also Take online tutorials to help me build my French skills.
I booked my tickets towards the end of Spring. Thus it was way cheaper than it would have been during the peak season. The money I saved was put to better use. I stayed with at a family run Air BnB. The family was very kind and made home cooked meals and took me out to local visits. They introduced me to the bouillabaisse (seafood stew) in Marseille. In France, sometimes the best drinks come just before or after a delicious meal. An apéritif (pre-meal drink) was consumed before a plat de fromage (cheese plate) is served.One common apéritif is the kir, which is a mix of white wine and blackcurrant. A common digestif (post-meal drink) is an espresso.
To complete the French experience, I shopped in the outdoor markets which were really affordable.Most towns have an outdoor market or “marché en plein air.” They even sold one of the best local wines , these were the best wines to consume when traveling.
If you are below twenty five years and traveling across France with a Student or an Internship visa you can get special offers for your train journeys by signing up for a “Carte Jeune”. Sadly I was neither of the two.
The best gift I could take back from France was the lovely tan that I aqcuired from the beaches of France. I basked in the sunshine on Île de Ré instead. Located just off the western coast of France, Île de Ré is a unique and lesser-known beach that is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
My journey across France was a short but a really fulfilling one which helped me satisfy the Francophile in me.Knowing the language, staying with families, eating local food, making use of discounts were the best way to travel across France.
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Author: The Brown Nomad
Also published on Medium.