Hey there ! We are Nathalie and Sébastien, French travel bloggers from Borderless Travelers where we share our adventures from all over the world and all of our tips and tricks to make the best out of your trip! We’ve teamed up with Hedgren to give you a glimpse of all the adventures we had carrying our faithful Hedgren connect backpack around the globe and today, we’ll tell you about France. Because after making you want to explore other countries, we just had to tell you about our home country!
So lately we’ve had the opportunity to travel all across Europe and, though it’s been an amazing experience, we also felt like we had to tell you a bit about our home country. Since it’s the most visited country in the world (thank you Eiffel Tower!) we thought you might be interested in some of our best tips and tricks to explore our beautiful country and make the most out of it. Today, we deliberately chose to only tell you about 4 French cities : Marseille, Avignon, Montpellier (our home town!) and of course, Paris. But this short list shouldn’t limit you. Keep in mind that there are thousands of amazing things and places to see all around France like Mont Saint-Michel, Saint-Tropez or the beautiful beaches of Corsica.
We’ll start by telling you about Marseille, a lively cosmopolitan and surprising metropolis from the South of France. We went there a few months ago for the first time and even though we didn’t have much time to explore it, we were amazed by its particular atmosphere. The sun, the smiling people with their singing accent (as we say in French) and most of all, beautiful nature. It’s kind of crazy to have access to beautiful wild nature just a few minutes away from the city center and this is definitely the thing we liked most about Marseille. If you go there, you absolutely have to go to the Calanques, you won’t regret it! There are a lot of options all around Marseille but we opted for the Calanques de Sugiton, which are easily accessible by transport. After walking for a few minutes and wondering more than once if we had taken the right path, there they were: majestic, huge, marvelous. We were stunned by such beauty and we stayed there for a few hours, just contemplating the immensity of the ocean and wandering around trying to find the best spot to enjoy it. Also, one of the most famous spot to visit is the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, which the people from Marseille affectionately nicknamed the Bonne Mère. The building is absolutely marvelous and it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a view over the city and a beautiful sunset.
We’re now taking you to a much smaller city, Avignon. You might have heard of it thanks to the famous French nursery rhyme “Sur le pont d’Avignon” or the fact that it used to be the hometown of several popes who lived in the huge Palais des Papes (Pope’s palace) located in the city center. But have you ever heard of its awesome theater festival? We had the opportunity to live in Avignon for 1 year and a half and this was our favorite time of the year, hands down! During 3 weeks in July, Avignon is animated with the worldly famous Festival d’Avignon which is rumored to be the biggest theater festival in the world. Comedians, actors, clowns, dancers from all over the world come to Avignon for nearly a month to entertain and make you laugh and it’s quite an experience in itself! Thousands of posters are stapled all around the city, there are live shows everywhere and we love how accessible the artists can be during that time. You might run into one of your favorite comedian in the street or at a bar and have the opportunity to casually talk with them. That’s what we love about it! Even if you don’t understand French, you should definitely give it a try, you’ll feel transported by the amazingly positive vibe during that time of the year. Moreover, Avignon is located in the famous Provence so those famous lavender fields you’ve seen on Instagram will be just a few kilometers away!
Now let’s go down South and let us introduce you to our hometown, Montpellier. You might have never heard of it but some people say it’s the French San Francisco. If you have the opportunity to do so, you might want to check it out for yourself. It has it all: vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, buildings filled with History and the sun! Indeed, our favorite friend hangs out here 300 days a year, worth the consideration right? So how to fully enjoy Montpellier? First, we would recommend you to go right in the city center and lose yourself into the Ecusson. You might stumble upon one of the many charming places such as the Place Saint-Roch, Place de la Canourgue, Place Saint-Côme or even the most famous of them all, Place de la Comédie. It’s the perfect spot to sip a nice cocktail, take all the atmosphere of the city in and just relax and enjoy it. One of our favorite festivals of the city is the FISE (International Extreme Sport Festival) where you’ll be blown away by pros and amateurs. Also, Les Estivales is the perfect way to enjoy summer while sipping delicious wine and tasting local products. And if you’re curious about wine and how it’s produced, just go by one on the many vineyard of the Pic Saint-Loup, outside the city, to visit, learn and have a taste J!
Last but not least, let’s talk about the city most of you might know France for, the romantic Paris. It’s the capital of the country and though it isn’t famous for its warm temperatures throughout the year (always pack an umbrella when going to Paris!), there are still a lot of good reasons to go there. Of course, you know about the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré-Coeur, the Opéra Garnier, Notre-Dame de Paris or the Eiffel Tower, no need to tell you all about them. Except that, if you want to visit those very touristy places, you should book your ticket ahead online on the Centre des Monuments Nationaux website, which is available in English. It’ll save you lots of time! Also, if you wish to survive the subway, don’t forget to stand on the right-hand side of the escalators to avoid being the subject of Parisians’ eagerness, for some reason they’re always in a rush! Moreover, if you’re looking for the best point of view over the city, we would recommend you to go to Notre-Dame de Paris (see photo), it’s our favorite. You’ll get to see the Eiffel Tower with one those scary creepy beautiful gargoyles on the forefront, it’s purely magical! Finally, for offbeat experiences and places, take a tour of the creepy Catacombes or wander around the Rue Crémieux or the Rue des Thermopyles. You’ll get the amazingly weird feeling to be transported in different time and space!
Sébastien and Nathalie
More about France on our blog right here!