It has been said that the South of France represents the “old soul” of this historic country. Indeed, there does feel to be something quite ancient and thoughtfully pervasive about this region. Stretching from Aquitaine in the north, winding its way through the countless villages and the majestic Pyrenees and terminating at the Poitou Charentes (Southern Parts), southern France is one of the most famous destinations for those seeking a bit of an adventure; the secret is that it can be done without putting a strain on a budget.
Of particular note to the UK traveller is that some of the cheapest ferries to France can literally place one at the doorstep to this entrancing location. One of the best ways to experience this diverse region is by foot and although any time of year plays host to a numerous variety of hikers and backpackers from across the continent and globe, springtime brings an added aura of excitement and the numerous festivals here are not to be missed. Let us have a quick look at some of the most popular springtime events and destinations.
The Nice Carnival
This carnival is held between late February and early March, depending on the weather. Of important note is that this festival is held for a period of no less than three weeks, thus making it ideal for the backpacker who may not be exactly adhering to a rigid time frame. This carnival is capped off by a massive fireworks display which is held on the last Sunday evening. Many arrive for this pyrotechnic display alone although the carnival is a whole event worthy of immersing oneself in.
The Menton Orange Festival
This celebration directly coincides with the Nice Carnival and is another example of the striking traditions this region has to offer. Only thirty minutes by train from the carnival, this annual celebration of the region’s oranges is more laid back and low-key than the Nice Caraval and offers a spectacular view of the beaches in the area, with Italy only a few kilometres away in the distance. Cost-friendly bars and restaurants abound as do exotic gardens and many quiet terraced cafes which offer tranquil views of this Mediterranean atmosphere.
As these festivals represent only a small portion of what is offered in southern France, one must not forget that the natural beauty of this region alone is what attracts the majority of backpackers. From the snow-capped Pyrenees bordering Spain to the rolling green hills to the north between Toulouse and Carcasonne, the panoramic views keep visitors returning. Also, the south of France is a foodie’s dream and each town seems to offer their own unique delicacies certain to please even the most cultured of tastes. Whether one wishes to stroll through the open-air plazas of Montpellier or cycle between villages, the low cost in this region alone is attractive to foreign visitors.
Travelling around southern France
While views and experiences come without a cost, the transportation is just as agreeable. Public transport in this region abounds; consisting of a network of bus routes between towns and cities. Furthermore and possibly contrary to popular belief, the prices of food here are also quite reasonable although many backpackers advise eating as much as possible at one sitting due to the all-you-can-eat packages many restaurants provide. Finally, every major city and many small villages contain low-priced hostels that are of considerably higher quality that others throughout Europe.
These are just a few of the reasons why taking a planned excursion in the south of France can prove to be a traveller’s dream. Combining stunning landscapes, unforgettable festivals, unique foods and prices significantly lower than other European nations, this region will continue to attract backpackers from around the world. Also, as the United Kingdom boasts some of the cheapest travel to France (http://www.poferries.com/), the entire journey can be pleasant and cost-effective from beginning to end.