Horse and buggy (c) KiwiDeaPi

Travel In France – Alternative Ways

We shown you that you can travel in France with different types of trains (TER, Intercites and TGV), Cars, Camping Cars, Bus and Air). But for the more adventurous among us, there are a few other ways:

Hitching A Car Ride

Obviously hitchhiking is a popular way of travel for those who do not have the means (or willingness) to travel with mass-transport systems. Sticking out your thumb is one way, but you’ll not see that many hitchhikers in France, so the chance that a car or truck stops to pick you up is pretty slim.

BlaBlaCar logo

But there’s another way that will cost you a fraction of the cost of mass-transportation systems, it’s called BlaBlaCar. BlaBlaCar is a carpooling application/service that has proven to be very popular in France.

On your smartphone or web, access their website (you can change the language at the bottom of the page), enter your departure and arrival city, date and the system proposes all the drivers who are doing that trip. Each driver is rated, so you can see which drivers are trustworthy and you can see the car being used.

Download the iPhone version by clicking here,
or the Android version by clicking here.
Click here to access the web site (in English, select the country you want)


France is seeing more and more dedicated bicycling paths, not only in cities but also in the countryside. For example, a dedicated bicycling path is being finished which allows you to cycle in safety from Paris to the sea in Normandy.

Bicycles in the Tour de France

Want to visit the famous Mont St-Michel from Paris? Head on over to the “France Velo Tourisme” web site (aka France Bicycling Tourism). Enter your starting city and your destinations (you can also enter your cycling level and a few other criteria). A map is displayed showing you the routes. Each segment can be explored:

Bicycle map Paris to Mont St Michel
Bicycle map Paris to Mont St Michel (c)

For each segment, you can display accommodations (hotels, gites, b&b, etc) and even bicycle repair places. This way you can plan your cycling trip anywhere in France, making sure you use safe routes.

Click here to access the web site.


Hiking path in Brittany
Hiking path in Brittany

Like with the increasing number of cycling paths, France has a large network of hiking path. The paths are signalled by the letters “GR” (which stands for Grandes Randonnees – French for Great Hiking) and a number.

For example, a popular hiking path starts from the city of Le Havre and ends some 180 kms further in Le Treport (both in Normandy). The hiking paths takes you along the sea side and their hills and cliffs.

Of course there is a dedicated website for all these GR routes. Click here to access it (in English, but it’s slow). You should be able to find accommodate and messages from other hikers.

There is another web site that’s more professional and faster but with less paths. Click here to access it (but it’s in French only).

Slow Boat To China

Rented peniche at a lock in France
Rented peniche at a lock in France

One very interesting way of seeing parts of France is hiring a “peniche“, a narrow canal boat (or also called house boats), or even “yachts”. These boats can be hired by anyone, no special boat license is required, and after a brief explanation, of you go.

You pick up the boat in one location and slowly (max speed is 25 kph) putter away to your final destination (usually a week away at slow speeds). Along the way you will encounter other “boat people”, river/canal restaurants (there are more than what you would think) and you will without any doubt require to pass through several locks. Some of these locks are manned, some are not and you get to do the work of opening and closing them.

The boats you hire have different sleeping capacities, ranging from 1 to 6 cabins. All have showers, toilets and kitchens.

Several web site offer the hire of boats within France:

River cruise ship
River cruise ship

Of course if you don’t want to “drive” the boat, you can always book a river cruise with a real cruise ship. By far not as big as the ocean going cruise ships (they usually cater for some 120-160 passengers), you are taken through the rivers to your final destination (often they are round trips) with stops along the way. Tour guides, buses for local transportation, food, comfortable beds and scenic sights 24 hours a day (in contrast with ocean going cruise ships).

Here are some web sites of river cruise companies:


Whatever you fancy, there are ways of discovering France. Mass transportation systems, solo travel, by river, or ecological. No matter what you do, you’ll find amazing scenery, food and people.

If you want to see what the “normal” ways of transportation cost and how much time it takes, click here.

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