Combining Megabus trips to Paris with an inter-rail pass can open up a far more exciting holiday than your standard budget city break. Hostel hopping from Paris, to Nice, to Marseille and back again over three weeks in summer can prove to be both affordable and a great chance to take in more of the French country and culture than a week in the city alone.
Without a doubt one of the biggest perks of staying in hostels is the diverse array of people you meet. You could easily stay with an architectural student from Ukraine one day, Italian engineers the next and the constant influx of new and exciting people makes holidaying that little bit more exciting. Sharing a room with other travellers also means you can swap advice on local attractions, where to go, how to get there and such like.
Paris brings new surprises with each visit and a highlight was visiting the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, hidden away in the Latin Quarter; a treasure trove for any literature student. The store is laid out like a scene from a novel itself, with a piano, typewriter and even a bed hidden away in its winding rooms and hidden corners.
Nice is undoubtedly a highlight of any French trip. One might anticipate a basic seaside resort to simply unwind on the beach for a few days, but the beautiful city will prove all your expectations to be wrong. Glorious as the beach is, Nice also boasts the marvellous Matisse museum (free for students) and sprawling old town which comes alive by night. Musicians, dancers and painters line the promenade and you may even have the chance to take part in an impromptu mass salsa session.
If you’re visiting Nice, a day trip to Monaco is an absolute must. For just two euros you can take a bus to the principality and spend the day touring the palace, tracing the formula one route and sneaking into the infamous Monte Carlo Casino. Though Monaco has made its fortune through its casinos, it is illegal for its residents to gamble and so the principality remains the fourth richest country per capita in the world with beautiful surroundings to prove it.
Awarded European City of Culture for 2013, Marseille impressed with the number of cultural hotspots rolled out for the occasion. The Museum of European and Mediterranean Culture is a must see and around the time of the award they had just opened their Gender Bazaar exhibit. The exhibit was dedicated entirely to exploring Mediterranean notions of gender the exhibit was fascinating, incorporating film, art, politics and social criticism to present an overview of the development of European perspectives on gender.
If you’re looking to visit some of France’s most beautiful locations on a tiny budget, Megabus travel and hostel accommodation is definitely the way forward. Locations such as Nice and Monaco, usually reserved for the more upmarket traveller, become accessible for the price of an Inter-rail ticket and staying in hostels will add a great social dynamic to your trip. If you’re willing to put up with the odd snorer, sourcing your local supermarket and navigating the Gare de Lyon then it’s possible to have a long French vacation on half the budget.