Studying abroad has been a surreal experience and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around some of Europe. For spring break, me and a group of friends backpacked throughout France for ten days. We flew into Marseille and then traveled to Nice, Lyon, Paris and then ended in Normandy. It was such an action-packed journey that ended up being exhausting after visiting five cities in France. My favorite places where we visited were Marseille, Lyon, and Normandy. Marseille is an old port city located on the South Coast of France on the Mediterranean and is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been too. The city has so much culture and history and I enjoyed that it was less touristy than a city like Paris. For starters I would definitely recommend sitting at a café for an afternoon and order muscles and drink wine on the port looking over the water in the sun. Another fun activity to do was hiking at Parc national des Calanques, which offers breathtaking views and if it’s nice enough outside you can go swimming in the water. Meanwhile, I was only in Lyon for a little over a day and we saw Olympique Lyonnais play Juventas in the Champions League which was a great experience to celebrate with the locals after the upset win. If anyone ends up in Lyon, I definitely recommend to checkout the neighborhood Vieux Lyon and to stop at the James Joyce, which is a charming old-school Irish pub. Lastly, I recommend that everyone should visit the beaches of Normandy. It was such an emotional and inspiring trip to walk through the bunkers and stand on the beaches where thousands died and the feeling was very surreal and made everyone proud to be an American.
The trip required a lot of planning in advance and it was really beneficial to be organized. Having tried hostel living a couple of weeks before during a weekend in Copenhagen, I was glad that we booked AirBnBs and didn’t have to deal with the hassle of worrying about sleeping next to strangers in a hostel. I think that the biggest challenged I faced was the language barrier in the South of France as not everyone spoke English. While I was traveling with a friend who could converse in French, it was a very good experience to learn how to be polite when someone doesn’t speak English. Most Americans expect that everyone speaks English and the French find it very rude to assume so. So, if anyone is in France try to greet the person you’re talking to and ask if they speak English politely by saying, “Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?”