Being an overland traveller is not always the easiest or most comfortable option, but there are some countries that stand out in terms of their overland travel opportunities and France is one of those countries. Now that the concord has long been scrapped, France can boast that it has long used technology to provide faster, greener travel thanks to the TGV and great links by sea.
Overland Fanboys: Ferry Links
In the first instance, France is a good choice for European families who wish to reduce the impact of their annual holiday. Strong ferry links as well as the Channel Tunnel make it far easier and often cheaper to take the greener option when visiting France. The country also appeals to traditional caravanning types who keep their carbon footprint and costs low by taking their accommodation with them.
Overland Fanboys: High-Speed Rail
If you are travelling alone or with friends and you plan to travel across Europe overland, it would be almost rude not to take a trip through France, which features a high-speed rail network that connects over 150 destinations. The TGV network extends North to the border with Belgium, South East to the border with Spain, close to the Italian border, East to Strasbourg and into Germany and the Alpine regions. As well as being incredibly fast – with some routes boasting speeds of up to 200 miles per hour – use of the TGV can be very cost effective, particularly if you are planning your trip in advance. And of course, even though the TGV dates back to the 1970s, it’s a damn sight more comfortable way to travel than shacking up on the shelving at the back of a Vietnamese sleeper train!
Overland Fanboys: Bicycle Love
For those who appreciate the true perks of forgoing air travel (taking in the sights close up, getting to know the locals, experiencing more of the land you are journeying across) TGV speed and cost is a bonus, but not always the top priority. If you fall into this category, it might be time to reach for your bicycle because there’s a reason the Tour de France is such a major and well-loved sporting event.
Overland Fanboys: Close to Nature
France is a country blessed with beautiful and varied terrain and if you choose to circumnavigate it with your bicycle there are plenty of great stop offs along the way. Whether you prefer to stay close to nature by camping in France or plan to rest tired and aching muscles in a B&B or hostel, there are plenty of accommodation choices to suit all. Routes across France are oft-cited as favourites by professional cyclists, so you’ll also find plenty of resources online to help you plan your ultimate over-France experience.
Of course, if you do decide to use pedal power to push your way across Europe, there’s nothing stopping you resting those tired toes by taking the odd trip on the TGV now and then. French trains have special racks where you can store your bike for a small fee of around £10, ensuring you both get a well-deserved rest.