Backpacking In France: My Best Memories

France has been in and out of my life so many times. In fact, the current decade is the first decade in my life that I haven’t actually (at least yet) been to France. I first visited France in the 1980s with my family. It was all a huge crazy adventure back then. So get booking your hotel and flights already. For hotels, try Ebooking, which is handy and easy to use. I have been to France many times and had so many memories from it, crossing in and out by land on a few different ocassions and also passing through its airports. Here I share some of my best memories from France.

Backpacking in France at Gare de Lyon

1.St.Gilles Croix De Vie

It was in 1989 that I went with my family on a trip from Northern Ireland, through the Republic of Ireland, across to Wales, through England and over to France. On that trip, we came home to Northern Ireland via Scotland, therefore visiting six countries on one trip! It was a sign of things to come in my life. At the small town of St. Gilles Crois De Vie, we camped out in our trailer tent and met many people there. We had a beach, a swimming pool and I met other children there to hang around with including a Welsh guy nicknamed ARMY as his name was Aleksandra Robert Mark Yates! We also took the (see below) Sealink Ferry, the Saint Columba!

The St Columba that took me from Dun Laioghaire to Holyhead in 1989


In 1992 I visited France again with my family, this time in La Roche Sur Yon. On that trip, we didn’t actually visit Marseille but news had filtered in that Glentoran, my local football team in Belfast were due to play Marseille in that season’s European Cup. Later in life, 2007 I finally visited Marseille. I loved the beach there and of course I also visited the football stadium – Stade Velodrome.

At the famous Stade Velodrome in Marseille

Tourist in Marseille, France

3.Saint Malo

I’ve been to the Malo more times than you could imagine. However many of these visits were while I was working at Condor Ferries! I worked as a ferry steward there in 2009 and we did a load of Malos! Back in 1989, I also toured Saint Malo with my family. Twenty years later exactly to the day, is the photo below when I backpacked the city walls.

St. Malo, France

working for condor ferries at st malo

Working in St. Malo, France


I arrived in Nice in June 2016 for one reason only – to watch Northern Ireland play Poland. We arrived overland by train from Milan Italy. On the same trip, we left France to dip into Monaco. Nice was a great summer sunny city with beaches plus that football memory. Even though we lost the match, I won’t forget the trip.

Nice with the GAWA, 2016

5.(The Kings of Lyon)

Arguably my best ever day in France was in Lyon in 2016. This is last but not least on the list. Lyon is a super city to go backpacking in. I had a lot of fun here and especially since Northern Ireland beat Ukraine 2-0 here. It was our first ever win at a European Championships and it was amazing to be here with Dad, my brothers and my friends for that one.

Northern Ireland 2-0 Ukraine in Lyon, FRANCE

The Kings of Lyon

Once COVID clears, maybe I’ll make it back to France and keep up my record of having visited it in every decade.

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