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Facts about France
Stuff to See and Do
1 To 3 Days
Just off the Mediterranean coast of France, between Cannes and Marseilles, is Iles d'Hyeres. The island, is 1/3 military outpost, 1/3 nature preserve, and the final third is Heliopolis - a small, very laid-back nudist village. It's basically a restaurant, a general store (run out of someone's garage), and a few hotels and houses surrounded by beautifully clear water! There are a few trails to hike, along with the short hike to the nude-only beach- everywhere else is clothing optional. Go in late spring/ early summer (i.e. may) when the weather is warm but the summer crowd hasn't invaded yet. Take a bus to Hyeres or Le Lavandou in order to catch a ferry out to the island. Be careful, the bus schedules to those towns are sparse on holidays (including oddball, little known catholic holidays, yes, i know from personal experience). Sorry, no photo, the photo places I took the film to wouldn't develop the pictures for me!
Take advantage of the various free self-cleaning bathrooms scattered around Paris. Instead of having to buy food at a restaurant with a WC, wait in a long line at one of the tourist attractions, or pay a small fee to use other public restrooms, you can use these free-standing restrooms on the sidewalks of Paris! Word of warning - if you have a big group, these might not be the best idea. The bathroom does a clean wash of the toilet and floors between each usage, so it can get a little tedious and time-wasting if you have more than a few people waiting in line.
It is often assumed the French are 'rude' and 'arrogant'. They really aren't! If you think about it, their frustration is perfectly justified considering 42 million tourists (of France's total 80 million) visit Paris each year. Making a simple attempt at their language will totally get you in their good books. Making an effort with simple greetings and phrases is a great way to promote understanding and gain respect when backpacking in France :)
What To Bring
Someone gave me this tip before I went on a two week tour of France. Take a lightweight Rain resistant windbreaker. Even though the weather was beautiful most of the time, there were many instances that it was needed. Although it was July I used that windbreaker so much. The climate there was much cooler than I had expected. I would not have been able to enjoy all of the new and exciting experiences if I was cold and or wet from the showers that popped up. You wont need an umbrella if it has a hood.
Place dryer sheets in your backpack in between your clothes so you'll smell somewhat descent!! Bring a pair of COMFORTABLE, WORN IN shoes and extra socks!! Also bring a pair of flip flops! Bring a small cohesive wardrobe that doesn't make you look like a tourist! Try to bring clothing that helps you blend in with the locals, that way you don't appear as such a big target for thieves and it will give you a better chance to really embrace the culture!