The Erasmusyear in Lyon was the perfect chance to discover the whole country!
But...- every student knows about these problems - no time, no money. Well - time CAN be a problem but if you are a student, there's always a way to manage your time well so that you can have enough time for weekendtrips, holidays etc.
But how to deal with this money problem..? Sure, You can work all the time but still - if you travel a lot, you'll always know that little thing called "minus" in front of your bank account...
So let's stop talking about money and start to travel. How? Easily: Hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
Actually I even prefer these forms of traveling. It's a great way to meet people all over the world, everyone has something to tell and most of the people who host you, can show you all the insidertips in the city you're in (those, your Lonely Planet don't even know about)
There are 3 websites which helps a lot:
First one should be well known for all who use to travel.
Second one has very good tips where you should start, when you want to stop a car.
There are good places and those you will damn (Marseille direction Montpellier --> NOT possible -.-) but if you have a quick look before you start you are mostly well prepared and can choose the best place.
The third one is just about hitchhiking in general. Informations, tips as well as security advices and more.
In France it was very easy for us to stop cars. Some boys told me for them it was a little bit more difficult but I also heard from boys who had no problems at all, so I think hitchhiking in France runs more or less well for everybody. Most of the time we had to wait between 5-15 mins before we found someone who took us to the next place.
Of course you can't be sure about anything. One time we had to sleep at the trainstation in Marseille because our host was unavaidable and it was too dark to stop another car for the next city. It was late and we had no internet so we couldn't check out the next hostel (if you have the same problem, make sure you find a McDoo before it's closed and use the WIFI there!) Well, in this case every McDoo was closed and we were too tired to run around to look for a cheap hostel (all hotels were closed too) so we slept at the trainstation, an experience which was overliveable but I'll definetly won't do it again in Marseille...
Whatever. This was one night but usually you won't have problems to find a place to sleep if your host waits for you or you have internet to look for a hostel by night. For me it was the only bad experience I've ever made with hitchhiking/couchsurfing so far... Well, you should make sure your host is reliable!
I really love to travel by hitchhiking and couchsurfing, you don't really pay anything (a beer or some thankyou-present for your host would be nice...) and you really get into the city because many hosts invite you to their friends or show you the city. While you do hitchhiking you really get the feeling of traveling because it is so free. You never know when and if you'll arrive where you want to arrive and it doesn't matter at all because the way is the journey, not only the visit of a city (mostly you arrive, as I said but who knows and this feeling is special).
I hitchhiked alone or with friends in France, which is no problem. But especially alone you should make sure that:
1: do you feel comfortable with the situation? If yes. Do it. If not, DON'T GET IN THE CAR. If this feeling doesn't go away: take the train. Nothing will happen, if you look well, to whom you get into the car and if you feel safe. But if you're scared for some reason it might be for a good one and sometimes situations just change BECAUSE someone is scared.
2: check out your route before. Check out where you can sleep and which ways are possible (if you have a smartphone, take a look sometimes on google maps, if the way is still right)
3: remember always to have a plan b (what if you don't get to the city, do you know where to sleep in another...? do you know where the trainstation is..?) and a lot of cardboard and markers with you.
At least: have fun!!! It's absolutely great to travel for free, people are friendly and it's not dangerous! Just keep your eyes open.