By French Connections. If you’re planning a holiday or break in France, you’ll find a fantastic choice of accommodation.
At the top end are luxury hotels, usually in big cities and smart coastal resorts or in converted chateaux in the countryside. Here you can enjoy chic modern French style, celebrate the Belle Epoch or follow in the footsteps of aristocracy and wine producers at their rural estates.
Also in rural areas are auberges, country inns that offer basic comforts and often have a restaurant attached. The rooms will be simple but comfortable and set menus are likely to give great value choices of fresh local food cooked to perfection as only the French know how. These, along with chambres d’hôte – bed and breakfast houses – will usually give the opportunity to talk to the owners and native French guests to learn about local news and gossip along with culture, attractions and events.
France has several big hotel chains – many of them excellent value – but they tend to be close to motorways and ring roads. This is convenient for an overnight whilst travelling but not so inviting for a holiday, when you want to relax in pleasant surroundings. At the economy end, camping is popular, especially for families, and camp sites are usually clean, well-equipped and efficiently run.
By far the favourite choice for Francophiles in the know is self-catering accommodation. If you think this sounds basic or hard work, think again. Modern gîtes and holiday houses are just as likely to have designer-look interiors, to provide a maid service and to boast facilities like internet access, DVD player, central heating, English language satellite TV and dishwasher.
The properties themselves range from bijou town apartments perfect for a romantic weekend through charming country cottages to huge family farmhouses with swimming pool and grounds – not forgetting the occasional chateau or converted water mill. Many sympathetically combine all the traditional character of stone, timber and vernacular rural architecture with stylish mod cons.
When planning your holiday, there’s a big advantage in being able to browse every detail of properties on a specialist website like French Connections, whose listings cover most of France, and then have direct contact with the owners.
Once you’ve arrived, enjoy a great sense of freedom to do whatever you want whenever you like. Sleep until noon or get up early and take a trip to the local market to buy delicious locally grown produce or warm croissants from the baker. Relax around the pool all day or go sightseeing and spend the evening sampling the local food and wine.
Self-catering accommodation is not only for summer holidays. There are great choices for skiing and other activities such as fishing, painting, cycling and riding. And why not take an out of season break or a long weekend? Many property owners are happy to be flexible on holiday start days outside the peak months and to negotiate lets of a month or more.
Whenever you decide to visit France, renting your own home from home will allow you not only to stay in a beautiful location but also to sample a slice of real French life.