Where to stay
inding accommodation

Finding accommodation in France is not difficult, but the range is vast, and no attempt has been made to list every hotel, etc. Where on individual pages there are recommendations, these are based on the personal experience of the author, supported by a team of experienced colleague travel writers, all of whom have stayed at the hotels they recommend. We welcome feedback recommendations, good, bad and indifferent, on hotels, etc. that you have visited.

Especially during the busy season it is recommended that you book accommodation in advance, and it is a good idea to do so at any time of year, not least because many towns fill up during fairs, festivals, special events, etc..

Mainstream hotel chains

All the principal hotel chains will be found to have hotels across the whole of the country, but rarely in the smaller towns, and not at all in villages, where you will need to rely on local tourist boards for information.

In addition, there are many large hotels of very high quality that do not belong to any particular hotel chain, and which may appear only in information provided by local tourist boards. It is always advisable to check local information if you are looking for somewhere out-of-the-ordinary, for that special occasion.

The handbook of the Logis et Auberges de France (a respected federation of good-value, family-run hotels, most with restaurants), is available from the French Tourist Office, as are lists of other kinds of accommodation such as hotel-châteaux, bed-and-breakfasts, etc.

Relais et Châteaux provides information on booking in luxury hotels with character. For central reservations (UK): Tel: 00 800 0825 1020; www.relaischateaux.com.

Budget and Economy Hotels

If you need a place to stop en route, these lodgings can be useful, as they are inexpensive (around 45€ for a double room) and generally located near a main road. While a basic breakfast is available, there may not be a restaurant; rooms are small and functional.

Akena: www.hotels-akena.com

Best Hotel: www.besthotel.fr

SimplyHotelsFrance: www.sidhole.com

Villages Hôtel: www.villages-hotel.com

The following hotels are more expensive (from 50€), but offer more amenities:

Campanile, Climat de France, Kyriad. Tel: 01 64 62 59 70. www.campanile.com

Etap. Tel: 0892 688 900. www.etaphotel.com

Ibis. Tel: 0892 686 686. www.ibishotel.com

French Country Guest Houses (www.bed-breakfast-france.com) are excellent if you are looking for Bed and Breakfast of truly French character.

Renting a self-catering cottage, or Bed and Breakfast

Gîtes de France usually take the form of a cottage or apartment decorated in the local style where visitors can make themselves at home, or bed and breakfast accommodation (Chambres d’hôtes), which consists of a room and breakfast at a reasonable price. These are fundamentally very similar in terms of service provision to the sort of B&Bs and guest houses found in the UK, but gîtes are a variable commodity and range from outstanding to something very basic. At gîtes in rural areas there is no guarantee that English is spoken.

Gîtes de France, 56 rue St-Lazare, 75439 Paris. Tel: 01 49 70 75 75. www.gites-de-france.fr). From the site, you can book a gîte, or order catalogues for different regions illustrated with photographs of the properties, as well as specialised catalogues (bed and breakfasts, farm stays, etc.).

If you want to improve your French, then consider the category Chambres d’hôte/Table d’hôte. These are essentially B&B properties, but, being (usually) a little more remote from town centres offer an evening meal. But it‘s one where you have to join in with the whole family, few of whom would be able to speak English.

For more on holiday rentals try Homelidays, which cover the whole of France.

In addition, the Fédération Nationale des Locations de France CléVacances (Tel: 05 61 13 55 66; www.clevacances.com) produces a catalogue of vacation villas, apartments and chalets for each department of France.

Hostels, Camping

The Outcamp website is a good resource for finding a campsite. You can search by department, which might be something you have to look up if you’re not sure which departement the French town you want to camp in is located (if you’re looking for the one campsite in Paris, look under “Ile-de-France”). The site is partially in French, partially in English, and full of ads, but generally seems to be a good start in your search.

The international youth hostels movement, International Youth Hostel Federation or Hostelling International, has dozens of hostels in France. There is an online booking service on www.hihostels.com, which you may use to reserve rooms as far as six months in advance.

To stay in hostels, you may need a membership card. To obtain an IYHF or HI card (there is no age requirement) contact the IYHF or HI in your own country for information and membership applications (in the UK dial 01629 592700).

There are two main youth hostel associations (Auberges de jeunesse) in France, the Ligue Française pour les Auberges de la Jeunesse (67 rue Vergniaud, 75013 Paris. Tel: 01 44 16 78 78. www.auberges-de-jeunesse.com) and the Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (27 rue Pajol, 75018 Paris. Tel: 01 44 89 87 27).

There are thousands of officially graded campsites with varying standards of facilities throughout the country, but it is wise to reserve in advance.

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