Where to stay
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
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
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,
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.
Best Hotel: www.besthotel.fr
Villages Hôtel: www.villages-hotel.com
The following hotels are more expensive (from 50€), but
offer more amenities:
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
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
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
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.
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.