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Looking for advice re budget family touring in the south of France and Italy.

(28 Posts)
Dumbledoresgirl Mon 11-Jan-16 11:13:58

I'm looking for accommodation ideas for a family of 4 adults and 2 teens who want to travel around the south of France and northern Italy by car.

Preferably staying in a different location each night, with one or two 2-night stays.

Thinking about camping. Pros: cheap! Cons: we would have to buy a tent, how long would it take to put up, take down each day, worries that it and all the necessary equipment we would need would not fit in our car.

Happy to camp in static cabins/caravans etc but don't seem able to rent those per night, only per week. Is it possible? We have done this before in Australia where you could rent cabins per night and it would probably suit us best if possible.

Budget hotels. Which are the cheapest? Also considered hostels - how viable is that option?

Has anyone does this sort of travelling as a family? How did you do it without spending ££££?

mummymeister Tue 12-Jan-16 11:04:49

camping places are unlikely to take you for just one night in the school summer holidays either and it is a very risky strategy with kids to pitch up to somewhere and find it full. IME you will just spend every day worrying about getting to the next place to stay and thinking will it or wont it be full than actually enjoying the holiday.

could you hire a large camper van in the Uk and do it in this?

we have a sleeps 6 tent that is a doddle to put up in under 20 mins but it isn't cheap. you get what you pay for! are you going to make further use of a tent. if so its worth investing in one that you can get up and down quickly.

have you looked at youth hostels?

I think you can make this work if you book and plan ahead. just turning up with a group of 6 of you in the middle of school holidays trying to find not only accommodation but cheap accommodation is not going to be a very relaxing holiday.

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 11:06:44

eurocamp let you stay one night and their tents are pretty good. You can go site to site with them

mummymeister Tue 12-Jan-16 11:34:13

Branleuse don't they get really busy though in school summer hols?

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 12:43:00

ive only used them in the May and April holidays, so i couldnt tell you. I expect some get busier than others. Look for ones with less frills maybe. Pretty much everywhere in the south of france will be busy in the summer holidays though

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 12-Jan-16 14:27:57

No, we would not set off without having every night planned and booked. That is why I am looking into possible options now. It sounds like camping is not going to be a go-er then as I am talking about July and August. When you say they won't want you staying one night only, is that only the fixed tents you hire or does it apply to a pitch where you bring your own tent?

How on earth do people find accommodation travelling from place to place? It must be possible, but is it only through expensive hotels?

Oh and thanks for responding btw. grin

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 14:31:06

ive stayed for just one night in various eurocamps as stopovers. They dont mind you doing this. On the other hand canvas holidays have a minimum of 3 night stays

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 12-Jan-16 14:34:08

Sorry branleuse, is 'canvas holidays' a type of camp? I have heard of eurocamps, is it something like that?

Also, can anyone help with what I should be searching for online wrt motels? eg French/Italian equivalents to Premier Inns/Travelodges. As it seems that might have to be what we have to use instead.

Allalonenow Tue 12-Jan-16 14:48:03

Chambres d'hotes might work well for you, they will be happy with one night stays, often offer dinner too.
If you have a rough route planned, just search with that area name, most places have area websites eg "Nice chambres d'hotes".

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 14:54:09

yeah, they basically use (mostly) the same sites. A lot of the campsites will have several companies who sublet caravans and tents from the same sites/resorts. Canvas are a bit cheaper than eurocamp, but you get other ones like siblu etc on the same parks too. I dont know about smaller independent ones unfortunately. Maybe someone else will. Just thought id let you know that they definitely allow you to do one night stays in both tents and caravans, as we did it last year, and with 5 of us it would have been silly money to do hotels

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 14:54:53

you could also try airbnb or housetrip

Branleuse Tue 12-Jan-16 14:55:40

I would also consider hiring a big motorhome instead?

massistar Tue 12-Jan-16 15:42:38

Look for "agriturismo" in Italy. A bit like a B&b.

revealall Tue 12-Jan-16 16:35:31

I have done this as a road trip although there were only 3 of us. We booked a cheap hotel on each night. The advantage of having a car is that you can go anywhere on route so there is lots of availability.
PM me if you need more details.

Franniban1 Tue 12-Jan-16 19:57:52

So glad I found this thread. I'm planning to go by rail cross France and Italy, just me and my two children at the end of July/August. Was looking for advise on youth hostels and any tips. Can see that planning would be better. Although I like the romanticism of just thinking, oh where shall we go today.
Has anyone got any ideas on rough costs for youth hostels?
Thanks in advance and look forward to reading through the thread.

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 12-Jan-16 20:23:45

Thanks for responses. I am a bit snowed under at the moment, but will come back to this thread when I am able and follow up the ideas.

Franniban Great minds think alike. smile I can't persuade dh to do the thing by train (I don't think it would be financially possible for us anyway - I was shocked at interrail ticket prices!) but I am also considering youth hostels. If you find out anything, do please post it here, and I will do the same if I discover anything. Any idea of possible destinations? On my list so far is Carcassonne, Nimes, Grenoble, Chamonix, Pisa, Florence, San Marino, Venice - and possibly a few other places. Some of those might have to be abandoned though - planning is very much in the early stages, as yet.

Franniban1 Tue 12-Jan-16 22:10:57

Just looking at interrail passes. Amazing value for one adult and two kids, only 313 euros. kids under 11 go free, but add an another adult and the price doubles sad
I'm looking at Air B&B, I'm totally inspired! Very excited by the thought of an adventure with my two

gleegeek Tue 12-Jan-16 22:19:05

Formule 1
Ibis and budget Ibis
Premiere Klasse
Mr Bed
These are all budgetish hotel chains in France. is a good website for booking as independent hotels come up too. Can search for apartments etc too.

Dumbledoresgirl Tue 12-Jan-16 23:08:48

Yep, I'm beginning to get somewhere on and Apartments seem to be the cheapest option for us, plus the advantage of the privacy we prefer. The only annoying thing is you put 6 adults into the search (I'm not sure what constitutes a child in these circumstances so I am erring on the side of caution) and they offer you apartments that sleep 4!

mummymeister Wed 13-Jan-16 09:32:56

Dumbledore - put 3 bedrooms in rather than 6 people. if you put in 6 they will offer you 2 bedrooms plus sofa bed in the lounge.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Wed 13-Jan-16 09:35:26

"cheap" and the north of Italy aren't words you often find together in a sentence tbh...

However, re youth hostels, I stayed in the one in Verona and the one in Rome a million years ago and they were certainly cheaper than hotels would have been. The one in Verona was fab, the one in Rome is the old Olympic Village and way way out of the centre.

Dumbledoresgirl Wed 13-Jan-16 13:47:33

I'm happy with 2 beds and a sofa bed in lounge! What I don't understand is specifying 6 adults, being shown an apartment with the symbol of 6 adults next to it, then reading the details and seeing there are only beds for 4! Maybe I am missing something...

Northern Italy - far far cheaper than Germany! (Just looked and nearly died!)

I haven't got round to looking at youth hostels yet but it is on my to do list. I don't mind being miles from some centres. It is the cheaper option and we will have our car.

zazas Sat 16-Jan-16 23:27:56

Hi Dumbledorsgirl, we have done a similar trip over three summers with our kids - a family of 7. Visited all those places except Carcassonne and Nimes but other southern France destinations. Have camped and stayed in apartments plus hotels and youth hostels - pros and cons for all.

Airbnb has been brilliant for us although more and more places are specifying a minimum night stay - which in all honestly is probably the best way to travel rather than a night here or there. When that is required (due to it being one thing we wanted specifically to see) we have gone down the hotel route - hostels we found were so expensive with all of us and although we could cook the sharing of the rooms was a little trickier for various reasons.

Camping had its advantages - yes cheeper but only just and for us far too much work with the 5 kids and they good sites were often well booked up in advance - I would only do this again as a family of 4 for logistical reasons!

I wrote a trip report for fodors where I got most of my advice from regarding our Italy trip which might help you a little. We used the trains there which I can not recommend enough - booking as soon as the cheep fares came available meant we got some amazing deals. Driving in Italian cities (where permitted) is not for the faint hearted!

I love planning trips smile How long are you planning on travelling for?

allegretto Sat 16-Jan-16 23:37:05

Accommodation is generally cheaper in France (loads of budget chains) than Italy where Air BNB might be better for you.

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 16-Jan-16 23:52:34

Zazas, I have had a little look at your report and your photos - wow, what lovely photos you took! We took the children to Rome a couple of years ago, and dh and I have been there before alone. It's a wonderful city, isn't it?

For this summer, originally we were going to go for 3 weeks, but dh has decided it has to be limited to 2 weeks and financially, I have to agree with him. That is fixed now as today I booked the Eurotunnel tickets in and out of the country.

We were planning on coming back via Austria and southern Germany but it is all getting too hectic and busy for my liking. I have planned quite a good itinerary taking in southern France and northern Italy (roughly half and half one and 2 night stays in apartments) but I am really stuck with how to get back from northern Italy to Britain. We have about 3 days in which to do it but I can't work out a good route with worthwhile things to do en route. Suggestions welcome!

I will look up Airbnb, thanks for the suggestion.

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