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The perfect French holiday?

(74 Posts)
ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 12:38:49

Next summer, I get to pick our holiday (couple) and I want to practise my French.

If you've been somewhere lovely in France, tell me why it's the best - I need inspiration.
Ta smile

SJane48S Wed 21-Aug-19 13:09:59

Are you looking to stay in one place OP & are you planning to drive or use public transport? Also do you know what budget you have?

Nomad86 Wed 21-Aug-19 18:46:48

Provence in June when the lavender is flowering. We stayed in an Airbnb in the Luberon, it was beautiful.

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 20:49:57

Open to driving (boyfriend's no.1 favourite thing) but we did that this year - it's my turn and I like pottering about and sitting.

Budget is fairly generous - okay to stay in nice b&bs or houses; not okay to stay in top drawer hotels in Monaco or similar.

I haven't got a particular idea in mind - just want to read about other people's lovely holidays and steal inspiration! Lavender fields in the Luberon already sounds great.

MerryMarigold Wed 21-Aug-19 20:55:00

We are currently in the Dordogne. Beautiful Airbnb with pool. We drive through Paris on the way and did a few days sightseeing. Good combination of relaxing and doing stuff. Beautiful area, lovely houses and b + bs. You can canoe, walk, look at pretty towns, river swim, pool swim etc. Also like the Vendée but it's more touristy and v family oriented.

Paddington68 Wed 21-Aug-19 21:02:46

Nice.
So good the French had to get it back from the Italians.

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 21:05:21

Oh, and it would have to be during the school summer holidays (teacher) so worrying that Provence would be too hot for northern boyfriend.

CharlieandLolaCat Wed 21-Aug-19 21:06:02

Depends on what you want to do, we stayed in a chalet in the alps and there is loads to do but prob more geared to families, at least where we are.

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 21:21:20

Hmm, yes, Alps might be lovely - have only been for school ski trips but the mountains are always beautiful.

AtAmber Wed 21-Aug-19 21:27:51

We are currently in la Rochelle. We flew to Poitiers for about £60.00 return then got the train to la Rochelle. We are staying in an air b&b apartment in the old town. The whole holiday has cost less than £800.00 for 3 of us. It's amazing here.

Pinkarsedfly Wed 21-Aug-19 21:28:49

Ile de Rê.

Heaven.

tinytemper66 Wed 21-Aug-19 21:35:31

Aigues Mortes...beautiful walled town near Montpellier

Doyouthinktheysaurus Wed 21-Aug-19 21:38:33

Lake Annecy. So beautiful and the town of Annecy is great for mooching about and relaxing.

drivingtofrance Wed 21-Aug-19 21:39:13

Burgundy.

Lots of wine and fabulous food. places to visit. Oh and did I mention the wine ? grin

Not too far to drive from the Channel crossings ( 5 hours or so)

I have been to many places in France and this was one of my best. Just me and DH on this trip.

Gobbolino7825 Wed 21-Aug-19 21:40:21

Lake Annecy - it’s just stunning. Beautiful warm turquoise water, lake beaches to swim off, boats, paddle boarding, cycle paths, mountains nearby with loads to do, lovely restaurants, beautiful villages & towns... I love France and this is one of the best places I have visited. Temperatures lovely - generally not too hot but still mostly lovely weather with the odd rain storm.

Dordogne is also a favourite area - just fairytale beautiful - many chateaux to visit, beautiful river, gorgeous towns & villages...

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 21:41:57

If anyone is in the mood to post links to lovely places, that would be fab. Bit much to ask of those of you on your hols though!

drivingtofrance Wed 21-Aug-19 21:49:39

My second favourite (if that is possible) is Dordogne. A couple of years ago we stayed in Les Eyzies - it's quite a popular touristy town but still very lovely. Loads to see and do around there - and again fantatic food!!

I won't share where we stayed as we booked a four bedroomed house and you won't need to spend that much. I fancied this place more recently but we didn't get there - this is in the same town. lebanquet.com/cottages/

NoHummus Wed 21-Aug-19 21:50:44

I am getting so much inspiration from this thread, I haven't been to anywhere in France other than Paris.

OP, you might get some ideas from this travel blog I follow:
www.ontheluce.com/tag/france/

Hope you have a fabulous time wherever you end up!

drivingtofrance Wed 21-Aug-19 21:51:52

Also loved La Rochelle - and that area. I haven't stayed in the town but have researched it.

there are many holiday apartments to rent around the new marina - not badly priced. They would be great for the two of you.

Legomadx2 Wed 21-Aug-19 21:54:25

The Lot is a beautiful - and very unspoilt - part of France. Get a gite with a pool and you're sorted. Markets all over he place, stunning scenery... La France Profonde 🇫🇷

SleepyRoo Wed 21-Aug-19 21:54:38

Currently in Burgundy. It's v beautiful wine country, great food, rural, uncrowded, traditional, and very few other English (big plus for me). It really is the undiscovered part of France. Lovely small hotels and restaurants. No coastline but gorgeous weather.

Outsomnia Wed 21-Aug-19 22:00:52

Well we flew to Carcassonne. Lovely place but a bit Disney, nice all the same.

Then hired a car and drove over the Pyrenees via Limoux (lovely wine centre), and Quillan (gorgeous spot), and on over the high mountains to Andorra via Puicgerda in Spain.

Back via Mirepoix, and Cathar Country (amazing castles and so on) and a great Neanderthal Cave like Lascaux. Big festivals going on that we knew nothing about and it was MAD! but very enjoyable.

I think it depends on what you like and enjoy.

CanYouHearThePeopleSing Wed 21-Aug-19 22:01:51

Contis Plage, on the Atlantic coast. Fly in to Bordeaux, spend some time there, travel down the coast, then go to Biarritz and fly back from there.

Or the Dordogne. We stayed in a very untouristy town called Belves. The perfect base for touring a beautiful area.

Scabetty Wed 21-Aug-19 22:03:08

Tourettes-sur-Loup and Gourdon via Nice.

Yika Wed 21-Aug-19 22:06:23

I love the Dordogne. Very verdant. Rolling hills.

Alternatively, why not try the Drome or the Ardeche with their beautiful gorges and rivers.

The most stunning holiday destination of all is Corsica with its sandy pine-fringed beaches and majestic mountains.

I think France is so varied and has so much to offer, you can hardly go wrong, whatever you pick.

lots33 Wed 21-Aug-19 22:08:21

We’re in France atm, it’s amazing! We are in the Languedoc region, at the base of the Pyrénées, near the Spanish border. Thoroughly recommend! We are in a lovely village - Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines- near Collioure, Argelès Sur mer, Perpignan and near gorgeous coves in French and Spanish Catalonia. It is beautiful, hot and quiet and near the Mediterranean coast.

drivingtofrance Wed 21-Aug-19 22:11:35

Bordeaux is a good city to visit. If you wanted to fly drive you could fly into Bordeaux and then rent a car to head over to the Dordogne via St Emilion, Bergerac.. (wine grin )

Awks Wed 21-Aug-19 22:32:35

Echo Ille de Re . Just beautiful

derryrose Wed 21-Aug-19 22:34:00

Just back from a little village near Chamonix. Loads to do and breathtaking scenery

SillyBub Wed 21-Aug-19 22:37:42

Waves at @lots33

We are in the same area and absolutely loving it.

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Wed 21-Aug-19 22:48:46

Argh! So many choices! Your holidays all sound fab and I will have a lovely time researching them all. Thank you!

teachermam Wed 21-Aug-19 22:53:06

Nice

pinkhousesarebest Wed 21-Aug-19 23:03:22

We live here. There is no end of choice. Love in particular Cap Ferret and Cassis but also Finistère and Biarritz. Depends what you are looking for. We are surfing atm in Hossegor which is great for older D.C, but the Vendée / Brittany/ Ariège were all firm favorites when the children were little.

KitchenDancefloor Wed 21-Aug-19 23:31:05

We have loved both the Brittany and Bordeaux / Atlantic coast areas but have always lucked out with the weather.

Normandy in the drizzle is grim.

If you want good weather you have to go south (La Rochelle at least) so either make a road trip of it and brave the roadside toilets or fly.

Seriously France, as a friend, please sort the toilet situation out!

KitchenDancefloor Wed 21-Aug-19 23:38:10

Also... In France atm and my favourite place is Aldi! The wine is so cheap, even with the horrendous exchange rate. We'll be bringing back a couple of cases of the local, delicious white for about £3 a bottle. Sorry to derail. I won't get started on the quality of the cheese either <drools on screen>.

Have fun choosing your holiday!

Glasscrab Wed 21-Aug-19 23:45:17

We had a wonderful time renting a big old house in the Gers last year, near Auch. Ravishing, very untouristy, lots of historical interest, close to the Pyrenees and Toulouse, several national parks, and the best brocantes I’ve ever seen.

Cotonshaded Wed 21-Aug-19 23:45:28

Alsace- the Riesling vineyards, beautiful small villages like Riquewihr that are like something out of a Disney movie, lovely french/German cuisine and shop across the Rhine to Germany for a bit of variety - loved it!

Cotonshaded Wed 21-Aug-19 23:46:38

Hop not shop🙄!

Branleuse Wed 21-Aug-19 23:51:21

I love cathar country. The foothills of the pyrenees. So stunningly beautiful, yet more real, less dripping with money than the alps

coatlessinspokane Wed 21-Aug-19 23:57:45

I see that you want to practise your french so you’ll need somewhere not so touristy or at least filled with French tourists not foreign ones. Instead of Annecy go to Aix Les Bains, lovely lakes, more French spoken.

Or try Chambery. A proper french alpine town and near to Annecy and Aix. Very friendly too.

Applesandrhurbarb Thu 22-Aug-19 08:58:07

We are just home from the Alps region and stayed not far from La Clusaz. Very few English holiday makers (plenty French though) Central enough to travel to Annecy, Chamonix, Geneva etc. Plenty of opportunities to walk or drink coffee and eat ice cream, whatever your in the mood to do that day. We drove, rather uneventful trip down but came home via Paris and, whilst I've been before, I fell in love with it all over again and can't wait to go back. Paris at night under the sparkly Eiffel Tower sitting on the Champ de Mars ... Would have been utter bliss had we taken a picnic!!

lots33 Thu 22-Aug-19 10:36:32

@SillyBug hello! Where are you staying? Any recommendations- we are here for another 10 days. We’ve driven to port-bou in Spain and went to Argeles-sur-Mer so far. Kids loved Argeles-sur-Mer and I’m excited to see collioure.

BoogleMcGroogle Thu 22-Aug-19 22:39:50

The Dordogne is beautiful. And France at its Frenchest I think. We love the area around Montignac/ Sarlat. Beautiful countryside and towns and divine food. And lots of sunshine.

We have a chalet in the Haute Savoie and go skiiing and for summer walking. Also lovely but somehow not as typically French. If your bf enjoys driving though, it's pretty fun around our neck of the woods ( Les Memises/ Val d'Abondance). We had some super holidays there pre-kids. All cheese, views and genipi. It's totally different now, although still lovely 😊

SJane48S Fri 23-Aug-19 07:55:51

I would second the Riviera but it would be hot in Summer and if you’re not keen on heat maybe best avoided! The places I’ve liked best are further South (Riviera, Carcasonne, Serlat). Depends on how much heat you are comfortable with really! Brittany is pretty and will be cooler - I once camped on the Isle de Batz off Roscoff - very pretty little island with wild ponies and empty beaches - there is a boat that takes you over). It does have quite a few similarities to Cornwall though!

SJane48S Fri 23-Aug-19 07:58:39

Oops! Sarlat not Serlat!

ElizabethinherGermanGarden Fri 23-Aug-19 08:54:12

There Will Be No Camping! I have spoken...

Thank you though for all the suggestions. I do like the idea of Brittany very much (love the bits set in Brittany in Possession so am tempted by Finisterre and Nantes) but there's no way there will be any tent involvement.

Vasya Fri 23-Aug-19 08:56:35

The Dordogne Valley. Exquisite scenery, loads of interesting things to do (probably the best area in the world for prehistoric sites, incredible castles, formal gardens, food markets), gorgeous food, reliable weather, stuffed to the gunnels with beautiful little medieval towns. I've been going to that area for years and I honestly think it might be paradise on earth.

SJane48S Fri 23-Aug-19 10:29:38

Quite right too re camping - I was 20 and tbh it was a step up from rough sleeping quite often when backpacking! The 49 year old me wouldn’t even contemplate it! That said it was a beautiful island and I’m sure they’d be a hotel on it!

Hoppinggreen Fri 23-Aug-19 10:34:34

My favourite part of France is Annecy and The Alps
We have friends in Courcheval so we did a week in Annecy and then a week up there with them. Everything was £££££ but as we had free accommodation for half the holiday it was ok
I also love the French/Spanish border

Labassecour Fri 23-Aug-19 11:30:00

I agree those are much the best bits of Possession, OP. Mind you, I have never been to Brittany to see for myself.

Another area of France I love is the Morvan in Burgundy. Easily accessible from Paris, but it feels far more remote -- mysterious and beautiful, has wonderful walking, climbing, water activities, and enormously interesting archeology and architecture.

Robindrama Mon 26-Aug-19 13:28:45

Do you drive or fly to Dordogne?

drivingtofrance Mon 26-Aug-19 13:58:46

I drive. I love to have my own car with me. Can then pack it full of goodies to take home.

Usually we break our journey.Also me and DH take turns driving.

When my parents go only DF will drive so they have started to fly and then hire a car if the location is quite far south.

Robindrama Mon 26-Aug-19 14:16:10

Thanks for the inspiration everyone! Time to dig out our guides books ( as we planned to go to France two years ago, but never did). With two kids (9,12) we are looking for a place with a diversity of activities...

zafferana Mon 26-Aug-19 14:26:08

The Dordogne is very hot and humid in July/Aug. I went many a summer there as a DC and remember it most for mosquitoes, thunder storms and being boiling hot. If you have air con it would be bearable, otherwise very hot if you're not used to it.

My favourite summer holiday place is Brittany. It rarely gets too hot, it's wild and rugged, the food is fab, it's a big area with lots to do, some lovely old towns and cities to explore and some incredible beaches.

As for Provence - gorgeous in June or Sept - but fucking hot, crowded and expensive in the summer holidays. Go in May half-term to the south of France.

aufaitaccompli Mon 26-Aug-19 14:39:17

Concarneau in Brittany is a lovely place to visit from Finistere/Benodet.

Doussard nr Annecy is/was a very pretty village.

St Maxime and Frejus/San Raphael are gorgeous...the roads between Cannes and St Tropez are littered with pretty villages, however fairly expensive.

I have spent time in Vendee/Loire/Brittany/Paris/Bordeaux/Cote dAzur/Alps/Massif Central and love them all.

Yelloh Villages does campsites (not just tents, Breton cottages etc) They're a great source of information on Mountain/Sea/Countryside

CoolShoeshine Mon 26-Aug-19 22:13:18

Lake Annecy - no contest. Definitely one of my favourite places ever.
Preferably combined with a few nights in Alps such as Chamonix. an easy train ride away.

Wrongdissection Mon 26-Aug-19 22:18:44

Currently in Provence, in a wee town called Regusse, right next to Lac de St Croix and the utterly breathtaking Gorges du Verdon. From here we have visited Monaco, Ventimiglia in Italy, Cannes, St Tropez, Frejus and St Maxime. We were considering Marseille and Port Grimaud but have run out of time.

We’ve done the Dordogne and Sarlat is a gorgeous town. I just absolutely love France. Nice is my happy place. In fact the whole Cote D’Azur.

Wrongdissection Mon 26-Aug-19 22:24:30

We flew to Bergerac when we went to the Dordogne.

France is great for kids. We have a 15 and 9 year old and we’ve done paddle boarding, pedaloe, parcour, inflatable assault course on a lake, a couple of beach days, canoeing as well as a couple of pool days. We’re knackered but the kids have been kept going!

CIareIsland Mon 26-Aug-19 22:27:20

The Alps are stunning in the summer - sunny and hot with build in air-con. Loads of activities - canyoning, via ferreta, white water rafting, horse riding, trekking - or you can just swim in a pristine alpine lake or sip wine on the terrace of a rural restaurant with only the sound of goat bells and church bells chiming. Find the lovely mountain villages don’t go to big ski resorts such as Chamonix if you want an authentic experience. Other areas are national parks such as Ecrins

Jsmith99 Mon 26-Aug-19 22:35:19

As you have said you are a couple, I am going to assume you are not tied to travelling in school holidays. If so, that is a very, very good thing. The nice bits of France are much, much less crowded in May, June and September than in July and August.

Brittany is absolutely lovely, it’s a sort of French equivalent of Cornwall, but with better weather, and it’s very easy to get to.

HaroldThatsEnough Mon 26-Aug-19 22:37:51

The Limousin, much prefer it to the Dordogne and far fewer Brits. Correze is breathtaking, parts are very like Tuscany, Creuse is quiet and very green with beautiful hills, Haute Vienne not quite as dramatic but still lovely. Lac de Vassiviere is absolutely wonderful too.

Because it's quiet, holiday rentals are cheaper than other, most touristy areas.

CIareIsland Mon 26-Aug-19 22:38:30

OP is a teacher so tied to school holidays....

CurlyhairedAssassin Mon 26-Aug-19 22:40:42

I another one saying the Dordogne. Whoever mentioned Le Banquet at Les Eyzies, it is beautiful but more geared up for families (perfect for families!), I wouldn’t particularly like to go there for romantic couple time in school holidays (I work in a school myself). The owners did have another place down the road set up without games room etc so better for people without young kids maybe.

The area is absolutely stunning. We went 2 years on the run to Les Eyzies (was recommended on here) and would love to go back. It was very central for all the places of interest. only experience of France before was many years on the Riviera a long time ago as a teen, and Paris.

Climate in summer: can be VERY hot. 35 degrees or more, but then can be much less so the next week and you could even get half a day of drizzle. It’s not like a holiday in cornwall though where you expect heavy rain on at least one day in the week! You will need lots of summer clothes for not weather and a cardi for any cooler evenings. The canoeing is fantastic. The towns (Sarlat is my favourite) are so picturesque, countryside very green (then south is much more Med looking- pale dry grass,,olive trees etc). The prehistoric thing is so interesting even if you don’t think you’re into it. The chateaux,, beautiful gardens (eg chateau de Marqueyssac), honestly stunning.

I’d also love to visit Lake Annecy and the Alps at some point.

Herefortheduration Mon 26-Aug-19 23:10:08

* too hot for northern boyfriend*

Too funny, I'm Northern and believe me we can take the same temperatures as our southern contemporaries. The difference in N to S is only a few degrees, we don't live in Siberia.

Mother87 Mon 26-Aug-19 23:44:56

Another one for Ile de Ré... just gorgeous

Leftiefterson Mon 26-Aug-19 23:50:17

I went to Provence a few years ago Op and loved it. I went there to practise my French as I was just starting out and I also needed to figure out what the heck I was doing with my life. I went alone initially and then my boyfriend at the time came out to meet me.

It wasn’t beautiful, we rode our bikes, ate tonnes of cheese, visited vineyards and just relaxed. It really was idyllic.

midsomermurderess Tue 27-Aug-19 11:15:42

I love the Ardeche, and Drôme, which sits above Provence. Lavendver fields, pretty villages, less busy.

shellyandlayla Thu 29-Aug-19 10:11:29

I've lived near Vannes in South Brittany for 15 years. I'm biased obviously, but I love it here. Vannes has city life, history, festivals, sailing, exploring, great food and within 15 minutes there are fantastic beaches, water sports, walking etc etc. Happy to help further if I can smile Also, I am a pasty northerner.

DorisDaysDadsDogsDead Thu 29-Aug-19 10:31:22

Pretty much anywhere you choose will be lovely, I think that's the thing!

I love the Dordogne. So much to see and do, canoeing along the river there was particularly memorable. And the food...
If you were to drive you could always spend a few days in Brittany or the Loire Valley on your way down/back up. They are also worth some time.

Alternatively, we often get the Eurostar directly to Avignon, and then stay in Provence. You can hire a car for a few days to do some exploring, or experience public transport where it's available! So many gorgeous towns to amble around.
Come back via Paris for a couple of days (the return direct Eurostar involves a horrendous stop at Lille where you have to get out with all your luggage and is well worth avoiding). Time in Paris is never a waste.

I enjoy planning trips too!

Twisique Tue 03-Sep-19 11:53:16

Saint Marine near Benodet in Finisterre

rrg1 Tue 03-Sep-19 12:00:43

As much as I love Brittany, I prefer Languedoc, well Catalonia. You have mountains and the sea, plus just a short hop across the border into Spanish Catalonia, where prices are even cheaper.Take a look around Colliure.

Loopytiles Sat 12-Oct-19 07:13:30

V good tips here, thank you!

caperplips Mon 14-Oct-19 15:20:18

A few years ago we got the ferry over and did a road trip down the length of France, avoiding motorways all the way. We were away for 2 weeks or so.

We did 3 nights in Paris when we arrived, then we headed down via Languedoc, we stopped off in random places that took our fancy and mainly tried to avoid the bigger cities, except Lyon, we spent a lovely day & night there. We were in Avignon, Nimes, Arles, Montpelleier etc
we stopped off at a tiny placa called Blancardy along the way and spent about 3 nights there in an old castle. It was close to the river Ganges. We ate and drank all round us and had a lovely time

StillSmallVoice Mon 14-Oct-19 15:42:53

A couple of years ago we got a train to Nimes. It was lovely, and you get to see the scenery al the way down. We live in the South East, so have easy access to the Eurostar, and swapping onto a French train at Gard du Nord was easy. We reckoned that by the time you got to an airport, go checked in and got in from the airport at the other end it didn't actually take any longer.

Nimes itself, and the countryside around was lovely, especially in May when the weather was gorgeous.

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