Autumn is the perfect time to plan a last minute holiday or short break in France. A major bonus of spending time in France at this time of the year is that you can find beautiful accommodation at great value prices.
In the late season, as the leaves turn colour and the grapes are harvested, France has an air of celebration of the land and its abundance. It’s a time to enjoy relaxing peace and quiet in the beautiful countryside and to bask in the pleasantly warm sunshine flooding the hills, pastures, lakes and beaches of southern parts of the country.
A holiday let or gite offers plenty of space for your money and the opportunity to settle into a home from home with excellent amenities. This means you can return from a day’s activities to your own private retreat and choose whether to dine out or light the log fire and have a meal of delicious local food and wine in your own cosy dining room.
Activities, sightseeing and wine tours
France offers a great choice of outdoor activities and many people prefer the cooler conditions of autumn for fishing or golf. Also for taking to the impressive network of tracks and paths for cycling, horse riding, walking and trekking through leafy lanes or the spectacular and immensely varied scenery of national parks. The autumn hues provide a colourful subject on which to practice – or even learn – the skills of painting and photography.
It’s also a good time for staying in the country and taking days out for sightseeing in towns and cities. Annecy in the Haute-Savoie has clear air, lakeside strolls and mountain views, while Carcassonne’s winding medieval lanes take you on a trip back in time. Hop on a train to visit sunny Avignon, the city of the popes, Bordeaux for the wine or Tours for the Loire chateaux. For history there is Chartres, while for glamour and beaches, Nice is hard to beat.
A wine tour is a great idea for autumn, with the chance to take in harvest celebrations and the annual launch of Beaujolais Nouveau. Smaller vineyards offer tastings and the opportunity to learn more about grapes, wine and that mysterious ‘terroir’ factor. You also have the satisfaction of selecting and buying at excellent prices splendid local wines that are simply not available at home.
Family breaks at a theme park
For a family holiday, France is home to some of the best theme parks in Europe. They make a great family adventure and many are open until mid November. Self catering accommodation nearby can be a more affordable and easily available option than hotels on site and give you more flexibility to enjoy local French life. Our top picks for theme parks open in autumn are Disneyland Paris, Futuroscope in Poitiers, Astérix Park inspired by the famous comic books and Vulcania, with attractions such as magma explorer, angry earth and the unveiled planet.
In this anniversary year of the First World War battle of the Somme, Armistice Day, which marked the war’s ending on 11th November 1918, will be a particularly poignant time to visit the Picardy region. Today, the Circuit du Souvenir (Remembrance Route), will take you to the sites where this international war was fought. The route links the emblematic towns of Péronne and Albert and takes in cemeteries and memorials which pay tribute to the memory of all the soldiers of the First World War.
Many owners of gites and B&Bs in this region are knowledgeable about local history and human stories. They are happy to advise on battle sites and war cemeteries for those who wish to visit them – and to combine that with lighter holiday activities. The same is true for the D-Day beaches in Normandy and other sites and memorials from the Second World War.
Christmas and New Year
Finally, if you can’t get to France in the autumn, there’s always Christmas and New Year. They make a great choice for a romantic couples hideaway or a large family get-together in France and a chance to indulge in the traditional delights of the French festive season.