With around 13 million visitors to France from Britain in 2018, France, or l’hexagone, as the French call it, is a firm favourite with British holiday makers. Despite being separated by just over 20 miles of the English Channel at its closely point, France is very different to the UK and offers a hugely diverse range of holidays. Beach, country, city, mountain, ski and more. We chat to Christophe Chennetier of Select Villas in France and French Connections holiday home rental company, about the allure of France…
Diversity of the landscape in France
Mountains, seaside resorts, stunning landscape, historic cities, France has it all. In the south of France “at certain times of the year, you could have a picnic lunch on the beach in Nice” says Julie Winder at French Connections, “and then head to the ski slopes in the afternoon and be back in time for dinner.”
Christophe Chennetier of Select Villas France adds “the striking variation in scenery across all regions is a big lure. It includes a huge amount of ski resorts with beautiful cosy accommodation offering stunning views that are uplifting. And then there’s the fabulous coastline of Brittany with its unspoiled beauty and traditional stone houses and a great choice of Breton holiday homes. Plus there’s gloriously sunny Provence where you’ll find a fabulous mountain range nd lavender fields, plus the Cote d’Azur with its dazzling little villages with beautiful villas. There really is such a great contrast in landscapes, and something to thrill everyone”.
Easy to get to
“The geographical closeness has something to do with France’s popularity with the British” says Christophe. Just 35 minutes by Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais, Eurostar, ferries and planes will get you there. The road system in France is superb with fast toll roads. And the fast train service whisks passengers from one end of the country to the other.
Culture and English-language friendly
According to Christophe: “The’res the language itself which is supposed to be the language of love. Plus of course so much culture and the arts. And there is a shared fascination with history, and centuries of wars and rivalry yet a deep likeness. There’s been lot of interest in the last few years from visitors to northern France to the numerous sites marking the centenary of the end of the first Word War or D-Day landing. Really, the list goes on…”
Tourist offices across France have long had a programme to equip and train their teams for English language communication and you’ll find that most, if not all, big attractions have English language staff on site. “Even in Paris” says Julie “where traditionally English hasn’t been a priority for the locals, things are changing”. With 45 UNESCO sites, and thousands of listed monuments, from the Chateau of Versailles to the Eiffel Tower – you’ll never run out of things to see and do.
France has UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status for its gastronomy. Nowhere will you find better baguettes or cakes, cheese or wine in such abundance. And, it doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find a great street market where the locals still shop for their fresh, seasonal and local produce. Even supermarkets have a local produce aisle.
When we Brits are sick of the grey skies and pouring rain, we long for a bit of sunshine and France offers a reprieve. Just a couple of hours from any airport in Britain takes you direct to the south of France and those longed for blue skies.
Availability of great holiday accommodation
Julie and Christophe both stress the huge availability of diverse holiday accommodation from chateaux to gorgeous villas, cottages, apartments, seaside homes, glamping, yurts, treehouses – you name it, whatever takes your fancy, you’ll find it in France. They work together to promote all sorts of holiday homes, to those with pools and in residences, holiday parks and apartment blocks, or in stunning seaside locations in all areas of France. “We’re there for our clients” says Julie, “we’re not just a faceless company”, and Christophe emphasises that “it’s that personal touch, that both our companies have that make working together a pleasure and making our holiday makers dreams come true, an absolute pleasure”.