Hotel, B&B, holiday rental, campsite… there are so many options for holiday accommodation that it can be hard to choose! However, each option has its advantages, and the best choice will depend on how you are travelling and what you feel like at the time. Here are a few pointers to help you choose…
Hotels are governed by strict standards and are classified by the Ministry of Tourism in various categories, depending on the comfort and quality of the establishment.
- The quality of hotels varies according to their number of stars, which can range from 1 to 5. Before booking, it is good to think about your expectations in terms of comfort, amenities and pricing. If you plan to go out later in the day and return to your room early after your days out, it's better to opt for a nice room that's big enough and has a beautiful view.
- While you can book a hotel room directly on its official website, it is also possible to go through booking agencies. These can sometimes provide more attractive offers, so don't hesitate to compare different options. However, take care to look at the conditions in detail, checking what is and isn't included, and the cancellation options.
- In some hotels, there are family rooms where you can stay with your children, or connecting adjoining rooms which then become suites. Large families should opt for this type of establishment, as these hotels also often provide a range of suitable amenities.
- A holiday in a hotel allows you to get away from everyday tasks, since they are performed by the hotel staff. Also, sheets and towels are provided by the hotel, which means you don't have to pack so much.
Holiday rental or gîte
With a range of furnished houses or apartments to choose from, holiday rentals and gîtes are a chance to visit any region of France while enjoying some privacy.
- Holiday rentals are generally booked for a week from Saturday to Saturday. However, there is now more flexibility with some accommodation, which may accept rentals for a weekend, for short weeks, or even by the day. You will need to ask the owners about the rental conditions on a case-by-case basis.
- Furnished holiday rentals always have a kitchen, a shower room or bathroom, toilets, a living room and one or more bedrooms. Some also feature a beautiful garden area and outdoor facilities including a swimming pool, which can be important for families with children.
- Some rentals are approved by an independent body, which gives them a comfort level ranging from 1 to 5, similar to hotels. The rating is often used as a reference by holidaymakers who book without seeing the place before staying there, and gives them a guarantee of quality.
- Holiday rentals or gîtes are mostly booked directly with the owner of the place, or sometimes through an agency that takes care of the logistics. With few exceptions, a security deposit as well as a down payment is required when booking a holiday rental. In case of cancellation, these amounts may be fully or partially kept by the owner as compensation.
- Often bedlinen is not provided free of charge at holiday rentals. It can be supplied in exchange for a surcharge, but otherwise you have to bring your own sheets, towels and tea towels.
- Gîte guests are often asked to leave the property in a clean condition, so you have to do the cleaning before returning the keys. Cleaning services are sometimes offered by the owners, but this represents an additional cost.
Bed & breakfast
One of the advantages appreciated by B&B fans is the warm welcome they receive, as they are effectively staying at a local resident's home. They are an easy and quite common option for short breaks, although longer stays of several weeks are also possible.
- The rented rooms are bedrooms located in the main residence of the owners or in an adjoining building. The private bathrooms are not obligatory for B&Bs, and it may sometimes be necessary to share these facilities with other guests of the house.
- In the majority of cases, breakfast is included in the price of each overnight stay. If not, it is optional for those who want it. This meal is served in a common room with other guests of the house if there are any. Sometimes the owners of the property join the guests to advise them and give them information about tourist attractions.
- Some B&Bs offer an optional evening meal served at the communal dining table (table d'hôtes). The dishes are usually made with regional ingredients. It is important to ask about this option in advance, as well as asking about available vacancies. Picnic hampers can also be prepared for the day, at the guest's request, if the owners offer this service.
- It is essential to make a reservation before you go, especially in high season. B&Bs are not last minute solutions, and if you don't book you might find the establishment is closed or full.
- There are B&Bs for families of 4, 5 or more, so this isn't only a solution for couples. Some establishments even offer extra amenities such as cots and high chairs. The owners can provide information about the various options when booking.
- Some luxury B&Bs offer additional activities, such as a pool, Jacuzzi, tennis courts, etc. During longer stays, these facilities are popular as a way to enjoy yourself without travelling too far.
Although sometimes considered less comfortable, camping remains a great way to get closer to nature at affordable prices.
- Rated 1 to 4 stars, campsites can offer a varied range of services. They are often strategically placed in convenient locations, such as near a beach, lake or forest.
- Generally, campsites let out tent pitches or caravan spaces to holidaymakers. However there are often other types of accommodation available, such as mobile homes or chalets. Depending on their size, the latter may be the perfect option for families.
- Not all campsites offer entertainment and other activities on site. The most basic establishments offer only a pitch, electricity and water. These are best for mobile holidaymakers who often change destination. If you want to stay for a week or more, it is better to choose a campsite which offers fast food, water sports or entertainment, for example.
Other types of holiday accommodation are also possible:
- Youth hostels offer cheap accommodation in shared dormitories or rooms. These benefits are available to members of the national association. They are categorised according to comfort or catering.
- Lodges (gîte d'étape) allow mobile tourists such as pilgrims and hikers to take a break and enjoy a night's rest in a permanent structure.
- Holiday residences offer apartments to let at tourist resorts. They offer sports and leisure facilities, so you can combine tourism and entertainment.