Take A First French Holiday

Take a First French Holiday Loire Valley Chateau VillandryWe had a fabulous family holiday to France last summer. We took our car on the ferry and stayed on a campsite, in a gite and a hotel. After sharing a few photos and details of our adventures on Facebook, several friends said to me “I’d love to have a holiday in France but I don’t know where to go.” Well my wish-list included not going too far, finding chateaux, cycle paths, sun and swimming. If that sounds like your thing, here are my four top tips!

Loire Valley

Outline map of France showing the Loire Valley regionThe central area between Angers and Blois is full of stunning, grand chateaux and vineyards so take plenty of spending money. There’s also a huge variety of fascinating caves to visit and fields full of sunflowers. Inland the weather changes more slowly and summer temperatures are good. It’s quite common to find holiday accommodation in this part of France with a pool.

French Atlantic Coast

Outline map of France showing Atlantic Coast regionMy tips for this coast are the regions of Loire Atlantique, the Vendee and Pitou Charentes, all great spots for a French beach holiday. The further south the more expensive due to the warmer weather and it’s worth booking well ahead as it’s popular. The landscape is quite flat and plain but there are pretty canals and cycle routes. Large attractions within reach include Le Puy de Fou (historic reinactments) and Futuroscope (science experience).

Brittany

Outline map of France showing BrittanyDriving to Brittany is a far longer journey than you might expect due to fewer motorways and more rural roads. It can easily take 7 hours from Calais. There are numerous beaches and coves; few large attractions but great for outdoor life with forests, walking and culture. The weather is often described as being like Cornwall but generally better. Accommodation in Brittany tends to be cheaper than coastal areas further south.

Normandy

Outline map of France showing NormandyNormandy has a bit of everything; Norman castles, beaches, cathedrals, booze and cheese. It’s a great way to soak up French culture without going far. Accommodation is quite cheap however in my experience the weather is a little more like England so have some back up plans just in case. Perhaps visit the Bayeaux tapestry or set off early for a day-trip to Paris.

Bayeux Tapestry exhibition in Normandy

Bayeaux Tapestry – image credit

Quite a few accommodation websites will give you a good discount on Brittany ferries, but you could get a cheaper gite or campsite by using a French website. Try putting “gites bord de mer” or “le camping pres de la plage” into google, for example and see what pops up.

Vendee Beach on the French Atlantic CoastWe think France is an easy but exciting holiday and going by car just adds to the adventure. Follow my “Places – France” board on Pinterest to get more ideas of places to visit.

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