French Connections

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  • Discover Savoie for skiing and summer holidays

    High in the snow covered peaks of the Rhone Alps is the Savoie - a land of wild, majestic beauty and our region of the month. For skiers, this area is a Mecca, and superlatives abound. It is home to Mont Blanc, the mother of all French mountains, contains Les Trois Vallées, one of the largest connected skiing areas in the world and features L'Espace Killy, known as the most beautiful ski centre in the world.

    There’s been plenty of snowfall recently, so the ski season will extend well into April, giving you time to book a self-catering stay at one of our traditional ski chalets and apartments. Chambery is the region’s capital and plenty of ski resorts are within a short driving distance of its airport. You can also get a low-cost flight to Lyon and drive south from there. When booking, don’t forget to ask owners for tips on travel.

    When the weather gets warmer and snow leaves the lower slopes, Savoie is also a great destination for walking, cycling and boating, for enjoying clear mountain air, breathtaking scenery and wide open spaces. If you’ve never been to the French mountains in summer, you have a treat in store. Grassy slopes and meadows with snow-topped peaks, stunning lakes that evoke a sense of deep peace, a magical landscape with views that you just want to sit and soak up.

    Our photo shows views of glaciers from Ste Foy, a charming, unspoilt ski resort that is home to Chalet and Apartment Morion.

    And all year round you can savour the local cuisine – fish and game dishes, fabulous cheeses - and discover some delicious local wines exclusive to the area. The very names make you want to try them – white wines include Altesse, Chasselas and Roussane while Savoie reds have a ring to their names of Mondeuse and Persan. Salut!

  • Fantastic snowfalls mean early start to French ski season

     

    The ski season in France is off to an early start this year, with exceptional falls of snow right across the Alps. Local ski professionals are saying it’s the best snow and earliest start to a season that they have seen.

    In the ski resort of Tignes, which is at relatively low altitude, the glacier was open in early October and now snow lies thick on the slopes below it. Chamonix, Montgenèvre and Val Thorens are also popular resorts that have already opened their slopes for skiing.

    France is a great ski destination, with easy access by car, snow train services and a choice of flights and airports. There is a wide choice of resorts that are family friendly where facilities for skiers of all ages and abilities are of a very high standard.

    Travel experts are predicting that skiiers will be looking for maximum value this year. At French Connections we have a great choice of chalets, gites and apartments to rent, suitable for couples, families and groups. These self-catering properties offer really attractive prices, space and facilities when compared to hotels.

    Much of our accommodation is in the Haute-Savoie region – and several chalets here are offering £100 discount plus a champagne reception for bookings made before January. Enjoy a stay in a buzzing resort or choose a peaceful, traditional village where you can enjoy a typically French winter holiday with great food, drink and charming apres-ski events. Find your ski holiday property in Haute-Savoie now.

  • Ski holiday accommodation in traditional French villages

    France is the world’s top ski destination, yet I love that it’s still possible to avoid crowds and noise and get amazing value by staying in a really French mountain village. Many of our gorgeous ski chalets and lodges are just a little off-piste in locations that are peaceful yet accessible to all the action – both the ski slopes and shops in the day and friendly, cosy auberges in the evening.

    The famous resort of Alpe d'Huez has already had abundant snowfall this year and the glaciers are perfect for skiing, so it’s likely to attract a lot of the ski crowd. Yet within striking distance of the Alpe d'Huez slopes are picture book villages like Auris-en-Oisans, Le Freney D Oisans and Mont de Lans, where we have a great choice of ski chalets, lodges and apartments so that you can enjoy a slice of real French life as well as the thrill of winter sports – and get a lot more space for your money.

    A typical example is Auris Chalet, which stands at 1,400m in Les Cours, a peaceful village with narrow winding streets yet very little traffic as the road leads nowhere else. Village buildings are typical farmhouses, there’s a quiet friendly atmosphere and fabulous views. For meals, a beer or bottle of wine in front of a roaring fire, the local Auberge is just 25 metres away.

    Our skiing guide has information on all the best ski areas, with accommodation options, and you can book flights, ferries and ski train travel, see a guide to driving through France and even get your winter sports travel insurance.

    Visit our guide to Ski Holiday Accommodation in France, find owners who specialise in ski holidays and find ski accommodation in Auris and the villages

  • Still time to grab a ski holiday in France

     

    France is deservedly the world’s premier ski destination - and there’s still time to book a ski holiday this winter. The French Alps are spectacular, with truly majestic and unforgettable scenery. They also boast  Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, which overlooks Chamonix - one of the best ski resorts in the world.

    Our owners offer a cosy home from home for your skiing holiday, whether as a couple, family or group. They include self-catering chalets, farmhouses and apartments conveniently located for the slopes and often in charming villages where mountain traditions have been maintained.

    The Haute-Savoie is a favourite skiing area and its capital, Annecy, is a fashionable town with a friendly ambience. The town’s canals give it a sense of romance and is often compared with Venice - but of course Venice does not have the magnificent French Alps bearing down upon it! Also in the north lies the Chablais area, situated along the French/Swiss border. This is known as 'Portes du Soleil' and in the centre is the village of Morzine, France’s largest ski area.

    Chamonix is probably one of the most popular Alpine ski resorts and is rooted in skiing history as the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. It is situated in a valley and surrounded by some of the most stunning mountains you will ever see. The nine skiing areas undoubtedly make for some of the best skiing in Europe.

    For those who prefer to look from a distance, take the train from the Gare du Montenvers to the enormous Mer de Glace glacier. On a day off from the slopes, you can also explore glaciers in the Alps, take a cable car at Le Brevant to the highest peak to gaze on the awesome Mont Blanc or relax in Evian-les-Bains, strolling along the shores of Lake Geneva or enjoying one of the many cutting-edge spa treatments offered here.

    There are plenty of options for flights to this region, with budget airlines flying from many regional airports to Lyon and also to Geneva or Chambery. Find ski accommodation in the Haute-Savoie and Savoie and book your travel to France.

  • The Midi Pyrénées - perfect for ski and summer holidays

    During the winter, the ski slopes of the Pyrenees mountains are a fantastic, more 'French' and cheaper alternative to the more popular Alps. Stay in a mountain village or nearby countryside and combine sightseeing and culture with winter sports. In summer, the peaks and passes become a paradise for walkers, cyclists and fishing enthusiasts. The more adventurous can try rock climbing or white water rafting while, if you prefer holidays of a gentler persuasion, you can just relax with a glass of wine and the local cuisine and enjoy the majestic scenery and mountain air.

    The Midi Pyrénées spreads right across South western France, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and includes the departments of Ariège, Aveyron, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Lot, Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne. All except the Hautes-Pyrénées department owe their name to the river that crosses them.

    The Midi-Pyrénées is bordered to both the north and south by mountains, and the Pyrenees form a natural frontier with Spain, so a bonus to staying in the area is a chance to cross into Spain to explore. The Pyrenees National Park is one of the seven national parks in France and there are also three regional nature parks. The caves of Padirac, in the Lot, are considered to be one of Europe’s greatest geological curiosities and the Ariège also has an abundance of caves that tell stories about the life of Homo sapiens.

    RocamadourRocamadour, in the Lot, is among the most visited places of interest in France, second only to Mont Saint-Michel, and anyone interested in insects and nature will love Micropolis in the Aveyron. If you prefer flying objects, the Cité de l’Espace, the space experience in Toulouse, is a must-see and, of course, Lourdes welcomes visitors from the world over.

    There’s a fabulous feast of food here, from foie gras to rare truffles, from Rocamadour goat’s cheese to Quercy lamb. Cep mushrooms are found in the undergrowth in autumn and bryony along the paths in spring. Cassoulet, aligot (mashed potatoes with cheese), garbure (soup with cabbage and confit of goose), stockfish and gâteau à la broche (spit-roasted cake) are just some of the traditional recipes that you may sample.

    Toulouse-Blagnac airport is the fourth airport of France and has connections to all parts of the UK and most of Europe, including cheap airlines, and you can drive via Paris on the A71 and A20 which runs straight through the middle of the Midi- Pyrénées. The journey is approx 850km from Calais to the northern end of the Midi Pyrenees and will take around 8-9 hours depending on length of stops.

    See gorgeous holiday homes and more information in our complete guide to the Midi-Pyrénées

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • The Savoie - beautiful for skiing and in summer

    It’s time for ski holidays and France’s Savoie region is a brilliant destination to get your thrills on the slopes. We’ve chosen Savoie in the Rhone Alps as our region for January because it is easily accessible and boasts miles of ski and snowboarding slopes, glorious scenery, friendly villages with cosy chalets and apartments, great apres-ski, fabulous food and wines exclusive to the area.

    The Savoie is home to Mont Blanc, the most famous of all French mountains. It also contains the massive and beautiful ski areas of Les Trois Vallées and L'Espace Killy. Both offer world class winter sports and facilities.

    Chambery is the region’s capital and plenty of ski resorts are within a short driving distance of its airport. You can also get a low-cost flight to Lyon and drive south from there. Savoie is about nine hours’ drive from the ferry ports or tunnel or you can opt to take a ski train. When booking, don’t forget to ask owners for tips on travel.

    Once you arrive, there’s the thrill of the ski lift, the winter sun on your face, the brilliance of all that snow and the exhilaration of flying through crisp mountain air. Even when your landing is less elegant than you hoped, you can take comfort in a rich hot chocolate by a blazing fire, a hot shower and later the amazing tastes of the Savoyard cuisine, especially cheeses, and local wines.

    When the weather gets warmer and snow leaves the lower slopes, Savoie is also a great destination for clear mountain air, breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities and wide open spaces. We highly recommend discovering the French mountains in summer.

    We have a great range of self-catering accommodation in the area, for couples, families and larger groups. Chalets and apartments are located in both popular resorts and traditional villages with a typically French mountain flavour. See more in our guide to the Savoie and our guide to the Rhone-Alps.

  • The Savoie – so seductive for skiing

     As a ski holiday location, France’s Savoie region really has got it all. This is a land of wild, majestic beauty dominated by the snow covered peaks of the Rhone Alps - especially Mont Blanc, the mother of all French mountains. Easy accessibility, miles of ski and snowboarding slopes, glorious scenery, friendly villages with cosy chalets and apartments, great apres-ski, fabulous food and wines exclusive to the area. No wonder the Savoie is our featured area of France this month.

    My first introduction to skiing was when my neighbour tried to teach me knee bends and leans in her spacious living room, using broom sticks as props. It was nothing like as much fun as being shown the moves by a handsome French ski instructor with a voice just like Yves Montand. Then there’s the thrill of the ski lift, the winter sun on your face, the brilliance of all that snow and the exhilaration of flying through crisp mountain air.

    Even when your landing is less elegant than you hoped, there’s the compensation of a rich hot chocolate by a blazing fire, a hot shower and later the amazing tastes of the Savoyard cuisine. Personally I’ll pass on the fricassee of frogs legs with garlic, onions and vinegar, but give me perch poached in red wine or just about any local game dish followed by a taste of the region’s delicious cheeses. Washed down, of course, with a soupcon of mountain wine... Generally unobtainable outside the  Savoie, the local wines are becoming more sophisticated as growers concentrate on raising their production from jolly nice plonk to high quality vintages.

    There is a terrific range of ski accommodation in the area, from popular resorts to traditional villages. Our photo shows Le Hameau des Airelles, a chalet holiday rental at St Martin de Belleville.

    Savoie is about nine hours drive from the ferry ports or tunnelor you can grab a low-cost flight.

    See more in our guide to the Savoie and our guide to the Rhone-Alps.

  • Winter breaks with cities, beaches and skiing in the Pyrénées mountains

    PyreneesMtCanigou

    Want to take a winter break in France where you can relax, explore cities, walk on beaches and enjoy a couple of days’ skiing in beautiful mountains? Our tip is to head for the Pyrénées Mountains in the south west.

    Many holiday properties accessible to popular destinations like Perpignan, Céret and the pretty Mediterranean port of Collioure are also within reach of the Pyrénées slopes.  To find out more, browse our villas, farmhouses and gites in Pyrénées-Orientales.

    ElCouloumer

    One great example is El Couloumer,  a year-round villa in Arboussols in Catalan Country, surrounded by vineyards and woodland. Owners Toni and Michael Howarth love winter here because they can have breakfast in sunshine on the terrace looking at snow capped mountains, then drive to one of nine different ski resorts within an hour, spend about four hours skiing and come home to a blazing log fire in time for dinner.

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    “The ski resorts open in November and skiing is usually great in February and March – even up to Easter. We are happy to offer our villa to holidaymakers during the winter months so they can share all that we love about the area. It’s a 30 minute drive to Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast and the beaches of Canet, Argeles and St. Cyprien are 50 minutes away. So visitors can combine skiing, beaches, lakes and even exploring Spain.”

    El Couloumer is featured in our latest article in French Property News magazine, along with some tips for holiday property owners in this area. The November ski issue is on sale now in print and digital editions.