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Caption: Bassin du Commerce Photo: F Goddard Normandy Tourist Board

Le Havre in Normandy is an ancient town with a contemporary footprint. It’s a UNESCO listed city, recognised for its extraordinary architecture.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Le Havre’s origins go back to 1517 when Francis 1 commissioned the construction of a port, it was known then as Francispolis. These days Le Havre is one of the biggest of French ports, a vast, vibrant and buzzing city.

Le Havre suffered enormous damage during World War II and afterwards needed almost complete rebuilding. Belgium born Auguste Perret was chosen to redesign the city and he persuaded the town planners to let him use reinforced concrete as his main medium. In those days, it was an unusual idea. Then, and even now, it’s not a commonly seen sight, or at least not in France. The result is an a very modern looking city with clean lines and light-coloured buildings.

What to see and do in Le Havre

Caption: Le Havre skyline Photo D. Dumas Normandy Tourist Board

Between 1945-1964, Perret created a template for modern living. Wide boulevards that let in light, sensibly laid out streets and buildings with all mod cons. His vision was for large bright living spaces as can be seen at the Perret show flat. It showcases Perret’s architectural innovation which led to the city becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 for urban planning. Those who have a penchant for modern architecture will love this city. Details: perretshowflat

Avenue Foch, designed to be a modern Champs-Elysées, is lined with smart shops and links the centre of the city to the sea.

The huge church of St Joseph stands 110m high and is a fitting concrete landmark for Le Havre and in fact can even be seen from the sea from the boats that arrive in port.

André Malraux Modern Art Museum (MuMa) build from metal and glass with huge windows facing the sea is idea for displaying paintings in any light. It contains many treasures from the 17th to the 20th century, including the second largest collection of impressionist works in France. Dufy, Monet, Bodin, Fantin-Latour and many others are represented here.

Le Volcan (The Volcano), Le Havre’s arts centre and theatre, designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, and built in 1982. The architecture represents a white veil of concrete, with curves and open shapes, and the state-of-the-art library inside is well worth a visit.

Le Havre Marina and Beach

Le Havre beach Photo: F. Lambert Normandy Tourist Board

Le Havre’s marina has 1,150 berths; many famous races and international sailing events set sail from here. A 2km beach with promenade is just 500m away from the city centre and you’ll find a wide range of bars and restaurants serving tasty local cuisine right on the beach.

You can also take boat tours of the port of Le Havre and discover the daily life of the port, tickets from the kiosk at the marina. Details: lehavreboattours

Food and Markets of Le Havre

Normandy is a food lover’s paradise with an abundance of lush farmland, and home to some of France’s most famous products. Le Havre is no exception, with all the classics from Norman cheeses, fresh seafood and apple products like Calvados, Pommeau and delicious pastries. The Place des Halles Centrales hosts a daily indoor market and an outdoor market on Sundays from 9am to 1pm. Fresh fish and shellfish straight off the boats can be found at the specialist fish market on the Place Saint-François.

For an authentic taste of Normandy try the Taverne Paillette 22, rue Georges Braque. Founded in 1596, it’s loved by the locals for its impressive seafood platters, Paris-style sauerkraut and home-brewed beer.

Revel in the hustle and bustle of Le Havre’s popular bar and restaurant district and head to Le Grignot, opposite Le Volcan. It’s one of the most famous brasseries in Le Havre and the menu specialises in seafood, seasonal and traditional recipes www.legrignot.fr

Find out more about Le Havre and Normandy: https://www.lehavretourisme.com/

French Connections has hundreds of fabulous gites and holiday rentals in Normandy, you’re sure to find your ideal holiday home with our handy search facilities. We love to make your holiday dreams come true

 

If you’re planning to drive in France, make sure you know the road rules and have the right equipment in your car.

What you need to have in your car when driving in France

1 High Visibility vest

There should be one for all passengers since it’s a requirement to wear a high-viz vest if you breakdown on the motorway and have to get out of the vehicle. You should carry them in the front of the car where they’re easily accessible. This is a legal requirement (including motor bikes).

2 Warning Triangle

By law, you need to have a warning triangle in the car in France which must be used, placed a minimum of 30m from the car, in case of breakdown or accident.

3 Spare bulbs

You can be fined for having a broken bulb in France so if one breaks, you need to have a kit in the car for immediate replacement.

4 Headlight beam adjusters

If your car doesn’t have adjustable headlights to make them compliant for driving on the left-hand side of the road, you’ll need to fit adjusters.

Drink-Drive limits in France

The limit for consuming alcohol and driving are lower in France than in the UK by almost half.

Speed limits in France

Fines are on the rise in France for breaking the speed rules.

As of midnight 30 June 2018, the speed limit on all two-lane roads in France, was reduced from 90 kilometres per hour (55 miles per hour) to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour).

Motorway: 130 kilometres per hour, 110 kilometres per hour in wet weather (80 miles per hour, 68 miles per hour in wet weather)

Dual Carriageway (Major Roads): 110 kilometres per hour; 100 kilometres per hour in wet weather (68 miles per hour (62 miles per hour in wet weather)

Two-lane roads outside built-up areas: 80 kilometres per hour; 70 kilometres per hour in wet weather (50 miles per hour; 43 miles per hour in wet weather)

Built up areas (towns and villages): 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour). Sometimes reductions are in place for 30kph but this will be signed.

Child on board

Children under the age of ten must travel in the back of cars with child seats/restraints unless there is no rear seat or the seats are full (with other children under the age of 10). Babies up to 10kf months in a rear facing child carrier may occupy a front seat (if the airbag is turned off), carry cots must be in the rear of the vehicle.

Radar Detectors

It’s illegal to carry or use a speed camera detector – doing so carries a heavy fine. You need to disable Satnav speed camera alerts before you travel in France.

Priority from the right

Be aware that some roads in France give priority to motorists approaching from the right. This is indicated by a red triangle with a black cross.

Low emission zones

In some cities in France you must carry a CRIT’Air sticker in the car, an Air Quality Certificate. Currently this rule applies to 28 zones including Paris, Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg and Grenoble. Find out where the ruling applies and get a badge online at: https://www.crit-air.fr/en.html (English language).

Take a look at our discounts and deals and get inspired to take a break that won’t break the bank. Or take a spontaneous break at the last minute and enjoy a great holiday in France.

Special offers and discounts – bag yourself a bargain break in France

Grab a bargain holiday break with us, we’ve got some great late deals and discounts for a huge range of areas in France.

For instance, the gorgeous France de Cezac in captivating Cahors is offering 45% off if you book for 30 June and the enchanting Chateau des Demoiselle is offering 35% off for remaining August weeks.

There are some really great offers to be found in our listings but don’t delay, they get snapped up fast! Head over to our

Late Deals and Discounts section

and browse the terrific deals and bag yourself a bargain break.

Last minute availability in France

It’s not too late to book your sunshine holiday in France this summer – we’ve got lots of fabulous holiday homes for rent. Whether you’re looking for a romantic cottage for two in Brittany, a spacious villa by the beach in the south of France for the family or a chateau in the vineyards of the Loire with friends, we can help you find your dream holiday home in France.

Our fabulous range of holiday rentals range right across France, so, pop on to our

Last Minute Availability” section

we keep it updated so that you can pick and choose right up to the last minute!

So if you’re feeling spontaneous and fancy a late escape – we’ll be delighted to help you, we love to help you make your holiday dreams come true…

 

When you’re on holiday in France, the chances are you’ll either be invited to play boules or you’ll find a pitch to play on. It’s a great way to make friends, have fun and get under the skin of real France. The game is also called pétanque, which means “feet fixed”, boules is easier to say.

The rules of Boules – it’s not just a game

Pétanque, or boules, is a serious affair in France. Pretty much every town and village has a boules pitch and every French person plays boules – well maybe not every single one, but it is the most popular game in France with an estimated 20 million people playing it regularly.

The point of the game is to get your boules, heavy balls that are often silver coloured, closest to a marker called a cochonnet, which means piglet. The game takes place on a flat, level surface.

Officially you should have no more than three players per team. In reality, unless you’re playing at a serious level, you pretty much turn up for a game and space is made however many people are playing.

Officially players toss their boules from a circle 50cm in diameter. Normally, someone marks a line in the sand or gravel with their foot – you all stand behind it. And you’re supposed to keep both feet on the ground when you toss your ball, not all dramatic like ten pin bowling with one foot behind.

The cochonnet, often made of wood or coloured red so you can see it easily, is to be thrown between 4-8 metres from the marker. If a cochonnet can’t be found, a distinctive stone will do. Then players must throw their balls to see who can get closest to it.

When all the balls are silver, you can tell whose who’s by the markings etched into the metal (or by the rust).

It sounds simple and it is - but there are some twists. Getting the ball close to the cochonnet is as much luck, for most of us, as skill. You need to move balls that are closer than yours to the cochonnet by throwing your next ball and knocking their ball further away.

Someone usually produces a ruler or piece of string to measure the distances.

There’s a lot of laughing, quite often cheating, there’s none of this let the holiday makers win malarkey.

Don’t try and be nice and let your French friends win, go all out for victory – it will be appreciated!

One final piece of advice, it’s not mandatory, but a glass of wine or Pastis is de rigeur when playing.

Bons Vacances…

French Connections has thousands of holiday homes all over France where a boules game awaits you – we love to make your holiday dreams come true…

 

This summer head for the beach with your bucket and spade and enjoy a brilliant seaside holiday in France…

Normandy – Etretat

Massive natural stone arches at both ends of Etretat Plage inspired impressionist painters Boudin, Monet, and Manet. This stretch of Alabaster Coast is wrapped in dramatic cliffs Two arches, Porte d’Aval and Porte Amont, can be seen from the town; the third, known as Manneport, reveals itself after a walk at low tide when 17th-century oyster beds emerge from the sea.

Ille-et-Villaine, Brittany – Cancale

This pretty little port is not far from St Malo, famous for its oysters! The magnificent mollusks have been cultivated in this attractive fishing village for hundreds of years. There are also breath-taking views over the Baie de St Michel and scenic walks around the coast.

Find your dream holiday home in our great selection in Ille-et-Villaine

Charente-Maritime - Ile de Re

Ile de Ré is a long, tiny, flat island just off the Atlantic coast, near La Rochelle. Composed of 12 villages, gorgeous little white houses and cobbled streets, beautiful vineyards, potatoes and asparagus fields, cycle tracks, salt marshes and stunning beaches.

Discover our gorgeous holiday homes in Ile de Re

Pas de Calais, Hauts de France – Le Touquet Paris-Plage

Voted in the top ten beaches in France by voters in Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice Awards, Le Touquet Paris-Plage is popular with Parisians for its style and is known as the “Monaco of the north”. Le Touquet has bags of charm and is quite unique amongst the many gorgeous seaside towns of France. For one thing, it has a certain English 'je ne sais quois' having been developed by an Englishman in the early 20th century. A long golden sandy beach, peppered with bars and restaurants make this a firm favourite for the whole family.

Pick your perfect holiday home from our selection in Pas-de-Calais

Charente Maritime – Saint Palais-sur-Mer

This resort on the Atlantic coast close to Royan, is well-known for its sandy beaches and mild, sunny climate. With beautiful architecture reminiscent of the Belle Epoque, and Carrelets (traditional wooden fishing huts on stilts). Saint-Palais-sur-Mer is a magnificent area for cycling, hiking, or to just chill out on the silky sand on the beaches.

Apartments, villas, gites and more – we’ve got something to sort everyone in Charente-Maritime

Check out our selection of holiday homes in Etretat

At French Connections, we love nothing better than making your holiday dreams come true… email or call us if we can help with holiday advice…

You’ll find the Var department in southeastern France in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

It’s famous for producing wine, olives, figs and flowers and lots of sunshine - being in the hottest region of France. If you love the warm waters of the Mediterranean, vibrant street markets, spectacular countryside, picturesque villages and great food, you’ll love the Var.

5 must see places in the Var:

Gorges du Verdon

One of the most beautiful sites in Europe (top photo), the azure blue waters of the Verdon River run through this dramatic gorge with its sharp drops and staggering heights. Surrounded by an expanse of green hills and lakes, the gorge is located between the beautiful village of Castellane and the stunning Sainte-Croix lake.

St Tropez

Tucked away at the tip of a peninsula, St Tropez holds court to the rich, the beautiful, the famous and the curious. Despite expensive yachts continuing to outnumber the fishing boats in the village harbour, life carries on in as it always has at the Place des Lices morning market. The tiny streets, lit up at night, include the usual exclusive shops, and on a warm evening there is a charming walk up to the ramparts. There are nearby beaches including (Pamplona and Tahiti) some of which are served by frequent mini buses from St Tropez.

Cotignac

Cotignac has wow factor limescale cliffs with houses literally carved into them. Climb the steps that lead up to the old cave dwellings during visiting season. In summer months the normally tranquil village beats to the hum of festivals, markets, and concerts. Village life revolves around the long Cours Gambetta, a raised pedestrian road on the west side with cars on the east side. It’s the perfect place to enjoy dining out in the sunshine under the shade of the Plane trees while you listen to the tinkling fountain – you’ll never want to leave!

Sainte-Maxime

An elegant seaside and family resort with a marina that has undertaken to protect the local natural environment. Don’t miss the botanical gardens of Myrtes (myrtle) which covers three hectares and features Mediterranean plants. There is a lovely walk to the protected Pointe des Sardinaux, known as Little Corsica, where you’ll find a Roman breeding pond dug in the rock. Visit the Domaine de la Pierre Plantée, the largest olive grove in the Var with more than 3,500 olive trees, here you can enjoy a tasting and buy a perfect souvenir.  

Bormes-Les-Mimosas

Sitting at the entrance to the Maures Massif, this is said to be one of the prettiest and most floral villages of France thanks to the profusion of mimosa and trees that are grown there such as the Jaracanda, Brasiliana, and Chilean Wine Palm etc. The village dates back to the twelfth century, and is popular with the rich and famous who have pastel coloured homes here. It’s also close to where the French Presidential summer residence is situated. Head to the beach and indulge in a spot of people watching, water sports and diving where you’ll see some beautiful underwater flora.

Saint-Raphael

This listed resort nestles at the foot of the Esterel Peninsular. The 20km shoreline is exceptional being a protected natural habitat and features coves and beaches, many little ports and hidden nooks and crannies. The volcanic rock of the Esterel covers 32,000 hectares and bears 400km of marked trails. It drops at 614 metres into the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and was formed during the Paleozoic era going back 300 million years.  Part of it detached itself during the Tertiary era – it’s now called Corsica. Simple, old style chic, art nouveau buildings and a lovely sandy beach make this a real stand out destination.

French Connections has hundreds of properties in the Var department and Provence – pop over to our search pages and find your ideal holiday home. We love to help make your holiday dreams come true…

Enchanting chateaux and fascinating museums, sensational restaurants, new hotels and fabulous wines, a beautiful bay, award-winning theme park and a whole lot more. We have loads of excellent reasons you’ll want to visit the Pays de la Loire…

Les Machines de l’Ile Nantes

A truly spectacular artistic, cultural and touristic project in Nantes. Steampunk meets Alice in Wonderland as giant creatures roam the streets and whimsical rides keep kids of all ages enchanted. Details: lesmachines-nantes.fr

Nantes Art Museum

The arty party city of Nantes reopened Nantes Art Museum in 2017, after 4 years of renovation. 10,000 exhibits, a fabulous restaurant, shop, and auditorium with tons of wow factor.  Details museum.nantes.fr

Stay at: Perfect for family and friends, sleeping 15 the Chateau Cendrillon at Beaupreu near Nantes has a heated outdoor pool and is beautifully decorated. It’s a Vill’otel, which means you get the privacy of your own villa with the comforts of a hotel – magnifique! It’s centrally located for visits to Puy du Fou, Saumur and Angers.

Magnificent tapestries in Angers

The 13th-century chateau of Angers, with its 17 duo-tone towers, is one of the best-preserved fortresses of its era in France. It is home to a magnificent tapestry, one of the oldest in France, it has survived from the 14th century and is second only to the Bayeux Tapestry. However, there is another tapestry in the town, Le Chant du Monde, a series of ten tapestries that represent the crowning achievement of artist Jean Lurçat (1892-1966), a modern wonder. It’s housed on the north side of the river, in the Hospital Saint-Jean, itself a masterpiece of Plantagenet Gothic architecture.

Enchanting Chateau of Saumur

Saumur Chateau was built in the 12th century, you can see it from miles around on its elevated position looking over the town and the River Loire. You won’t find much furniture inside, there’s a small collection but go for the view over the town and the river – it is stunning. In July and August, there are free shows in the gardens.

Puy du Fou – one of the best theme parks in the world

Credit @ Puy Du Fou

This award-winning Vendée theme park, twice voted best in the world, was honoured with the 2016 THEA award for “Best Original Creation”, awarded for La Dernier Panache, an innovative show with a 360° rotating spectator platform. Celebrating four decades of dazzling entertainment, this unusual theme park presents history, culture and awesome adventure for the whole family. Details: PuyduFou.fr

Picturesque towpath in Mayenne

An 85km towpath exclusively for cyclists and walkers connects Mayenne to Daon. Considered to be one of the most beautiful greenways in France, it is absolutely perfect for lovers of nature, fresh air, and beautiful countryside.

The Robert Tatin Museum Mayenne

Close to the vibrant town of Laval centre you’ll discover the quirky Robert Tatin Museum. If you fancy a gentle cycle ride, rent a bike in Laval and take the route along an abandoned railway track from the town right to the entrance. An extraordinary artist who created an extraordinary home, now museum. Filled with giant artworks, complex paintings and a gorgeous garden, largely inspired by the artists travel in South America, it is fabulous. Details: www.musee-robert-tatin.fr

Stay at:  Maison de Vacances, St Laurent des Mortiers, the Bijou and gorgeous home dates back to the 16th century and sleeps up to three. Close to all the facilities including a fabulous golf course with lovely tranquil gardens, it’s the perfect relaxing retreat.

Great gastronomy at La Marine Restaurant in Noirmoutier

Head for the seaside and La Marine restaurant on the island of Noirmoutier, famous for its beautiful sunsets.  The 2 Michelin Star Chef, Alexandre Couillon was named "Chef of the Year 2017" by Gault & Millau. It’s worth going to even without the fabulous golden sandy beaches and great activities. 

The tallest castle in France

Chateau de Brissac at seven stories is the tallest castle in France. It has a fabulous interior, lovely wine shop, and gorgeous gardens – well worth a day out any time of the year.

24 hours of Le Mans – a legendary race

The annual June event is the oldest and most prestigious endurance motor race in the world, it’s a not-to-be-missed event for all motoring enthusiasts.

La Fleche

Situated halfway between Angers and Le Mans in the Sarthe department, La Fleche is a colourful and buzzing little town that nestles on the banks of the River Loir. It’s a great place to visit with a fabulous zoo, great water sports, a wonderful market (Wednesday/Sunday), chateaux nearby, surrounded by forests, vineyards and idyllic countryside peppered with picturesque villages.

Stay at: Cottage les Lilas in Conflans-sur-Anille – A choice of rooms and suites in an aristocratic chateau or a cosy cottage to yourself. Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, exceptional wine producers, delicious little auberges, and restaurants. You can also book archery, French and cooking lessons, rent a vintage Citroen car, take a hot air balloon, visit the chateau of the Loire and lots more.

We have loads of lovely holiday rentals in the Pays de la Loire, pop over to our search pages to find your dream holiday home…