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.
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.
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…
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:
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
and browse the terrific deals and bag yourself a bargain break.
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…
Credit: D. le Nevé Champagne Tourism
Troyes is the former capital of Champagne and there are loads to see and do in this lovely, vibrant and historic city.
Troyes is an ancient city, once a Roman town with a direct road from Milan and onwards to Boulogne-sur-Mer in the north of France – the route for the invasion of Britain. The powerful Counts of Champagne built a palace in Troyes and fortified the town with walls which, even though Champagne the drink didn’t exist at the time, took the form of a Champagne cork.
A huge fire in 1524 destroyed many of the ancient wooden buildings which were replaced with brick buildings, many of which are still there to this day. Visiting Troyes is like stepping back in time. Every street seems to have its quota of half-timbered houses and there are cobbled streets and tiny alleyways that create a mesmerising maze in the centre of the old town. In the little ruelle des Chats (Cats Alley) it’s so narrow that the houses lean in and touch via a central gutter at the top and cats could cross from houses on both sides of the roads.
Everywhere you go you’ll discover traces of history from hundreds of years ago, quaint, quirky and irresistibly charming…
Credit: D. le Nevé Champagne Tourism
There are nine museums in Troyes including the Maison de l’Outil et de la Pensée Ouvrière, an unusual and charming museum dedicated to hand tools dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Located in the rather unique Hotel de Mauroy there is an impressive collection of 20,000 tools ranging from the ornamental to the practical.
The Hôtel-Dieu-le-Comte houses a fabulous collection of pillboxes, medicine boxes, and jars for lotions and potions in an apothecary that just as it did when it was created in the early 18th Century.
Troyes is known as the” town of ten churches” and is famous for its magnificent Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Its Gothic splendor, begun in the 12th Century remains unfinished, the tower of St Peter completed, the tower of St Paul never started. It doesn’t matter, the 180 amazing stained-glass windows, created over four centuries from the 1400's won’t fail to impress.
Troyes is home to a unique collection of stained glass windows going back a thousand years, it has earned it the nickname of the "holy town of stained glass".
One of the largest retail outlets in France is just outside the city. Savvy Parisians flock to shop in Troyes, and when the sales are on in January it is very popular. Troyes was the French capital of hosiery in the 1800s and still a centre for production, known for its lingerie shops.
Troyes is broken up into eight areas: Saint-Jean district or the Champagne Fairs district, Canal district, Arts district, Les Halles district, Saint-Nizier district, the old Jewish quarter, Cité district, Madeleine district. Pick up a map from the tourist office, wear comfortable shoes and explore this lovely city.
The very popular Saint-Jean Quarter is brimming with lively restaurants and brasseries ranging from haute cuisine to homely fare. The andouillette de Troyes is much loved by locals who’ll tell you it is a delicious sausage, it’s made from tripe (offal) and some find it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
There are some wonderful bakeries, patisseries, cheese shops and charcuteries and you’ll find a market every day of the week in the town as well as the 19th Century Halles (indoor covered market).
French Connections has loads of great holiday rentals in the Champagne area, nip over to our search pages to find your dream holiday home…
This summer head for the beach with your bucket and spade and enjoy a brilliant seaside holiday in France…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Toulouse Credit: Toulouse Tourist Office Boigontier
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, known as La Ville Rose (“the pink city”). There are no stone quarries nearby so rich local clay is used to make pinkish terracotta bricks which many buildings are made of. It’s also known as the home of the European Space industry and of Airbus.
About an hour from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, close to the Spanish border, blessed with lots of sunshine, Toulouse is fast becoming one of the most popular cities in France.
Making for a great base, the Grand Hotel de l’Opera is slap bang in the middle of the city on the vast Place du Capitole. It is one of the classic mansions of the city and boasts two restaurants, both sharing the same courtyard. Les Jardins de L’Opera is the gastronomic home of Michelin starred chef Stephane Tournie. The more affordable Brasserie de L’Opera run by chef Gratien Castro is excellent.
Place Charles de Gaulle is a good starting point for a visit to the city to find out what’s on. Pick up a one-day Toulouse Pass Tourisme at the tourist office which will give you free entry to the museums and reduced rates at many of the city’s attractions. It also includes free travel on public transport, metro, bus, tram and airport shuttle bus. And, it includes a guided tour of the city and a free cruise along the River Garonne.
The walking tour of Toulouse starts from the tourist office housed in the historic Donjon du Capitole. This much-loved building houses the Hotel de Ville, the Theatre Nationale Orchestra, and Opera House. It is well worth a visit to see the dramatic wall murals depicting the seasons of Toulouse.
You can’t help but notice that all over the city are two symbols, a twelve-pointed cross, and the scallop shell. The cross is The Occitan Cross also known as the cross of Languedoc, it is the symbol of Occitanie and appears everywhere. The place du Capitole has a huge brass one set in the floor, designed by Raymond Moretti in 1995, each point is a symbol of the zodiac
A short stroll through streets lined with buildings of pink bricks brings you to the Basilica of Saint-Sernin. This was an important stop on the Way of St James, one of the routes of Santiago de Compostela. This explains the appearance of the many scallop shell symbols in Toulouse (pilgrim’s motif).
Don’t miss the massive Jacobins Convent, it may not be the most beautiful building from the outside but inside the light is extraordinary and the with massive pillars and palm-tree-like ribs reaching huge heights are truly impressive. The cloisters are a welcome cool place to rest up from the heat of the city.
Place St Georges Credit Toulouse Tourist Office P Nin
Place St Georges is one of the locals’ favourite squares in the city, ringed with cafés and restaurants. It is the perfect place to spend a relaxing evening watching the world go about its business. You couldn’t do much better than head to Monsieur Georges for a tasty dinner. The duck profiteroles are divine, washed down with a glass of perfectly chilled rosé.
Many restaurants serve the quintessential dish of the region – cassoulet, though, on a hot sunny day, the robust bean, sausage, and duck stew might be a bit heavy, wait until the sun goes down for this dish.
Toulouse is the sort of place where you can leave your maps and guidebooks, GPS and phone in your hotel room. Just dive into the city and got lost in its streets. There are shops to suit all tastes, great cafés, and restaurants to fit all budgets. The food markets are excellent and there’s even a man-made beach on the banks of the Garonne, the perfect picnic spot. There really is something for everyone in this fabulous city.
Find loads of lovely holiday rentals near Toulouse on our search pages – we love making your holiday dreams come true…