Imagine wandering through the narrow streets of the old town in Nice. The sun is shining and it warms your skin. You stop at the market to buy a snack – maybe socca, the local specialty, a pancake made from chickpeas. As you reach the beach, the sound of the sea lapping gently is soothing... relax.
Nice is famous for its glitz and glamour, for being the playground of the rich and famous. Everyone from the Queen to world leaders and billionaires come here to play, party and soak up the sun that shines more than 300 days a year.
But what if you’re not a millionaire – can you afford Nice? Is it possible to take a break without breaking the bank? Well yes, absolutely, and in fact, it’s not at all hard to live on a budget here and enjoy life to the full!
Most people wrongly assume that Nice makes for a very expensive holiday – it doesn’t. First off, at French Connections, we have loads of fabulous property lets in the area and if you’re going for a bit of winter sun – we’ve got long let and out of season discounts to tempt you. Self-catering in Nice means you can take advantage of the wonderful markets and food shops and cook up a feast or fire up the barbeque at “home” which saves you money.
The food market at Cours Saleya is an experience in itself and surprisingly reasonable, thanks to the abundance of fruit and vegetables grown in the area and neighbouring Italy, just 20 minutes’ drive from Nice. There is also the Liberation Market (Av Malausséna - Place du Général de Gaulle Liberation tram stop) Tuesday – Sunday, which is where most locals go as it’s less touristy. Buy supplies and head off for a picnic in the sun.
And, if you want some wine to go with your picnic or to drink on your balcony watching the sunset, head to Les Caves Caprioglia (16 Rue de la Prefecture). Take an empty water bottle (size your choice) and buy directly from the 700l casks of wine that line the wall and choose from white, red or the locals favourite rosé. A litre of the red will set you back a shade over 2 euros.
There are loads of affordable, authentic and scrumptious restaurants in Nice. Food is really important to the locals, it’s part of the heritage of this place. The street food is amazing, delicious socca, Pissaladière (a tasty onion tart) pastries, and snacks are plentiful and at just a few Euros a piece, you won’t need to spend much.
Plenty of restaurants don’t charge sky high prices and one of the best for local Nicois dishes is A Buteghinna (11, rue du marché). It’s only open for lunch but the three lovely Nicois ladies who run cook up a storm in a tiny kitchen. You won’t each much in the evening after one of their huge and scrumptious dishes! And, check out their snack bar for take away heaven!
Then return to the beach, read a book and savour a delicious ice cream. Afterwards head back to your French Connections holiday home to get dressed for an apero at a local bar, have dinner and wander the wiggly streets of old Nice listening to free music, soaking up the ambiance and people watching.
The beach at Nice is stony – which is fine for most people but if you want a comfy sunbed, you’ll have to pay for it. You could though hop on the bus and for just €1.50 head to the sandy beach at gorgeous Villefranche-sur-Mer close by. (Get transport details from the tourist office).
Walking is, of course, free, and Nice is one of the nicest places to wander with parks, grand squares, the gorgeous streets of the old town and distinctive styles of district. Head to castle hill, via the free lift – or climb the steps if you’re feeling energetic. The views from here are stunning, there are shady areas perfect for a picnic plus beautiful gardens.
Stroll along the beachfront, wander in the Cours Saleya market. Cool down in La Promenade des Paillons, an enclosed urban park of 12 hectares where you’ll find fountains, bands, street food and somewhere to sit in the shade of a tree, on a bench and simply chill.
For just 10 Euros you can pick up a ticket from the tourist office that gives you access to all museums and galleries in Nice for 24 hours including the fabulous Matisse museum – a great saving.
Nice is the perfect place to wander, wonder, relax, chill, eat, drink and enjoy the joie de vivre in the sun.
At French Connections, we love to help you make your holiday dreams come true.
Just across the Channel, Brittany is a world away from busy days and crowded streets. Spectacular landscapes and preserved nature, fresh sea air and authentic living, miles of coastline and picturesque villages… Brittany ticks all the boxes.
Relax in Rennes a city of art, history and retail therapy
Brittany’s administrative capital is a city of contrast. Narrow, cobbled streets in the medieval area alongside wide tree-lined boulevards. Half-timbered buildings dating back to the 17th century merge successfully with modern glass-fronted boutiques and up-market bars. Historic and avant-garde architecture blend, a timeless testimony to past and present.
Rennes Saturday morning market is the second largest weekly market in France and well worth a visit. French delicacies, crêpes, fresh bread, mouth-watering biscuits, cheeses, wine, and all manner of French delicacies will entice and tempt you. And, it’s the perfect place to take a break with a pot of steaming mussels and chips washed down with local cider.
Festivals are big in Brittany. Over 1,000 are held each year. The annual Les Transmusicales de Rennes, one of the best festivals in Europe, known for pushing musical boundaries, takes place in Rennes every December. Every bar, café, and restaurant becomes a music venue where professional and amateur musicians merge their talents.
Whether its cultural, musical, sound and light, sporting or folklore, you’ll find a festival in Brittany that’s just right for you.
Celebrate the Route du Rhum's 40th anniversary
Since 1978, the legendary transatlantic solo race departing from Saint-Malo, Brittany to Pointe-à- Pitre, Guadeloupe has seen many talented sailors such as the intrepid Ellen MacArthur facing the challenges of the high seas. 2018 sees the 11th edition of the race promising an exceptional sports scene, with a hundred boats competing. On 4 November 2018, join the 200,000 people who come every four years to watch the boats depart from Saint-Malo.
Visit the breathtaking wonders of Brest Terres Océanes
Impressive lighthouses, steep cliffs, and spectacular tides are what you’ll find in Brittany - the 'Brest Terres Océanes' coastline promises big thrills. Experience the drama of nature on a grand scale here where you’ll really feel you’ve got away from it all.
Dive among shipwrecks
Brittany is famous for its natural and cultural heritage, but it also reveals many treasures underwater to those who want to dive there. Fauna and Flora abound and nestle in the 3,500 shipwrecks that history has left in the depths of the sea, leaving Brittany with a unique underwater heritage. Depending on the tides and their depth of immersion, shipwrecks are reachable for beginners also. Under the watchful eyes of a diving expert, Breton wrecks are fantastic playgrounds for all the living species that find shelter in them: anemones, sea sponges, blue lobsters, conger eels and even Jon Dory fish.
Find details for what’s on in Brittany and loads to do at http://www.brittanytourism.com/ideas/brittany-experiences
At French Connections, we’ve got hundreds of fabulous holiday homes in Brittany for families, couples and groups, head on over to our holiday property pages and find the perfect home from home for your Brittany break…
All of us at French Connections wish you a very Happy New Year.
We’ve loved connecting with you this year - connecting holidaymakers with holiday homeowners is what we do best.
January is the perfect time to plan your next trip to France. We have a massive choice of beautiful villas, gites, chateaux and B&Bs for you to choose from. At this time of the year many of our lovely holiday home owners offer great incentives – so check out our Special Offers page for those early bird bargains.
If you have any questions you can contact owners directly via their listing page – they’re always happy to help. They’re experts in their local area, they’ll know about travel routes, facilities, family things to do, the most wonderful local sights and days out plus the best boulangeries, restaurants, and markets.
We also love to help you with your questions and we hope to see you at The France Show at London Olympia from 26-28 January 2018. We’ll have a stand there and we’re really excited about meeting new and existing property owners, chatting with holidaymakers and helping anyone who’s looking to buy in France.
Our New Year’s Resolution is always the same – we aim to help you make your holiday dreams come true…
Wishing you a very Happy New Year from the whole team here at French Connections
Every year on 2 February the French celebrate with a crêpe (pancake) for the Fête de la Chandeleur (pancake day in France).
The name Chandeleur (French pancake day) comes from the Latin candelorum festum, which means festival of candles and in the English language, it’s known as Candlemas. There is evidence that Pope Gelasius I (died in 496) helped to establish the festival of Candlemas and was said to have fed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church.
There are lots of fun legends and old wives’ tales about La Chandeleur and Candlemas:
If you can flip a pancake with one hand, whilst in the other holding a gold coin – your immediate family will prosper financially all through the year! Or flip and hold a coin and make a wish – catch it and your wish will come true!
If it is raining on the day of Candlemas – it will rain for the next 40 days. If it is overcast and cold – winter will last for another 40 days. If it is a clear day – winter is over. Although having said that, there is also a saying that if it is sunny on Candlemas then winter will return and bring misfortune with it!
Eating lots of pancakes on the day of the fête de la chandeleur will ensure a good crop!
If you toss your crèpe on the armoire and it sticks – that is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the year (or a sign you need to get a cloth out and clean up!).
In the north of France, it’s traditional to use beer in the mix whilst in Normandy and Brittany people often add a swig of Calvados (apple brandy).
Wherever you are, it’s a good excuse to make pancakes and here’s a traditional and simple French crêpe recipe:
Ingredients for 6-8 pancakes
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 medium egg, beaten
25g melted butter
1. Mix the flour and salt in a basin, make a hollow in the centre and drop in the egg. Stir and add the milk gradually until you have a smooth mix. Add the melted butter and beat well. The consistency should be like single cream.
2. Heat a small amount of butter in a frying pan until it begins to smoke. Then give the batter a stir and pour approximately 3 tablespoons of the mix into the frying pan. When golden brown underneath, flip it over and cook the other side.
3. You can serve your pancake as you like but it's traditional to sprinkle it with sugar and roll it or fold it into quarters. Serve immediately with honey, jam or lemon juice.
Bon appétit from us at French Connections!
All of us at French Connections wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
We’re going to be at The France Show in London from 26-28 January 2018 and we very much look forward to seeing you there. We’ve got some free tickets to give away on a first come, first served basis so please click here to enter the draw and enter the promotional code XEB56 for tickets to the France show:
Alternatively, please copy and paste the URL code below into your internet web browser.
We hope you have a relaxing, happy and fun Christmas and we look forward to helping you make your holiday dreams come true next year…
With best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the whole team at French Connections.
Despite the Pound’s weakness versus the Euro, France is still a wonderful place to take an excellent value holiday. Self-catering holidays mean you save on eating out costs and get to shop at the markets for the best of local, seasonal produce. The cheapest ingredients to have on your list include cheese, bread (those lovely crispy baguettes!), vegetables and sausages, not to mention the wine. These won’t require much cooking either, so it’s a lovely and simple way to eat like locals.
Entertainment doesn’t need to cost much either. From walks on the beach or in the countryside, wandering through historic cities and picturesque villages to flea markets and festivals – there are loads of free or not expensive things to do in France.
We take a look at some of the best and most popular budget holiday options in France for 2018
There are a number of options when it comes to affordable accommodation. Skip the hotels and check out the private rental options from gorgeous country cottages to farmhouses, and in the ever-popular areas of Normandy and Brittany, there’s a massive choice. Excellent value doesn’t mean skimping on the benefits though. The rental market in France is competitive which means owners have to ensure they’re offering the holidaymaker something to tempt them. Beautifully renovated, stunning locations and a cosy home from home base make a French Connections holiday rentals a great option – just nip over to our search pages to see for yourself.
Always a favourite with British holidaymakers, Dordogne has so much to offer. The French think of Dordogne as a river rather than a place and know Dordogne as Perigord. Perigord is defined by four colours: Perigord Noir (black) is named for truffles and chestnut trees. It’s an area that’s rich in enchanting castles, stunning countryside and includes the lovely medieval town of Sarlat. Perigord Vert, is in the north, the green part of the department which includes beautiful Brantome, known as the “Venice of Dordogne. Perigord Blanc (white) takes its name from the chalky stone that built Perigueux. Perigord Pourpre (purple) is from the wines made from the vineyards around Bergerac.
Not overcrowded (except in peak summer season), with the most mouth-watering markets (the Saturday morning market at Sarlat is memorable) and breath-taking scenery. Just think Beynac-et-Cazenac with its soaring cliffs and tiny villages teetering high up in the sky. A lack of traffic jams, picturesque villages, the chance to mess about in boats and friendly locals make Dordogne ever popular with visitors.
There are numerous holiday properties available in the Dordogne, so for inspirational ideas take a look at our selection and happy holiday home hunting!
France boasts some of the best coastlines in Europe. From the dramatic cliffs and golden beaches of the Opal Coast in the far north to the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean – there’s a massive choice. Whether it’s a romantic break, family holiday or friends’ fun vacation, there’s a beach holiday to suit everyone in France. And, with so many ports to travel to, getting there is easy.
A holiday in France doesn’t need to break the bank – take a look at the fabulous holiday homes on the French Connections website and book your dream holiday cottage…
We love Christmas here at French Connections – especially Christmas in France. It’s a time for delicious food, wonderful wines, and bubbles galore!
It doesn’t matter where you go in France, there are marvelous markets, twinkling lights and festive fayre to enjoy and in Paris, the City of Light turns into the City of Fairy Lights – a magical place of razzmatazz and tradition.
Here are ten things to do in Paris at Christmas to really experience the city’s seasonal delights
1 Take a ride on the giant Ferris Wheel known as the Grand Roue de Paris. The views over Paris from its location in the Tuileries Gardens will take your breath away.
2. After your ride, head to Angelina’s Tea Room in rue de Rivoli for one of their famous hot chocolate drinks to warm up in style.
3. Enjoy a spot of shopping on the Champs-Elysées, the world’s most famous avenue. Pricey sure, but those window displays are beautiful. Head to the main department stores of Galleries Lafayette, Printemps and Le Bon Marché for fashion, gifts and to enjoy the magical displays.
4. You can’t come to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, the Iron Lady as she is known, sparkles after dark on the hour for a few minutes – it really is a spectacular sight.
5. Keep warm in a museum – there are hundreds to choose from, will it be the world’s most visited Museum, the Louvre, or somewhere more intimate like the Museum of Romantic Life?
6. Take a boat ride on the Seine. See the city from the river for a totally different and magnificent view of the many of the most iconic landmarks of Paris. Les Vedettes de Paris, the boat ride company at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, offers a free ride and glass of Champagne if it’s your birthday (take your passport as proof).
7. Note Dame Cathedral is stunning at any time of the year but with the giant Christmas tree in front it's very special and a reminder of the traditions of Christmas.
8. Enjoy a cocktail! We love Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel for sheer pizazz – it’s oh so special.
9. Head to Montmartre to see the pretty cobbled streets decked out in lights and decorations and to enjoy a meal in one of the many quirky bistros in the area.
10. Take in a Christmas market – there are more than a dozen in the city (find out more details at parisinfo.com – the official tourist website of Paris).
We’ve got some fabulous properties to rent in and around Paris. Why not pop over to our search pages and be inspired – we love to make your holiday dreams come true…