French Connections

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  • Our latest competition offers you the chance to win an April or May week at the picturesque Domaine de Barthe, an ancient wine domain near Carcassonne in the heart of the wine regions of Languedoc-Roussillon.

    Owners Mark and Nicole Adams have tastefully restored four former workers’ cottages to create beautiful self-catering gites. There’s a large swimming pool with terrace in a sheltered walled garden, spacious games barn, giant outdoor chess and a full size covered Petanque court.

    In association with FrenchEntree Magazine, we’re inviting you to enter to win one week’s stay for up to four people in the prestigious Alaric Cottage, opened just last year and pictured above. (Travel is not included).

    The cottage has a large lounge with separate dining kitchen and a feature spiral staircase leads to one double and one twin bedroom, both en suite. Outside, the cottage has its own patio and BBQ area.

    The beautiful Canal du Midi is very close, as are the wine regions of Minervois and Corbiere. In 15 minutes you can drive to Carcassonne’s famous mediaeval walled city and in 40 minutes to the Mediterranean coast.

  • January has been a successful month at French Connections, with site visits, new visitors and enquiries for holiday rentals and properties for sale all up on the same period last year. In an uncertain economic climate, we reckon this deserves a shared pat on the back with our staff, advertisers and holidaymakers.

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    Whether you’re in France or elsewhere, we wish you a truly happy New Year from all the team at French Connections.

    What better way to spend some time during January than planning your next trip to France? The most beautiful villas, gites and chateaux book quickly so make an early enquiry to be sure of maximum choice in all the popular holiday regions.

    Making French Connections is, of course, what we do - and we know that our owners are looking forward with enthusiasm to connecting with guests for the 2017 season.

    Many offer great deals and incentives on holiday homes at this time of year and these will build up as we go into January, so it’s the perfect time to grab an ‘earlybird’ bargain. You’ll find these deals in our Special Offers pages.

    Remember that if you like the look of a holiday home, you can ask the owner questions via their listing page or request that they phone you for a chat. They know their property and the local area really well and most are happy to help with travel routes, facilities for babies, local sights, days out and where to eat and shop.

    And we hope to see you at The France Show at London Olympia from 27-29 January. We’ll have a stand there and are excited about meeting new and existing property owners,  chatting to holidaymakers and helping anyone who’s looking to buy in France.

  • If the Gironde region is not already familiar, then why now make this the year to discover its beauties? The capital Bordeaux is already one of the most evocative city names in Europe. To arrive at this historic centre of wine and culture is to enter the warmer, sunnier climes of south west France and immediately to bask in a distinctively, delightfully French way of being.

    Arrival in Bordeaux is not difficult, with the choice of a major international airport, TGV link from Paris and easy motorway access. The city is an enticing combination of wide avenues, elegant 18th century buildings, parks, pavement cafes, shops, museums, fabulous restaurants and, of course, the iconic centre of one the world’s great wine producing areas.

    Bordeaux is also a good starting point from which to explore the Gironde. As you might expect, this is countryside replete with rolling acres of vines, many of them belonging to small independent vineyards. It also embraces the confluence of two rivers, with unspoilt coastline and a fascinating estuary to explore.

    The history of wine production even influences the type of holiday rental you’ll find here. Stay at a truly mouth watering chateau in acres of grounds, make an ancient manoir or Maison de Maitre your very own or enjoy a stone farmhouse with its own swimming pool that oozes traditional character.

    Many of our Gironde holiday properties are in peaceful country locations. Others lie at the heart of towns and villages, like the stunning Le Pavillon-Villemaurine, a Maison de Maitre in St Emilion, shown in our photograph.

    See the full range of holiday rentals in the Gironde and Browse our useful guides to Bordeaux, the Gironde and Aquitaine 

  • The sun-drenched Mediterranean island of Corsica, our region of the month, is a fantastic holiday destination that gave me a whole new taste of France. This, if you like, is France on the edge – a small yet intense area of rugged traditions and landscapes to match, of glorious seascapes and mountains, sweeping beaches and hilltop villages that feel untouched by time.

    The island is divided into two distinct regions - Haute-Corse in the North and Corse-du-Sud in the south. In Haute-Corse, nestling at the back of a magnificent gulf, is the fascinating Roman city of Saint Florent. Between land and sea is a marina with splendid yachts from around the world. This laid back, authentic summer resort has much to offer visitors. I particularly enjoyed walking along the quays, admiring the landscape and stopping at one of the numerous restaurants or bars for refreshment along the way. 

    For the culturally minded, there is the 12th Century Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta with its mysterious relic of Saint Flor and wine lovers can explore the fruits of the region on La Route des Vins. Owner-growers of vineyards were happy to invite us to taste their wines and learn from their authentic experiences. The 33 estates of the Patrimonio AOC are concentrated on almost 500 ha in the hills which surround the resort of Saint-Florent. 

    At beautiful beaches such as Plage de la Roya and Plage du Lotu it’s fun to follow the Chemin des Douaniers, from fragrant ‘maquis’ scrubland to expanses of fine sand with crystal clear waters inviting you to take a dip.

    Our photo shows Bonifacio. Right on the tip of Southern Corsica, this beautifully restored old town is magnificently situated on a limestone promontory looking out towards the Island of Sardinia.  Boat excursions explore the limestone cliffs and caves and even cross to Sardinia. A short drive from Bonifacio are some magnificent beaches and a spectacular golf course that any afficianado of the game will want tick off their 'played' list.

    Both of these traditional resorts are great places to stay on Corsica and French Connections has a range of self-catering apartments, villas and gîtes in both areas starting from just £300 per week

    Can't wait to go there? Read our complete guide to Corsica, find holiday rentals and book accommodation

  • In a travel feature called ‘France for Less’, last Saturday’s Daily Mail gave top tips on budget France, including holiday rentals from French Connections.  With a better exchange rate, lower petrol costs and our holiday homes from under £200 a week, now is a great time to rediscover France for less. That’s what the feature concluded – and naturally we agree!

    A search on the site for a holiday home for four people in late July- early August brings up the choice of dozens of apartments, luxury chalets and cottages in various regions of France from just £176 for a week, many of them on holiday complexes with a pool and loads of fun things to keep the children happy.

    If you head for Brittany, our featured region this month, a family of six could stay in the two-bedroom stone cottage apartment at Menhir-ty gîtes in Bogas near the gorgeous town of Josselin for just £380 for an August week and enjoy a shared swimming pool, barbecue, fishing lake and large garden.

    Travel in larger groups often means a good price per person and for around £100 a head, eleven people could share adjacent character-filled gîtes at Poulmarvezen, also in Brittany, and enjoy four acres of rural tranquility with a swimming pool and a 25 mile drive to the coast.

    There are more great ideas for discovering France for less, including short breaks and fantastic value ferries, flights and car hire in our guide to Budget Holidays in France

  • Want to try a new part of France this year, away from the tourist hotspots but with plenty to do and see? Well, here's a hot tip - plan a visit to the Ardèche. You'll get a taste of the real France and discover one of the country's most varied regions.

    Where exactly is the Ardèche? Well it lies just south of the centre of France and has borders with  Languedoc,  the Auvergne and Provence in the south, where the weather is about as warm and sunny as Provence itself. The landscape is abundant with rivers, mountains and green forests so it's great country for walking, canoeing and communing with nature.

    But this is France, so life's little pleasures and sophistications are not forgotten! The capital town of Privas, for instance, is a gastronome's delight and also the epicentre of the marron glacé (candied chestnut) business. Throughout the department, there are cultural feasts and fun events galore this summer, from a balloon festival in June to chamber music in July, two or three arts festivals that combine the visual with the historic and a medieval pageant.

    Where can you stay? There's a surprisingly wide range of self-catering holiday rentals in this region, many of them oozing local character with stone and timber and most in lovely country locations close to towns and villages. You'll find anything from a country cottage or gite for couples and small families to all or part of an elegant chateau with traditional features so typical of France.

    Find holiday accommodation in the Ardèche

  • The Alpes-Maritime region in the South of France lies between dramatic Provencal mountains and the azure coastline of the Mediterranean. This is home to the French Riviera, with all its associations of glamour, but there are lots of options for holidays here – and they need not break the bank! Anyone who wants to be at the heart of things in Nice, Cannes or Antibes can rent a self-catering apartment with sea view and balcony for less than you might think.

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    France is justifiably famous for its summer festivals – not least because they are so imaginative, inclusive and beautifully staged. Here’s our pick of this year’s events in popular tourist areas across the country so you can plan to share the spectacle as part of your holiday.

    •    The Normandy Impressionist Festival showcases the Impressionist movement and its close links with Normandy. Runs throughout the region but activities concentrated in Rouen and Caen. Until September

    •    La Gacilly Photo Festival, Morbihan, Brittany, creatively displays hundreds of huge photographs in  parks, squares and on buildings. The theme is based on social and environmental concerns of our society. Until September.

    •    In Saint-Cloud, on the edge of Paris, Rock en Seine is the last big rock event of the summer in France. The concerts at are performed on 4 stages, set at the heart of historic gardens designed by Le Nôtre. This year’s line up includes Iggy Pop, Gregory Porter and French acts La Femme and Bastille. 26 to 28 August.

    •    Confolens Festival in Charente is a famous world music and dance festival, celebrating with passion and colour the traditions of France and other countries. 10 to 15 August

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    •    La Souterraine in Limousin hosts the Bridiers Historical Fresco, an exceptional show with 400 actors, cavalry, horse-drawn carriages, period vehicles, pyrotechnics and special effects. 5 to 8 August

    •    Carcassonne Festival in Aude has a varied line-up of sought-after international artists.  The beautifully preserved medieval city offers performances of contemporary music, theatre, opera and dance – most of them free. Until end of July.

    •    Sète, an unspoilt Mediterranean town in Languedoc-Roussillon holds the fun-filled St Louis Water Jousting Festival accompanied by shows, quayside bars, sports tournaments and fireworks. 18 to 23 August.

    •    In Dignes les Bains, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Corso of Lavender has day and night parades, two firework displays, a funfair and the wonderfully fragrant international parade. 5 to 9 August

    •    Menton Music Festival on the French Riviera, shown in photo above, welcomes top classical artists for outdoor concerts held in a magical setting opposite the port on the Forecourt of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel. 29 July to 14 August

    Fancy attending a festival and not yet planned your holiday? There’s still time to find accommodation near all these festival locations and arrange travel.

  • As soon as the shortest day has passed and festive celebrations are over, our minds turn to the exciting thought of holidays. Here at French Connections, we are unashamedly dedicated lovers of France – and millions of you agree that, as a holiday destination, France really has it all. It’s that perfect combination of being able to relax in the sunshine amidst beautiful countryside, lounge on unspoilt beaches, soak up the culture and history, enjoy exuberant festivities and celebrations.