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French Connections

Find Holiday accommodation in France

  • Beach fun, music and days out in Charente-Maritime

    Long sandy beaches combined with France’s second sunniest climate make Charente-Maritime a mecca for families, couples and groups in search of swimming and water sports in an unspoilt location. There is plenty of space and great facilities for enjoying boating, surfing and beach sailing – and when you want an evening out or a day away from the beach, choose from lots of events and interesting places to visit.

    Old Port of La Rochelle

    This beautiful historic harbour has three outstanding medieval towers and is surrounded by stately buildings The harbour is also the biggest yachting centre on France's Atlantic coast, so you can spend many happy hours wandering through the old streets and looking at the boats. There is a real holiday buzz here with street performers, a fabulous selection of fish restaurants and welcoming bars. Elsewhere in La Rochelle are an aquariumand France’s largest zoo.

    From 17th – 22th September ,La Rochelle is host to Le Grand Pavois, one of the most important boat shows in the world with more than 750 boats on display, 89,000 visitors in 2012 and covering an area of 100,000 square metres.

    La Rochelle

    The following month, music takes centre stage with the Jazz between Two Towers festival - one of the best known in France attracting stars such as John Scofield, Joe Louis Walker and Michelle Hendricks. The beautiful setting between the towers of the old port adds to the atmosphere.

    The Sixteenth Jazz en Ré Festival will take place from 22nd to 25th August on the beautiful and popular Ile de Ré. This is an island where life is lived at a delightfully slow pace and is a great place to enjoy cycling and watching birds on the nature reserve – and maybe spotting a few of the celebrities who have homes here.  

    Boat trips

    Boats leave La Rochelle harbour for trips to several destinations, including the many islands off this part of the coast. The voyage to the Island of Aix includes sailing around the ancient Fort Boyard, an impressive and photogenic sight.

    Oysters and Fort Louvois

    Marennes is home to the largest oyster cultivation area in all of Europe, so you’ll have the opportunity to see the growing and refinement process and also enjoy savouring oysters really fresh from the sea. Between Oléron Island and the Marennes Basin, is Fort Louvois, a 17th century coastal fort built on a submerged rock between 1691 to 1694. Today, the Fort is open to the public, offering a fascinating visit.

    Shopping as it used to be

    The Musee des Commerces d'Autrefois is a private museum in the town of Rochefort, south of La Rochelle. It vividly brings to life the shops and daily routines of this busy port in the early 20th century, with a bar, a dental surgery, chemists, hairdressers, general hardware shop and more – all equipped with the products and machinery of the time.

    For more ideas, travel information and a fantastic range of holiday accommodation, check out our complete guide to Charente-Maritime.

  • Discover the Vendée region of France

    vendeebeach

    Vendée, our region of the month for April, is south of the Pays de la Loire region on the French Atlantic coast, just south of Brittany and Nantes, and north of La Rochelle. Just two to five hours’ drive from the western ferry ports, it’s an easy day's journey from Britain and Ireland.

    All year round the Vendée is one of the sunniest spots on the west coast of France. In summer the wether is generally warm. The capital is La Roche sur Yon, originally a stronghold for the people of the Vendee.

    Attractions and places to visit include:
    •    Beaches for swimming and water sports
    •    Picturesque villages and fishing ports
    •    Romantic offshore islands
    •    Historic towns
    •    Beautiful chateaux and gardens
    •    Wine producers
    •    Excellent Golf courses
    •    Cycle routes and rambling trails
    •    The fascinating Poitevin Marshes

    For travel, the area is nearest the ferry ports of St Malo, Roscoff and Cherbourg, two to five hours’ distant by car, and the journey from Calais is about seven hours.

    Holiday accommodation in the Vendée is great value. We have lots of country and coastal private holiday villas with their own garden and many with a swimming pool, making them ideal for family holidays. Also gites, farmhouses and converted barns offering traditional charm.

    Find accommodation and our regional guide to the Vendee

  • Fabulous Finistère is Brittany's coastal gem

    Our region of the month is Finistère, the beautiful Brittany peninsula with a coastline similar to Cornwall. From the Pointe de Primel in the north to the Pointe de Trévignon in the south, there are over 1200 kilometres of coastline, including high vantage points with unbelievable views and breath-taking panoramas, perfect places to gaze out to sea and watch the enchanting light playing on the water.

    You’ll find sweeping sandy beaches with grassy dunes that invite you to relax or take a romantic stroll and children will love unspoilt coves where they can swim in clean water, build sand castles and explore rock pools. Then there are pretty fishing harbours, historic villages and towns to discover.

    Inland, Finistère is a place of myth and legend and harbours some magical locations. Nestling in the heart of the Arrée Mountains, in the Natural Regional Armorique Park you'll find the town of Huelgoat, which in Breton means 'the wood from above'. Nearby is a lake and extensive forest, where you encounter the truly unforgettable sight of an astonishing array of rocks and moss-covered boulders, looking for all the world as if they were discarded by giants.

    The Breton cuisine is rich and varied - and nowhere more so than in Finistère, which has been described as a platter of fresh produce set on a shining sea. Enjoy fresh golden cider, local salted butter thickly spread on hunks of bread, pale pink prawns nestling in crisp salad leaves or a warm, simmering casserole followed by a velvety chocolate pudding.

    For accommodation in Finistère, we have a great range of self-catering gites, villas with pools and country houses offering B&B, many of them in coastal locations. Use the link below to explore where to stay and click on Info for more about the region.

    The airports of Brest (Brest Bretagne) and Quimper (Quimper-Cornouaille) cover the north and south of the region. There are no toll-roads, so the motorways coming from Rennes or Nantes direction allow you to access the whole of Finistère easily, conveniently and free of charge.

    For ferry travel, the port of Roscoff has connections from Plymouth or Cork with Brittany Ferries and from Rosslare with Irish Ferries.

  • Falling in love with beautiful Brittany

    Brittany is this month’s  regional focus– and it’s an area particularly close to our hearts at French Connections. Most of us have enjoyed truly memorable holidays there and  Izzy, the friendly voice of our owners’ helpline, is a native of la belle Bretagne.

    The appeal of this westerly peninsula is a potent mix of peaceful, unspoilt countryside, a charming rocky coastline and a special factor that can only be described as soul. Like Cornwall, Brittany is Celtic country where ancient magic and myth abound, where you can sense the mystery and tradition. From the thousands of standing stones at Carnac to religious processions in local costume, from the Archangel Michael’s Mont St Michel to folk art and musical instruments, a visit to Brittany is a varied voyage of discovery.

  • Guide to Collioure in Pyrénées-Orientales

    Collioure in Pyrénées-Orientales is a pretty little town nestled in a picturesque cove on the Cote Vermeille, a stone’s throw from the Spanish border.  It has been the subject of international squabbles on number of occasions between the French and the Spanish.

    17th Century Fort Miradou to the north is still used by the military:

    http://www.fortified-places.com/collioure.html

    Indeed, whilst we were visiting, army manoeuvres were evident as a speed boat sped across from the fort to the beach and disgorged a number of soldiers, in full military regalia complete with guns, giving opportunity for the tourist to snap away with their cameras.

    In the early 1900’s a group of painters known as ‘Les Fauves’ and who included Matisse and Derain, made Collioure their summer base.  Follow the ‘Chemin du Fauvisme’ around the town, a trail of 20 reproductions of paintings by Matisse and Derain placed on sites where they were painted. Fauvism being a style of modern art using bold colours and simplified drawing with expressive, bold brushwork.

    For those whose interests are more of a culinary inclination, an open market is held in Place du General LeClerc (Wednesday and Sunday mornings at time of writing).

    There are many restaurants, some overlooking the sea, where you can linger over lunch of freshly caught fish and in particular, Collioure’s speciality, Anchovies.   The lanes also have boutiques offering everything from clothes to brightly coloured gifts and souvenirs to take home.

    A word of warning. This town is very popular particularly in the height of the season. There is a large car park within easy walking distance, however, it does tend to get filled up quickly, so you are advised to visit early.  Especially if you want to be sure to get a table at 12.00 in one of the many enticing restaurants.

    Click here for holiday accommodation near Collioure.