French Connections

Find Holiday accommodation in France

  • Activity holidays – added value for visitors and property owners in France

    Activity holidays have become very popular among visitors to France, not least because many take several breaks a year and are looking for a new experience each time. This is a great time of year for all sorts of activities in France from arts, crafts and photography to French language, from golf, fishing or cycling to therapies and relaxation. The weather is warming up, the countryside is fresh and beautiful and the evenings are long.

    An activity holiday is so easy at a gite or self-catering house, where all members of the group can mix and match the way they spend their days with flexibility. Many breaks are offered by owners who started with a desire to pass on their own passion or hobby. As an owner of  French holiday let, what could you do?

    That’s the question asked in the May-June issue of Britmag, the popular magazine aimed at British residents in North West France  and among the answers is advice from our own Glynis Shaw, joint MD of French Connections.

    Glynis gives her own five top tips for running successful activity holidays in the article, which also features French Connections auberge Le Mesnil at Creances, Normandy. Here, owners Jan and Dave Tarbuck offer B&B along with painting holidays. The tutor is Joe Cousin (shown in our photo), a well known local artist whose paintings have been purchased by the Beckhams, Caron Keating and members of the Arsenal and Chelsea football teams.

    Britmag is available at French supermarkets with a press section and at “Marchands de journaux” in towns with substantial British populations in Basse-Normandie, Brittany and the Pays de la Loire.

  • Christopher Campbell-Howes turns the clock back . . .

    LIKE ANY good journo - and what else would you expect here? - I keep a record of everything that goes into Campbell's Diary. The complete archive goes back a bit further than the February 2001 entry you get if you scroll right down to the foot of the back numbers. I'm mentioning this only in case anyone raises an eyebrow at the following item from November 2000.

  • Crafting bellows at Rochefort-en-Terre - Photo Friday 16 July 2010

    Rochefort-en-Terre, a small 17th century town beside a dramatic gorge in the Morbihan region of Brittany, is a paradise of flowers, arts and crafts.

  • Discover France For Film Lovers

    French Director Michel Hazanavicius is putting French film making back on the map with his beautiful film The Artist sweeping the floor at this year’s award ceremonies including last night's Oscars.

  • Discover the Ardèche for rivers, mountains, nature and culture

    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

  • Entente cordiale still rules!


    Never mind the politics, let’s book a holiday. That’s the response of British people to recent events, as a massive jump in getaway bookings since last Friday has been reported by the travel industry.

    And, of course, the love affair with France continues – and always will. It’s easily accessible with great value holiday homes from home. More than that, we love the food and wine, the language, history and culture, the beautiful countryside where community continues, where traditional farms sell fresh local food at market and festivals, fairs and concerts are held all summer long.

    I reslish the sheer variety of landscapes and fascinating destinations. The Dordogne with its pastoral idyll, pre-historic museums and painted caves; the mind-blowing Ardeche gorge with Pont d’Arc and the replica of the Chauvet Cave. Closer to home I am always happy browsing Honfleur for the harbour, architecture, food and crazy art and Monet’s garden is heaven. For a quick hop across the Channel, I like Ardres and the beach at Wissant.

    Recently I fulfilled a lifelong desire to visit the Camargue, inspired by the ‘White Horses’ TV series. I so enjoyed the fabulous flamingos and herons, the church at Saintes Maries de la Mer and throwing myself into warm sea off the little beach there.

    Where next? A quiet spot off the tourist track on the Mediterranean coast, close to arty harbours and villages and accessible to a chic, historic town or city. Languedoc-Roussillon perhaps? There I would take a boat trip, go swimming, wander markets, vineyards and lavender fields. Can’t wait.

  • Fabulous Summer festivals in France


    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


    •    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.

  • Following the wine trail in France

    A wine trip to France is really less about shopping and more about lifestyle. A couple I know once hopped into their Porsche on a Friday night whim, drove on to the ferry and motored down to champagne country to stay in a chateau for an autumn weekend, returning with the boot full of bubbly. Every December friends with a large family put their station wagon on the Eurotunnel train for a well planned trip to Calais to stock up on Viognier and take in the Christmas markets.

    With the autumn wine harvest approaching, it set me to dreaming of my ideal French wine trip. I would certainly seek out local wine from limited production family vineyards. I’d want to taste the producer’s love for the grape and its bounty in the finished product, for them to care that the wine is properly appreciated.

  • France celebrates its wine harvest

    The first bottles from this year’s wine harvest are starting to be sold in France now, so it’s  a grand time to take a wine tasting trip. The weather has been challenging this year so quantity will be down - but quality is high and prices for exports may rise, making the best buys to be had direct from the French vineyards.

    Of course, France has a passion for making the finest wine, which is born out of the natural environment in which grapes are grown and the culture and traditions of its producers. France is a perfectly successful mix of both factors and the ultimate destination for wine tasting.

  • French Hunters

    France has many things going for it, but one of its huge disadvantages is that it has never had a Beatrix Potter nor a David Attenborough. The consequence of this is that there is a different perception, particularly among the older French with regard to animals compared to the "English” attitude.