French Connections

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  • Christmas holiday accommodation in France

    Made plans for the festive season yet? Christmas in France is magical, more traditional and less commercialised than in Britain. Our region of the month, Northern France, includes Paris which is transformed at this time of year, with lights twinkling along the Seine, streets lined with decorated fir trees and Christmas Markets springing up around the city.

    I love the idea of renting one of our cosy apartments in Paris for Christmas, shopping for presents in the chic department stores like Printemps for fashion and Galeries Lafayette for exotic foods and wonderful wines. Even outside the very centre, in trendy arrondissements, there are enticing local cafes and oh-so-French restaurants.

    I could wander the avenues, feasting my eyes on creative festive lights and tasteful shop windows, then maybe drop into a gallery or museum for some uplifting art and take time out in Notre Dame. Oh, and I’d have to go skating, take a trip on a bateau mouche and browse the Christmas markets for decorations that would grace my temporary Paris home and come out every year afterwards.

    For a big family or group Christmas, Northern France is an excellent destination and we have many country houses very close to lovely small towns where the Christmas spirit reigns with a very French, almost understated appeal. Some have fantastic special offers for the Christmas period.

    Browse our guides to Northern France and Paris and grab a festive season Special Offer.

  • Love France on Valentine's Day

    Romance is in the air and I love to make Valentine’s Day really special with a short break or long weekend in France. It just feels like the right place to be. Travel is quick and easy from the south east with Eurotunnel or by ferry from Dover - and Northern France has some fascinating places to discover.

  • North or South of France? September’s French Property News features our owners

    Ever been torn between holidaying or relocating to the North or South of France? In the September issue of French Property News, two French Connections gite owners talk about living and running gites in their corner of the country - one in Brittany in the north, the other in l'Hérault in the south.

     France is a large country with massive variations in landscape, weather, culture, local produce, sights and activities. Whether you love to go on holiday or long to relocate, it can be tough to decide which region would suit your taste and lifestyle priorities. Our gite owners are located all over France, but especially in the popular holiday areas – and some of them clearly have terrific enthusiasm for their corner of France. So we asked two such owners to explain the appeal of their region.

    149174 Ollerenshaw La Chaumiere Cottage and pool

    In the three magazine article, which is also highlighted on the front cover and Contents page of French Property News, Ron and Sue Ollerenshaw explain how they grabbed a last minute week’s holiday on impulse at a Brittany gite. They were soon hooked by the setting and the peace and quiet - and then discovered that the owner happened to know somebody who sold properties to British buyers.

    By Thursday they had singled out Poulmarvezen, a former farm close to the village of Ploerdut in Morbihan. Now they offer five holiday cottages restored and furnished to a high standard, each one sleeping either five or six people, with a swimming pool (shown in the image above).

    Sabine and Graham Peek are no strangers to France, having lived and worked in Paris and other locations for many years. But it was in the relatively undiscovered l'Hérault region just west of Provence in the south of France that Graham, originally from the UK, and Sabine from Germany finally chose to settle three years ago, near the medieval town of Pezenas.

    The couple bought a stylish, pink-washed villa with a garden that features a swimming pool (shown in first image at top of page) and palm trees and created a two-bedroom gite in one self-contained floor. They named the gite 4 Paws, both in honour of their tabby cat and because it is a place ‘for pause’. They now take pleasure in sharing their knowledge and love of the region with guests.

    Explore holiday accommodation options at Poulmarvezenand 4 Paws and read the full article in our Press pages

  • Our guide to the best Christmas markets in France


    It’s the season for magical French Christmas markets to shimmer into life all over France. So many cities and towns stage these fabulous mixtures of shopping, community and carnival – and the markets really do capture the traditional magic of Christmas as a season of light, good food and family feeling.

    The markets are really worth a visit for both their atmosphere and the great shopping. We know that many Francophiles and lovers of traditional Christmas spirit go every year for a market mini-break. For seasoned visitors and first-timers alike, our guide to the Christmas markets of Franceis indispensable. We’ve put together detailed information on over twenty of the top markets, from north to south and from small towns to large cities.

    Our guide lists the top markets and for each one paints a picture of the place, setting and character, the variety of products on sale and special events taking place. We also give dates, travel information and links to a range of self-catering accommodation and B&Bs in the area to enable you to plan your trip.

     avignon marche de noel copyright ville d'avignon jp campomar

    Strasbourg Christmas market is the oldest and one of the largest in France with a breath taking setting in front of the Cathedral. Mulhouse market reflects the architecture of the Alsace region with half-timbered stalls featuring exceptional fabrics.

    Easily accessible by car from the UK are the towns of Northern France. Arras holds a spectacular Christmas market on the splendid Grand Place with lots of arts and crafts. The market at Béthune features Flemish-style chalets selling festive crafts, regional produce and other gifts.

    Licques is famous for its traditional turkey parade and the market sells quality, traditionally-reared organic poultry. Amiens Christmas market, one of the largest in northern France, has an alpine flavour and sells kitchenware, fine crystal and hand-made glass, as well as a variety of fish.

    For anyone who fancies a trip further south, the markets in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Avignon and Menton are all celebrated events with real local character – and easily accessible by the TGV train.

    Most markets run from around the third week of November to either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve and all include events and parades that enhance the fun, spectacle and sense of community.

    Browse our Guide to Christmas Markets in France

  • The Somme - discover France on your doorstep

    Our featured region this month is the Somme in Northern France.  Bet you didn’t know that there was such a potent mix of history, seascapes, fishing harbours, unspoilt beaches, sports and activities around an hour’s drive from Calais. Typical is St Valery sure Somme, shown in our photo.

    I first visited this area by train when staying in Le Touquet, a little way up the coast, and I really liked Amiens, the main town, for its Gothic cathedral and surrounding square and its walkways beside the River Somme. Abbeville was fascinating for its World War II history and museums.

    For some reason I particularly remember seeing in Abbeville a monument to a 19 year old boy who was shot shortly before the Revolution for refusing to salute a passing member of the aristocracy. No wonder French people so value their egalitarianism!


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