France remains one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and with good reason. This huge country offers a wide range of varied landscapes and holiday settings, added to that the lure of fine wine and food, and it is easy to see why France maintains its strong appeal. Whether you are looking for winter sports in the Alps, or summer sun in the Cote d’Azur, here at Cottages4you we have a huge selection of villas, gites and cottages across the length and breadth of this beautiful country to choose from. Here are some of our customer recommended French destinations for 2014.
Brittany or ‘Bretagne’ on the North West corner of France shares many scenic characteristics with its cousins across the channel in Cornwall and Devon. Indeed, the historic Celtic heritage is shared with the British Isles the result of a legacy of a trading network going back centuries. The sheer proximity to the UK makes Brittany eminently accessible via Ferry and consequently one of the most popular destinations in the country. With such a large rugged coastline, the beaches here are the envy of Europe. Popular with surfers, the coastline is perfect for water-sports and walkers alike. The outdoor lifestyle reflects the laid back atmosphere in region fiercely proud of its history. The result is an ambiance distinctly ‘Bretagne’ in character, indeed many locals still retains this ancient language. Be sure to include Rennes, Saint-Malo and Auray on your ‘to do list’ on your next visit to Brittany.
Known as the ‘Garden of France’, the Loire Valley for many represents the very essence of a French holiday. The patchwork scenery conjures images of vineyards and golden fields full of sunflowers, with the Loire River itself providing a timeless backdrop to beautiful chateaux across the region. The favourable climate helps nurture grapes which produce some of the world’s finest and best known wines including Muscadet and Sancerre. Set within the historic heart of France, the region retains much of its Medieval and Gothic architecture the source of inspiration for writers and poets across the ages. Amongst the Loire highlights include the unforgettable Chartres, Bourges and of course Orleans, home to one of France’s most famous historic figures, Joan of Arc. With so many beautiful chateaux to choose from, visitors are spoilt for choice but the Renaissance castle at Chambord is one of the most impressive sights in France.
The expansive 400 mile coastline in Normandy will forever have its place in history and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings, the turning point in the Second World War. In contrast to its rugged Bretagne neighbour, Normandy less exposed Channel coastline is gentler in comparison to Brittany with rolling greenery bordering long sandy beaches protected by dunes. Perhaps the most beautiful landmarks on this delightful coast, is the spectacular Mont Saint-Michel. This imposing island is dominated by its 8th century Abbey, a world heritage site that looks out across a stunning tidal vista. The view from the top of the Abbey is unforgettable, and at night when the castle is illuminated against the backdrop of the sea, you are left with a magical impression of truly one of the most iconic landmarks in France.
Visible from the white cliffs of Dover, the Pas-de-Calais lies a very short hop across ‘Le Manche’ for holidaymakers from Britain. Particularly popular in the 19th century as the coastal summer retreat of choice for ‘city weary’ Parisians, the region retains a strong cultural association to its Flemish neighbour. With its proximity to Belgium, much of the local architecture retains a strong Flemish influence, particularly amongst some of the region’s most beautiful cathedrals. Indeed, the Pas-de-Calais geographically retains the character of it ‘lowland’ neighbours, with large expanses of flatlands extending east towards the border with Belgium. Today the Pas-de-Calais renowned for its vibrant flavour typified by a general celebration of life reflected in the varied festivals throughout the year. Perhaps the best known of which is the ‘Dunkirk Carnival’, a lively series of events which will take place each weekend through February and March.
Dordogne and Lot
The seductive south west of France with its promise of summer warmth, culture and fine cuisine has all the ingredients for a perfect extended holiday in France. The departments of Dordogne and Lot have much in common, with beautiful countryside and both enjoying long hot summers and mild winters. For many the attraction of Dordogne revolves around its lush greenery and slow pace of life which in many ways represents an echo of France from another age. It is an image that has drawn Britain’s throughout the decades and indeed you may find echo’s from rural England too, as many have been so enchanted by the region that they have the Dordogne their home. Be sure to enjoy the sumptuous local delicacies in the famed local markets that offer special artisan shopping experience a world away from all too familiar high street clones. Highlights include the caves at Lascaux, the gardens of Marqueyssac, the picturesque village of Loubressac and the Chateau de Bonaguil.