Holiday lets in France: town or country?

Holiday lets in France: town or country?

Revisiting the age-old question of whether rural or urban French life is best, Glynis Shaw decides that maybe somewhere in the middle might be the perfect solution

If you live in France and run a holiday let or chambres d’hôtes, do you choose a village location, surrounded by peaceful countryside, or a town location with a year-round buzz?

If you go for a town setting then remember that even some towns in France can seem pretty quiet. When you’re offering accommodation, it makes sense to choose one that has a lot to draw visitors throughout the year.

Suitable towns tend to be historic and picturesque, with iconic landmarks or lots of interesting architecture. They are also likely to be close to beautiful countryside and may be set on a river, beside a lake or at the seaside. In travel terms, it’s handy to be within striking distance of an airport or ferry port.

Your location in town does not have to be central – and hence premium property price – but it should be within walking distance of all the main attractions. A good view of the town from the property also helps. A holiday apartment with flexibility on booking period or a chambres d’hôtes can both work well as you’re likely to attract people who want to stay for a weekend, a short break or a week or two.

Most people looking for village life in France are thinking of a typical British village, with shops, amenities and active community life. However, what is often described as a French village may be little more than a hamlet or farming community inhabited by just a few extended families. Life may be very quiet, the community hard to break into and amenities few and far between.

Changing social habits and rural depopulation are causing thousands of cafés, bars and shops like boulangeries to close in small villages, necessitating a trip to town for visitors who want to shop or eat out – and we know that holidaymakers in the French countryside love to be able to walk to such offerings.

So, if you seek village life, it’s often best to look for what is technically a small market town in a peaceful setting – one that has a mixed population, a choice of places to eat, a colourful market and plenty of facilities and events including the traditional village fête.

Your visitors will appreciate a place like this as much as you do. They may not come in winter, but in the summer months are likely to be happy to stay put for a week, just making a couple of day trips to explore the surroundings.

Glynis Shaw is joint MD of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online

Tel: 01580 819303

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