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Staying in a French gite or chambre d’hote can be the simplest way to get a real taste of authentic France, especially if you know what you’re hoping to find when you get there. From classic half-timbered cottages and soaring coastal views in Normandy to a hearty cassoulet and a glass of Minervois near Carcassonne, an authentic French experience is a very personal one.
Gone are the days when we were prepared, or had the time, to take a risk when booking our precious two weeks away from the rat race. But with a desire to secure the perfect spot also comes an appetite for something more; something that will make this holiday stand out from every other year. And access to that sort of information always comes best straight from the horse’s mouth.
Property owners on Holiday Let Exchange tend to be people who’ve taken the time to really get to know their area, its culture, its history and its hidden gems. And what’s special about Holiday Let Exchange is the only people you ever need to talk to are the property owners themselves so with each listing comes a potential treasure trove of information.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
Gite and B&B owners know their areas well and can recommend great local attractions or lesser-known restaurants and caf�s. Sites like Holiday Let Exchange allow you to contact several at the same time or each individually to find out exactly what you need to know before you travel.
To get your teeth into some truly authentic French fare, it’s often best to start with the simplest ingredients – the ones that have stood the test of time. And what could be more typically French than a fresh baguette, soft, aromatic Camembert from Normandy topped with slices of juicy beef tomato, all sourced within the hour from one of the country’s myriad local markets?
If you’re after something more adventurous, each region has its own speciality dishes ranging from spicy piment d’Espelette (chilli peppers) inspired Basque creations from the foothills of the French Pyrenees or Calvados and a helping of Pont L’Eveque cheese in Normandy. Ask around. Sometimes the best place to sample the cuisine isn’t a fancy restaurant but the place that’s hidden away which only locals or visitors in the know can find.
Beyond your bedroom window
Gites and B&Bs are often as much about location as they are about luxurious decor and lovely views. Local festivals and celebrations happen throughout the year in most towns and are well worth making the effort to see. If you’ve booked a place to stay make sure you find out what’s on locally as tourism websites can sometimes undersell real cultural gems.
La vraie vie francaise may be as intangible as it is desirable but with a few helpful pointers, you’re closer than you think.
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