Thanks to its proximity to our shores, France has always been a favourite destination for British holidaymakers. From stimulating short breaks in Paris to romantic cruises along the Loire, sizzling summers in Provence to energetic winters in the Alps, the country offers a huge variety of travel options. Sample the world-famous cuisine of Burgundy, trace the fascinating heritage of Alsace, let your hair down on a camping trip to Brittany or glam it up with the glitterati on the Côte d’Azur. Thanks to a plethora of cheap flights to France and a huge range of accommodation options from cosy city apartments to elegant country chateaux, you can easily ring the changes with each visit.
Thanks to healthy competition from all the major carriers, budget flights to France are easy to source all year round, although the popular school holiday periods bring the highest overall demand. However, with a little forward planning you should be able to find a bargain, especially if your dates are flexible. For the cheapest fares, fly midweek or at a less popular hour, particularly if you’re heading for the beach in high summer or the ski resorts during the winter sport season. Consider flying to a quieter regional airport for better deals – Béziers is ideally situated for exploring the southwest coast, Brive is the gateway to the Dordogne, while La Rochelle opens up the lush countryside of the Charente.
Low-cost champions Ryanair and easyJet between them provide a comprehensive range of direct flights to France from all over the UK. Ryanair’s home base at London Stansted links with well over a dozen different destinations across France, from Deauville on the Channel coast to Marseille on the Med. easyJet has an equally generous selection from London Luton, including the busy hub of Nice as well as Paris Charles de Gaulle. Both carriers also offer a wide variety of regional departures. Flybe’s numerous routes include Doncaster, Cardiff and Southampton to Paris Charles de Gaulle, while Air France operates a number of regional departures to Paris Orly. The choice is wide open, so the sensible advice is to first find out which routes fly from your nearest airport so you can narrow down your search.
France’s public transport is generally efficient and plentiful, with all airports providing a range of onward travel facilities, usually including buses and/or taxis. Paris’s two international airports are served by the city’s RER rapid transit network as well as by direct bus services, linking the terminals with destinations in the centre and suburbs. Nice Airport, the third busiest in France, has direct bus links to the main railway and bus stations as well as to popular locations along the Côte d’Azur, including Cannes and Monaco. If you’re staying in an international chain, or if your travel is part of a ski or beach resort package, your hotel may provide a free shuttle for guests, so check before you depart. If you’re travelling independently, find out what onward transport options are available onsite from your arrival airport’s website. For late-night arrivals or if you’re landing at a less popular airport, consider pre-booking a taxi for added peace of mind.
It’s on our doorstep, so it’s easy to get blasé about France – yet every time you visit you’ll find something new to enjoy. From the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa to the bohemian ateliers of Montmartre, Paris is a treasure trove for art lovers. Wise up on France’s proudest export with a trip to the vineyards of Bordeaux, or visit the famous markets of Provence for fresh herbs and handmade soaps. Discover the lasting legacy of Marseille’s Capital of Culture 2013, follow the route of Napoleon from the Mediterranean coast through the foothills of the Alps to Grenoble, or take a tranquil boat trip from Toulouse along the Canal du Midi. It’s all at your fingertips.
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