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A Traveler's Dream
France is high on most people's travel wish list, and it's not hard to realize why. It can be a very expensive destination, particularly if you plan to spend a lot of time in Paris or any of the other popular destinations throughout the country. It's well worth it though and there are several great tips you can use to save some money.
You'll find any kind of accommodation you might desire in France. It's very popular to rent a "gites ruraux," or holiday cottage to spend your vacation. They can be rented on a weekly basis and come complete with a kitchen so you can relax and enjoy making some of your own meals.
Searching for a Bargain
While France can be an expensive destination, there are a variety of strategies you can use to save some money. The typical strategies here apply. Travel in the low season, consider booking a package deal, and research, research, research.
France is also a wonderful place to find a cottage or apartment to sublet. In Paris, a lot of young couples will rent an affordable room out of their apartment. If you're in rural areas, consider staying in a gites ruraux which is a cottage that provides you with a built in kitchen. Cooking your own meals will take you far in France, and you'll enjoy going to the local market and choosing fresh produce. It can really bring the country to life for you.
Flats, Hostels, and Guesthouses
There are a wide range of accommodation types throughout France. In addition to the gites ruraux, described above, you can find bed and breakfasts throughout the country. In French, these are referred to as "chambre d'hote." Legally, these facilities are required to include breakfast in their advertised price. Unlike gites ruraux, which are usually rented on a weekly basis, bed and breakfasts are available on a nightly basis.
There are hotels throughout the country as well. They are rated on a scale from one star to four stars. Often a one star hotel is comparable in price to two dorm beds in a hostel. Keep this in mind when you're deciding what type of facility to stay at.
In rural areas in France you can refer to Gites de France, an organization that rates rural accommodation throughout the country. It's a great resource for comparison shopping.
If you're interested in hiking there are a range of sleeping options in France. You can find camping facilities throughout the country of variable quality. Alternatively, you could stay at Gites d'etape, which are overnight huts in the mountains. They're an affordable option, but they are quite basic and you generally get what you pay for.
Hotels in Paris can vary dramatically in price depending on if it is the high or low season. This is true for every level of hotel from one star to five stars. The high season generally runs between Spring and Summer as well as the Christmas holiday. If you're planning to visit Paris during these times you will almost always get the best deal if you book well in advance. Also take note that hotels that are listed in the popular guidebooks are almost always more expensive and fill up sooner. It will pay off more if you do some research and delve into finding less popular and famous options. The quality will be just as high, if not better, for a fraction of the cost. There are plenty of these options out there so don't settle for the first place listed in the Lonely Planet.
It's also important that you consider location when booking your hotel in Paris. The city is large, and while there are some cheaper hotel options on the outskirts of town, this isn't likely the holiday you were hoping for. It's worth paying a little more to be in the center of the action as it's often not worth the time it takes to travel into the city.
It may be tempting to stay at one of the cheaper hotels that are found out by Nice's airport. Don't give in to this temptation. They are too far from town and you will have to make the trip by taxi or shuttle. It's far easier and more convenient to stay in and around the town itself. This is where all of the action is after all.
If you're hoping to stay in Nice's Old Town, then the most common option is to rent an apartment. There are not many actual hotel's found in this part of the city, but there are plenty in the neighborhoods around the Old Town. If you stay just outside of the Old Town you can choose between either a new and modern hotel or a more traditional style hotel. Both options have a lot to offer.
You'll also find plenty of youth hostels in and around Nice. If you're traveling as a couple it might be a better deal to simply stay in a cheap guesthouse, but for solo travelers or those who are hoping to meet other young guests, then the youth hostels are often the most fun option.