The aim of walking holidays in France is to introduce you to experiences that many other walkers never have. Accommodation plays a big part in this quest for a more authentic exposure and thus a deeper understanding.
Each of our walking holidays in France comprises the most appropriate accommodation options. They offer the best mix of comfort, convenience, facilities, independence, location and value for money. We have chosen to favour family-run accommodation, in whichever shape or form that may take – auberge, chambres & table d’hotes, gites d’etapes, residences, and unclassified hotel through to hotel de tourisme and ‘star ratings.’
Experience demonstrates that in a world obsessed by ‘ratings,’ hotel star ratings can count for nothing. The best welcome we ever received after a long and tiring day’s hike was at an unclassified hotel in deepest Cevennes; the worst, two days’ prior to that in a two-star hotel that was still living in the 1970s.
Never forget that hotel and accommodation classification systems in France correspond to ‘norms of comfort’, whilst not constituting a label of quality. Woe betide he who owns a fine farmhouse [ 'mas'], but cannot gain an appropriate rating because the family doesn’t speak another language, doesn’t want to enlarge the bedroom of an historic building by ten centimeters or install disabled access or a lift.
As two-star status is now dependent upon such criteria, many owners of excellent accommodation are deprived of ever achieving the status they know they merit and so choose to stay 'outside' the classification systems rather than gain a lower rating than they know they deserve.
Experience teaches you that good accommodation depends on the right blend of material features and service, and the latter is down to people – people that you have never met. 'Unclassified' or 'lowly-classified' does not equate to poor accommodation and, in some cases, equates to much-sought-after lodgings offering great value for money in locations that most hikers could never visit if it wasn’t for their undying commitment to, and love for, the authentic experience that enlightened travellers seek.
Not meeting the requirements of a national marketing classification does not mean accommodation is poor quality, badly run or contrary to nationally-set health and safety and fire standards. The French authorities are very tough on rogue traders, who are closed down overnight.
Pictures don’t tell the full story and neither do hotel owners. We can all find some accommodation on the internet that looks and sounds fine, but you never know until you have visited it or stayed there, and then it can be too late – you risk ruining the whole of your walking holiday in France experience. Most of us no longer service our own cars or write our own wills. We put our faith in the experts whose job it is to look after our best interests – so why should walking holidays in France be any different?
All our accommodation has been selected with great care and offers an authentic French experience. All are family-owned and run by people who care as much about their businesses as we do about ours.
Refuges or huts
We are interested in escaping the crowds. It should thus be no surprise that in order to do so we may be called upon to stay in accommodation that is simple and unrefined in nature. Let’s just say that it goes with the territory. Large numbers of tourists tend to generate pots of cash, remote and inaccessible, seasonally-run mountainside accommodation doesn’t.
If we have chosen to use a mountain refuge then you can guarantee that we have very good reasons for doing so. The rewards will outweigh the temporary loss of habitual comfort levels. However, that said, we ensure that the hut or chalet has the basic needs that modern cleanliness and healthiness dictates – hot showers and hot food. The showers and WC are unlikely to be in your room and you’re unlikely to find a double bed or a single room. However, the natural decorum amongst hikers dictates that each one respects the other, is friendly and honest. You’re in it together. Furthermore, of course, we will have stayed there ourselves without announcing we are a tour operator in order to find it ‘as it normally is.’
The desire to get remote makes camping an option, although we do not encourage "le camping sauvage", or camping out in the wild for ecological and legal reasons. Like hotels, regulated campsites are classified according to a star-rating system, from one star to four stars, according to their amenities and facilities. Many campsites offer more than the minimum requirements for commercial or competitive reasons.
All categories must provide showers, toilets and washing areas; One star campsites needn’t have hot showers, though many do; Two star campsites must provide hot showers and Three star campsites a Warden in attendance 24/24 and a foodstore on site or nearby. Many three or four-star campsites have a bar and a restaurant, as too do some one or two-star sites.
Our policy is to use the best available local option. We will not use one-star camping sites if they do not have hot showers, and where there are no suitable options, the best local walkers’ inn will be used, so you get a good night’s sleep. We use campsites without hot food so long as there are nearby options for breakfast or dinner.Check out our two backpacking programmes below:
- Backpacking Stevenson Trail/GR70 - from our range of Walking holidays in France
- Backpack Cevennes - from our range of Walk in France short tours.
We list below some useful resources for those wishing to learn more about accommodation options in France...
- French Locations offer a wide range of properties for long term rental and off season lets in France.
- LANGUEDOC SELF CATERING HOLIDAY RENTALS
- Vakantie frankrijk
- Property in France : Search for rentals & properties for sale with French-property.com.
- FrenchEntrée - French Property Information on buying property, living in France, regions and holidays in France.
Or our short walking holidays at: Walk in France
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