Where to Stay in France

by Christine Cantera  

Villa on French RivieraChoosing the perfect accommodation is the next step after booking your flight. (And if you haven’t done that yet, I suggest reading up on how to get cheap flights to France!) France is the world’s most visited country, so booking your accommodation in advance is the best bet to make sure you have where to stay. There are many types of accommodation in France, and each offers many choices for all budgets.

Fun fact! “Hôtel de Ville” is French for City Hall. They’re usually very pretty, being some of the oldest architecture in any given city, and you might find yourself wanting to stay there when you see the words Hôtel de Ville above the door of a building that looks like a wedding cake. But you’d most likely be sleeping in some bureaucrat’s cubicle, which I can’t imagine would be very comfortable.

How to Pronounce Hotel Words in French

Let’s get right to it with a quick term and pronunciation guide.

  • Hotel = hôtel = oat-ELL
  • Hostel – you can definitely get away with saying OAST-ell, and you’ll definitely see the word Hostel on buildings and in advertisements. However, there are some other terms the French like to use in their unending quest to stay French.
  • Auberge (oh-BAIRJ*) is one of them, and this word can also pertain to a small inn.
  • Résidence (reh-zee-DOHNSE) is another, and like auberge can be a faux-humblr name given to a more upscale place.
  • Bed & Breakfast = Chambres d’Hotes = SHAHM-bruh dotes. Although “Bed & Breakfast,” said clearly enough, will get you where you want to go.
  • Vacation rental = gîte = zheet*

* I’m conflicted on how to write this sound without resorting to the phonetic alphabet. That soft “g” is like the “zs” in Zsa Zsa Gabor. Or like the “s” in confusion. Or, you can click on the megaphone icon here and listen to it.

>>Just for fun, you can also learn how to pronounce French curse words! Then you’ll really sound like a local. And here are Julie’s favorite swear words as well.

Hôtels

Hotels in France range from the over-the-top Hôtel de Crillon in Paris to one-star dumps in back alleys behind train stations. It all depends on your budget, and what your needs are. Careful planning and being willing to stay further from the city center will ensure cheaper rooms, although deals can be found in some pretty spectacular places depending on the time of year and individual hotel specials.

>>Learn more more information about Hotels in France.

>>Here are some hotels on the Vieux Port in Marseille.

>>And a great guide to budget hotels in Bordeaux.

>>Oh! And hotels in Nice near the Promenade des Anglais, and hotels near La Criosette in Cannes.

>>And just for kicks, check out hotels with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Hostels

Not only backpackers flock to hostels. Since most hostels also offer private rooms, this type of accommodation has become popular among couples and families as well. Considering that the public transport is excellent in all major French cities, it’s easy to choose a hostel located further from the city center, hence saving money on accommodation.

>>Learn more information on Hostels in France.

>>Here are some handy maps and booking engines for hostels in Tours, Bayeux, Nice and Lyon.

Chambres d’Hotes

In addition to having a wide variety of hotel and hostel options, France is also home to a huge network of chambres d’hotes, which are bed-and-breakfast type accommodations. They can very from apartments in major cities to quaint inns in rural villages. However, most major travel sites will direct you to the actual term, Bed and Breakfasts. You really only need to know the terms chambres d’hotes if you’re reserving on the fly while in France.

>>More info on French bed & breakfasts.

Gîtes

Gîtes vary widely depending from town to town and from owner to owner. Sometimes they are separate cabins and/or villas; sometimes they are simply rooms in someone’s home; sometimes they are more like bed and breakfasts than self-catering places.

However, this is a great option for tourists who want a “very French” place to stay on a budget, or those looking for a richer cultural experience. Because both chambres d’hotes and gîtes are usually privately run, they provide tourists with a great opportunity to converse with locals. Rates in these accommodations are also often cheaper than hotels.

>>Read more tips about booking French gîtes.

Villas and Apartments

Renting villas and apartments in France is common mostly on the Riviera. A quick search online would give you a huge list of companies and websites that offer such services.

Renting a luxury cottage on the Riviera, capable of sleeping 4-8 persons (2 bedrooms) costs between €465 per week during winter and €1365 per week or more during peak season (July and August). Since most nicer hotels get really expensive in summer, this strategy will usually not only result in a nicer place to sleep, but will also save you money. France holiday rentals do tend to get booked up early, especially the cheaper ones and those in the best locations, so think well ahead if you are going to do this.

Want more planning help for your big trip to France? Look no further:

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