Self-drive holidays are incredibly popular at the moment due to their perfect mix of freedom and isolation.
Many places in northern France have become well-liked in the last few weeks, with holidaymakers enjoying the shorter drive from Calais. However, for those willing to go further, many more wonderful destinations await.
Here, Heaven Publicity has compiled its ultimate road trip around France, whether it be staying in a cave, on a boat, in a mobile home, at a castle or in a bubble…
Escape with Al Fresco Holidays, France
Located in the wonderful Vendée region, west of France, just 250 km from the port of St Malo, the 5* Le Domaine du Clarys – Le Clarys Plage is tweenie heaven. It is home to an enticing water complex complete with an amazing snake waterslide and lazy river. Families can also make the most of the sweeping sandy beach nearby, Plage des Mouettes. There are also fun activities close by, including crazy golf, boat trips, adventure courses and horse riding. Al Fresco Holidays offers a seven-night holiday at 5* Le Domaine du Clarys – Le Clarys Plage, on 5 August 2020, for £1,607 (based on a family on six sharing a two-bedroom Rossini mobile home). Price includes return ferry travel from Portsmouth – St Malo / Caen.
Al Fresco Holidays (0161 332 8900, www.alfresco-holidays.com)
Bobbing along on the Canal du Midi, France, with Le Boat
Combine gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, enchanting cities, exquisite gastronomy and fine local wine on a self-drive cruise with Le Boat. Starting in the pleasant, peaceful harbour of Port Cassafières, pootle along the Canal du Midi through charming south-French towns to Narbonne, which was once the most important city of Roman Gaul to Homps at the very heart of the Midi. Holidaymakers can stop where they like along the way to explore the local area. A seven-night stay on comfort plus Royal Mystique B, which sleeps six is priced from £3,429 per boat/ £571.15 pp (down from £4,309 saving £880). Price based on 1 August 2020 departure. No boating license nor experience is required.
Le Boat (023 9222 2177, www.leboat.co.uk)
Cosy up in a Cave in the Vercors in Isère, France
Want to really sleep away from everyone else? Relax amongst the awe-inspiring Vercors mountains this summer and stay in a romantic cave. From the Vercors village of Presles, a beautiful panoramic trail leads up to the cave where the bivouac affords views across the stunning panorama under the starry sky. Enjoy a two-hour guided hike to the site before working together to erect the bivouac. Afterwards, spend a fun and friendly evening sharing a meal prepared from wild plants and local organic products. An alternative overnight experience for a memorable family moment in the great outdoors. A two-day hike (and night in the cave), from 22-23 August 2020, costs from €130 / £117 pp including dinner and breakfast.
Stay in a bubble in the Pays de Gex, France
The Pays de Gex community is a group of 26 French communes extending from the heart of the Jura Massif mountains to the meadows that line the Swiss border. It offers a natural holiday destination with fresh mountain air at an affordable price. Facing Mont Blanc, appreciate stunning views across Lake Geneva and in the summer months, take a ramble along the tops of the Haut-Jura in the centre of the national reserve. Discover 2,000 years of history at Fort L’Ecluse, a strategic passage between the Alps and the Jura ever since ancient Rome became a place of wonder. Explore Ferney and its castle: Voltaire the philosopher left his mark here and they even named the town after him: Ferney Voltaire. And science wizards will enjoy the home of the Large Hadron Collider, CERN, is located here. Want to get into the glamping spirit while here? In the depths of the Haut Jura national park it is possible to reserve transparent bubbles, wooden pods, a yurt or a wigwam lodge. Surrounded by the calming oasis of greenery and nature, it’s the perfect spot to get away from it all. Part of a larger camp site, there is an onsite bistro offering a gourmet menu and a very friendly atmosphere. A daily bubble breakfast is delivered in a basket for an enjoyable, secluded feast. One night’s B&B is priced from £75 pp (£150 total) for two people sharing.
Pays de Gex: https://en.paysdegex-tourisme.com
Sample delicious wine, at Le Château de Candie’s very own vineyard, with Summer France
Located approximately three miles from the centre of Chambéry, the luxury 4* Le Château de Candie blends past and present seamlessly to create a memorable stay. Guests can admire the beautiful architecture, enjoy the exceptional views across the valley and make the most of the outdoor pool. As well as the spacious bedrooms and suites (25 in total, with some accommodating up to five people), Le Château de Candie has an opulent tower suite, ideal for couples after a quixotic retreat. One of the main attractions of the hotel is its very own vineyard, which yields circa 3,000 bottles of wine each year. Produced by Jean Perrier & Fils and the municipality, the 14th century castle has been growing grapes and selling wine for hundreds of years. Although the vines were wiped out by a disease in the late 1800s, they were re-established in 2009 and the makers decided to grow the Viognier grape. Pronounced “vee-own-yay”, Viognier is a full-bodied white wine loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. Known as a ‘noble grape’, due to its incredibly high quality, it can be a difficult vine to grow and was almost extinct in 1965, when there were only eight acres in Northern Rhône producing just 1,900 litres of wine. Sample some of the delicious wine and other local variants with Le Château de Candie’s own knowledgeable sommelier, before dining outside in the welcoming courtyard. A week’s stay, in August 2020, costs from £445.50 pp (£891 total) for two people sharing a Classic room, including breakfast.
Summer France (0203 475 4756, www.summerfrance.co.uk)