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Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

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Are we crazy not booking accommodation??


I've just had a dreadful feeling that we might be mad to not book the majority of our accommodation for a 3 week driving tour around France in April this year. We are 2 adults and 1 child and will be staying in mainly small hotels/logis/b&b style places. We have first and last nights booked but everything in between is 'up in the air'. We have a rough itinerary but wanted to leave things fairly flexible. I know it's not everyone's way of doing things....Are we crazy?


Loire Valley
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1. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

Hi Nicole

You should be OK in April, but I think you will probably find that getting B&B accomodation in chambres d'hôtes will be difficult - it's before the main season and a lot just wont be open.

Instead, look for the Logis de France sign, ( http://www.logishotels.com ). These are small independently owned hotels, usually quite charming (but also with the possibility of quirky). They will be a lot more fun - and often less expensive - than the chain hotels - Ibis, Etap etc etc., where you may as well have not left home for all the local colour you get.

There may be night where you just can't find a place - it has happened to me - but it depends where you are when the school holidays happen. Check here http://about-france.com/school-holidays.htm . In that case aim for a Formule1 if youre looking to save money.

When doing this sort of thing we always organise our accomodation at lunchtime, which gives you an afternoon in the town/village/area without the stress of finding somewhere colouring your day.



Edited: 21 February 2010, 10:02
Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

I guess it depends on whether you want to spend your precious holiday time faffing around looking for somewhere to stay.

3. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

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4. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

Don't be put off doing it your way! And don't play safe and book into boring generic chain motels either.

We travel around France without advance bookings and don't usually have any problems. We go to the Office de Tourisme when we arrive in a town and l ask for a list of chambre d'hotes or hotels (depending what we want and what's available that sus our price bracket), then the super friendly, helpful Office de Tourisme staff ring around and inquire about prices and availability, and book us in when we have chosen - all for no charge, or the occasional 1 euro for the phone calls.

We've found some wonderful places this way and rarely been disappointed.

Go for it!

Ottawa, Canada
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5. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

In April you shouldn't have a problem. I've done this as recently as 2008 in AUGUST and always found a hotel... in a couple of instances wonderful places.

My advice is to have a cellphone with you... you can find a hotel or chambre d'hote in a brochure or whatever and call and make arrangements while enroute. It really helped us.


Berkshire, United...
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6. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

We've also often toured around without bookings in April in France, although on one occasion in the Auvergne I had to make about 20 calls one Saturday morning to find somewhere for that night. That was getting a bit worrying!

However, in our small town in the south of France people often roll up to the tourist office on arrival for help with accomodation. Where you end up may turn out to be wonderful, or somewhere you might not have opted for given free choice, it just depends what's available at the time.

Out in quiet countryside might well be more of a problem than in a town; most B & Bs in our area will have been operating from before Easter - some only shut in February for a break and maybe a little freshening up of the rooms.

Logis are also generally a good bet; they are an independently-owned group of hotels, all with the group philosophy. Some are basic, some more luxurious, and many serve good meals; most towns and many villages have them. If you know where you want to head for, the patron will often ring ahead before you set off and book for you. You can pick up a book and map at your first Logis.

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7. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

Usually we book the first night or two and after that we wing it. Only on weekends is this usually a problem, and that's if we're in a popular tourist destination. (Mind you, this is B&Bs in rural areas.)

You'll want to get your Fri and Sat nights scheduled early, if you can. Like you, we don't have a set itinerary, so we need to be thinking early in the week where we might want to be on Fri and Sat. We can't always do that, but we haven't had to sleep in the car yet.

Not every Office de Tourisme is open in April, so you may not be able to rely on them. It's a shame, because they keep an updated lodging list and--the part that really helps us--will make umpteen phone calls to find an opening.

I'd do some online research now to see what's available in the areas where you hope to stay. We've used these websites: Gites-de-france.com (search by Chambres d'hotes within each departement), Gites.com, Alastair Sawday's France website (/www.sawdays.co.uk/accommodation/?countryColl=France), and likhom.com, among others.

London, Canada
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8. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

If it were just the two of you being flexible would be fine, but with a child to consider, a bit of planning ahead is warranted. As well (as Nick has already pointed out), you will be wasting precious time looking for/worrying about accommodations when you should be enjoying your day.

The fact you are having feelings of dread about this lack of planning means you should start doing something about it....now.

9. Re: Are we crazy not booking accommodation??

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Removed on: 21 August 2010, 06:20