In these challenging economic times the savvy traveler can still take an unforgettable holiday, holding down the costs by “Thinking Outside The Box”. The opportune traveler can reduce his cost by examining some alternatives to the traditional French destinations of Paris, the Alps, Provence and the Riviera, Languedoc, the Loire valley, and Brittany.
In keeping with EB’s philosophy that luxury is more a state of mind than the size of your wallet, if you are open to suggestion and guidance, we have the experience and knowledge to lead you through the maze of possibilities for a true French experience that will fit both your budget and your interests. Some of our favorite seasonal specials and cost savers follow.
One of your greatest hedges against escalating travel costs is to take advantage of seasonal bargains. Plan a late spring or early fall trip to Provence or the Riviera, even winter along the Cote d’Azur is mild. The villages are not crowded like they will become later in July and August when all of France, and much of Europe, goes on summer holiday. For a holiday in the summer, go the opposite direction, north to the Breton coast or Normandy, although this year is crowded with the 65th anniversary D-Day celebrations. Champagne is another area, close to Paris, that is a beautiful destination for a summer holiday and can easily be combined with Alsace-Lorraine for an exploration of eastern France. Traveling in Paris during the winter months rewards you with fewer crowds, lower prices, winter sales and some special packages for holidays like Valentine’s Day. You can also find lower prices in August when most of the city’s denizens have fled for their annual vacations but many restaurants and shops will be closed. If contemplating a Christmas trip, give Alsace-Lorraine a second look as you’ll find the holiday celebrated with many German Christmas influences including Christmas markets. Or, Provence which has a particular way of celebrating with their nativity scenes peopled with santons and the reveillon Christmas Eve observances.
Paris is always the “big” event for a trip to France but if you are saving money you might want to steer clear of the capital. We don’t recommended this for the first time visitor but if this is a return trip, you may want to consider staying outside of the city in one of the smaller surrounding towns and making day trips in. Towns like Chantilly, Versailles, St. Germaine-en-Laye are all served by trains to Paris, either mainline or the express RER trains, making for quick trips by day and a return to a more small town atmosphere by night.
There are also some good substitutions for some of the pricier destinations of Provence, the Cote d’Azur, the Medoc or Biarritz. Languedoc-Rousillon, just to the west of Provence extending all the way to the Spanish border along the Mediterranean, is a less expensive alternative for Provence’s costlier towns. Nimes’ Roman ruins rival those of nearby Arles, charming Uzès is a pretty village which can replace trendier St. Remy. There are wondrous towns to be visited from the Middle Ages’ Carcassonne, the walled city of the Cathars, to Montpellier’s leafy boulevards lined with 18th century mansions.
While Lyon, France’s 2nd largest city can’t replace Paris, it is beautiful in its own right and on a more human scale, a historical and exciting city with food that is unrivaled. The old city, Vieux Lyon, is charming with tiny streets and interconnected courtyards. Place Bellecour, bounded by the Rhone and the Soane rivers, is one of the largest squares in France. Up in the Croix Rousse district you’ll find the silk weavers who once made the city famous. After a holiday in Lyon, consider traveling up into the Alps of the Savoie or north to the adjacent Beaujolais wine district, a less expensive alternative to a visit in Burgundy’s pricier wine country.
Another less traveled alternative is beautiful Alsace on the German-French border where you’ll be treated by exceptional food and wine, gentle mountain, river and valley scenery and quaint towns with a rich folkloric history.
France Autumn Colors
Paris February Early Plum Blossoms
Winter night life in Lyon
Winter Holiday Season Decorations in Nice, French Riviera, Cote d'Azur
Colmar Christmas Market
Provence Fall Vegetables
Christmas in Riquewihr
Autumn in France
Claude Monet's garden in late autumn
Autumn in Provence
Provence Autumn Picnic
Fall on the Canal du Midi
Strasbourg Christmas Market
Autumn in Provence
Paris Snow Marquis de Lafayette Cours de Reine