In France you can find all types of hotels, ranging from small family hotels to large international chains in all price categories. As five-star luxury is (unfortunately) out of reach for most of us, the good news is that there is now a number of 'no-frills' hotel chains in France. Prices can be as cheap as €20-45/night.
The downside is that many of these hotels are located on main roads in the outskirts of towns and/or not in the best areas. You might notice that some establishments are not easy to reach by public transport so check a map.
Cheap prices mean basic services. You might not even see any staff during your visit, as check-in is with a credit card in a machine that gives you a code to open your room with and everything is self service. Rooms range from singles to triples and are basic and functional. Toilets and showers may be shared, but normally facilities and rooms are clean and much more consistent than what you might find in a youth hostel or cheap hotel. You can find examples of these hotels on websites as www.bonsai-hotel.tm.fr and www.premiereclasse.fr
If location is important, you can also check out small budget hotels just outside of city centres or close to railway stations (which can start from €15/night). They are usually not associated with a chain or have a web-based booking system available. Standards vary, so consider visiting the website before making a paid booking. The best place to look is the Yellow Pages (www.pagesjaunes.fr).
Local tourist offices (office de tourisme) often have websites with comprehensive accommodation listings (e.g. in Paris: www.parisinfo.com ). More tourist offices as well other website can be found in our directory.
Youth hostels (Auberges de Jeunesse) are probably the cheapest accommodation options you can find (from €6/night up to €20/night in Paris). Sheets and breakfast are usually not included and you will be sharing a dormitory with other people.
To stay in some hostels, you need to be a member of the Hostelling International. There are also possibilities to work at a hostel. Most of the time this is work in exchange for food and lodgings, and of course this will give you the opportunity to meet a lot of people as well. For more information as well as hostel listings across France go to:
- Hostelling International: www.hihostels.com
- FUAJ (Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse) the French branch of Hostelling International: www.fuaj.org
- LFAJ (Ligue Française pour les Auberges de Jeunesse): www.auberges-de-jeunesse.com
Bed & Breakfast and self-catering accommodation
B&B (chambres d'hôte) is well established in France, though more common in rural areas. Prices depend on the tourist season, area and the attractiveness and quality of the accommodation itself (on average €40-70/night).
Many establishments belong to Gîtes de France, an organisation which provides information and ratings to help make comparisons in terms of quality and price. There are also all kinds of self-catering accommodation, from apartments to manor houses and villas. The most common are rural houses or cottages called gîtes. Generally used as holiday accommodation, they are usually available all year round and can be cheap out of season (from €150-300/week, excluding charges and taxes). However, they are usually only available in tourist destinations or in rural areas. Some useful websites:
- Official web site of 'Gîtes de France' organization, with over 60,000 locations: www.gites-de-france.fr (in French, English and German)
- Gîtes in France, a Britain-based organization: www.gites-in-france.co.uk
- France Gîtes: www.france-gites.com
- Child friendly accommodation listing rural houses and gîtes in the most popular tourist destinations: www.awaywiththekids.co.uk
Residence (or apartment) hotels
This is also a relatively easy option which usually doesn't have any nasty surprises. However, it is usually more expensive than renting a normal flat if you plan to stay for more than 3 months.
In recent years in France, there has been much growth in the availability of 'apartment hotels'. These tend to be something between an apartment and a conventional hotel. Normally located in city centres or tourist destinations, they offer quality short to medium term accommodation. They have rooms or suites of varying sizes and usually have maid service, with sheets and towels provided. They tend be more comfortable than a hotel for a stay of several weeks (such as when looking for permanent rented accommodation or when finalising the purchase of a property). Prices vary depending on the number of nights you are staying, so if booking for more than a week you should always negotiate. Chains include :