If you've ever dreamed of waking up in a French chateaux, meandering around a vineyard in the Champagne region, or staying in an elegant Parisian hotel in Montmartre, you will already know there’s no shortage of accommodation options in France.
But it can be hard to decipher what’s what when it comes to places to stay in France. The French being the nationalistic language-lovers that they are will usually list the options only in French; chambres d'hôte, auberge, résidence, and gites d’étape are just some of the terminology you may come across.
Here, we break down some of the options and share some helpful sites when it comes to planning your travels in France.
Chambres d'hôte are bed and breakfasts, or rooms for visitors in larger buildings like farms or chateaus. They offer a great alternative to hotels as you will usually get to meet the owners, sample local food and home cooking, and stay in much more interesting parts of France.
The money usually goes directly to the locals too, meaning it’s one of the most sustainable ways to travel in France. Sites like bandb-in-france.com allow you to book directly with English speaking owners, so no money is lost to booking sites.
Boutique or traditional hotels are called auberge or residence. They can vary greatly in cost and style, but are usually rated by the French government system that awards between 1 to 4 stars.
Unlike other ratings which travellers may be used to, 2-star hotels are generally good quality, while 3-star hotels are more luxurious, and 4 stars is reserved for the very best of the best.
Chain hotels are an option if you want to accrue perks and save money. Mercure and HotelF1 are owned by the French company Accor - the largest hotel chain in Europe.
Première Classe and Ibis Budget are cheap hotel options with rooms that are usually clean if a little small and basic (the bathrooms are usually only just big enough to stand in).
While rooms in budget chain hotels can often be cheaper than a night in a good hostel, French hostels are a great option for travellers wanting to meet new people.
With a choice of bunk-bed style dorms or private rooms, hostels aren’t just for backpackers, with more modern options being a great alternative to a hotel for a convenient city stay.
Auberges de jeunesse, or youth hostels, are available for those aged 16 to 25 and require a membership card.
Gites, or gîtes ruraux, are holiday rental cottages that are usually hired by the week, often in more rural or beach areas.
Like Air BnB’s you can cook your own meals and come and go as you please, and there is little to no interaction with the owner. You can find properties broken down by region on gitelink.com, and book directly.
Gites d’étape are more suitable for hikers and cyclists. They are a cheap and simple accommodation that can usually be found on the main pilgrim routes.
Expect simple dormitories, a shared bathroom and living room, and somewhere to cook your own meal or a basic meal is sometimes provided within the room rate.
Camping is hugely popular in France, and is a great way to meet travellers from all over Europe. They vary greatly in size and style but most have good facilities that are continually updated.
Campsites are usually seasonal, many are open from April to October but municipal camping grounds only open between the 15 June and the 15 September.
While costs do vary by cities, here is what you can expect to pay for accommodation per night:
A hostel dorm in Paris: €30
Double room in a mid-range hotel: €90–190
Double room in a top-end hotel: €190–350
Camping pitch for a tent: €20
A double room in a chateaux with breakfast: €100 - €500
In many parts of France, accommodation providers are required to charge a tourist tax (taxe de séjour) on all overnight stays.
Some will include it in their rates, while others may ask for cash on arrival - it’s usually just a couple of euros per night.
The nationally recognised labels ‘Tourisme & Handicap’ and ‘Destination pour tous’ provide information on accessibility in France.
You can find a list of the official disability tourist services for each region by visiting tourisme-handicaps.org.
Another handy tool is the interactive map on accessible.net that lists accommodation, parking and attractions that are wheelchair accessible or suitable for those with additional needs.
Handilol also has fantastic detailed, accessible guidebooks for different regions of France.
Last Updated 28 November 2023