Footloose Travel - France in March?

Feb 6th, 2007, 03:43 AM
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Footloose Travel - France in March?

My family (wife and 6yr old) will be visiting France for about 14 days in mid-March. We are going to try renting a car and driving for the first time and are striking out from Provence (after taking the TGV from Paris)driving up to the Loire, sampling Brittany and Normandy before returning to Paris. This is just a teaser, we are just going to be hitting the highlights, I know.

My thinking, at this point, will be to use Etap Hotels or Premiere Classe (remember, we need a triple) en route as a fallback, but take advantage of more interesting lodging if it presents itself along the way. Just this once (after more than a dozen European vacations) , I would like to NOT have to plan every day's itinerary to be able to keep all our reservations. I would like to be able to adjust our route based on interests ( OK, ENOUGH chateaux)and progress.

My basic questions are (1) should I be concerned about making reservations with these budget chains when travelling in March and (2) are their "walk-in" rates higher than their internet booking rates?

Deltona, FL
rs899 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 04:48 AM
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Rick -

Good for you ! March is not a major travel month at all in France, so I think you should be fine playing it by ear.

kevin_widrow is offline  
Feb 6th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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We did something similar in the Loire a few years ago. One thing to note is that some smaller hotels/restaurants don't open until Easter. But we had great luck (traveling just after Easter) with no reservations, and are doing it again this year in Brittany. Distances are short enough that you should be able to find something; but do start looking for somewhere to stay early in the afternoon. You don't want to find yourself wandering in the dark!
waldrons is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 02:14 AM
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I am planning on printing out the locations of all the Etaps and Premiere Classe etc hotels along the way and use them as my goals for late afternoon arrival.

I will reserve some ahead of time (with Accor group you can cancel reservations up to 6PM the night you arrive), but I wonder if the walk-in rate on these is the same as the internet rate?
rs899 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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We love Etap hotels and stay in them whenever we go to France. We'll be going in late February through mid-March this year (less than 3 weeks!).

Some other chains that you might want to watch for are FastHotel and MisterBed.

Even though March isn't very busy, we've made our reservations ahead of time. We like being footloose, but also like not spending lots of time looking for a place to sleep for the night. We've tried that and found it to be a bit frustrating. Mostly it just takes up time that I'd rather spend just enjoying where I am.

We've not stayed in FastHotels before, but we're trying them in Lyon, Avignon and Tours this time. The only glitch with the reservations is that it's not really an online system. You are sending them an email and they reply (in French only) and sometimes you have to prompt them to get a response so that you know you have a reservation.

Ernie & Linda
klompen is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 11:05 PM
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normally no need to reserve in March, provided you are a little flexible.

Some of my best finds have been accidental !

There is also Hotel B&B


mpprh is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 02:40 AM
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Thanks for reminding me about the other options. I was aware of Fasthotels and Misterbed ( I can't seem to access their website now- is there a new URL?). Ernie & Linda, I would be curious to know how your experiences go in Avignon and Tours, since we will be following you a few weeks later to both cities. FastHotels looks to be an association of private hotels, with some individuality, rather than a corporate monolith like Etap. I am not sure what Premiere Classe is really like - from some of the reviews I have read it seems to be a melange.

Hotel B&B looks very impressive, but the 3rd person supplement is rather steep at about 15 euros. Looks great for a couple, though.

rs899 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 03:41 AM
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you might try or .com

very unique hotels, very french and for one night worth a go

March should be ok except ski area in school holiday
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 04:58 AM
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You should also note the locations of the Formula 1 chain (part of the Accor group) as a backup.

It is ultimate budget, with one double bed, and a transverse bed above the double bed for the child. There is a sink in the room, but the showers and toilets are exterior, but high tech and autocleaned after each use.

It is a bit like the Jetsons, but good for a laugh with a small family and at around 32 Euros for the family, you will not find anything cheaper.

In case you find yourself out of range of your first choices, this one will certainly do, and give you child something to laugh about.

Bonne route!
roussillon is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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I have not yet had the pleasure of staying in a Formule 1, but we did experience Etap once in Berlin and it just passed muster. I understand what you said from reading the Accor website. That would do as well, if push came to shove. I had forgotten about the entertainment value of the self-cleaning commode to a 6 year old. Heck, I might want to see that myself....maybe once.

I wish I could get my hands on a book of all the Etaps and F1s. Supposedly you can pick them up at Etaps- I hope. It would be so nice to be able to download this, but alas, non. C'est dommage.


rs899 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Here are some links for you:
FastHotels -
Mister Bed -

I'm having trouble getting to Mister Bed right now. The site seems to be down.

Formula 1 is just a bit too basic for our desires due to having to go outside the room for shower facilities. In a B&B that would be fine, but not in a hotel.

We look for chains like Etap because our emphasis when traveling to Europe is to experience all the stuff that is outside the hotel. The hotel is just a place to sleep for us so we don't look for even 1 star hotels, much less 2 or 3 stars.

I'd rather spend my money on another crepe from the local crepe stand with creme brule and coffee later at a streetside cafe.

Ernie & Linda
klompen is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Here's another interesting looking chain: Villages -
klompen is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 03:03 AM
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I agree with your philosophy. If the room is too cute and comfy, it's all that much harder to leave and go see something

Villages Hotel look like a good prospect for us. I like that the 3rd person is free (unlike Etaps) so the bill is in the low 30s in the provinces. Makes that weak dollar go a bit further.

They have wi-fi- I asked how much it cost.I also requested a directory from them- we'll see if they pass these tests.
rs899 is offline  

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