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10 Tips for a Budget Friendly Holiday in France

Updated on July 20, 2014
Limousin is the Lake District of France
Limousin is the Lake District of France | Source

A budget-friendly holiday in France can save you pots of cash

Your holiday abroad need not break the bank

Planning a holiday in France? Fancy travelling to sunnier climes, sampling fabulous French food and beating the wine taxes? Think foreign holidays are too expensive? Have you really compared the cost of staying at home with a holiday abroad?

Over the last couple of years there has been a great deal of financial hardship and suffering, and some people have reacted by deciding to stay at home for their vacations, however, this need not necessarily be the cheapest option, and for all you Brits, the pound is zooming up against the euro - you'll be quids in!

My top tip - Take a vacation in S W France, and in Limousin in particular

Cut holiday costs and have a look at some of the figures for a budget holiday in Limousin, south west France and compare them with an alternative holiday in your own country. I'm afraid all my examples here are drawn from the UK, but you can check out the transport to France from your home and then take it from there.

For more tips on how to get the best holiday for the least cash - see below ....

Limousin is a budget-friendly holiday destination

Limousin is lovely all the year around and there is so much to see and do
Limousin is lovely all the year around and there is so much to see and do | Source

Tip No. 1 Limousin is a budget-friendly holiday destination

We chose Limousin because, compared to the rest of Europe, the housing is a bargain. It's also good news if you're planning a family budget holiday. Nobody knows we exist here which is great if you want tranquility, peace, space; Limousin is sparsely populated, there are no crowds, no crime, no hassle. So why does this area represent a holiday bargain?

  1. Limousin has yet to be discovered as a major tourist destination. The locals are not here to rip you off - we're just grateful if you discover us!
  2. We benefit from low cost flights
  3. There are great out-of-season deals
  4. Low accommodation prices even in the (so called) high season
  5. Bargain shopping opportunities
  6. Cheap restaurants serving excellent food
  7. So many free things to do
  8. Lots of popular, low cost pastimes

Budget holidays in France are good deals. Prices for hotel, b and b accommodation in France are very reasonable. Gites in Limousin are plentiful, of excellent standard and inexpensive. Restaurants and eating out is cheap and there are plenty of free things to see and do.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

A little about Limousin

Limoges is the capital city and St Junien the second town of Limousin. The sous-prefecture of Haute-Vienne is in Rochechouart. Limousin is a land of lakes, rivers, oak and sweet chestnut meadows and wild flower hay meadows. Great for fishing and water sports, walking, cycling and all manner of outdoor activities. It is low stress and an excellent holiday destination for a budget family holiday. Why put up with all the grief of the average tourist trap when you can bring the kids to Limousin?

You step back in time fifty years when you step into Limousin.

More about Limousin

Legends of Limousin: Land of Wolves and Witches

Oradour-sur-Glane A Memorial to World War II

Why Buy Property in Limousin

Rochechouart, Land of the Meteorite

The Route of Richard the Lion Heart

Limousin: A Favourite Holiday Destination for Families

Where is Limousin?

Videix, 87600 Videix, France

get directions

Les Trois Chenes, Limousin, France

Ryanair flies from Limoges airport Bellevue

Limoges airport
Limoges airport | Source

Tip No. 2 Take advantage of low cost flights to Limoges

There are several low cost airlines that service this part of France. The nearest airports to us are Limoges and Angouleme. We also use Bordeaux, Poitiers, La Rochelle and Bergerac. Check out Ryanair and bmibaby.

Ryanair offers cheap and sometimes entirely free (YES, TOTALLY FREE) flights from Britain to Limoges.

Tips for a Ryanair budget flight:

  • Ask a friend to help you navigate the Ryanair web site 
  • Travel light, they charge for baggage
  • Read their baggage instructions very carefully. Weigh and measure your bags carefully. If you cheat you pay.
  • Make sure you un-check their insurance if you don't want it. They hide the 'no insurance' option in the middle of a long list
  • Un-check priority boarding - it isn't much of an advantage
  • Make sure you do you on-line check-in before your flight or they sting you for that at the airport
  • Take your own food and drink. You can't take liquids through but you can fill a bottle with water on the other side of security

To give you some idea of the prices, I've take a few samples at the time of writing (January 2011), but you should keep an eye on their web site for the frequent bargains, and yes, in the past, a friend did book totally free flights.

For more information and help with navigation through a tricky web site and on-line booking system Ryanair - What you need to know about cutting costs of budget flights

Rail travel and ferry crossings

Much of the above applies to rail travel and ferry crossings except I doubt you'll get them free. On the other hand, the luggage charges don't apply.

Examples of Ryanair fares to Limoges (Remember this is the basic price, and you have to allow for all the additional charges, fees and taxes)

Flights from
Stansted London
Wed 9th Feb return Wed16 Feb
Wed 8th June return Wed 15th June
£53, 98
Monday 5th Sept return Monday 19th Sept

Tip No. 3 Check out car hire bargains

If you stay in Limoges, you can walk around the city or take the bus. You can get a train to some of the towns and villages around Limoges, but otherwise public transport is all but non-existent in the countryside so car hire is your only real option. You can hire a car and pick it up from Limoges Airport or train station for less than £200 for a week, based on a search using a British driver aged 40. Check out the web sites below for further details.

One of the biggest benefits of Limousin is that there is no traffic outside Limoges; no parking problems, no parking charges except in the city centre, and even then I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how little they charge.

Tip No. 4 Take a Kindle

Travel cheap and travel light; why carry all those books when you can take your favourite literary friend - Kindle? I belong to a reading group in Limousin, and our members love, love, love their 'reading devices'. Not like reading from a screen at all, so no eye-ache. If you're a voracious reader, what do you do with all those paper books? Where do you store them all and how green are they? Think of all those trees.

I worried about how much it was going to cost me for the books, but so many are free. All those published long enough ago to be out of copyright, so you'll have a world of Classics at the touch of a key.

New books though, are not all that cheap, but this seems to be an anomaly which sould be rectified, but even so, you're not losing anything, are you?

Limousin in Autumn
Limousin in Autumn | Source

Tip No. 5 Travel outside peak times

While flights and rail travel are not very expensive at peak times, they are much reduced during the low season. The difference in price between high and low season is much more pronounced for accommodation. The French take their vacations between 15 July and 20 August so try to avoid these times. If you can avoid the whole of July and August, you'll find the charges cheaper still!

Limousin is a picture in spring, and super in autumn and winter too.

Limousin is beautiful in winter too

Les Trois Chenes Gite

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Three star gite with three bedrooms and large, enclosed garden. Sleeps 7 adults.
Three star gite with three bedrooms and large, enclosed garden. Sleeps 7 adults.
Three star gite with three bedrooms and large, enclosed garden. Sleeps 7 adults. | Source

Tip No.6 Take advantage of bargain holiday accommodation

Holiday accommodation in Limousin is great value. To give you a rough idea of what you can expect to spend I've carried out a search on hotels, guest houses, holiday cottages (otherwise known as gites or vacation rentals) and camp sites in Limousin for the cheapest prices to give you an idea of a starting point.

Please note: I am biased, and am blatantly advertising our tourist accommodation, so I've included our tariffs, however, rest assured, I am also trying to give you an honest and clear picture of the pricing structure in the area.

Price check for January 2012

Accommodation 2 people
Prices from
Double room in Hotel
60 euros (Breakfast Not included)
Double room in Bed and Breakfast
55 euros (Breakfast included)
Gite sleeps 2 adults
80 euros per week
Adult 4.50 euros per day
* * Les Trois Chenes 2 star B&B * *
60 euros Double room per night (Breakfast included)
* * * Les Trois Chenes 3 star Gite * * * Sleeps 7 adults
310 - 635 euros per week
This is for 7 people and we have three bedrooms each with ensuite bathrooms so a family group or number of friends can easily split the cost.
Buy porcelain by the kilo!
Buy porcelain by the kilo! | Source

Tip No. 7 Do a spot of bargain shopping

Go on a 'porcelain-by-the-kilo' shopping spree. If you're shopping for that special present, you'll have no trouble finding something to suite your taste and your pocket. You can buy from bijoux boutiques in the centre of Limoges, but why not see if you can find a snip in one of the many factory outlets both in and around Limoges? In some of these factories you can watch the porcelain being made, visit kilns and see displays of materials and the history of porcelain.

Have a look at these articles:

Where to buy Limoges Porcelain in Limousin

White Plates of Limoges

Berger Lamps

Limoges Porcelain Boxes

Vide grenier Videix
Vide grenier Videix | Source

Bag a bargain in flea markets and 'Vide Greniers'

Vide greniers, or empty your attic , are big events here and most towns and villages host one every year. The great thing about them is that all the junk is French junk and so looks wonderfully exciting. Here you can buy all sorts of rural and agricultural 'stuff' and go back with a car-load of goodies bought for next to nothing.

Parquei pai, Rochechouart
Parquei pai, Rochechouart | Source

Tip No. 8 No such thing as a free lunch ....?

... but there are quite a few good cheap lunch spots in our corner of Limousin.To save cash always go for the 'ouvrier' or workers lunch served in many restaurants Monday - Friday 12h00 where you can buy a slap-up three or even four course meal for about 11 euros. They might even include wine. The supermarket restaurants are also good value. LeClerc and especially the Toquenelle at Saint Junien Carrefour - real French food at cafeteria prices.

Food is a serious matter in France and no less so in Limousin and in the Charente, south west France. The lakes of the Haute Charente have their share of excellent restaurants to suit all tastes.

We also have tons of food festivals, markets and local fetes which revolve around food, wine and other drinks

Medieval festival Rochechouart
Medieval festival Rochechouart | Source

Tip No. 9 Find free things to do

Now those do exist! Here is a list of fab free things to do in Limousin:

  • Walking and hiking
  • Swimming in the lakes
  • Playing on the beach
  • Cycling (free if you have your own bike)
  • Following the castle trail - Route of Richard the Lion Heart
  • Visiting local markets
  • Fetes and festivals
  • Porcelain shop and factory tours
  • Farm visits
  • There are always free exhibitions of art and craft
  • Explore towns and villages
  • Enjoy window shopping
  • Playground and parks for the kids
  • Forage for sweet chestnuts, mushrooms and other edible fungi

The kids love the water sports
The kids love the water sports | Source

Tip No. 10 Discover bargain things to do

Some things are not entirely free but are great bargains and here are just a few:

  • Fishing. Permits are cheap and easy to obtain
  • Boating, kayaking, Canoëing and windsurfing at Videix Nautical Centre
  • Hire a bike
  • The kids will love to play with giant tyre floats and pedalos

This List Will Grow!

There are just so many things to see and do in Limousin and the surrounding departments, even free things, that I'm sure this list will grow and grow so keep your eyes on it. If you have anything to add I'd love to hear from you; just leave a message in the box below.

In the meantime, why not write your own pages on HubPages absolutely FREE? Join now

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You can buy this poster and many other gifts with pictures of Limousin from my online store. You can customise them all for that personal touch.
You can buy this poster and many other gifts with pictures of Limousin from my online store. You can customise them all for that personal touch. | Source

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