Five tips for cheap family holidays in France

For those looking for cheap family holidays, France might not seem an obvious destination, but if you plan carefully the UK's nearest neighbour can be a bargain. There are still some great deals to be had away from the usual tourist trails. Just don't plan on rubbing shoulders with the millionaires on the Cote D'Azur.

Plan ahead for the best savings

Its proximity to the UK means that travel can provide substantial savings for those cheap family holidays to France. There are budget airline flights to most regions of France costing under £100 return when booked in advance. Alternatives include ferry deals, which can offer rock bottom prices for a family and car, or Eurostar train tickets which are discounted for advance bookings, and can be combined with onward train travel from Paris.

Avoid fashionable resorts in the South, where your Euros will only last five minutes. Instead focus on out-of-the-way beaches in Normandy, Brittany or down the Atlantic coast. The water is much cooler, but the beaches are quieter and the prices for accommodation and restaurants are noticeable lower.

A budget hotel chain offers a suitable alternative to expensive rental properties. France has numerous budget hotels, with chains like Formule 1, Fasthotel and Première Classe offering very reasonable deals on family rooms.Have your main meal at lunchtime. Many restaurants offer great deals on 'prix fixe' menus. Do as the locals do and take your time over a leisurely three course lunch, then just have a snack or a salad in the evening.

Alternatively, use the local markets to assemble a cheap beach or park picnic. With superb fruit, bread, cheese and cold meats available, this is a smart way to keep prices down.

Splash out now and then

Cheap family holidays in France can be all the more enjoyable if you relax the frugality once in a while. Allow the family one small extravagance each day. This can be an ice cream at the beach, a cocktail with dinner or a train excursion. When you are holidaying on a budget, these little treats become more significant.

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