Knowing that we have a lot to learn we started by asking the people around us about their experience of holidays in France. We put together a quick questionnaire and asked family and friends to help spread the word. We wanted to hear from people who had visited France to find out how, why, where etc. Amazingly within a few days 67 people had answered our 10 simple questions.
Firstly we asked how recently people had spent a holiday in France. A third had been in the last 12 months, confirming France as the world’s most popular holiday destination. Interestingly, another third of respondents had last visited France more than 10 years ago – perhaps we can tempt them back.
Nearly 35% had visited Brittany, Normandy and the north of France, 20% Paris, 23% the south and the Pyrenees, just 7% visited central France and the Atlantic coast, with the remainder either scattered around the country or moving about, often camping.
By far the most common means of getting to France from the UK was by car and ferry (45%) with a further 18% using the train and public transport, 18% arriving via aeroplane and hiring a car and the remainder a mixture of the above and Euro Tunnel.
People stayed in a variety of accommodation including 21% hotel, 21% camping, 20% staying in holiday rentals (Gite) and Airbnb, 15% staying with family and friends and just 6% using chambres d’hôtes – which doesn’t bode well for our plans but could reflect the relatively recent growth of the B&B sector in France.
Overwhelmingly travellers made their own holiday arrangements with only 10% using a traditional travel agent. Some people (7.5%) set off and booked things as they went along. Nearly 25% asked friends and family for tips on where to go, others browsed the Internet with a list of criteria in mind and the rest were returning to familiar places.
We asked people to rank which factors were most important to them in deciding where in France to visit. Top of the list was the region of France and its characteristics or reputation followed closely by the type and quality of accommodation available. Climate was next with, perhaps surprisingly, travel distance, flying or driving, the least important.
When choosing accommodation access to plenty of outdoor space and being within walking distance of restaurants and shops were the most important considerations, followed by access to a swimming pool, spacious rooms and an easy drive to a supermarket.
More than 52% of people stayed in the same place for the duration of their holiday, using it as a base to explore, whilst 30% were content to stay close to their accommodation and relax. The rest moved around the country, often cycling and camping on the way.
Finally, 50% of respondents said they’d like to receive details of our new holiday accommodation when it is ready to open and left their details.