Places to stay

Cotswolds staycation alternatives in France

If availability and cost has become a problem for a Cotswolds holiday why not consider some wonderful French alternatives, all accessible with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

The Cotswolds offers picturesque villages, walks across beautiful landscapes, and plenty of flora and fauna. However, you can find similar destinations in France, meaning rising costs and availability issues for a UK holiday are far easier to manage.

Just a short journey across the channel will leave you surrounded by stunning scenery, dotted with quintessential French towns and villages, for the full countryside experience.

Staycations in the Cotswolds

There’s a reason why artists such as Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner, and writers such as the Bronte sisters, set their work in the Cotswolds – it’s classic idyllic English countryside.

Popular destinations such as Bourton-on-the-water, Cirencester, and Painswick are always a great choice for a holiday in the UK. The history of the area and its immersion in lush green countryside are wonderful for any type of traveller from families to couples.

However, allow us to show you some equally wonderful parts of France.

View from a bridge of a beautiful French village with pink and purple flowers and green trees nearby

Discover the Limousin

Frances’s rural heart, this area is well and truly off the beaten track. Comprising the three departments of Creuse, Corrèze, and Haute-Vienne, it used to be an official region of France before it became subsumed into the larger Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Here you’ll find medieval hilltop villages and plenty of scenery to explore.

Rural Limousin

Remote and dotted with charming stone houses, Limousin will remind you of an old English village. It’s surrounded by green fields and valleys and forms part of west-central France. This region has the charming city of Limoges nearby that’s perfect for visiting during your stay.

Rochechouart castle

Château de Rochechouart is a beautiful castle in the historic Limousin originally built in the 12th century and also parts of the 15th century. Today it is the home of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rochechouart, where you can admire pieces from local and international artists.

Rochechouart itself is a town not far from Limoges that labels itself as 'the countryside of the meteorite'. This is because 214 million years ago an enormous six billion tonne meteorite hit the town, although little evidence now remains.

The medieval monastery at Ahun

Along the banks of the river Creuse, the charming village of Moutier-d'Ahun proudly displays its Romanesque church that was once a Benedictine monastery. Gothic architecture and Baroque wood panelling from the 17th century are just two of its aesthetically pleasing features, and a stroll through the village after you visit will give you a chance to cross a medieval bridge.

The red sandstone buildings of Collonges la Rouge

Like something straight from a fairytale, this medieval hamlet is filled with red turreted homes, hence its name. Meander the narrow alleys to discover a handful of shops and a church, which has a unique history of its own. Built from the 11th to the 15th centuries on the foundations of the 8th century abbey, the church is remarkable in that it has two naves, where local Protestants and Catholics conducted their services simultaneously in the 16th century.

a village of white stone buildings set into a hill

The Luberon in Provence

Swathes of lavender fields, orchards, and vineyards, this part of France is utterly beautiful. The Luberon in central Provence is a mountain range consisting of the Grand Luberon, the Petit Luberon, and the Luberon Oriental. It’s an historic region between Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, with some of the most attractive medieval villages that will certainly remind you of the Cotswolds back home.

The hill-top villages of Luberon

Luberon’s village-perché are not to be missed. There are plenty to choose from but some of our favourites include L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue dubbed the "Venice of Provence," a lively market town, split in two by the Morgue River and Gordes, which was once a ghost town of derelict buildings until Avignon's film festival celebrated its picture-perfect setting that directors now long to set their stories in.

bridge overlooking a pretty French building with greenery and flowers surrounding a river flowing past

Hiking and biking in the Luberon

You don’t have to be a serious hiker or cycling fanatic to enjoy the trails here. Many take you through farms and orchards, but you can challenge yourself in places too thanks to the hilly landscapes. The Ochres trail leads hikers though a vibrant orange and red landscape formed by former open-pit ochre quarries, while the vineyard path Oppède loops through Luberon’s vast network of vineyards.

Luberon markets

Thanks to the many towns and villages dotted across the scenery, markets are in good supply here, selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothing and souvenirs. There is a market on every day of the week across the region, so the best way to choose is to check the official website for Luberon Tourism, which has a handy market calendar.

A Triumphal Arch and Cenotaph made from grey and white stone from Roman ruins standing in the sunshine amongst trees

The hidden secrets of Les Alpilles

This is an area northwest of the Bouches du Rhône department in Provence which is made up of a chain of limestone mountains between the River Durance and the Rhône. It’s been a Parc Naturel Régional since 2007 which is best explored on foot.

Saint Remy de Provence, Les Alpilles

This was once the home of Vincent Van Gogh during his stay at St. Paul de Mausole. Here he created 150 paintings, including The Starry Night and Bedroom in Arles. You can stay in the room which inspired the latter work during your stay at 2, Place Lamartine in Arles, known as the Yellow House.

Glanum and Les Antiques

Glanum is an archaeological site, located just outside the centre of St Remy de Provence where two well-preserved Roman structures known as “Les Antiques” lie. These monuments, the Mausoleum and the oldest triumphal arch in France, were classified as national monuments in 1840. The Mausoleum was built in 30-20 BC as a funeral monument for a local citizen who fought with Caesar’s army and received honorary Roman citizenship. The Arc de Triomphe, built in 10-25 AD was the former gateway to the Glanum community.

Eygalières Les Alpilles

Eyguières is a small town at the eastern edge of the Alpilles which legend says has the largest number of wells and fountains in the area. This may well be true as it is part of the Regional Natural Park of Alpilles and owes its name to the presence of three sources on its territory, the Borme, Gilouse, and Font Vella. Enjoy wondering past the hotel Gardin, the aqueduct mill or the beautiful 11th century St. Vérédème chapel.

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If you love the seaside, but are finding it tricky to stay in Cornwall, why not consider Brittany as an alternative? Our guide will help you to make the most of your trip. Or maybe you prefer a city break? Aix-en-Provence is a similar location to Bath as we explore in our guide Staycation or Abroad.

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