Pedal through history in France
Delve into French history on a Softies holiday, from the beaches of Normandy and the lavender fields of Provence to the majestic châteaux of the Loire.Read more
We have a bulging address book of the most charming, individual, luxurious, historic hotels in rural France. But as no two hotels are the same, how do you know what to expect? Here's a rough guide to the types of accommodation we use:
Family-run, rural hotel-restaurants
Many of our hoteliers are fourth, fifth – one's even seventh – generation. They take great pride in their heritage and traditions. Expect oak-panelled receptions, fabric-covered walls and bidets in the bathroom - all unmistakeably vrai français.
Dinner is likely to be silver service, formal dining with professional waiting staff. Your food will have creamy sauces with delicate touches: all beautifully presented and utterly delicious.
Often the accommodation has been built around the reputation of the restaurant. Rooms will be immaculate, comfortable and lavishly decorated but don't be surprised if they aren't very large.
Try our cycling tours in the Mayenne for some great family hotels, including the first we ever used.
Often in very old or historic buildings, our hotels tend to be in the heart of the medieval old town. Many have been in the same family for decades, if not centuries. Your evening meals will be booked in our favourite restaurants a short stroll away. There may not be a pool but we look for pretty courtyards where you can enjoy an aperitif before supper.
Our cycling holidays in the Loire offer some great stays right in the centre of the action.
Chateaux and luxury chambre d'hôtes.
Increasingly chateau owners are inviting guests to enjoy the style and elegance of their wonderful homes. Expect substantial grounds, pools, bags of history and beautifully proportioned bedrooms. Some even have their own vineyards.
We only use hotels where the food is wonderful but don't expect a menu. Instead, sit back, relax, and delight in each course as it is presented to you.
We recommend our cycling holidays in the Dordogne for great chateaux stays.
These aren't just 'Wow' but utterly 'Wowee!' They are achingly elegant, often grand in appearance with lots of rooms and usually a large and busy restaurant. You will be made very welcome – even as you stand in sweaty shorts in the marble foyer waiting for your key - but you may not meet the owner.
What about the star rating?
Thirty years ago we booked mainly two-star hotels. Now our itineraries consist of almost exclusively three and four star accommodation.
Be careful now not to put too much store by the star ratings. While they may tell you what facilities you'll find (four stars mean you can expect a dressing gown!) it doesn't rate the things we value, such as being independently owned, a warm welcome, or a taste of real France. For that you need to go back to the Softies address book.Back To Blog
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