Essential money-saving hacks for cheap holidays to FranceCategorized | Discover France, Featured

Essential money-saving hacks for cheap holidays to France

Posted on 07 November 2018 by

07.11.2018
Essential money-saving hacks for cheap holidays to France

If you want to cut your holiday costs without sacrificing quality, here’s our guide to the best money saving hacks for cheap holidays in France. If you’ve got your own cost cutting tips, add them in the comments below.

1/ For the latest deals, sign up to marketing emails

For news of exclusive savings, flash offers and the launch of new discounts, sign up to emails from all the providers you think you’ll use for your holiday. That includes Siblu for your accommodation, plus travel companies, car hire firms, attractions and even travel insurance suppliers. You can then cost up your holiday to get a base price and wait to see if any savings arrive in your inbox.

Our tip is to set yourself a deadline for booking each element of your holiday, so that you don’t risk losing the accommodation or travel options you really want. If a money-saving email pops through in the time you’ve allowed, you’re ready to go.

If you’re really good at planning, you could also make a note of when deals emails appear and use this as a guide to the discounts that might come your way next year. Companies don’t always work to the same timetable, but it can give you an idea of what you might expect in the future.

2/ Travel early or late

With multiple crossings every day, the short ferry crossings on routes such as Dover to Calais, or the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais have daily peak and off-peak times when people are more or less likely to travel. So if you can stomach a very early morning crossing or go after eight at night, you could cut your costs by around 20% (around £20 each way) on the ferries. For Le Shuttle, savings of around £10 each way are possible if you are travelling late at night.

It also pays to be committed to your travel and book a non-flexible ticket, which means you can’t cancel or make any changes. In return for this commitment, you’ll save around £150 each way over Eurotunnel’s Flexi-Plus option (saving £300 on a return trip) and around £20 each way over P&O’s Standard Flexi service.

The closer to the date of departure it gets, the more ferries fill up and the fewer lower-priced tickets there are left, so book early to get the best deals.

If your preference is to take a western channel ferry crossing from Portsmouth or Plymouth to save on drive times to France’s west coast, all Siblu customers and homeowners can get a 5% discount on ferry crossings with Brittany Ferries; all you need is your holiday booking reference, or to follow this link to the ferries’ section of our website.

3/ Track flight prices to snap up lower costs

Although you might think flight prices start low and increase as seats are sold, they actually fluctuate all the time. According to flight-savings website Skyscanner, the cheapest flight prices are usually available between five and eight weeks before departure, although if you’re flying with the family in August you may want to book early to confirm your place on the plane.

One neat trick you can use is to track the prices of your preferred flights so you know immediately when they go up or down. Skyscanner offers the option to create a price alert to help you take advantage of dips.

4/ Book car hire early and consider all the charges

If you’re flying to a Siblu holiday village it’s likely you’ll want to book a hire car to explore the local region. The tip here is to book as early as you can – never leave it to the last-minute or book at the airport. Use a travel comparison website to quickly compare deals from different providers.

It’s also important to make sure there are no hidden charges or local taxes you need to consider for a true price. Also, if you want to add on extras such as sat nav or booster seats, check these costs up front so you can do a true price comparison.

Extra insurances are often offered when you hire a car, but you may not need them. Check with your insurance company to find out what cover you get from your existing policy, so that you don’t feel pressured into signing up for something you don’t need.

One of the biggest unplanned costs of car hire can be the charge companies make to fill up the tank if you return the car with petrol levels below full. They’ll always charge more than a service station, so find out where the closest petrol station to the airport is located and get there in plenty of time to top up yourself (see tip 7).

Loches in the Loire Valley

5/ Go for a lower-cost location

Where you stay makes a difference to the price you pay. France’s Mediterranean coast is usually most popular with families in search of the sun, so prices are usually a bit higher. However, west coast regions such as Charente Maritime and Aquitaine have almost as many hours of sun, beautiful warm weather and are usually a little cheaper. If you’re after pretty villages and history, Brittany is unbeatable, and Normandy has massive sandy beaches and surprisingly warm waters.

6/ Get the best exchange rates for your Euro

If you’re looking for value, the worst thing you can do is walk up on the day to one of the ‘bureaux de changes’ at the airport or train station, as the rates you get will be the poorest. A much better idea is to plan in advance and use the calculator on websites such as MoneySavingExperts’s travelmoneymax.com to compare tens of different vendors and find the best possible deal on your exchange.

If you don’t want to have to rely solely on cash, prepaid cards have exploded in popularity in recent years. They often allow you to track in real time exactly what you have spent, whilst removing anxiety over ATM or transaction fees when using your debit or credit card abroad.

7/ Use your phone to find the cheapest petrol

In a bid to encourage fuel retailers to be more competitive, the French government launched a price comparison website at Prix-carburants.gouv.fr/mobile. Once you’ve told it what kind of fuel you need, the site shows you locations of local petrol stations and their live prices. The website constantly updates data to give accurate information, and members of the public can report any changes they find, so you can be sure you’re getting the most bang for your euro.

8/ Ditch toll-roads for the scenic route

Motorways in France are often owned and operated by private companies who charge tolls to make use of them. If you want to avoid these extra costs, take the ‘routes nationales’ or ’N-roads’, the French equivalent of our A-roads. The top speed is slightly slower and the routes will be less direct, but that can often mean a much more scenic journey as a result.

9/ Buy attraction tickets in advance for cheaper online prices

If you know what attractions you want to visit during your holiday, it can pay to go online and book in advance as you’ll often be rewarded with discounts.

10/ Shop around for your supermarket

Whilst Carrefour is probably the best-known supermarket brand in France, it’s broadly equivalent to Tesco or Sainsbury’s, and therefore not the cheapest option available. Just like the UK, the French have both Aldi and Lidl, whilst a recent survey by consumer association UFC-Que Choisir found that the ‘E Leclerc’ chain has the cheapest overall prices for an average shopping basket.

It’s still always worth shopping around, as prices can sometimes change between different branches of the same supermarket just a few miles apart. You can often find lower prices in smaller, local stores, although beware that the choice of produce there will naturally be more limited.

11/ Save with self-catering

A big advantage of staying in a static caravan holiday home is that you get great cooking and storage facilities, so you can buy low-cost local specialities to make your own lunches and dinners. Of course, you’re on holiday so you won’t want to spend hours slaving over a stove, so come armed with a daily meal plan to take the pain out of your prep. Our tip is to Google some quick-to-cook ideas before your holiday, so you can bring over your essential ingredients to combine with tasty French grub from a local market. This minimises your costs and cuts out the stress of daily shop visits, and with the money you’ve saved you can plan in a few slap-up meals at the most appetising local restaurants.

Have you got your own money-saving tips for cheap holidays in France? Share them in the comments below.

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