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France beats UK in value stakes

Posted on 13 January 2009 by Dan Johnson

I’ve seen recent news coverage about the cost of the Euro and how it makes holidaying in the Eurozone more expensive.

Well, it is true that you don’t get as much for your pound as last year, but a holiday to France is still much cheaper for a family than a stay in the UK.

And the pound has fallen against all currencies, so it’s worth less against the dollar, lira and dirham too.

For a family going on holiday, the key things to remember are that:
1/ France is the cheapest foreign country to travel to (Dover to Calais ferries are really cheap), and
2/ you’ll get more value from a holiday in France than by staying in the UK

Let’s look at the facts:
The weather is better in France
When it rains in the UK, you have to pay for your kids to go swimming, visit the cinema, go to an arcade. France is much further south and the weather will be better, so your children get their kicks from using the swimming pools, water slides, tennis courts, football pitches, basketball courts, kid’s clubs that are all included as part of your holiday cost – there’s no need to pay extra.

And of course the big beaches, picturesque towns, striking coastline, gorgeous countryside are absolutely free too.

And the cost of travel is heading downhill
Nick Trend in the Telegraph reported recently that the cost of getting to France is much less now than in previous years. In 1992 Dover to Calais fares for a family with car were around £300. Now, if you can travel midweek, siblu will include the same crossing in our holiday cost. Travel at the weekend and the extra cost starts from just £24 each way.

Restaurants are cheaper in France (and the food is better)
If you want a family meal in the UK for around £12 each, you’ll have to head to a chip shop, burger joint or greasy café. If you want the same in France, just look out for the menu de jour at most restaurants where you’ll be served with a delicious two or three course meal, with lots of fresh, local specialities. You can eat a seafood platter fit for a king in France priced sensibly because it is normal fare.

Self catering is fun, easy and saves money
One of my favourite things about France is the farmer’s markets, which sell locally grown fruit and vegetables, have stalls that are filled with seafood and offer a wide range of meats. Visit to one of these and you can stock up with lots of food for your fridge. If you think that cooking sounds too much like hard work then check out our siblu food pages, or the Destination Cooking website, for lots of ideas for tasty meals you can prepare quickly and easily in your mobile home.

Don’t believe the surveys
The Post Office has got it in for France.  Each year they publish a survey which says prices are on the up. There latest results said a bottle of Heineken beer costs £3.81 and coke costs £3.34 – well I’ve never seen them that high. I always expect to pay a bit less in France for alcohol, cheese, bread, fruit, veg – most things that I want when I’m on holiday. As with all countries, go for the local specialities and you’ll get the best deals and best quality.

And wine deserves its own paragraph
Know more walking aimlessly up and down the wine aisle at your local supermarket, in France you can buy wine directly from the domains where the vines are grown and the drink is produced.

Many offer free entry and wine tasting and the best are in the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and Languedoc.

And to pop the fizz into your UK return, stock up on Champagne because there is lots more choice and good bottles cost around a tiny €12.

You’re even sneaking in a bit of free language learning…
…and the kid’s don’t know it. What better way to back up, or even kick-start, your children’s interest in a foreign language than to have them mixing freely with real live foreigners? After a couple days playing football or splashing round a pool in the company of French children, “bonjour, je m’appelle…” will be second nature to your youngsters.

What are your tips for getting the best value out of your holiday?

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