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Post Office survey gets it wrong

Posted on 28 July 2008 by

Post Office survey gets it wrong

Surveys which are used to generate stories for newspapers should always be taken with a pinch of salt. The Post Office released the results of their own poll this weekend, proclaiming France one of Europe’s most expensive tourism destinations.


A flurry of checks from angry Francophiles later and the results were quickly discredited. We found that holidays cost less, family favourites are free, car hire is slightly less than other destinations and attractions in France are well priced. Here’s what the industry has to say:


Martyn Sumners, Association of British Travel Organisers to France

 “Labelling France as ‘significantly less family-friendly’ is not just wide of the mark, it is practically libellous. We would be interested to see the exact examples used by the Post Office for comparison in this survey. Holiday destinations, such as Brittany, Normandy, the western coast etc…, are cheaper than Paris or St Tropez. Also, why include car hire, when a typical family will take their own to France. If you remove car hire from the figures for France it will clearly be the best value destination by some margin. Being able to take a car full of essentials is one of the many attractions for a family and with peak channel crossings still available for under £40 each way per car it is much better value, easier and less stressful than taking the family to the airport. Airport parking could cost that alone.”


Daniel Johnson, siblu holidays:

“The favourite family attractions such as huge beaches, pretty towns and stunning scenery are absolutely free.


Our bookings at siblu holiday parcs are up this summer because our customers are finding lots of great value deals. A week in August at Domaine de Kerlann in Brittany, for example, costs from £987 for a family of up to five staying in a two-bedroom mobile home (that’s less than £200 per person and includes Dover-Calais ferries).


This is at a holiday parc with indoor and outdoor pools, sports pitches, tennis courts, playgrounds, three different children’s clubs and entertainment in the evening, all of which is free. This compares really well to the real cost of a family beach holiday in Greece or Spain, where many of these extras won’t be included.”


Iris Matthews, Matthews Holidays

I have just taken time out to price up car hire in Spain, Greece, Turkey and France, each time for an Economy grade car.


Car Hire prices taken from actual quotes on the Europcar Website today:

  • Barcleona Airport £131
  • Athens Airport £245
  • Anatayla Airport £247
  • Nantes Airport £241


Another less than accurate comparison in my view was the cost of visiting various attractions. The actual prices, according to their official websites, are fairly consistent:

  • Alhambra Palace (Spain): €12.00 per adult and €6 euros to see the gardens. Children over 8 pay the adult price
  • Acropolis (Greece): €12 per adult, children under 19 go free
  • Eiffel Tower: €12.00 per adult and €6.70 per child (3-11 years) to go as far as the summit. To go to the second stage is €7.80 per adult and €4.30 per child
  • Ephesus: You need to join a specialist tour because it is such a large area to cover


Brian Rees, P&O Ferries

“Last time I looked at a fish menu in Greece I nearly fainted at the cost.  You can eat a seafood platter fit for a king in France priced sensibly because it is normal fare.  A modestly priced Menu du Jour in France offers incredible value.


Some of the most appealing attractions are free: the great surf beaches on the Atlantic.  The Alps are spectacular by most standards.  And it’s France isn’t it?  That’s the point.  To sip a glass of Champagne in Champagne, you have to go to…..Champagne, just a three hour drive from Calais and stunning scenery at this time of year when the vines are in full growth. 


The French are activity mad and incredibly family orientated.  Just one example:  parc de loisirs all over the place that just scream out to families: free. You pull up, get the baguette and brie out of the car that you’ve bought for, wow,  a couple of euros, picnic amidst it all and wonder why anybody would put a family through a package tour to Greece.


Almost half the cars sold in the UK are now diesels: every time we diesel drivers fill up in France we get a pleasant surprise as it is still cheap compared to the UK.”


Mark Hallett,  Grape Escapes:
I would challenge the fact that cultural sites are more expensive in France. The cost of entry to a world class chateau in the Loire Valley versus UK castles is a case in point:


Loire Valley:

  • Chambord high season adult €9.50
  • Chenonceau high season adult €10.00
  • Villandry high season adult €9


  • Leeds Castle adult £15
  • Warwick Castle adult £17.95
  • Tower of London £16.50

Amusement parks are less of a saving but still cheaper than the UK

  • Futuroscope adult 33€
  • Parc Asterix adult 39€



  • Alton Towers adult £35
  • Chessington World of Adventures adult £32  



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