EVEN though the exchange rate of the pound against the euro is close to last summer’s level, tour firms, hoteliers and ferry companies are promoting discounted deals in France this summer.
Prices are being slashed in a bid to attract early bookings from the nine million Britons who cross the Channel each year.
Xavier Schouller, of the French Alps specialist Peak Retreats, said: “Although air fares look cheap, car hire prices have risen sharply in the past couple of years. So self-drivers who book self-catering holidays in cheaper regions of France and out-of-season ski areas will spend less, especially if they fill up at hypermarkets on the way to their holiday home.
“In summer, coastal areas in France (Normandy, Brittany, Atlantic coast, Languedoc, Cote D’Azur) tend to be more popular with the French and other Europeans and therefore the most expensive.
“A number of areas don’t attract large numbers, but have much to offer: the Alps are a good example, with stunning scenery, good weather, massive choice of family activities and cheap, good-quality accommodation. But areas such as Limousin, Midi-Pyrenees, Alsace and Burgundy are great value too,” he adds.
Patrick Daly at the Association of British Tour Operators to France (ABTOF) says: “The exchange rate has dropped back to 1.10, so it is vital to make the most of every pound you convert.”
Although it is usually cheapest to let travel firms book your ferry, the ferry lines have interesting early booking deals available. Better deals are particularly available for travellers going midweek at the least popular times.
French-owned LD Lines has stepped up services on the Dover-Boulogne run with the addition of the 22,000-tonne Norman Bridge to carry 130 cars and 40 trucks.
Subject to availability, peak-season crossings in the summer start at £24 each way for car and up to nine passengers, while short break returns for car and four passengers start at £28.
LD launches its Ramsgate-Ostend service from March 27 with fares from £27 single for car and up to nine passengers.