TRY MY FIVE LINES
Chairman of the Travel Winter Guild
AT two-thirty one afternoon last August we stopped at La Sauvetat. a remote hamlet in the centre of France off the Route National 9 near Clermont Ferrand.
"Something to eat? . . . Of course you're not too late," said Madame Nicole, patronne of the tiny bistro.
The "something" was a copious hors d'oeuvres, an omelette, veal chops with vegetables, cheese. fruit, and unlimited wine at a cost of 30s. for the four of us.
This was typical of a dozen similar occasions in motoring down to the Mediterranean and back with my wife and two children at the peak of the holiday season.
Our only rules were to avoid main roads and to stay in the smallest hotels in the remotest places. We ate remarkably well, slept comfortably — average price per double room about 9s. and spent under £6 10s. each on meals and accommodation for six days' leisurely travelling.
ONE of the greatest joys about a holiday in France is that you can choose between simplicity and sophistication.
Here are some suggestions for five fairly distinct types of holiday:
1. THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA AND SUN BASKING HOLIDAY. Because our cornpatriots and other nationals by the hundred thousand squeeze into the 100 miles between Menton and Le Lavanou during July and August is not so much a sign that this famous coastline is "spoiled" as that these mid-summer invaders find some stoical pleasure in congested roads, packed beaches and overcrowded resorts.
To enjoy the beauty and elegant charm of the Riviera, go there in the two months before or after the mass invasion season: the hoteliers will welcome you with better service and lower prices, the weather is generally perfect and the sea. particularly in mid-September. is at its warmest.
2. THE CHANNEL (SPADE AND BUCKET) HOLIDAY. I have known Va rengeville. six miles from Dieppe, since my childhood days. It is a little straggling village with a few hotels and villas tucked away in woodlands overlooking the sea. 1
At one hotel. delightfully quiet
in a park of pines and a 10 minutes walk along lanes to the beach, en pension costs about 30s, a day at another almost on the beach, about Q.
In Brittany I thoroughly enjoyed Treheurden which is a gay little family Plage about two hours by road from St. Main Reckon from 30s. to around 45s. en pension at numerous small hotels. There are three beaches and a little fishing harbour.
3. THE ATLANTIC AND PAYS BASQUE HOLIDAY. The joy about staying somewhere along the Basque coasi between Bayonne and Hendaye is that you can combine the Atlantic roller and surfing sort of bathing with excusions to the soothing Basque countryside of green hills dotted with white washed villages and laced with streams and risers that are famous for trout and salmon
4. THE DEEP-IN-THECOUNTRY HOLIDAY. It always delights me to lind so much of France that so relatively few of us bother to discover. Here are some of the places where I would like to return for a longer stay.
To the wild Lozere and the village-like spa of Bagnols lea !tains at the end of a road that leads to nowhere with its thick walled houses clustered over a stream. There's nothing to do but fish --the trout almost ask to be caught! — or to go for glorious walks through the forest-clad foothills of the Cevennes, and then relax in a bath of hot and bubbly mineral water.
To the Ardeche, which so many motorists by-pass on their rush down the R.N.7 to the South. In the glorious Dordogne the pre-historic caverns near Les Fyzies, ancient Sarlat and the gastronomic centre of Perigeux are already becoming quite well known.
For anyone wanting to rent a furnished house or cottage in some remote corner of the French countryside. the Giles de France have a list of properties which you can take by the month for less than 02 during die season.
SELFISH . .
5. THE CORSICA HOLIDAY. I know it's a wickedly selfish thought — but thank goodness there are nothing like enough hotels on this superbly wild and romantic island. You can travel for miles along fantastically beautiful stretches of the coast road between Ajaccio and Calvi without seeing a single hotel or sign of building activity.