The proprietors of French Cottages are David Hitchins and Bryan Stark, based in Melbourne, Australia

The Story of French Cottages: Part 2

Photo shows the library at L'Olivier Villa where I have read many a good book but so far failed to write any

Homes, not holiday houses!

As Lesley indicates in her little story, it’s not enough to have a house - you need a home.
A fully equipped home just like ‘back home’; one with a delightful French ambience; one that feels permanent and not like a stage set; one where everything works as it should; one that feels like it is yours.
The houses should be and are very cosy, attractive, cheery, comfortable and functional. Then you can really settle in happily and just enjoy living in one of the most beautiful places in France.
Having chosen a hub village in each of our regions, we then moved onto the finding, buying, renovating and equipping of a number of cottages - from large to small - in each.

(Photo shows the library at L'Olivier Villa where I have read many a good book but so far failed to write any.)

We did NOT pay this local Frenchman to do ride his bike here

Location (location, location!)

We chose the houses for their locations first: each had to be right in the historic centre, ‘within the walls’ so to speak so you can just stroll to the village centre. But they should also be in quiet and pleasant surroundings too. None of our cottages is on the main square -
that would be far too noisy - but they are very close by. People often say that they want a house ‘on the outskirts’ of a village but we realised
that this does not allow the same quality of experience as being right in the lifeblood of the town. After a good night at a restaurant, with perhaps one wine too many, you don’t want to be groping your way home in the dark to some lonely, peripheral cottage!

(We did NOT pay this local Frenchman to do this  >>>>)

Our kitchens rule!

Everything you need and then some supplied: no 'hidden extras'

Fully-equipped, beautiful and comfortable cottages where everything you need is supplied. Traditional in style, age and construction, they are nevertheless equipped with all the conveniences you would find in your own home: central heating, full kitchen with dishwasher, fridge, microwave, normal oven and cook top and full cutlery and crockery sets, laundry with washing machine, clothes dryer iron and an ironing board. Everything is at your fingertips with clear instructions in our comprehensive house manual and on each machine.
Private parking is included in all locations where easy, secure parking is not available just outside the cottage.
(Our kitchens rule!>>>)

One Bedroom at Le Séjour Cottage in Monpazier Dordogne

The living areas have books in English, a radio/CD or MP3 music player with music library supplied, television with a wide range of French and English language International satellite TV (not just CNN), games for children, an unrestricted telephone, free broadband internet and a house computer for surfing the web, checking emails, etc. Most houses have air-conditioning, either entirely or in the main bedrooms.
Easy Arrival: access to the house is by a digital lock with a unique code. This popular feature provides for security and great convenience. Your arrival time is therefore not critical (no appointments to keep) and there are no keys to juggle or lose

Top Service when you book with French Cottages

We offer service à la carte!
In each house there is a house manual with clear explanations and photographs so you will quickly master all appliances.
There is also a house book with suggested local tours, places to go, recommended restaurants, local medical and dental services where English is spoken, as well as secrets and discoveries made by previous guests. You are encouraged to add your own ideas and findings to this growing resource! Brochures of current events and activities are also Apart from feeling so much at home in this way, there will be one final element that will complete your French Cottages experience: SERVICE!

The Little Things Count!
As our guest we want you to have the very best holiday experience. 

100% holiday because you will...

  • Have all the comfort and convenience that you are used to in your own home
  • Find all the little household essentials waiting for you when you arrive
  • Experience a style of accommodation different to anything you’ve known before
  • Not have to worry about language difficulties
  • Not have to worry about parking
  • Not have any problems about keys (sophisticated and secure code locks)
  • Have full and free access in the cottage to a telephone and WiFi broadband internet for your iPad, Smartphone or laptop
  • Be fully informed of things to see and do, where to eat, where to shop, current festivals and special events, previous guest recommendations, etc. using our house book and personalised printed tour guides we provide with your directions booklet
  • Being able to rely upon English speaking assistance if the need arises by calling our hotline number and leaving a message. Our local manager will then call you back promptly
  • Receive a Welcome Basket of useful basic products including a bottle of wine!
  • Relax immediately into your new home because of how well we have prepared it for your stay
Neville looking at his map of France

I thought it was about time that I got a word in edgewise. (I’m Neville by the way!)

I wanted to say that many first time visitors to France, and even those who reckon they’re veterans like Les and I, often become bamboozled when trying to put together their itineraries. There are so many choices on offer! You might remember Les telling you that I am a retired number-cruncher and IT nerd - and proud of it! - and I cooked up my travel concept of network travel topology. When Les told me that this had
already been dreamed up by Bryan and David I was a bit peeved but I soon realised that these guys knew what they were talking about. And it makes a lot of sense using their network and their expertise instead of dealing with a whole bunch of travel operators: it’s a one-stop shop!
We soon found many other advantages ... but I’m beginning to steal their thunder so I better get back in my box and hand over back to them... (Bon Voyage when you do go!).

Star Topology

Plan your whole Itinerary with French Cottages
As people start to look at all the potential places to visit they quickly become overwhelmed with
an overabundance of information, pouring from the galaxy of websites out there, and before long
it turns into a serious case of information overload.
Then it gets messier. Which tours, trips, places etc to book first?
Which to leave till later? Which are really worth seeing? Which could be left out?

Picture shows Neville and Lesley arriving at their cheap gîte only to discover it has been sold by the English owner!


(Picture shows Neville and Lesley arriving at their cheap gîte
only to discover it has been sold by the English owner! >>>>>)

In recent years with the advent of the internet booking engines, many property owners who had heretofore never considered being hosts have jumped on what they see as an easy bandwagon for eking a few extra euros out of properties they have acquired, often via a legacy from a deceased relative.

A very small percentage of these hosts have a natural talent for this activity, but as for the rest, they have neither talent nor the necessary experience to service their clients in a professional manner.
Most of these operators of holiday rentals don't know what it means to be professional and don't understand that when they set their prices not all of the money they get is in fact theirs.
They forget about costs, or underestimate them.
This is why many such accommodations seem so cheap.

Then, when they DO find out they get a shock to see they are actually making a loss and so they discontinue, often with little warning to their future booked guests.

And sometimes they don't even have the courtesy to do that so the first time you learn of your accommodation being no longer available is the moment you arrive on their doorstep!

I think it is important to be aware of the following observation I made whilst in France recently,
which is that many small businesses including holiday rentals are talking of closing down their operations or have already done so due to rapidly escalating costs such as taxes, cleaning and especially energy costs.
The ones I spoke to were quite unconcerned about the fate of their future guests.
"C'est la vie", they more or less said.
Several such operators actually said this to me in recent months.
I expect this trend will accelerate when the rapidly rising costs and difficulty finding cleaning staff reaches a crisis point.
So do be careful if you do find something elsewhere on the web that it will still be in existence when the time comes to stay...

Discover the Real France with French Cottages Holidays

Your resource for organising the Best French Travel
Itinerary you’ll ever experience.


759 Rathdowne Street
North Carlton 3054


Phone: +61 (3) 8658 0799