Useful Websites and Information for Travel in France ... and beyond!

Hire cars, lease cars, train and bus connections, local flights, VISA requirements, Paris apartments,
Survival French, Travel Insurance that DOES cover you for COVID situations,
SIM CARDS for your mobile, Amazon KINDLE travel guides and more.
We have done the hard work of researching the web and collating the results for you.
See below for OUR choice of extremely useful websites and pertinent information.

French Holiday Cottages for hire
Self-Catered Apartments Cottages and Villas in France

French Cottages not only supplies high quality rental accommodations in France's best locations but will also assist you to plan your whole European trip in many other ways. This webpage itself is but one example. Consider the idea of booking your entire French holiday with us using our villages as hub bases in each region.

Book your Paris apartment at this website of our associate Gail Boisclair
PARIS Apartments

We suggest that if you think you may also visit rural France, then you should consider booking these weeks with French Cottages first, then top and tail Paris around those weeks. Here's why... it enables you to get back to Paris on the Friday, then stay the odd days till your flight leaves the following week. This saves worrying about missing your flight as you will already be close to Paris CDG AIRPORT. 

Hire and Lease Vehicles website based in Sydney Australia
DriveAway Car
Hire and Lease

Excellent car hire website based in Sydney. You can arrange all types of hire cars as well as lease cars (Renault Eurodrive, Peugeot Open Europe, Citroen) from this company. Always organise your hire car in advance whenever possible.
For pickup and return centres for lease deals with Renault see
Information about licences and international driving permits.

There are many websites for booking trains in France but this one is not only in English but it actually works!
TGV fast trains

There are many websites for booking trains in France but this one is not only in English but it actually works!
Moreover, it also accepts foreign credit cards and even PayPal.
We found the prices on this site the lowest - lower even than the French version OUIGO which is supposed to be the budget booking site. You have to laugh sometimes!

Skyscanner is a very useful and easy-to-use website for finding flights in Europe
FLIGHTS made easy

has lately become our preferred website for finding and booking flights to Europe and within Europe.
Some flights I looked up here were thousands cheaper than what a travel agent quoted me for the EXACT SAME FLIGHT!
Another tip for finding suitable flights is simply to look up the departure or destination airport website on Google.
You can then usually find what routes are flown by which airlines as well as times and fares.

The LIO bus service network is an excellent way to explore Provence"
LIO GARD bus network in Provence (French)

The LIOGARD bus network is an efficient and comfortable bus service that connects our village with Avignon and Nîmes several times a day.
Some of the services stop at the new Avignon TGV station, but only in the Summer. Outside of Summer you need to catch the bus at the Central Station. There is a shuttle bus between the TGV station and the central station. You should be able to book your ticket from Paris right through to the central station. Nîmes has more frequent services, especially in the afternoon so taking the TGV to Nîmes is really the best option, not Avignon, if you won't have a car. But make sure you book to go to Nîmes CENTRAL station, not Nîmes PONT DU GARD station which is nowhere near Nîmes nor the Pont du Gard!

Travel Insurance should be booked well in advance of your trip, not the last week before you go!
TRAVEL Insurance (now)

We strongly recommend that you take out travel-insurance now, well in advance of your trip: that way your insurance company will pay you a refund of the full amount in the event of unavoidable cancellation of any services you have booked. It is not cheaper the later you leave it. Be sure to check the policy details if you decide to use your credit card company's insurance coverage; many are excellent but there can be circumstances that nullify your coverage if you are not vigilant.
The company we suggest here DID cover people who were forced to cancel due to COVID19 for example.
With most self-catered accommodations, insurance is obligatory - you'll find this in their fine print. This is because house insurance in France does not cover foreign guests staying there. What if you burnt their house down...?

Buy your Travellers' SIM CARD in advance on this site before you go to France

One option is to buy a tourist SIM CARD in advance from this site. When you arrive in France, put it in your mobile phone and away you go. They deliver world-wide, which is a big plus.
You need to make sure that the phone has been previously
unlocked by the Telco you are with. All companies MUST unlock your phone by law so don't take 'non' for an answer!

Most French supermarkets sell cheap SIM cards, just like back home. SEE FOR EXAMPLE

OR VISIT AN E.LECLERC SUPERMARKET once you arrive and purchase one on the spot.

Schengen Visa Calculator site
VISAS and the Schengen Calculator

For reasons hard to understand, countries in the European zone don't want you to have a long holiday and spend more money with them!

It never occurred to the bureaucrats that the world is really quite large and that Australia, New Zealand and such countries are not just a quick dash over the Channel.

We like to have a good, long, well-earned holiday after making such a long journey and really see the rich variety on offer in France and Europe generally.

So if you are one of these travellers and plan to stay over 90 days, even by one day, check out this calculator.

What is ETIAS?
A must for travellers
from 2025

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a visa waiver program which is expected to come into effect early in 2025. The aim of ETIAS Europe is to strengthen the borders of the Schengen Area by pre-checking the data of travelers before they enter the zone.

Citizens from any of the 60 eligible countries will need to complete the online application and obtain an approved ETIAS visa waiver before entering any of the Schengen countries. The program will be very similar to the ESTA visa waiver which many need to obtain before travelling to the US.
The ETIAS visa waiver will allow eligible travelers to enter the Schengen Area for short-term stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business. Visitors can move freely between the Schengen countries as there are no internal hard borders within the zone.
ETIAS EU is considered to be a visa waiver program and there will be no need to physically go to an embassy or consulate. The whole process will be completed online. And the ETIAS visa waver lasts for three years and allows multiple entries into the Schengen Zone during that period.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements
Countries with which Australia has reciprocal health care agreements

While it is important to have adequate Travel Insurance cover such as our recommended company Insure and Go (which DOES provide cover for COVID related travel incidents), it's useful to know that Australia also has reciprocal health care agreements in place with certain European countries including:
the Netherlands
New Zealand
the Republic of Ireland
To find out what each of these countries will cover you for in their medical and hospital systems, do visit this page. 

Learn some basic french here
SURVIVAL FRENCH for travellers

French Lessons Australia offer a brilliant on-line course to learn some basic French for your forthcoming trip.
But you can get your feet wet now by visiting our Travellers' Survival French page right on this website. Learn a few basic words and phrases then visit French Lessons Australia to go in a little deeper. It could become a life-long hobby!

A few of the most common words needed:
Bonjour = Hello
Au-revoir = Good-bye
S'il vous plaît = Please
Merci = Thank you
Parlez-vous Anglais = Do you speak English?
Je suis Australien = I am Australian (man saying this)

How to get from anywhere to anywhere
Discover how to get anywhere

Our guests often ask questions like,
"At the end of our stay with you in Provence we need to get to Florence by public transport; what is the best way to do this?"

Well, there are many options available and this amazing website will quickly figure them out for you no matter what your starting point and destination happen to be. 

It might even be Rome to Rio!

The site also indicates expected prices, duration of the trip, and shows you on a map the details of whichever option you hover your mouse on.

And if you ARE travelling to Florence, make sure you look at the wonderfully unique place to stay on the next panel, Villa Bencistà  >>.

Villa Bencista - view of Florence from the beautiful garden terrace
STAY AT Villa Bencista FIESOLE Florence

We discovered this gem of a place over 25 years ago and have returned there faithfully every year - like migratory birds!
So much better that staying in Florence itself, Villa Bencista is perched on the hillside of Fiesole overlooking the entire city. You just jump on the number 7 bus which passes by every 20 minutes or so
(leaving your car in Bencista's free carpark), explore Florence by day then escape the madding crowds by returning in the early evening for a wine or two on the beautiful and tranquil terrace. There are excellent restaurants in
nearby Fiesole where you will enjoy some tantilizing Tuscan cuisine.
It is a unique place - family run and old-fashioned in the best sense by the wonderfully kind Simone family and their equally wonderful staff.

Just go!
Mention David Hitchins and Bryan Stark from French Cottages referred you.

A great little travel guide by Valerie Kable
French Travel Dreams by
Valérie Kable

Make your French Travel dreams a reality with the aid of this informative and amusing guide!
Are you feeling overwhelmed by an overabundance of Travel and Accommodation websites out there?

Are you tempted to put your holiday plans into the hands of a Travel Agent or book a commercial tour/cruise because organising them yourself just seems too hard?

In this book Valérie shares with you her secret of just how easy it is to organise your own Tour de France (not the bike one!) and how to have a most wonderful time without depending on any of those commercial tours you can’t help hearing about every day on TV or in the media.
Be master of your own French Travel destiny!
Buy this book on Amazon Kindle for the special price of $4.99 AUD then jump in and follow her advice.
We promise that you will be thrilled you did. 

Loulabelle's Francofiles Podcasts and Blogs on all subjects French
Loulabelle's BLOG AND PODCASTS on all things French

This informative and entertaining blog site has many fascinating articles about what to see or visit in Paris and... beyond!

As a visitor to Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles you will be part of a wonderful journey. Some of the blog posts there will reflect the chats in the podcast, and your feedback on this site will influence new episodes to come. From listening to all of you and finding out what you want to explore, I can share my own story as well as some of yours!

To view the pictures for each blog visit @loulabelles_francofiles on Instagram. FrancoFilers can tag any socials #loulabellesfrancofiles whenever posting your French memories so we can enjoy our FrancoFilers pics together!

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