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

Hire cars, lease cars, train and bus connections, local flights, VISA requirements, Paris apartmentsSurvival French, Travel Insurance, SIM CARDS for your mobile,
Amazon KINDLE travel guides, Guide to the Alliance Française French Film Festival 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.

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.

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. 

GLOBAL CARS 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.

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!

FLIGHTS in EUROPE made easier

Excellent interactive map and website for finding flights in and out of France.
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. 

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.

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...?


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.

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.


Travelling in a French-speaking country is a must-do, whether it is for its culture, food, people, monuments or landscapes. With this Online Course for Travellers you will learn all the basics you need to know abroad: from the booking of a room to the ordering of food in a restaurant. Thanks to this online course, you can even learn travel key sentences from your tablet or laptop, whenever you have time for it. Check about some extra vocabulary while you stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower or quickly look at how to order a drink in a Quebec bar! Enjoy the most of your trip in a French-speaking country and jump into a hassle-free experience!

ON THE FOOD trail in Provence

With sufficient lead time, the sky's the limit with Winery Plus Platinum tours to the best vineyards in the southern Rhone, Provence and Languedoc. Private, exclusive visits and tastings, fabulous cooking classes, fine Michelin starred restaurants and even a catered lunch in the vineyard; whatever your fancy, we will do our best to satisfy your wishes. Also, they offer fully private regular tours if you prefer, for a supplement of 40€ per person. If you are staying with FRENCH COTTAGES then private at-home cooking classes can also be arranged with enough notice.

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)


It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are.
~ Ernest Hemingway

There are many opportunities in and around all our villages for cycling. Each hub village is in undulating and interestingly varied landscape. Bikes can be hired in all four of our locations on a casual basis.

Latest information for bicycle hire can be found out from
the Tourist office in all our villages.

See this blog by a past guest for first hand reports of what you can expect
(click here)
or, if you after a more elaborate tour organised by this excellent Australian company, visit their website now.


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

Topics range from the Paris Flea Market at St Ouen and other locations in rural France, to the Viaduct des Arts in the 12th Arrondissement, to the covered passages in central Paris to Gardens worth visiting in and around the capital and much, much more. Whet your appetite for your next trip to France!

Read the latest article here:

One of the best-loved outdoor spaces where Parisians like to hang out at any time of year is the elegant Place des Vosges, in the heart of the famous Marais district.

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.

Complete Tours of France

Many of our guests, like Lesley and Neville, experienced this revelation:
that they could actually create a wonderfully diverse and memorable French itinerary by simply going from one of our cottages in one hub
to the one in the next hub village. So simple!

If you look at where our hub villages are located, you will see that as bases for exploration, they actually cover a large portion of France.
Yet they are still within a pleasant and interesting day’s drive or train ride from each other so you can move from one to the next on changeover day.

A deeper cultural experience than Canal Boat or Bus Tours, self-catered itineraries
are actually much less 'hard work' and generally much cheaper at the end of the day.

Read more about it by clicking the button below.

What is ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a visa waiver program which is expected to come into effect by the end of 2021. 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.

Magnifique French Lessons and Tours

French lessons in Berwick, Melbourne as well as conducted tours in France by Alexandra Hamilton.
Wine Region Tour
(Nouvelle Aquitaine)
27th May - 5thJune 2020.
Be immersed in the majestic culture of France!
Wake up in a traditional, elegant farmhouse, in a picturesque wine region in the privacy of your own room. The accommodation and villages that will be explored are surrounded by wildflowers, rolling hills and narrow roads in the breathtaking countryside that this region has to offer.
Be chauffeured to local towns like La Rochelle, Perigueux, Saint Emilion, Aubeterre and many more small towns in and around the Dordogne region. The serenity means you will feel truly rejuvenated!
French locals accompany the small group for the duration of the tour. Tantalise your taste buds enjoying a Michelin Star dinner- gourmet French food at its finest. 
To book into an information session and obtain a copy of the itinerary click or tap here

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. 

French Classes in Melbourne with ANITA

If you live near the centre of Melbourne and are looking for a friendly way to enjoy learning French, then Anita's classes are for you!
They take place most weekday evenings at 6:30pm or 8:30pm, Saturday and Monday mornings.
(In North Carlton - not far from the French Cottages office)
All levels from beginners to advanced are catered for. It's very relaxed: you sit around a table with cheese, wine and learn the natural way "à la Française".
Anita, a native speaker, is an accomplished teacher who enjoys her classes and loves helping her students become confident with the language.
Her method is a fine balance between explanations and just casually chatting about the events of the week or the news of the world.
I can recommend it: it worked for me! I now go about France taking care of our cottages and chatting with the locals thanks to Anita.

Insure and Go: The top-rating Travel Insurer that supports certain policy holders who are cancelling due to the Coronavirus (*conditions apply: e.g. you must have purchased your policy before Jan 31st at 4pm and you must have selected the 'natural disasters' option)

Here is the response from InsureandGo to several of our own clients.
"Due to the Australian Government level 4 ban of “Do Not Travel” on all overseas travel – as described via the Smarttraveller website ( effective 18/03/2020,
under our policies we’re able to offer the following:
If you have NOT commenced your trip:
You may be eligible to claim, under Section A:
Cancelling your trip before departure.
If you intend to claim:
- Please ensure you have all documentation ready for your claim before lodgement.
· You are only eligible to claim if your policy was purchased prior to 4PM AEDST 31/01/2020 which is when the COVID-19 pandemic was excluded under all of our insurance products
· You would need to have all relevant documentation, proof of any out of pocket expenses and have sought a refund from all travel service providers to try and recover your costs before submitting
· All claims must be submitted online, via our website (Instructions on how to claim details are provided below)
- If your policy is within the 14 day cooling off period, you’re welcome to cancel and refund your policy, please reply to this email confirming:
· 1. There are no claims under the policy?
· 2. You have not travelled yet?
- Unfortunately, there is no possibility of a refund if your policy is outside of this period with no exceptions.
- Please note we are also unable to place any policies on hold or reschedule any policies due the travel ban.  

Alliance Française French Film Festival

Every year from early March to early April the Alliance Française stages its wonderful festival of the latest films from France (as well as a few revered classics) in most of the major capital cities in Australia. Some of these films end up being shown in Art House cinemas but many excellent ones do NOT get another airing in theatres, which is why you should not miss this event!

Here is a quote from the official festival site from H.E. Mr. Christophe Penot, Ambassador of France to Australia.
The Alliance Française French Film Festival is returning for another incredible season following last year’s exceptional 30th Anniversary. Representing the largest festival dedicated to French films in the world, the 2019’s edition attracted more than 195,000 spectators and further cemented a place in the hearts and minds of Australians. The success of the Alliance Française French Film Festival is undoubtedly a reflection of the unwavering friendship between France and Australia, underpinned by lasting partnerships that have been reinforced thanks to sponsors, partners, distributors, Palace Cinemas and Unifrance.
Now the official site is very informative and you should book your tickets online there BUT if you are trying to coordinate more than just a handful of sessions with friends it can be a logistical nightmare as we found out!
To make life easier you can visit this page (CLICK OR TAP HERE) where the sessions, films and venues are laid in a convenient manner to simplify your planning then jump over to the official site to read more and make bookings.

Survival French for Travellers

The Importance of Speaking (just a little) French! ("juste un peu").
Learn some simple French expressions before you go and be assured of a warm reception!

Discover the Real France with French Cottages

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

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