Travel resources for you
Over the years we have used various websites and apps to help plan and book our travel, not only to France but to other destinations as well. On this page, we list a range of travel resources that you might like to consider using yourself to book or plan part or all of your trip. All the brands listed on this page have been used by ourselves and we explain our experience with them and our thoughts as we go through them.
By clicking on one of the links on this page we may earn a small commission from the company for the referral. This does not impact the price you will pay for the booking in any way. This helps us fund the site to enable us to continue providing more great content about cycling in France and traveling with a bike.
This first section relates to airlines and or booking engines that we have used to research and book flights over the years. When flying with our bicycles we have used Qantas, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Easyjet. In all instances, we have had a positive experience and would have no hesitation in recommending any of these airlines.
Skyscanner has become our first port of call when it comes to researching flights. It is a great tool to find the best price and travel time for your flight from one point. The search results show you the Best flight, cheapest for fastest time, Cheapest, the least expensive option, and finally the Quickest, which as the name suggests is the fastest time. Once you select your preferred price you will be shown a list of websites where you can book the fare. In most instances, booking directly with the airline is the best option. You are also shown a range of websites and their price for the fare should you wish to choose a different site that you are a member of or prefer over the cheapest option.
The website gives you the ability to search hotels and car rental prices in the same way as airfares. We have not used the website for this purpose as we have alternative websites we use for hotels and car rental.
Expedia is a great option to book an entire trip in one location. It allows you to search flights and then add hotels and car rentals and package them up for a single price. Plenty of accommodation options to choose from at different price points. You can of course just book flights or hotels separately if that is your preference.
SNCF Connect is where you purchase tickets for trains in France. We have used the service extensively and have never had any problems with it. We have written an article about catching trains in France which you can look at here. There is also an app you can download and use to store your e-tickets once you have purchased them. Tickets can only be purchased between 2 and 3 months in advance depending on the service.
When holidaying in France we have stayed at a range of hotels and apartments. In this section, we list some of the places we have stayed and would happily recommend. France has styles of accommodation to suit every traveler and budget so you won’t have any problem in finding something to suit.
Booking.com is always a great option for researching and booking hotels and is where we look first when not booking directly with a property we already know. These days it not only includes hotels but apartments and rooms as well. They always have a great selection of rooms to choose from and the booking process is nice and easy through their mobile app. They offer discounts on rooms and upgrades if you book a certain number of room nights with them.
Accor hotels are a French company and there is no shortage of options to choose from around the country. Included are brands such as Sofitel, Mecure, Novotel, Mantra, Adagio, and Ibis to name a few. We have used them extensively for a long time, both in France and other countries around the world. They always provide a range of options depending on your budget and location.
Au Primrose Hotel
We have stayed at the Au Primrose hotel in Argeles Gazost since 2013 and it has been our go-to place for stays in the Pyrenees. It is set up for cyclists and has a bike storage room, maintenance area, and bike wash area. It offers half board accommodation of dinner, bed, and breakfast and you will not be disappointed. Phillipe, who runs the hotel, is a wealth of knowledge about cycling the Pyrenees and has lived here his entire life.
The hotel is popular with tour groups and you need to book early to secure your room for the busy summer period. It is a great melting pot of cyclists from all over the world and we have met many people over the years from different countries.
The Pyrenees Cycling Lodge
The Pyrenees Cycling lodge is located in Saint-Savin, a beautiful village located in the Haute Pyrenees. We stayed here in September 2021 and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a cycling base in the Pyrenees. It is owned and operated by keen cyclists Mark and Niamh from Scotland and Ireland who moved here in 2017. You have access to secure bike storage, maintenance, and wash down areas as well as plenty of great local knowledge about cycling in the region. The lodge offers half board with dinner, bed, and breakfast, and a range of accommodation options.
We have rented a car many times in France and other countries and have used Europcar, Hertz, and Enterprise for the most part. It always pays to shop around as the difference between the different companies can be significant. We generally deal directly with car rental companies rather than using other services.
The car rental companies charge a fortune to reduce the damage excess to zero. We have found that it can nearly double the price you have to pay for the rental. Rentalcover.com is a third-party insurer that takes care of the car rental excess for a much more reasonable price. For example, insurance to reduce the excess to zero on a 7-day rental with one of the major companies is €195 while Rentalcover.com charges only €50.
While we have used this service numerous times we have not been in a situation where we have had to make a claim. They do score 5 stars on Trust Pilot and there are many positive reviews from people who have had to claim.
Tours and attractions
Booking tours and attractions before you leave home has many advantages. If you are traveling in the busy summer period it can save you hours of queuing for tickets and ensures you do not miss out on seeing what you want.
Viator.com has been in existence for over 20 years selling tickets to tours and attractions around the world. It enables you to purchase tickets before you travel so you don’t need to stand in queues. We have used them numerous times over the years and have always been happy we have.
Over the years we have used a variety of methods for obtaining foreign exchange. In the early days, we simply used our Australian bank accounts and withdrew money from ATMs in France. This attracted fees from the bank and the exchange rates were never all that great. We then moved to a travel card, where we loaded funds onto the card and it was converted into Euro. While overseas it operated like a debit card and has worked in most places.
We have been using Wise.com for the past 12 months, primarily to transfer funds from Australia to Europe. They offer fantastic exchange rates compared to the banks which makes a significant difference to the amount you receive. You can order a debit card to use and set up accounts in multiple currencies if you are traveling to different countries. To date, we have not used the card ourselves so cannot comment on that aspect. We have been more than happy with their currency exchange service.