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Still not had your summer holiday?

bmibaby’s flights to France are a cheap way to get abroad, and they're good for more than just city breaks

Published on September 15th 2009.


Still not had your summer holiday?

It's about this time of year that those who didn't book a summer holiday start to crave sunshine and a change of scene. If you're ready to escape but can't get excited by the idea of a characterless package holiday, the budget airlines are a sound place to start. bmibaby is running flights from Manchester to two cities in the South of France throughout the autumn, and they're both convenient jumping-off points for holidays taking in sand and sea, beautiful rural scenery, or an outdoor adventure in the mountains.

One of the wines to try is the full-bodied red Cahors wine from the valleys around the market town of that name.

The flights run to Bordeaux, Toulouse – two cities worth visiting in their own right. But if you'd prefer to leave behind the traffic and concrete on your break, here's some ideas for chilled-out holidays in the surrounding areas.

Holidays from Bordeaux

Landes
This coastal region to the west of Bordeaux is home to miles of beaches and dense forests. The Atlantic waves make it a hotspot for surfers and watersports fans, but families also flock here for the clean sand around well-maintained resorts such as Capbreton and Biscarrosse. There's also several lakes in the area if the surf gets too high for swimming. Further inland, you'll find one of the largest forests in Europe centred around the Gascony Moors Natural Regional Park.

Dordogne
With pretty villages and medieval castles set amid gently rolling countryside, the Dordogne epitomises the appeal of rural France. It lies to the east of Bordeaux and makes a great holiday destination for people who enjoy history, good food and day-tripping between quaint towns. There's reputedly 1001 castles in the Dordogne as well as prehistoric settlements in the Vézère Valley while the regional produce at the many markets make them an attraction in themselves. This area is a popular destination for Brits (though the southern tip of the region is less so) but if you go at this time of year, the crowds are likely to be thinner.

Holidays from Toulouse

The Lot
Though not yet as well-trod as its neighbour the Dordogne, this region, which lies about an hour's train journey north of Toulouse, is attracting a growing number of holidaymakers thanks to its wooded countryside, dramatic gorges and vineyards. One of the wines to try is the full-bodied red Cahors wine from the valleys around the market town of that name, while one of the must-see sights is the village of Rocamadour which perches precariously on a cliff-side in the north of the region. It's one of many stunning villages in the area, including Saint-Cirq Lapopie and Loubressac.

Ariège
South of Toulouse, this is the stretch of countryside that leads up to the high peaks of the Pyrenees and the nation of Andorra which lies between France and Spain. If you're into outdoor pursuits, this is the place to go. There's lots of options for walkers with low level routes (you can hire a donkey if you think your legs aren't up for it) and for those with climbing experience, the long distance HRP path which follows the line of the peaks. Mountain biking, horse-riding, trout fishing, and snowsports also bring visitors to the area. Or if you're looking for a less energetic break, head to one of the therapeutic thermal spas at Aulus-les-Bains, Ax-les-Thermes or Ussat-les-Bains.

The destinations can be reached by train from Toulouse and Bordeaux, though car hire is recommended if you want to explore beyond the main towns, particularly in Ariège. bmibaby runs flights from Manchester to Bordeaux and Toulouse until the end of October. Go to www.bmibaby.com to book.

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lorenzoSeptember 15th 2009.

Stuff France. I've just booked me hols in Ibiza me...

snottyJanuary 21st 2010.

I'm booking my bmi flight straight away, I love France.

Cheap flights a go goJanuary 21st 2010.

Dordogne is amazing, one of the best places I've been to

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