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French Fancies

Given that insurance company Aon France are offering tourists a money-back guarantee if it rains on holiday, France could be the most savvy place to holiday in these uncertain weather times. See below for top bargain breaks in Paris, camping on the coast and a classy chateaux stay.

Paris via Eurostar

Paris is first up, and Eurostar gets my vote: efficient, environmentally sound and a bargain with prices starting from £59 return. September availability for the £59 deal is surprisingly decent given the Eurostar's overly promoted 'mini break, big difference' campaign. Once there, try a boutique hostel for budget luxury. Mama Shelter is a former car park in Paris's up and coming 20th arrondissement made new by a flash team including product designer Philippe Starck. It's made up of more than 170 private rooms ranging from a basic single to the Mama Suite which comes with a living room and terrace. All sport iMacs (plus free wireless), luxury bedding and fittings. Rooms start from £70 a night.

West France: NoirmoutierSaint Emilion and Bergerac: Chateau Carbonneau

Between the sea and the forest
Sailing and sunbathing meet woodland activities at Camping Indigo's Noirmoutier site in the west of France. The island of Noirmoutier on the Vendee coast features a protected forest and the sandy Sableaux beach so you can pitch your tent for a ocean or pine forest view. The best deal is on rented accommodation in a roomy wood and canvas tent - forget sleeping bags, this beast comes with mattresses, a gas stove, fridge, table and even pop-up armchairs. There's 30% off in September with prices around £30 a night for a tent that sleeps five.

A classy tipple
If a tent (no matter how sturdy) isn't quite your bag, how about a relaxing stay at a Bordeaux vineyard between Saint Emilion and Bergerac. Make it that bit more special by staying at a chateaux such as Chateau Carbonneau. This gorgeous house has a pool, garden terrace and is catered using local produce and, of course, local wines. Large rooms start at a very modest £95 for a double in peak season.

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