10 of the best affordable French hotels – The Telegraph

Hop across the channel and you'll find France knows how to do budget and mid-range hotels far better than us. Here are 10 great options
When is a family budget hotel not a family budget hotel? When it is in the heart of champagne country, the desk staff cheerfully book you a table at the local brasserie and there are Parisian boulangerie-class croissants adorning your breakfast table.
My partner Tim spent the holidays of his youth at French budget and mid-range chain hotels – Campaniles, Ibises and Novotels – and has long declared that they have a certain “je ne sais quoi” compared with their British counterparts. The “quoi” hinges, I suspect, on the quality of the continental breakfasts.
I first came across the cheaper end of these distinctive hospitality brands on a sixth-form trip to Lille, when I bedded down in a Formule 1. This budget brand was launched in 1984 by Accor (the French group behind Ibis and Novotel) and has since been rebranded as F1. Thanks to its bright primary colours, high bunk beds and industrial aesthetics, my night at one felt like stepping onto a sci-fi movie set and was remarkable to a girl raised on the orangey chintz of British caravans and B&Bs.
With the cost of living crisis leaving less cash for travel, French budget and mid-scale chain hotels – reliable, respectably foodie and often better located than their British cousins – are coming into their own, says Cyrille Veindergheinst, regional director for France at lastminute.com. “When they book Ibises, Logis Hotels, Kyriads and Campaniles, customers are looking for value and convenience in places they know will be clean, safe, comfortable and have decent food.” He adds that Britons would do well to mimic French tourists’ methods of nabbing a bargain: “French travellers are savvy and sign up to brand membership programmes for preferential booking and discounts.”
In June, Tim and I and our five-year-old son, Leo, drove the length of France, stopping en route at hotels including Novotels, F1s and Ibis Styles – a step up from Ibis Budget that launched in 1999, with more characterful decor, breakfast included as standard and larger family rooms. This wasn’t just a nostalgia trip: we worked out that we saved around £60 a night compared to the average mid-range French city-centre hotel (and that is not factoring in the breakfast croissants we pocketed as car snacks). 
The market for these hotels has proliferated since the 1980s, with new launches including solid two-star offering Kyriad (2018) and FastHotels (which launched in 1994 and has great locations in Normandy and the Alps). We found these boltholes to be much as we remembered them, decked out in cheerful colours, with king-sized and twin beds (though it took some getting used to that they aren’t always made up for you). 
Here are 10 of the best affordable French hotels to discover yourself.
Three hours south of Calais, the city of Reims is the classic first-night pitstop in France en route to the Côte. A better bet, though, is Épernay – a further 30 minutes south, but still in the heart of the champagne region. This Ibis is a classic of the genre, with 66 clean and sunlit en-suite rooms, a 24-hour bar snack service and a breakfast buffet featuring good quality bread and preserves plus rocket-fuel coffee. Parking is on the street (validated at the front desk) and you are a short stroll from the bars, restaurants and fizz-sampling of Avenue de Champagne.
Doubles from £77, B&B (00 33 3265 11451; all.accor.com)
FastHotel offers rooms for one to three people, with overhead bunks in some – and FastHotel Caen is one of the best, excellently located for Normandy’s historic beaches, painted a jolly mint green and with some rooms featuring balconies. The on-site bistro serves hearty French classics such as cassoulet and boeuf  bourguignon (7pm-8pm, Monday to Thursday) and continental breakfast (£5.50) comes with oven-crisp croissants and baguettes. Receptionist Aurelie can’t do enough to help you.
Doubles from £44 (00 33 2317 53550; fasthotel.com)
This is a great bet if you are visiting Paris and need a car park (£4 a night), access to the city centre (a 20-minute metro ride to the 11th arrondissement) and want to avoid driving into Paris’s congested heart. Première Classe is one of the budget brands from the Louvre Group (which also has Kyriad and Campanile in its portfolio), with cheap and cheerful doubles or twins, though the brand is in the throes of an upgrade. A breakfast of hot drinks, cereals, orange juice, bread, butter and jam is available for £5.50.
Doubles from £40, room only (00 33 8927 07145; premiereclasse.com)
Not to be confused with the American boutique hipster group, these ACE Hôtels are purpose-built two-stars outside city centres. All have large beds and en suites, plus a 24-hour human receptionist (not a given with this sort of accommodation) and free parking as standard. This ACE is in the historic city of Troyes, a photogenic pit stop with cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and gothic churches. It is another handy port of call two hours south-east of Paris, and is also dog friendly (a £5.50 charge for your pooch). Breakfast costs £7, featuring fruit, cereal and pastries.
Doubles from £47, room only (00 33 3257 62515; ace-hotel.com)
F1s can vary in terms of service and amenities, but they all ace it on cost (averaging around £30 a night). F1 Tinqueux – in the western suburbs of Reims, with easy access from the autoroute – is a reliable bet, with freshly painted rooms, free parking and friendly service. Pod showers and loos are down the corridor, although all rooms have a wash basin and premium rooms do have en suites. The buffet breakfast, served in a bustling central atrium (where fellow diners tend to be convivial sorts), costs £3 extra (a spread of breads, pastries and preserves).
Doubles from £27, room only (00 33 3260 41220; accor.com)
France has 279 B&B-brand hotels, many of them dotted along the sun-blessed Mediterranean coastline. This branch is in Biot, a charming fortified village near Antibes, and features pretty pastel decor (unusual in the normal budget scheme of whites and brights), with parking and en suites as standard. Breakfast costs £6 for fruits, cereals, fresh bread and cooked options including eggs and bacon, and there is even a food truck outside for simple lunches and suppers. Pets can join you for a £3 charge.
Doubles from £50, room only (00 33 2983 37529; hotel-bb.com)
Perfect for families visiting Disneyland Paris, Campanile Val de France features a Disney store, a merry-go-round and gaming room and includes free 10-minute shuttles to the park. There are grown-up perks on offer too from this robust three-star brand, including three on-site dining options: Le Marché Gourmand with its gourmet evening buffet (the bank of French cheeses being a particular highlight); a high-grade sushi bar; and a burger joint with options including burger venison with well-seasoned frites. As with all of France’s 300 Campaniles, there are en suites with bathtubs. The breakfast buffet (£11 extra for adults, though free with some room categories, and for children) comes with all the works, including saucisson  and rissoles (posh French hash browns).
Doubles from £85 (00 33 1604 36161; val-de-france.campanile.com)
Novotels can vary hugely in their offerings, with many falling into the higher end of the mid-range bracket (upwards of £200 a night). This bargain four-star is set in a 19th-century chateau with 35 hectares of grounds. It is 40 minutes from Paris centre and 20 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport and certainly at the higher end of mid-range when it comes to amenities, with a terrace and outdoor pool, a sauna, petting horse and pétanque to play. Recently renovated rooms are spacious with good-sized en suites. Breakfast, at £15, is a buffet of pastries and cold cuts.
Doubles from £85 (00 33 1340 83535; all.accor.com)
With 260 three-stars across France, and a new super-budget offering, Kyriad DIRECT, this reliable Louvre Hotels brand offers touches usually found in higher-grade hotels. Think memory-foam pillows, pools and gyms in most properties, plus rooms adorned with modern art. This branch in the Bordeaux region is pet-friendly, with free parking and homely rooms featuring dark wood furnishings, a coffee maker and kettle. Breakfast is £5 extra.
Doubles from £60, room only (00 33 5563 82223; bordeaux-lormont.kyriad.com)
This budget marque, formerly called ETAP, was rebranded a few years ago as Ibis Budget and its 438 hotels underwent a full-estate renovation in 2019. Many are located on the Paris orbital road, offering no-frills accommodation for around £50 a night, but this one is half a mile from the Croisette boulevard in Cannes and has super comfy “Ibis sweet beds”. An extensive breakfast buffet comes in at just under £6.
Doubles from £44, room only (00 33 8926 81297; all.accor.com)
“We stayed in F1s throughout France on our way to a festival in Spain a few years ago and fell for the brand. Though basic, they suited us perfectly as a young, child-free couple. Now that we have our daughter, F1s are a good family option too, with double rooms that have a third bed as a bunk and a sense of fun.”
“My family stayed in a Campanile to go to Disneyland Paris last month and we found it perfect for our needs; I would definitely book the brand again. It is great value and made things very easy for parents putting up with their kids’ demands to see Mickey et al.”
“We have stayed at Novotels since our children were young in the 1990s. We were fans back then as they had on-site parking and lots of family facilities. Rouen Novotel Sud, a regular stop for us, has a great swimming pool and a tennis court. The food, while simple, is usually good quality. Steak frites are a menu classic.”
For more places to stay, check out our guide to the best hotels in France
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
Explore hotels that have been tried, tested and rated by our experts
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