Provence and the Côte d'Azur region has perhaps the most varied range of accommodation anywhere in France, spanning the spectrum from super-luxury hotels with dreamy views of the coast to cosy little cottages nestled among vineyards and lavender fields. There's somewhere to suit all tastes and budgets – unfortunately, the region's charms are no secret, and in summer, prices skyrocket and rooms are scarce.
Hotels in France are rated from one to five stars: one and two stars are basic, while four and five stars offer luxury services such as pools, room service and a concierge. Elevators (ascenseurs) are generally only found in bigger hotels. Triples and quads are widely available, and good for families. Breakfast is nearly always extra, costing anything from €7 to €30 per person. Wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee) is available nearly everywhere, and generally provided for free.
Note that, in France, 'ground floor' (rez de chaussée) refers to the floor at street level; the '1st floor' is the floor above that.
Chambres d’hôtes are the French version of a B&B. Many are on farms, wineries and historic properties, and the top places now rival hotels in terms of luxury and design. Breakfast is included in the price, and many places serve dinner (known as table d’hôte).
Hostels in France vary in standard from hip to threadbare. You don't have to be young to stay in one, although rates are cheaper if you're under 26.
Sheets are provided, but sleeping bags are not allowed. In big cities, hostels are sometimes quite a long way from the city centre. Most hostels have a kitchen for guests' use.
Two other types of hostels are gîtes d'étape (basic lodges for hikers) and gîtes de refuge (high mountain huts).
The French are big on camping, but they favour sites that are more like holiday parks, with swimming pool, shop, playground for the kids and (most importantly) a decent restaurant. Most cities and large towns have a camping municipal (municipal campsite) – basic, but good for cutting costs.
Most campgrounds only open between April and October. Standard rates quoted are usually for two adults with a tent and car. Electric hook-ups are available at many sites; some also have chalets or bungalows for hire. Camping sauvage (wild camping) is illegal.
Who hasn't dreamt of living in an old Provençal farmhouse or a Côte d'Azur villa with a magnificent pool? Self-catering is a great option, particularly for families or those seeking to experience 'life as a local'. Most places come with a fully equipped kitchen, and many have a pool (sometimes shared with other guests).
Tourist offices generally keep lists of studios, apartments and villas to rent. The usual home-share sites have an increasing presence in Provence and the Côte d'Azur.
Logis de France (www.logishotels.com) An umbrella organisation for small, independent hotels, often with a decent restaurant.
iGuide (www.iguide-hotels.com) Charming, quirky hotels and B&Bs.
Relais & Châteaux (www.relaischateaux.com) Luxury and historic hotels.
Fleurs de Soleil (www.fleursdesoleil.fr) Quality chambres d’hôte.
Bienvenue à la Ferme (www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com) Farmstays.
The following are France's two official organisations.
Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (www.fuaj.org)
Ligue Française pour les Auberges de la Jeunesse (www.auberges-de-jeunesse.com)
Camping en France (www.camping.fr) Pan-France campsite listings.
HPA Guide (http://camping.hpaguide.com) Good family-friendly campsite guide.
Cabanes de France (http://www.cabanes-de-france.com) Treehouses for wannabe Tarzans and Janes.
Gîtes de France (www.gites-de-france-paca.com) Authentic self-catering accommodation.
Gîtes Panda (www.gites-panda.fr) Self-catering and B&Bs near nature reserves.
Sawdays (www.sawdays.co.uk) Handpicked self-catering and B&B listings.
Joie de Vivre (www.jdvholidays.com) Premium villas.
One Off Places (www.oneoffplaces.co.uk/destinations/Europe/France/Provence-Cote-dAzur) Quirky and unusual properties, from eco-houses to windmills.
Vintage Travel (www.vintagetravel.co.uk) Villas with pools.