WHERE TO STAY

Make the most of a chance to see birds and wildlife, in our ac­com­mo­da­tion guide.

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LES RIZIÈRES Saintes-maries-de-la-mer, Bouches-du-rhône

The ex­pan­sive wet­lands of the Ca­mar­gue are a year-round haven for wildlife, in par­tic­u­lar white horses and pink flamin­gos, both of which can be eas­ily ac­cessed from this tran­quil ho­tel. Set among marshes, Les Rizières fea­tures four bright, ground-floor rooms with en-suite bath­rooms, flat screen TVS and free Wi-fi. There is an out­door pool where you can take a dip af­ter your wildlife ad­ven­tures. The ho­tel is three kilo­me­tres north of the sea­side town of Saintes-maries-de-la-mer and a few min­utes’ walk from a sta­ble of­fer­ing tours on the white horses. Dou­bles from €80, break­fast €11pp. Tel: (Fr) 4 90 97 91 91 lesrizieres-ca­mar­gue.com

HÔ­TEL DE L’OUSTAOU DE PORQUEROLLES Porquerolles, Var

The azure wa­ters around the is­land of Porquerolles are part of the Pe­la­gos Sanc­tu­ary, a mar­itime zone stretch­ing from south­ern France to Italy that helps to pro­tect marine mam­mals. Dol­phins, sperm whales and even fin whales have all been spot­ted along the coast near the is­land. This brightly coloured ho­tel has five air-con­di­tioned rooms, all with flat-screen TVS, and a restau­rant serv­ing Provençal cui­sine. The ho­tel is 50 me­tres from the port, where dol­phin-watch­ing boat trips leave reg­u­larly dur­ing the sum­mer. Dou­bles from €100 in­clud­ing break­fast. Tel: (Fr) 4 94 58 30 13 www.oustaou.com

LA BOCAGÈRE Lac du Der, Marne

This charm­ing, tim­ber-framed ho­tel in the vil­lage of Sainte-marie-du-lacNuise­ment lies on the shores of Lac du Der, one of Europe’s largest ar­ti­fi­cial lakes. The lake is a pop­u­lar stop­ping-off point for mi­grat­ing cranes, which are among 200 species of bird you might see here. The wa­ters are also home to 45 species of drag­on­fly and 20 species of frogs. The ho­tel has 13 en-suite bed­rooms, which look out on to a flower-filled gar­den, and a small restau­rant serv­ing din­ner (book­ing com­pul­sory). Dou­bles from €57, break­fast €7.50pp. Tel: (Fr) 3 26 72 37 40 au­berge.labocagere.free.fr

CABANE DU TRAPPEUR Ayzac-ost, Hautes-pyrénées

Get up close to wolves and other wild an­i­mals at this wood cabin set within the Pyrénées An­i­mal Park. Guests have the op­por­tu­nity to meet Ma­cho and Sakia, the al­pha males in the park’s wolf pack, as well as learn about the sto­ries and leg­ends sur­round­ing these an­i­mals. The cabin can ac­com­mo­date up to four peo­ple and comes with a dou­ble bed and bunk bed as well as a mod­ern en-suite bath­room. There is a small din­ing area with ta­ble and chairs where you take break­fast and din­ner (you will find both meals in the cabin on your ar­rival), and ob­ser­va­tion points look­ing on to the wolves’ en­clo­sure. Prices from €350 based on two shar­ing, in­clud­ing break­fast, din­ner and park en­try. Tel: (Fr) 5 62 97 91 07 parc-an­i­malier-pyre­nees.com

HÔ­TEL OPAL’INN Boulogne-sur-mer, Pas-de-calais

This three-star ho­tel over­look­ing the beach is a few min­utes’ walk from the Nau­si­caa Na­tional Sea Cen­tre, one of north­ern France’s most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions. You will be able to see a huge range of sea crea­tures – in­clud­ing 140 sharks – and then go on to ex­plore the wildlife on the Côte d’opale. The Opal’inn’s 42 rooms are dec­o­rated in pas­tel colours and have flat-screen TVS and free Wi-fi; nearly half have sea views. Break­fast is served in the din­ing area for an ad­di­tional charge. The cen­tre of Boulogne is a 15-minute stroll. Dou­bles from €91. Tel: (Fr) 3 21 32 15 15 ho­tel-opalinn.com

LA MERTÉNIE Mi­joux, Jura

This ren­o­vated B&B sur­rounded by forested moun­tains and grass­land is the per­fect base for ex­plor­ing wild Jura – and you might be lucky enough to spot a lynx. The 19th-cen­tury house com­prises a fam­ily suite with room for five peo­ple, and two dou­ble bed­rooms, all of which are en-suite. A con­ti­nen­tal break­fast of home-made jams and crêpes is served in the ground-floor room over­look­ing the moun­tains. The vil­lage of Mi­joux is five kilo­me­tres away, where you will find a restau­rant and a gro­cery shop. Dou­bles from €80 in­clud­ing break­fast. Tel: (Fr) 6 28 33 90 05 marte­nie.cmon­site.fr

TERRE DE BRENNE Azay-le-fer­ron, In­dre

For any­one look­ing to en­joy a good walk and see dif­fer­ent types of but­ter­flies and in­sects, this rus­tic ho­tel within the Brenne re­gional park makes a con­ve­nient base. Set in a for­mer coach­ing inn on the edge of Azay-le-fer­ron, the ho­tel has nine tra­di­tion­ally dec­o­rated en-suite bed­rooms, two of which have been spe­cially adapted for those with re­duced mo­bil­ity. There is a restau­rant serv­ing lo­cal dishes, as well as a bar and tea room. The Haute Touche zo­o­log­i­cal park na­ture re­serve, which houses 75 species of mam­mals and 31 types of bird, is six kilo­me­tres away. Dou­bles from €70, break­fast €7.50pp. Tel: (Fr) 2 54 39 24 43 parc-na­turel-brenne.fr

LE BOAT Jarnac, Char­ente

Sail along the idyl­lic River Char­ente at your own pace ad­mir­ing ot­ters, herons and other wa­tery wildlife on this self-drive cruis­ing hol­i­day. The jour­ney be­gins in Jarnac and passes towns such as Co­gnac, home to the fa­mous brandy, and Saintes, with its me­dieval and Gallo- Ro­man her­itage, be­fore you reach the port of Rochefort on the At­lantic coast. Seven-night cruises start from £1,450 for a Ca­lypso boat sleep­ing up to eight peo­ple. The price in­cludes boat rental, on-board equip­ment, a pre-de­par­ture de­mon­stra­tion and locks fee. Tel: 0239 280 9411 leboat.co.uk

CAMP­ING LE CANADA Cham­pagny-le-haut, Savoie

For a stay that com­bines stun­ning moun­tain scenery and wildlife, look no fur­ther than this camp­site in the Alpine val­ley of Cham­pagny-le-haut, gate­way to the Vanoise na­tional park. This area has an abun­dance of wildlife in­clud­ing ibex, chamois, mar­mots, golden ea­gles and Eurasian ea­gle-owls. The camp­site is open from mid-june to mid-septem­ber and has 110 flat, grassy pitches for tents, car­a­vans and camper­vans, all of which come with views of the peaks of the Vanoise. Ser­vices in­clude two toi­let blocks with free hot show­ers, and a laun­derette. A bar-restau­rant serves lo­cal and Ital­ian spe­cial­i­ties. Ba­sic pitch (with­out elec­tric­ity) from €2.10 a day. Tel: (Fr) 4 79 55 03 41 camp­ing-cham­pagny-en-vanoise.fr

BRIT­TANY FER­RIES Bay of Bis­cay

Any­one look­ing to snap photos of amaz­ing sea crea­tures from the com­fort of a ship will en­joy the Brit­tany Fer­ries cross­ings from Ply­mouth and Portsmouth to San­tander and Bil­bao in north­ern Spain. On the 24-hour-long jour­ney, the ship passes through the Bay of Bis­cay, where you have a good chance of spot­ting dol­phins, por­poises and sperm whales. Once you ar­rive in Spain, you have the bonus of be­ing within driv­ing dis­tance of the French sea­side re­sorts of Saint-jean-de-luz and Biar­ritz. Prices from £220 re­turn for a car and a fam­ily of four (two adults, two chil­dren). Tel: 0330 159 7000 brit­tany-fer­ries.co.uk

BULLES GÉORENNES Champfromier, Ain

Or­nithol­o­gists keen to ob­serve wildlife at night from an un­usual set­ting have the chance to stay in a huge plas­tic bub­ble in wood­land on the edge of the Haut-jura re­gional park. There are two bub­bles – one fully trans­par­ent and the other semi-trans­par­ent – each with a dou­ble bed and all the com­forts of a ho­tel room in­clud­ing bed linen, du­vet, bed­side lamp and heat­ing. Dry toi­lets and a pri­vate bath­room are in huts a few steps away. The ac­com­mo­da­tion lies on a 50-square-me­tre ter­race with views over the Jura moun­tains. Open end of April-sept. Prices from €230 in­clud­ing break­fast. Tel: (Fr) 7 81 17 23 15 bullestrans­par­entes­rhonealpes.com

LA LOZERETTE Cocurès, Lozère

Ex­plore the moun­tains, flora and fauna of the Cévennes Unesco World Her­itage site at this ho­tel, which sits just above the na­tional park. Vis­i­tors can dis­cover a range of wildlife, from golden ea­gles and beavers to wild boar, and even wolves. The ho­tel has 20 rooms, dec­o­rated with wood fur­nish­ings, and in­clud­ing free Wi-fi, flat-screen TVS and bal­conies. Guests can sam­ple re­gional cui­sine in the wood-pan­elled restau­rant and play boules in the pretty gar­den. Dou­bles from €65, break­fast €9pp. Tel: (Fr) 4 66 45 06 04 laloz­erette.com

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