Magical gites in France (just a hop across the Channel)

One of the pleasures of holidaying in France is that you don’t have to travel far to find the perfect place to stay – and these pretty gites are just a hop away across the Channel

  • Ches Mouch in pretty Amiens is an elegant century-old cottage ideal for couples
  • A unique place to stay in Rouen is Le Pigeonnier, a three-storey circular building that can accommodate up to seven people.
  • In Lens, the wooden huts of the Gites de l’Ecole Buissoniere revisit the traditional gite

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Each week, our holiday hero, Neil Simpson, takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the groundwork so you don’t have to. This week: gites nearby.

One of the pleasures of vacationing in France is that you don’t have to travel far to find the perfect place to stay. Dozens of cottages – country estates converted into self-contained holiday accommodation – are a short drive from Chunnel’s main ports and ferries.

Two hours from Calais is Amiens, where a Gothic cathedral towers over pretty cobbled streets and hundreds of ‘floating gardens’ line a huge network of canals. Guided boat trips will take you to discover the greenest of them.

Elegant: Above, a room at the Ches Mouch in Amiens. Two-night stays cost from £245

Ches Mouch provides guests with a rowing boat to explore the waterways

Ches Mouch provides guests with a rowing boat to explore the waterways

Or explore them in the provided rowing boat (with free bikes) at Ches Mouch, a lodge in the heart of the waterways. The elegant century-old cottage is perfect for couples. Two-night stays from £245 (french-weekendbreaks.co.uk).

One hour from Dieppe and Le Havre is Rouen. The city’s skyline is once again dominated by a Gothic cathedral, a favorite subject of Claude Monet, whose works are exhibited in the city’s Museum of Fine Arts. There are also the twisted roofs of the Church of Joan of Arc in the Market Square where the young martyr was burned at the stake in 1431.

An equally unique lodge nearby is The Dovecote, a three-story circular building that can sleep up to seven people. There is a sun terrace in the walled garden and plenty of space to relax inside. From £1,005 for seven night stays (vrbo.com).

The Rouen dovecote (pictured) is spread over three floors and can accommodate up to seven people

The Rouen dovecote (pictured) is spread over three floors and can accommodate up to seven people

Cosy: The dovecote has plenty of space inside to relax

Cosy: The dovecote has plenty of space inside to relax

Just over an hour from Dunkirk is the former mining town of Lens, now reinvigorated by the state-of-the-art Louvre-Lens museum.

The interior of the long, low building resembles a spaceship with aluminum-clad walls, gently sloping gray floors, and dim lighting. The works brought back from Paris are skillfully staged to be seen from all angles.

Outside of town, a twist on the traditional lodge complements the museum’s modern architecture. At Gites de l’Ecole Buissoniere, a series of low-rise wooden cabins can be rented individually for couples and families or booked as one for larger group holidays.

There is plenty of space in the private gardens for barbecues and picnics and you can borrow boules for a game of pétanque. From £445 for seven nights in a two-bed property (gite-lens.fr).

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