This was the norm for many years but after two lots of spinal surgery I am no longer able to sleep in a tent without pain. The other reasons for not camping are the amount of time it takes to make and break camp and oddly enough, the cost. A few years ago it became obvious that it was getting more expensive to camp. You are often charged for the pitch, the number of tents, the vehicle(s) and the amount of people. This soon adds up and it is common to find this cost in the region of 20-25 euros or more per night. When you add on the time it takes to sort everything out and lets face it, you’re on holiday so hardly in a frame of mind to rush, we started to look at cheap hotels.
The ubiquitous Formule 1’s. Cheap and cheerful and not for everyone. The F1 chain is the same all over France. It is is cheap. When there is cheap accommodation, expect it to be used by people who haven’t got much money or are working locally and don’t want to spend their wages on posh hotels.
Yes, they smell sometimes. Yes the communal showers and toilets will get used by others and some of them are not going to leave it as meticulously clean as you would like. Yes, some people smoke in the rooms and sometimes it will be noisy. Some of the rooms are used by workmen who are working shifts and as one lot leave, their colleagues on the previous shift come back and take the rooms over. Its happening all over France in Formule 1’s. Its what they are like.
Just like all the other Formule 1’s and some Ibis Budget’s some are only manned during the morning and again in the evening. Any other time of the day and it is self service. It keeps the running costs down. The locations of Formule 1’s will always be “on the edge of town”. You’re not going to find them on prime real estate. Why would a business buy an expensive, desirable plot of land and then build a low budget hotel?
Formule 1’s are a means to an end. Nothing more, nothing less.
They have secure free parking. Breakfast is a basic continental offering and is adequate. The showers are hot. The toilet has paper and flushes. One vending machine serves coffee and you can buy a cold drink or snacks in the other. If you want anything more than that, stay in another hotel
For smells, you can open a window.
For noise, you can sleep with ear plugs.
For showers, you can either not have one or put something on your feet.
For cheap, basic, roof over your head, bed and very basic facilities, they are absolutely spot on.
Finally, I have never paid more than the princely sum of £26 regardless of time of year and I don’t stay more than one night at a time. Really for a road trip, these and the Ibis budget’s are ideal
Ibis Budget hotels
Simple bedroom with a double bed (or twin) and often a bunk over the top for a third bed. En-suite shower/toilet and enough room for two people and associated motorcycling gear and luggage. What I like about this chain is that they tend to have excellent secure parking facilities. On the whole they are excellent value for money for one or two people. The third bunk becoming very useful for getting your bike gear up off the floor. Do not expect the Ritz, they are purely functional. Breakfast varies between countries. France will have basic cheese and rolls but Belgium will also have ham.
For the room, if booked in advance you can pay as little as £28-30 per night and £4.00 for breakfast. Parking is usually free or only costs a token amount.
Amongst other places, I have used Ibis budget hotels in Lille, Givet, Bayeaux, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Saint-Omer, Aachen, Bruges, Paris.