Top tips to avoid the Holiday Scams

 

Lavender Cottage

This is the time of year for vigilance when booking your self catering villa holiday over the internet

Extra vigilance is needed when choosing self catering accommodation. 

Here are our tips and recommendations to help you avoid the tricksters.

Agencies v Owners- The Pro's and the Cons

 

Booking direct with Owners

Booking with an owner can be your highest risk.  

Naturally and with our respect,  there are plenty of genuine owners out there and they all offer a great service. But there are also equally large numbers of scammers too.  

You book your holiday in good faith, wait for the directions, nothing comes.  You transferred your money directly to a bank account you believe to be the owners' and your money is gone - often in its 1000s.  You have no holiday, no accommodation and equally no money! 

Do your research and make sure the property actually exists!

If you book with an owner you have no redress if you are not happy with the accommodation, it is not clean enough, not as described, or not equipped correctly.    

If you book with an owner it is unlikely you will have any contract and what you do have may not be worth the paper its written on, you could have no security

You cannot pay with a credit card - so you have no cover if things go wrong.

Do your checks not only on the property but the owners.  Make sure they exist.  Perhaps phone them, make sure they know the address of their property. This may seem a stupid question but if they have to look it up, for instance, it could be a scam.  

Do your homework before paying and if you are not sure, then don't book.

Check the advertisements, make sure they are not new adverts, only just recently been added.  You should be sure that the advertiser has been on that website for a long while.  

Our respects to the owners who do provide an excellent and reliable service.  

Book with a Rental Agency

The Internet is awash with rental agencies or advertising sites selling the best service, the best properties, the best locations. 

How on earth do you choose once above the other?

Make sure the Agency or Rental company is a registered company.  Not just an address in France or England.  They should have a company number, make sure you check this out, it is easy on the internet.  A TVA (VAT) registration is also a sign that they pay their taxes and are a reputable company. 

Choose an Agency or Rental company who has Insurances and Bonding to secure your holiday.  

Insurance

Check out the company if you are not sure.  Look at Reviews and Testimonies.

Check the company out on Facebook and social media - see how pro-active they are - "follow" them and keep an eye on their activities.

Make sure that your holiday is covered by adequate Professional insurance of the Company

Pay by credit card - it is the safest way.  Companies without secure bonding will not be given credit card merchant accounts.  PayPal may not be a Company account, be careful!

These days many rental agencies are not responsible for your holiday. Make sure you check the small print as many are Advertising Agents - not Rental Agents.  They pass on the responsibility to the property owner, who you may not get any contact with.   A key holder cannot make decisions if you have a problem.

Make sure that your holiday is booked with a bonafide Rental Agency who contracts directly with its owners and has the right to rent the property on behalf of the owner.  

If you book via one or two of the very large on line agencies you may find that they retain all your funds until the day of arrival, and do not pay the owners until after that date.  Is there a risk to you?  There could be. If an owner has not been paid, he might hold the right to take another booking.  Check this out because you will want the owner to be sure that "your" money has gone to him/her before you arrive.  

Check that their website has an SSL Certificate - a green padlock at the beginning of the website address in your browser.  It shows that the company are vigilant in keeping their activities encrypted and secure on line connections.  Their website address will begin with https

Https

Book your holiday with Confidence!  

Book your Holiday with Affinity and be sure that your payments are safe, your property exists and will be clean and well presented on arrival.

Affinity Holidays France - an established French Rental Agency offering a quality service to its clients and owners

RCS Draguignan - Siren N° 531 886 604 - N° TVA Intracommunautaire FR27531886604 - Code NAF 7911Z

Accredited by ATOUT FRANCE under the number  IM083150004

Financial Guarantee APST 15 av. Carnot 75017 Paris 

RCP MMA contract N° 140.983.194

 

 

 

 Published 28 May 2016

Provence : A Guide for Children of all Ages

With exceptional scenery, an abundance of attractions and activities and with sublime welcomes, Provence is a holiday destination that attracts repeat visitors in their hundreds. Adults are able to quickly appreciate the area's rural beauty and traditional French highlights and children need not be left behind. Provence is a wonderful destination for families of all ages and youngsters are catered for to excellent levels with a wealth of entertainment options and tailored activities. The following guide offers suggestions on the top activities in the area for children and their grown-up companions.

Hiking in Roussillon

With stunning scenery and fascinating trails, Provence is an excellent choice for families who enjoy the great outdoors. Children who are able to manage moderate inclines and drops are sure to enjoy an invigorating walk along the popular path of Sentier des Ochres. The path winds through the an almost animated landscape in the village of Roussillon in the Luberon. This area is famed for its burnt orange clay and mining history and provides ample opportunities for impressive photographs and nature experiences.

History in Provence

Avignon is one of the most well-known and popular areas of Provence and is steeped in a rich and fascinating history. Throughout the 14th century, Avignon was home to several popes and their castle, Palais des Papes, remains in superb condition.

The Romans had a significant impact on Provence and their history remains throughout the area. A visit to the Roman Theatre in Orange the Roman Arena and Theatre in Arles offer an excellent opportunity to explore ancient ways up close. The Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct which was built in around 19 B.C. to supply water to one of ancient Europe's largest cities remains and offers a unique and enthralling sight for visitors to behold.

Situated on the Rhone River, Avignon also allows families to explore the history of trade, transport and architecture all in one place. Those with younger children need not be diswayed by the educational significance of the area as the wide range of shops, eateries and sights allows for enjoyment for all ages.

Markets

Markets are an ideal choice for families who enjoy shopping, socialising and absorbing local traditions and customs. Children are likely to enjoy perusing the markets for unusual items and this also provides the prime opportunity for practicing the language. Markets throughout Provence are

notoriously family-friendly and this means that traders welcome efforts of foreign visitors and are pleased to engage in interactions with all abilities. Even the smallest villages offer weekly markets with a range of stalls selling items such as freshly baked bread, pastries and sweets through to pocket-money toys and fashion accessories.

Art

Provence has a varied and extensive relationship with art and artists throughout the centuries. There are a number of galleries that welcome children and actively encourage the interest of young visitors through interactivity. Arles is a prime area for art lovers to engage in a study of the work of Van Gogh and locals will be keen to share their knowledge and provide suggestions for further visits.

Published 04/2016

Fantastic Fayence

Fayence is situated in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France. Located between the mountainous region and the sea, the area is one of exquisite beauty and a vast range of activities. Villas in this location are amongst the most sought- after and desired for holiday lets in France. This is in no small part to the promise of a welcoming, memorable and exceedingly pleasing holiday. The closest airport to Fayence is Nice and with daily flights from the UK, access to this stunning town is very simple. There are several transport options from Fayence and links to Nice, Marseille and Cannes can be made by bus and train, making this an ideal destination for further French exploration.

Fayence has a rich history that is well marked by the varied and interesting architecture and ruins of the town. The château in Fayence was destroyed in the 18th century by Monsignor de Fleury who considered it to be of little value and excessive cost. The remains of the tower are still in place and several visitors take the opportunity to climb up to the Place du Château to view the remains and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the mountains.

Fayence is an excellent destination for tourists who enjoy the potential for a wide variety of activities, without compromising on the peace and tranquility of a stunning rural location. A leisurely wander through the steep and winding streets of the historic old town is a marvel in itself, as visitors can casually admire the stone built houses built round the 18th century Église St-Jean- Baptiste.

The town is considered to be the heart of European gliding and the flying club of Fayence- Tourrettes, which was once a military area, is thought of as the best gliding centre in Europe.

Tourists are able to utilise the centre and easily arrange flying and gliding lessons. The location encourages visitors from across the world and surrounding areas provide excellent holiday destinations for multi-national enthusiasts.

Fayence offers multiple markets each week and this allows tourists to stock up on local produce, traditional crafts and inexpensive souvenirs. From August onwards, locals and tourists alike marvel at the extensive range of historic items available through the Foire à la Brocante, an antique market that is located in the lawns of an old Bastide. This, coupled with multiple annual fairs and fetes makes Fayence one of the area's prime shopping locations.

Being superbly located and with excellent transport links, Fayence provides the prime base for tourists who would like to experience traditional French town life, seaside and beach days along with a host of activities. Those with a love of the outdoors can enjoy horse-riding, hiking, mountain biking and even swimming in mountain streams, all without having to travel excessively. With numerous golf courses and several larger cities nearby, Fayence epitomises the prime location for holidaying in Provence. 

Publish 04/2016

Cuisine de Provence Cookery School

Holiday goers to Provence are spoilt for choice with a wide variety of activities and leisure pursuits to experience in the area. Tourists of all ages and abilities are encouraged to consider cookery lessons in Provence to learn from experts whilst utilising the most ideal setting and superb array of local ingredients. The Cuisine de Provence Cooking School allows visitors to the area the opportunity to join Barbara in her English speaking cooking class, located in the beautifully picturesque and rich in history, Vaison la Romaine situated in the heart of Provence.

Barbara makes use of seasonal and local ingredients to create local and traditional dishes that students can learn, eat and repeat once they return home. The school embraces a laid-back, warm and encouraging atmosphere so all students should feel at home and keen to ask questions when needed. Classes are held in Barbara's home, which overlooks Vaison and the Mont Ventoux. The classes host a minimum of two students and a maximum of four, which leads to an intimate, controlled and friendly experience. The classes commence at 9:30am and end at around 2pm. This allows plenty of time to understand dishes, ingredients and processes, as well as enjoy the main event of eating creations!
Barbara is keen that students learn as much as possible during their class and so six different dishes will be taught in a day. Typically, the day will revolve around preparing a delicious and inviting lunch and so lessons will be given in making a soup, a cake, a savory tarte, a clafoutis, tapenade or anchoiade, which is eaten with crudités and a dessert. After achieving such culinary successes, students will enjoy eating their creations with the accompaniment of a range of regional wines. All of which is likely to inspire further cooking and wine tasting once visitors return to their villas and indeed, to their homes.

Barbara works closely alongside other local tourist attractions and is able to offer students the opportunity to engage in her cookery school and following lunch, join a wine tour with local guide,

Olivier Hickman. Olivier will meet students following their lunch for a WINE UNCOVERED guided tour to local vineyards and cellars of two leading wine estates in one of the premium Southern Rhône wine villages of Rasteau, Gigondas or Vacqueyras. This allows students the excellent opportunity to understand food and wine of the local area to a much closer level and to, of course, enjoy a tipple or two.

Barbara, along with local friends, will guarantee visitors to her school an educational, fun and interactive experience that is certain to provide memories for several years to come. Barbara is a warm, welcoming and energetic host who takes sincere pride in ensuring that her guests have an entertaining, enjoyable and unique experience in Provence. 

Published 04.2016

Articles & Latest Press Coverage

Radio Times    

Radio Times:
Rose de l'Adrechs - villa review

Act like an A-lister in this stylish and sophisticated villa in the hills of east Provence
Read More here....

 

<arel="nofollow" href="http://www.mumsnet.com/reviews/travel/self-catering-in-europe/18955-rose-de-ladrechs--affinity-villas" target="_blank">Mumsnet Review

Mumsnet:
Rose de l'Adrechs - Affinity Villas

"A beautiful space with a really warm welcome…"
Read More here...

 

St Albans Review

St Albans Review:
A Passion-filled Weekend in Provence

Read More here...

 

 Gloucestershire Echo

Gloucestershire Echo:
Soak up the sun in stunning Provence

Read More here...

Published 12.2014