Why Us

"Very good service all round. I was impressed that they were honest about the accommodation standards which they called average or simple only to find that the actual place was very good when we got there! It’s so often the other way around! I feel this is a company that is trying hard to provide excellent service and repeat business, not just making a quick buck!"

Eleven good reasons why you can trust us with your holiday. 

  1. Proud to be a Member of ABTA
  2. Part of the Simpson Travel Family
  3. Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant 
  4. Highly personalised service
  5. South West France experts 
  6. Collection of 100+ quality rentals
  7. Descriptions you can trust 
  8. Close relationship with owners 
  9. Local manager in France 
  10. Chef, housekeeper, surf school...
  11. Online booking on selected rentals 


1. Proud to be a Member of ABTA - even more reassurance for you, our customer...

We have recently been awarded ABTA membership which is an exciting step forward for our business.  With an ABTA member such as ourselves, you can book your holiday with confidence, knowing that you have access to advice, travel information and financial protection.


2. Part of the Simpson Travel family

In 2018 Alternative Aquitaine joined the Simpson Travel family. Simpson Travel is a multi award-winning holiday company whose plaudits include winning Best Villa Operator at the 2018 Telegraph Travel awards, and a close runner-up in 2019. We have always been proud to be a friendly & professional family-run company and in Simpson Travel we think we have found a truly like-minded partner. Having the backing of Simpson Travel's scale and resources make us stronger too.

3. Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant - don’t just take our word for it...

We’re very proud of our 100% Service Rating achieved through Feefo. It's a welcome reward for the hard work of the team all-year-round. The destination – Aquitaine – scores 100% which means our clients love the south west coastline of France just as much as we do!


4. Highly personalised service - as much or as little help as you need... 

We do hundreds of bookings a year, not thousands. We promote a select portfolio of holiday rentals, not a mind-numbing portal of tens of thousands of holiday homes. This allows us to provide an individual, tailored service for you. It’s just like using a specialist travel agent. 


5. South West France experts - go on, test our knowledge!

We know every km of the south west coast and depending on what your requirements are we will match you with the perfect destination as well as the perfect rental. So, we're a bit like a dating service as well as a specialist travel agent! Oh, and we can guide you on activities and days out too...


6. Collection of 100+ quality rentals - we’ve done the hard work for you!

We don’t just take anything on - we can afford to be 'choosey'. Between Justin, Alex, Julia and Bethan, every property is visited and we only take on those we want to stay in. If there’s an aspect of the property (or the owner!) we’re uncomfortable with, we don’t take the property on. We reject dozens every year. This means we can focus our efforts on a smaller but higher quality collection of villas, beach houses and family resorts.


7. Descriptions you can trust - we’re not afraid to tell it like it is

Detail and accuracy in our descriptions are very important. If there are things to watch out for (e.g. lots of steps), we say so. Sometimes owners say we’re too honest with our opinions. We say if it was them or us booking the property we would want to know now, not when you arrive.



8. Close relationship with owners - working with partners we trust 

Some owners we’ve been working with for nearly 15 years and over that time you build up a lot of mutual trust. Some owners promote their property through other agents or websites but they always say they like our clients best! A close relationship with our partners can often translate into better rates for you. It also means they go the extra mile for you, just like we do.


9. Local manager in France - the reassurance of a local Alternative Aquitaine contact

It’s good to know that if you need a helping hand whilst you’re on holiday, bilingual Sandrine is available at the end of the phone (or on your doorstep if your holiday rental is near Hossegor!) to guide you through any tricky situations.


10. Would you like a chef, housekeeper, surf school - we can arrange it for you!

As well as finding you the best holiday rental, we can arrange through our partners some extra services to make your holiday just a little more relaxing and to help you experience the region. Surfing is a popular activity and we have leads in most resorts. And if you want the services of a cook for a celebratory meal or most nights of your holiday then we can help there too.


11. Online booking on selected rentals - secure and convenient payment

We recognise that in some cases it’s really convenient to book and pay for your holiday online. We agree and on some rentals we make this possible. However, we do like to have a conversation too and we believe this is what makes us different to the big rental websites. We need to know about you if we’re going to make the best selections for you.

Our Story

Alternative Aquitaine Team

                                                          Meet the team:
                                                 Justin ~ Alex ~ Paul ~ Claire
                                                     Julia ~ Helen ~ Bethan

Back in 2002 Justin & Alex were employees in a consultancy firm, our desks feet from one another, each unaware that the other was trying to book a family holiday on the Aquitaine coast, and finding it incredibly hard to find anything suitable. We both ended up going to the Vendée instead - remarkably and completely by coincidence on the same ferry out and back. We sensed Fate’s guiding hand and on the way home got talking...

A couple of life-changing decisions later we launched our first Alternative Aquitaine website in 2003, with the simple aim – to make it easy to discover the Aquitaine coast, and to find & book fantastic self-catering holidays there.

We set out to do this by offering the best choice of properties and unrivalled knowledge of the region, helping you to book the property which suits you best with friendly, personal & professional advice. Real service from real experts.

Some fifteen years and 10,000 bookings later, the online world and our business have changed dramatically, however our purpose and approach remain the same.

Our Approach

Justin, Alex and now Julia and Bethan too visit every property ourselves, and only take on those we want to stay in. Detail and accuracy in our descriptions are very important. If there are things to watch out for, we say so.  If such things make us feel uncomfortable, we don’t take the property on. We have to reject dozens every year.

Clients’ satisfaction is paramount. Feefo Independent Reviews keep us on our toes, and are also our reward – we thrive on good feedback, especially when things are hectic. Equally, any poor reviews - happily rare - prompt soul-searching and quick action. Feedback matters to us.

And we’ve taken lots of Aquitaine holidays ourselves; we are beach-lovers, golfers, surfers, cyclists, foodies and wine-enthusiasts; we have families; we love Aquitaine and the Aquitaine way of life. We really are the experts – test us!

Your Confidence

We think our reviews speak volumes, but please judge for yourself: Alternative Aquitaine Reviews on Feefo

Respected France travel journalists recognise we are the Aquitaine experts, and are regular contributors to European villa holiday features – for example see our recent coverage in the Sunday Times - First Place for Europe’s Hottest Villas.

We have secure card processing facilities with Paypal, for clients wishing to pay by credit card or debit card.

Your money is safe: as booking agents we are required to hold client monies owing to suppliers in arm’s-length ‘suspense’ accounts (EUR & GBP), which we are not permitted to access for business expenses.

Also worth reading: Villa Fraud - 4 Ways To Beat It

Selected Recent Coverage

A selection of Alternative Aquitaine's regular appearances in the Aquitaine and villa holiday press:

April 2020 - The Daily Telegraph
Anthony Peregrine talks to Justin about holidays in France this summer...

February 2019 - The Sunday Times, Fabulous Villas in France for Summer 2019
Maison Katalina is described by Jeremy Layzell as a 'contemporary re-working of a 1920s Basque fisherman's cottage.  It is just a short stroll from the beach, restaurant and surf school at Bidart and in a fantastic spot for a relaxed family break this summer.

January 2019 - The Times, The Best Villas in France
Not one but TWO of our villas feature in this article by Carolyn Boyd, a committed Francophile and Aquitaine-lover.  Enjoy her descriptions of the incredible Villa Azkaine and our ever-popular The Lakehouse.

March 2018 - The Telegraph, Secret France
Villa Akotz features as a glorious place to stay to enjoy the charms of St Jean de Luz, one of five destinations in France that are identified as relatively undiscovered family holiday gems.

February 2018 - The Guardian, Top Family Holidays in Europe 2018
Cottages du Lac highlighted as one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe!

January 2018 - The Guardian, Wellness Holidays 2018
Le Vignau provides the perfect location for the Reboot France wellness retreat run by Bay Fitness.

January 2018 - The Sunday Times Travel, France 2018
La Grivette featured as one of the top 20 French retreats.

September 2017 - The Telegraph Travel, Best Villa Companies 2017
Delighted to be featured at the top of their list!

August 2017 - Prima Magazine, Great Escapes
Our Cabane dans les Arbres features in the travel section.

July 2017 - The Sunday Times Travel, Belles Villes
Guéthary is featured as one of France's secret escapes.

April 2017 - Metro Late Deal of the Week
Eden Parc, Lacanau - You could enjoy a 40% saving in late April at the villas here.

March 2017 - The Guardian, On the Radar
Dash to Bordeaux on a new high-speed wine and oyster train.

January 2017 - The Sunday Times Travel, 100 Best 2017 Holidays
Our Cabane de la Plage is highlighted in this great article which gives loads of holiday inspiration for 2017!

January 2017 - The Times Travel, 50 Best Holidays in France
Do you fancy sampling fresh local oysters in the Arcachon Bay whilst staying in a charming renovated cottage by the beach? 

January 2017 - The Sunday Times Travel, Europe's 50 Best Beaches
Three of our Aquitaine favourites highlighted in this interesting article!

January 2017 - Telegraph Travel, How to Plan the Perfect Beach Holiday in France
Why not have a look on our website for properties near the beach?

December 2016 - Telegraph Travel, The Ultimate Holiday Villa and Cottage Guide for Families
A round-up of selected self-catering accomodation options for 2017 - we're featured!

October 2016 - WriteYou, What does brexit mean for travel?
Justin explains the impact (or lack of) Brexit has had on the travel market so far in this exclusive travel feature for WriteYou.

August 2016 - Telegraph Travel, 25 amazing places to surf (that aren't too far from home)
Villas Anadara, Biarritz featured in this surf special!

August 2016 - Hero & Leander, The World's Best Bohemian Surf Retreats Part 1
Villa des Chais is a surf lover's paradise!

August 2016 - Prima Magazine , Europe's Finest
The rustic Atlantic Coast - Cabane de la Plage, Hossegor is "perfect for beachlovers who want to go barefoot all holiday"

July 2016 - AOL TRAVEL - Europe's alternative beaches to the Mediterranean
Hossegor - Europe's answer to California!

July 2016 - British Travel Awards
Our "Europe's California" blog featured in the monthly round-up of BTA nominee news.

June 2016 - The Sunday Times Travel,You Can Still Find a Summer Break
Alternative Aquitaine's Eden Parc Villas offering late availability for the school holidays 

May 2016 - AOL Travel, May Half-term: five of the best last-minute holidays
Alternative Aquitaine's Cabane de la Plage featured for a "rustic, Robinson Crusoe-style family break"

March 2015 - Sunday Times, Europe's 30 Hottest Villas
Alternative Aquitaine's Villa Souraide given Number One spot!

February 2015 - Sunday Times, Top 20 Hottest Villas and Hotels in France
Alternative Aquitaine in the Top 20 with Villa des Chevreuils

January 2014 - Daily Telegraph, Five Favourite Beaches in France
Aquitaine's St Jean de Luz chosen as "Ideal family resort beach', Alternative Aquitaine for St Jean de Luz rentals

February 2013 - Sunday Times, Top 25 Holidays in France
Ocean yachting along the Basque Country coast with Alternative Aquitaine

January 2012 – Telegraph, Good Value Guide to France
Alternative Aquitaine picked out as good value regional France specialist

February 2011 – Sunday Times, Ultimate Beach house
Alternative Aquitaine’s Villa la Tosca is chosen by the Sunday Times as the "ultimate beach house" in France

February 2011 – Telegraph, France Holiday Guide
Fred Mawer plugs Alternative Aquitaine in his annual round up of France, highlighting the "excellent detail on properties...clear comfort ratings...places reckoned by clients to offer particularly good value for money"

May 2010 – Mail On Sunday, Best Value For Money Rentals
Alternative Aquitaine highlighted for our Value Villas with Pools collection

January 2010 – Daily Telegraph, France Holiday Supplement
Alternative Aquitaine picked out highlighted in the Telegraph's France special as one of three regional specialists, and our "top notch" website gets a good mention

Press Requests

We are always delighted to contribute ideas and suggestions to holiday press requests. Please send short-lead requests to Justin and Alex using the website contact form, we will respond the same day, or please call us on 01395 576655.

Please contact us for a wide selection of images and high resolution copies.

Alternative Aquitaine delivers fabulous holidays to many customers who are lucky enough to be able to visit France and enjoy a break with their families and friends. For the last few years we have also been proud to support the great work done by the Family Holiday Association, our chosen charity.

Claire ran the London Marathon in 2016 and was proud to support the work of the Family Holiday Association by raising money for them as a result of the run.  

In January 2019, we ran a small campaign to encourage reviews of our business where we promised to pledge £2 for every review submitted.  As a result we were delighted to send an initial £124 donation and have sent a further £200 in the autumn of 2019 following a summer of excellent reviews.

For more information, please visit our page about the Family Holiday Association, or go to their website.

British Travel Awards 2017 Nominee #voteBTA17 

We are delighted to be nominated for the "Best Villa Rental Company (Small)" in the British Travel Awards 2017.

The British Travel Awards has been registering public opinion on the performance of leisure travel and visitor attraction providers since 2008.  The purpose of the British Travel Awards is to reflect the opinions and attitudes of consumers who purchase holidays and travel services from companies featured in the UK travel and tourism sector.

The British Travel Awards give you the opportunity to reward travel and tourism enterprises you feel should be recognised for outstanding performance in service delivery and product offering. From July until September you can vote online for your preferred companies across a comprehensive range of leisure providers and holiday experiences.

Vote in the BTAs for your chance to win prizes!  To thank you for taking the time to vote in this year’s British Travel Awards, you will automatically be entered in the BTA Prize Chest draw once you register to vote.  Prizes include: 5 nights at Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, a £2000 holiday voucher, use of a Tesla for a weekend, ferry crossings and an all-inclusive 8 days holiday to Lake Como!  Get voting!

british travel awards

Family Traveller Awards 2017 Finalist #familytravellerawards17 

We are so pleased to have been nominated as a finalist in the "Best Villa Holiday Company" category of the Family Traveller Awards 2017.

This is the third year that the awards have been given to some of the most impressive companies in the field of family travel.  The Family Traveller Awards recognise companies who have made a positive contribution to the development and delivery of family holidays in a number of different specialist areas.  

Vote online by 20th October!

Everyone who votes will automatically by entered into a compeititon to win a £4000 family holiday to Malta with Prestige Holidays with AVIS car hire and two Kodak PixPro cameras for adults and children to capture all your best moments.

Choose from over 200 stunning holidays, all hand picked and personally visited by us.

Find My Holiday

Or call our experts now
01395 576655

Your Favourites