One of the joys of holidaying in France is that you don’t have to travel far to find the perfect place to stay. Dozens of gites – country properties transformed into self-catering holiday accommodation – are a short drive from the main Chunnel and ferry ports. Two hours from Calais is Amiens, where a Gothic cathedral towers above pretty cobbled streets and hundreds of ‘floating gardens’ line a huge network of canals. Guided boat tours take you past the most verdant of them. Or explore them in the rowing boat provided at Ches Mouch, a gite in the heart of the waterways. The elegant 100-year-old cottage is perfect for couples. Two-night stays from £245 (french-weekendbreaks.co.uk). An hour from Dieppe and Le Havre is Rouen. The city skyline is again dominated by a Gothic cathedral, a favourite subject of Claude Monet, whose works are on display in the city’s Beaux-Arts museum. There are also the twisted rooftops of Joan of Arc’s church in the market square where the young martyr was burned at the stake in 1431. An equally unique gite nearby is The Dovecote, a three-storey, circular building that sleeps up to seven. There’s a sunny terrace in the walled garden and plenty of space to relax inside. From £1,005 for seven-night stays A little over an hour from Dunkirk is the old mining town of Lens, now reinvigorated with the ultra-modern Louvre-Lens museum. The interior of the long, low building resembles a spaceship with aluminium-clad walls, gently sloping grey floors and soft lighting. Works brought in from Paris are cleverly displayed so that each can be seen from every angle. Outside the town, a twist on the traditional gite complements the museum’s modern architecture. At Les Gites de l’Ecole Buissoniere a series of low-rise, wood-clad cabins can be rented individually for couples and families or reserved as one for a larger group holiday. There’s plenty of space in the private gardens for barbecues and picnics and you can borrow boules for a game of petanque. From £445 for seven nights in a two-bed property.