When it comes to purchasing property abroad, the world is your oyster. There are so many options, from the family resorts along the US coast to the sandy beaches of Australia.

But for most holiday home buyers, the best places to look are actually a little closer to home.

According to Liz Rowlinson, editor of Aplaceinthesun.com, both France and Spain remain as popular as ever among UK investors seeking overseas abodes.

She noted that in previous years, buyers showed a lot more interest in property in Eastern Europe and other emerging markets. But since the global downturn, there seems to have been a "real return" to locations that are perceived as safe and established, with France and Spain among them.

"All our feedback suggests that France and Spain are the strongest places for buyers by some measure," Ms Rowlinson remarked.

She pointed out that France is popular because it is easily accessible from the UK, both by air and by ferry, as well as by road thanks to the Channel Tunnel. It also has a stable and regulated property market, with good mortgage packages on offer to buyers at the moment.

In Spain, it's the cost of holiday homes that is attractive. Ms Rowlinson explained: "Prices have fallen so much that it's now within people's budgets, yet still offers all the things that make it our favourite holiday destination - great climate, beaches and amenities, such as golf courses."

Of course the process of buying a property within the European Union is likely to be easier than purchase a home in many other world markets.

But that doesn't mean you can just jump straight in. You'll need to do your homework and research all the local rules and regulations, as well as the financial issues involved.

And of course you'll need to protect your holiday home with the right level of insurance cover, as a standard home insurance policy won't suffice. Specialist holiday home insurance is available to protect against all eventualities, with specific liability for both French and Spanish properties.