Choosing a gîte for your holiday in France
Gîtes are ideal places to stay when holidaying in France. Perfect for families with young children, groups of friends, or anybody looking for a home away from home while on vacation, gîtes are both popular and plentiful across the country.
The broad range of gîtes available means that your specific needs can be met. They allow tourists to access the rural areas of the country and experience the real French way of life, and provide holidaymakers with the independence and flexibility of self-catering, but with the reassurance of having the owner close by.
The French word ‘gîte’ specifically means a holiday home which is available for rent. Commonly used to describe accommodation in French-speaking regions of Europe, including France, Belgium and Switzerland, it is derived from a word meaning ‘shelter’, though the modern-day use of the word can include pretty much any form of holiday accommodation, including luxury villas, apartments and basic holiday flats.
Gîtes can be divided into a number of classes, each with their specific merits. Gîtes Ruraux are usually located in the countryside, in the mountains, or by the sea, and are completely self-contained. Gîtes d’Enfants are suitable for families with children and provide a safe environment with a variety of activities for children of all ages. Gîtes Équestre are gîtes which come with stables for horses or are staging posts for groups touring France on horseback. Gîtes d’Étape are located off the beaten track and designed to accommodate groups of walkers and cyclists. Chaltes-Loisirs are complexes containing a number of wooden cottages where visitors can enjoy activities such as cycling, fishing or horse riding.
Gîtes tend to be fully furnished and are usually equipped for self-catering, making them perfect for people who want to make use of the wonderful French ingredients available to create their own culinary delights. Cooking your own food can be a great way to save money and to fit meal times around the needs of the whole family.
In most cases, gîte owners like to handle their own rentals, meaning that you are dealing with individuals rather than large property companies. This adds that human touch to booking your holiday. Typically, gîte owners also live close by so they can welcome guests, assist with local logistics and be on hand should there be any issues with the property. This gives peace of mind to anyone looking for a hassle-free holiday.
Most gîtes are well maintained and many have excellent facilities, such as fitted kitchens, TV and DVD equipment, en-suite bedrooms and sometimes access to a swimming pool, tennis courts or other sporting facilities. Pets are also normally accepted.
Often gîtes are converted barns, refurbished outbuildings or old farm workers’ cottages, which have been updated to cater for holidaymakers and which are located close to the owners’ residence.
Linen is not always included as standard, though most owners tend to at least provide towels and sheets as an optional add-on. Owners are required to ensure that their property is safe and complies with insurance requirements and other rules and regulations.
You will find that most gîtes are listed online, so whether you’re looking for villas in Auvergne, chalets in the Pyrenees, or cottages in Brittany, you should have no problem finding a gîte to suit you.
Photo credit: Vera Reis