Gîtes: A Friendly Twist to Your French Vacation

You have to admit:  you always have a better experience travelling when you get to interact with the locals.  How to do that in France where people value their privacy?  Pass on the hotel and make reservations at a gîte.   A what?  Gîtes are typically found in rural areas and smaller towns:  they can be bed and breakfasts, holiday homes, or even working farms, accommodating 2 to 10 guests.  You may sit down to breakfast with other families or even share dinner with your hosts.    What’s more, even if your French isn’t the greatest, for the most part, gîte owners want their guests to enjoy and value their region, its special sights and treasures, as much as they do, and in my experience, they’ll go the extra mile when it comes to communication.   There’s a gîte for everyone whether your tastes are rustic or deluxe.

To get started, go to the English language reservation site.  I’d recommend clicking on the button that reads “Criteria” that will allow you to be specific about your needs (number of rooms, distance to recreational activities, dinner with your hosts.)   All accommodations are rated according to ears of corn (as opposed to stars) with 5 ears being the highest quality, often in manor houses or chateaux with all kinds of fancy amenities.   Be aware that if you are renting a complete dwelling in the fall and winter months, you will be asked to pay heating charges in addition to the regular rental.  Also most expect payment in cash so be sure to stop by the ATM before you leave Paris.

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2 responses to “Gîtes: A Friendly Twist to Your French Vacation

  1. In my experience with these kinds of things, there’s a big difference between Gîtes and Chambres d’hôte. Gîtes usually accomodate several people and are self-catering, so the only contact you have with the owner is the pick-up and drop-off of the key (unless the owners also live onsite).

    With a chambre d’hôte, you rent a room in someone’s house, which means you automatically have more contact with them since they serve you breakfast and may also serve dinner (for an extra fee). And like you mentioned, they are usually very friendly and willing to talk about the region and give tourist advice.

    So if you’re just looking for space for a large group and/or want to be able to cook your meals, go with a gîte, but if you want local contact, go with a chambre d’hôte.

    Oh and one last thing – gîtes are usually sort of off the beaten track, so you often need a car to get to and from them. Something to keep in mind when booking, especially if you’re arriving in the region by train. Chambres d’hôte are usually available in both cities and in the countryside.

  2. Ksam: Thanks for your comment. You are correct about the differences although I lumped them together here because both types of accommodations are searchable from the same Web site.

    Like everything when it comes to travel, different strokes for different folks. Or sometimes you want a place all to yourself (or a large group of family and friends) and sometimes you’re looking for more interaction. You can find both from this site.

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