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.