Although a Gite used to be a basic place to stay, today you can get luxurious accommodation with swimming pools etc, that can offer excellent value for your money when it comes to your family holiday.
With thousands available all around France, many people find that staying in Gites is a good way of experiencing France whether it be whilst traveling through or for a memorable holiday in a specific region.
Technically speaking to be called a Gite the owner must live close by in order to provide help, assistance and a warm welcome to guests, whereas if it is known as a French holiday cottage, then this normally means that it is owned by someone who does not live in France – like British, German or even American owned.
Gites are generally old farm workers cottages or converted outbuildings and barns within the proximity of the owners’ principal residence. This type of holiday accommodation is sometimes regarded as ‘basic’ in terms of facilities and the first ones we ever came across were extremely basic. In fact, in this tiny little village that only had a church, one shop, a restaurant and a bar all these so called Gites were like wooden huts, just with beds, toilet and a wash basin, that were situated in the back garden area behind the local bar and restaurant!
However most Gites these days are generally very well kept and a growing number of them will have excellent facilities such as fully fitted kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, TV, DVD and even access to a swimming pool and many other sporting activities that the whole family can enjoy. Just what is needed when on holiday with the family. Also, holiday Gites in France are encouraged by the local tourist board and planning authorities as they attract investment and tourism into the area, and all owners are required to ensure that they are safe and comply with the necessary rules, regulations and insurance requirements, in turn giving the holiday maker peace of mind.
It is the Gites de France that assesses them, which means the quality has risen and they are far better equipped and comfortable compared to how they used to be, plus with the foreign investors who have purchased property in France for renovation, the standard has risen even higher and you will not come across many Gites that are any where near as basic as those mentioned earlier, to be honest, we have not come across one since that doesn’t at least have a kitchen, seating area and proper bathroom facilities so you will not need to panic too much when booking!
You can also find a number of classes of Gites, which are graded by Gîtes de France and to give you a help in hand, some of these are as follows:
- Known as Gite Rural, these offer self-catering accommodation and can be located in the countryside, by the sea, or in the mountains, they are completely self contained with one or more bedrooms, a lounge, sometimes a dining room, a kitchen and bathroom facilities and it is these particular types of Gite that have come up in standard considerably over the years.
- Then you have Gites d’Enfants, which are specifically for children and it is during the school holidays that host families will provide lodgings for children of various ages with a wide variety of activities. The big plus is that these Children’s Gites are very well regulated and inspected to ensure a safe and secure environment for each child.
- The stopover and holiday getaways, known as Gites d’Etape, are normally situated well off the beaten track and are mainly for groups of walkers or cyclists, and the best comparison to this type of Gite is most probably a youth hostel and these are basic.
As you probably realize by now, holiday Gites can range from the very simple converted barns to part of a large chateau in private grounds and are located all over France, right through from rural villages, to the center of towns, up in the mountains or right near to the beaches, the choice of accommodation is endless.
With there being so many different Gites to choose from, it is a good idea to get the family together and make a check list of the type of amenities that you feel are important to you, after all, like us, you may prefer having separate sleeping areas so that you have your own space, rather than being crowded in one large bedroom. Also, having entertainment on hand can be great for the children, especially if you happen to have bad weather for a day, so you may want to check what is available before booking.
Depending upon your budget, you may also feel that a Gite with its own pool and outside dining areas can be the best option for your relaxing holiday in France, but don’t forget that some of these are situated way out in the sticks, so location is also something that must be considered.
No matter what you decide, France is a vast country and you will be able to get the perfect Gite for you and your family, but if you prepare and organize first, you can enjoy your holiday and enjoy everything to its fullest.
Article by Martyn Davis