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Although the French term gîte simply refers to any kind of shelter, a Gîte is more specifically known as a French vacation home. These homes are available for rent, and are usually furnished and equipped with the proper accoutrement for daily necessities. This includes typical household items such as a refrigerator, working stove, cooking utensils and flatware, etcetera.
Most gîtes are converted from former barns or cottages used by farm workers, or from other buildings that are no longer needed for farm work. These buildings are typically on private property together with the home of the property owners, who likely still live on the property year round. Thus by renting out gîtes to tourists and vacationers, property owners have a source of income and are able to care for the property and guests easily.
Although rental of some gîtes is handled by outside property companies, most gîtes are cared for and rented through the property owners themselves. This allows owners to welcome guests personally, and remain available for any further needs of these guests. Vacationers who desire to stay in a gîte should check with the owners to make sure exactly what services are provided. For example, some gîte owners may offer linen services while others may not.
Other things to make sure of before choosing to stay in a gîte include whether or not pets and children are welcome, and what amenities are available. While some gîtes are offer amenities such as television and DVD players, others may be more rustic and, for example, have apart bathrooms. Details can be discussed by contacting the renting owners directly, or by contacting the rental service handling the property. Websites are available that list contact information for gîte rental and quality reviews.
Though the more traditional gîte is a converted building on a former farming property, many other types of residences can also be called gîtes, including anything from city apartments to resort-style accommodations available for rent. Due to this variety, different types of gîtes may go by different names. For example, a Gîte Rural is a gîte in the countryside near the ocean or mountains. A Gîte d’Enfants provides lodging for children. A Gîte equestre is an outpost for people traveling on horseback, and a Gîte d’Etape is similar to a hostel, where people may stay for a night or two while traveling by foot or bicycle.
@SkyWhisperer - Well I am sure the rates can vary depending on a variety of factors. The location gites are in is certainly one very important factor, just like with hotels.
Amenities (or lack thereof) are also important too. If you can get by with a bare, Spartan space then you can probably save money. The best thing to do is to go online and start planning in advance.
Start making contacts with homeowners and find out what their schedules are like. They may even be able to tell you what parts of the year will be cheapest for you to travel. Most likely these will be the off seasons, not the spring or the summer. Planning is the key to traveling on a budget in my opinion.
I would imagine that the Gite France accommodations would not be cheap by any measure. Perhaps they would be cheaper than staying in a four star hotel, since they are the homes of actual people and they might be a little reasonable with you on the rates.
Still, however, this is reasonable by France’s standard of living which is quite high. We stayed in Austria for a week at a couple’s home they were renting out. It wasn’t cheap but it was cheaper than the hotel nearby. It’s all relative really.
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