What is a Gite?

What is a gite holiday

A gite holiday in France is a self-catering holiday. That is, the accommodation is supplied, but you usually make your own travel arrangements and no food is supplied – you need to eat at restaurants or cook for yourself at home. Barbecues are very popular.

A gite is usually a typical home of the region, and can be a everything from a small cottage to a farmhouse or even a chateau. Gites are available that sleep any number of people, so are suitable for both smaller and larger groups. Most commonly the term ‘villa’ is used for more modern properties, although not always.

On a gite holiday you will be staying in a self-contained property, usually with a garden, where you can ‘faites comme chez vous’ (act as if you were at home). Gites are sometimes independent of other properties, and sometimes form part of a small group of properties at the same location. The owners, sometimes French, sometimes expatriates, will often be English speaking and may also live on the same site as the gites. They will then be on hand to offer invaluable advice about the most interesting things in the region, or to help if any problems arise.

There are several advantages of a gite or self-catering holiday. First is the freedom it supplies to do your own thing. No fixed meal times, no need to dress for dinner, eat and drink what you like, and usually you will be closer to the countryside and beauty of France, giving you a better feel for ‘the real France’. You can do things at your own pace, travel as far afield as you like, or do nothing at all.

A separate benefit is that a gite will almost always cost less per person than a stay in a hotel. But that doesn’t men you are missing out on luxury. Many gites have swimming pools, perhaps for that property alone, and are maintained to very high standards. As with everything, the more you pay the more you get, and a gite for 6-8 people might cost anything from 750 euros to 3000 euros per week or more in high season.

It is true that there are also gites in a poor state, inadequately cleaned, where you would not want to pass a holiday. Happily with the internet it is easy to see in advance what you will be getting for your money – I recommend only choosing a property where you have seen quite a few photographs, both internal and external.

I would also recommend trying to reserve your gite sooner rather than later. Gites are usually available, even at short notice, but the choice of gites available will be much more restricted. Although there is a chance of a last-minute bargain, it is generally better to choose from the wider range available earlier on – there will be bargains in these also, if you look hard. I would try and book a gite for the July – August period by the end of February if possible.

How to find a gite? In France there are many thousands of gites, and tens if not hundreds of gite listing sites, and the task of choosing one can be a challenge. More so if you are booking late, because many of the enquiries you send will be returned as ’sorry, property already booked’. To avoid this you can select a property from one of the sites which maintains availability schedules for all the properties. There are several of these, including the gite properties listed on this site.

You can also book gites or self-catering holidays in France through travel agents. These may provide you with some assurance, although you will usually pay a significant amont extra for this assurance. I personally would recommend dealing directly with the owner, both for the cost savings, and the extra comfort you get from speaking directly or indirectly with the owner.  This will also make it easier for you to discuss special needs for your visit – child stair gate, wheelchair access, questions about how far to the nearest restaurant and so on. Every gite owner should be more than happy to answer these questions for you before you make your booking.

Conclusion? If you have never had a gite or self-catering holiday in France I heartily recommend you try it. It’s a perfect way to really see France and the French countryside, and a well chosen gite can give you the holiday of a lifetime.

Click here to see a full listing of luxury french gites