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Gites in France
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Staying in a gite or holiday cottage in France 

According to "Gites de France", the biggest gite rental agency, in 2011 there were over 45,000 gites or holiday rental properties in France.  But with plenty of properties, particularly at the higher end of the range, not listed with Gites de France, the real number is considerably higher. There are gites and holiday cottages throughout France, with a particularly large number in Brittany, the Southwest and - if skiing chalets are included - the Alps.

Gites with English-speaking owners:

   While Gites de France is a booking agency, and generally speaking  customers will book their accommodation with the agency, there are also ways of booking gite accommodation directly with the owners. Many owners, particularly those offering better quality gites, speak English; indeed there are thousands of gites all over France that are actually owned and run by locally-living British or Dutch - even Australian - expatriates, who take pride in their properties and are happy to deal directly with customers. Unlike most French owners, foreign owners may quote prices in pounds or dollars, and take payment in these currencies or in Euros.
     The price of gite accommodation varies enormously. There are a number of specialist gites and cottage websites, notably British and American sites, that have a lot of gites advertised at rates well above average is partnered with Gitelink France, an online directory of good quality but affordable gites, that includes many gites with English-speaking owners, both French and foreign, as well as websites in English. Links below will take you directly to the Gitelink directory pages for the different regions and areas of France.
     In short, for anyone looking for a relaxing break in the country - or even by the seaside but away from the big resorts - hiring a gite is an option that needs to be seriously explored. If you need convincing, just click on any of the links below, and then explore on their own independent websites any of the gites that catch your attention.

Find holiday cottages on a map. Check out the Gitelink gites maps of France

Northwest France Central France
North east France
Western & southwest France Mountain France South of France  - le Midi

Normal procedures for hiring a gite in France

There are a number of accepted principles, when it comes to hiring a gite in France.
  • Deposit: Almost all gite owners require a deposit, normally a quarter to a third of the rental cost. This must be paid to secure any booking. This deposit is generally returnable, perhaps minus a service charge, in the event of cancellation, except for last-minute cancellations.
  • Full payment: gite owners normally require payment in full either a month or so before the rental date, or on arrival.
  • Breakage and damage deposit ("la caution") . This is standard practice. Owners generally return this deposit or destroy the cheque after the visitor has left, and the property has been checked for damage or breakage that has not been reported. In most gites, "normal wear and tear" and the odd small breakage will not lead to a deduction from the deposit.
  • Bed linen: the situation is very variable. Many gites include bed linen in the rental cost; but this is often not the case, notably with cheaper properties. In the past, most gites required visitors to bring their own sheets and pillowcases, and this is still the case, or an option, in a good many gites.  Information on this is always provided by gite owners.
  • Cleaning: gites are private homes, not hotels, and in most cases visitors are expected to clean up before leaving. Some owners provide a cleaning option as an extra, for those who prefer to leave this to someone else. Most guests clean up properly - but those who leave a gite in a mess, and requiring extra cleaning over and above what is normally done before the next guests arrive, may find that a cleaning fee is deducted from their breakage deposit.
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Gites - the French term for holiday cottages to rent - are an important part of the rural economy in France.  Originally developed as cheap no-frills accommodation, the gite concept has since gone up market, to the point where gites come in all shapes and sizes, and in levels of quality from the cheap and cheerful to the luxurious. Generally offering good to excellent value for money compared to hotels, gites are today among the most popular types of accommodation for those wanting a break in the French countryside.

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