What many people don't realize is that the Gîtes de France network of lodging choices is amazingly diverse, ranging from week-long home rentals to rural camping to bed and breakfasts to children's gîtes.
Gîtes de France ExplainedGîtes de France is more than half a century old and has an amazing 43,000 members. It is a network of rural accommodations throughout France. While many people think the Gîtes de France network represents just vacation rentals, they represent a wide variety of places to stay.
The Gîtes de France organization states its mission is to:
- promote comfortable, friendly holiday stays
- meet the special needs of holidaymakers seeking authentic, convivial holidays in natural settings, peace and quiet, novelty and wide open spaces
- help to preserve and promote the French countryside and its special cultural heritage
- participate in local development and bring stability to the rural population by providing additional resources through tourism.[/li
Who Should Stay in a Gîtes de France Property?The Gîtes de France system isn't for everyone. People who like to be guided along every step of the journey, like to call room service, like the familiarity of chain hotels,like an urban setting, and want to be surrounded by fellow tourists will not necessarily appreciate the allure of the Gîtes de France organization.
Those who like to experience French culture close-up and personal, and who like to live more like a local, will adore this type of stay. Those who enjoy seeing rural life will also enjoy an escape to a Gites de France accommodation.
Types of Gîtes de FranceAs I mentioned above, many people are under the illusion that all gîtes are vacation rentals. There are actually several types of gites. They are:
- Rural Gîtes - a vacation home for rent, typically by the week but sometimes for shorter stays
- Bed and breakfast - a home with up to five guestrooms, and breakfast is always included in a stay
- Stopover Gîtes - larger holiday homes that can welcome professional groups, or groups of friends of family members into a home accommodating 12 to 50 people
- Camping - outdoors stays ranging from a simple tent site to chalet rentals
- Children's Gîtes - somewhat similar to summer camps, these are gîtes welcoming children into their rural setting to learn about anything from theater to pottery
Gîtes de France Rating SystemThe wonderful thing about the Gites de France system is that is has a very elaborate and specific rating system. That makes it much easier to know what to expect. Each property is rated based on the number of corn stalks, and here is what each level means for rural gîtes, according to the Gîtes de France organization (and other types of gites, such as bed and breakfasts, have different standards):
- 1 ear of corn: outside space, garden furniture: one bathroom and toilet (for gîtes up to 6 people), second bathroom (for gîtes for 7 people or more); broiler or mini-oven, kitchen table, pressure cooker, fridge, cleaning materials and basic cleaning products, iron, baby seat on demand.
- 2 ears of corn: as well as or instead of 1 ear of corn facilities: barbecue (except in areas where barbecues are not permitted), washing machine (in gîtes for 6 people or more), blender, electric coffee-maker, TV aerial, table cloths and towels on demand*.
- 3 ears of corn: as well as or instead of 2 ear of corn facilities: independent access and private garden, 2 toilets (in gites for 7 people or more), washing machine, dishwasher* (in gîtes for 5 people or more), oven, colour television*, telephone*, cleaning service on request.
- 4 ears of corn: as well as or instead of 3 ear of corn facilities: unique property, setting and internal decoration of an extremely high standard, fireplace or wood-burning stove (unless forbidden under local authority regulations); microwave, fridge with freezer section, tumble-dryer (in properties for 6 people or more).
- 5 ears of corn: as well as or instead of 4 ear of corn facilities: private parkland or landscaped garden, leisure facilities on site (e.g. tennis court, swimming pool sauna or Jacuzzi), garage or other outside shelter; in gîtes for 3 people or more: washing machine, tumble-dryer, hi-fi, video player.