Accommodation in France: French gîte or luxury villa
Welcome to part one of our savvy traveller’s guide to accommodation in France – in which we say “non !” to pre-travel jitters, and aim to make holiday planning synonomous with peace of mind.
Only staying for a short while in France?
When staying for a week or less in one place, there are plenty of options that are not only cheaper than a hotel but also allow you to meet French locals.
The beautiful thing is that in this case, affordable accommodation in France does not mean you have to forgo those small luxuries we like to indulge in when we are on holidays.
And even better: there’s that little bit extra money to spend on la gastronomie, French fashion, quality tours and whatever takes your fancy! It’s all about being smart and savvy; knowing when to splurge, and when you can save.
The first option is a French gîte or luxury villa.
Traditionally a gîte is a holiday cottage or a farmhouse (often in the country), but nowadays the term is used to refer to many different types of rental properties. Gîtes are a great option as they allow the best of a hotel (private space and often included breakfast) along with some great experience de la vie française.
Alternatively, villas are the luxury (and more expensive) version of gîtes.
By choosing a villa or gîte, there is more of an opportunity to befriend the local people, discover some wonderful local gems and make some interesting holiday memories.
Where to look
Owners Direct is a pretty wide-ranging website for finding both gites and villas, while Gîtes de France provides extensive listings for different places, from B&Bs to private rooms and holiday cottages that fit into a range of price brackets.
What the experts say
MyFrenchLife.org correspondent Wendy Wise interviewed Jean and Mike Brookes about their lives and the eco-gîtes they run in the French countryside. According to the Brookes, it is thanks to being in that environment that they are able to experience la douceur angevine.
Travel publisher Alastair Sawday also has some great suggestions for some unique, high quality places to visit in the book ‘Go Slow France’, authored by Ann Cooke-Yarborough. Divided into geographical regions, the book highlights many places to stay off the beaten track, listing contact details and pricing for each.
Sawday more recently published ‘Special Places to Stay: French Bed and Breakfast’, listing his top ten B&Bs in France in a Guardian article. Our favourite is La Caloge in Crozon, Brittany; a former fishing boat that now lives in the garden with a thatched roof on top!
Things to watch out for
Staying in a villa in particular can be a real splurge – so be sure to assess all the other options, and decide on whether spending this much on accommodation is the best option for you.
How to access our special accommodation offer!
We also have a fabulous special offer to all MyFrenchLife.org members to be announced next week!
Sign up now by clicking the big red semi cirlce found at the top right of our homepage to be eligible for special member offers.
Follow this ‘Staying in France series’ to access the special offer.
Have you stayed in a gîte or villa? How was your experience?
I love French gîtes. And villas. And everything in between!
Alastair Sawday is something of a Godsend, according to my Dad who always uses him whenever planning a holiday in Europe – we have been to some truly amazing places.
I like ownersdirect.com and airbandb – the former for finding winter ski/summer mountain accommodation (in France of course!) and airbandb for short city breaks on a budget. I found a beautiful apartment in Bordeaux last summer that was so reasonably priced. Great accommodation is out there, it’s just about knowing where to look!
I am staying in a gîte for my first three months in Paris (it looks like a stable and is behind an unremarkable street door as in the picture in the story). It was a forced choice in some respect due to it being wheelchair accessible but I also wanted to not be in the inner arrondissements where tourists flock but I wanted to be very close to Paris too (for other reasons). I cannot promote any establishment I’ve not yet stayed in yet, but one both sacrifices and gains from whichever accommodation choice one chooses. You have to decide what you will give up to get what you want.
Also one of my philosophies is that ‘Your day can be overwhelming but your home should be zen’.