A gîte (French pronunciation: [ʒit]) is a specific type of holiday accommodation. A gîte is a holiday home which is available for rent. Gîtes are usually fully furnished and equipped for self-catering. Many owners choose to handle their own rentals, and one can find these by searching online on the multitude of listing sites or by checking with the local tourist information office.
Technically, to be called a gîte, the owner must live close by in order to provide help, assistance, and a warm welcome to guests. Gîtes are generally old farmworkers' cottages or converted outbuildings and barns within proximity of the owners' principal residence. This type of holiday accommodation is sometimes regarded as 'basic' in terms of facilities; however, most gîtes are generally very well kept, and a growing number will have excellent facilities such as fully fitted kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, TV, DVD and access to a swimming pool or other sporting activities. The term gîte nowadays encompasses most forms of holiday cottage and even holiday flats or apartments. Many gîtes will also accept pets.
The term gîte originally meant quite simply a form of shelter. Gîtes today vary from being luxury holiday homes to very basic apartments. Some gîtes don't provide linen as standard, so many gîte holidaymakers take their linen with them. However, many gîte owners do include linen at least as an option.
Gîtes are encouraged by the local tourist board and planning authorities as they attract investment and tourism.
All gîte owners are required to ensure that their gîtes are safe and comply with the necessary rules, regulations and insurance requirements.
In French-speaking regions of Europe, several associations regroup gîte owners:
- in France: Gîtes de France, Bienvenue à la ferme, Accueil Paysan and Clévacances;
- in Belgium: Fédération des Gîtes de Wallonie and Accueil Champêtre en Wallonie;
- in Switzerland: tourisme-rural.ch.
A number of classes of gîte are defined and graded by Gîtes de France. These are:
- Gîte Rural
- Offers self-catering accommodation located in the countryside, by the sea, or in the mountains. The gîte is completely self-contained with one or more bedrooms, a lounge or dining room, a kitchen and bathroom facilities.
- Gîtes d'Enfants
- Holidays for children. During the school holidays host families provide lodging for children of various ages with a wide variety of activities. Children's gîtes are regulated and inspected to ensure a safe and secure environment for each child.
- Gîtes d'Etape
- Stopover and holiday getaways off the beaten track for groups of walkers or cyclists.
- Gîte Equestre
- A staging post for people or groups travelling across France on horseback; or gîte offering stabling for horses.
- A complex of wooden cottages set in the countryside providing various activities, such as, fishing, horse-riding, archery, cycling.
- Chambre d'Hôtes
- Bed and Breakfast the French way. Stay as a guest in a private home with a full breakfast provided. Some hosts offer Table d'Hôtes (table service) which provide half board or full board service. If Table d'Hôtes is not available there is usually a local restaurant available for evening meals.
- The term "gîte" is sometimes confused with "chambre d'hôtes", but in fact the two are different. A "chambre d'hôtes" is necessarily lived in by the service provider and breakfast served each morning. A "gîte" is a holiday home in an independent building. A chambre d'hôtes thus is more akin to a bed and breakfast.
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