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A gîte (French pronunciation: [ʒit]) is a type of accommodation that comes in a variety of forms, ranging from a gîtes d'etape, a hostel, for walkers and cyclists, to a gîte rural, a holiday home in the country available for rent. The term gîte originally meant quite simply a form of shelter. Gîtes d'etape, which resemble mountain huts, or youth hostel, usually provide meals and have dormitory accommodation. They are found along Grande Randonnée long distance trails. The holiday homes type are fully furnished and equipped for self-catering. Some owners may also provide meals.
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. 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 fully fitted kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, TV, DVD, and access to a swimming pool or other sporting activities. The term gîte encompasses most forms of holiday cottage and even holiday flats or apartments. Many gîtes will also accept pets.
Some gîtes do not 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 since they attract investment and tourism.
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, there are several associations of gîte owners.
- 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.
- casa de turismo rural in Portugal
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for gîtes in France.|