Holiday cottages in France fall into two essential categories – gites out in the champagne (countryside) and more metropolitan bases, from which the cultural delights of a French city may be explored. Really the first decision a holidaymaker needs to make is where to be based. Like the UK, France has regional distinctions that set each area apart from the others: unlike the UK, which is reasonably small, France is geographically large and so less likely to give more than one type of surrounding per holiday.
France enjoys a pretty board cross section of popular geographies, from mountain ranges to seaside towns. It also boasts a cross section of climates. In the north, France’s climate is much like our own, though usually a few degrees warmer in summer. In the south, the country’s Mediterranean climate keeps holidaymakers warm for most of the year. A summer spent in the south of France should bring guaranteed sunshine.
Holiday cottages in France might be able to offer direct bookings – that is, bookings where the holidaymaker is put directly in contact with the property owner. This allows the holidaymaker to talk straight to the owner, finding out information both about the property and the local area “from the horse’s mouth”. It can also mean that there is no booking fee to pay. Where the holiday broker puts the holidaymaker directly in contact with the owner, the only money that will normally change hands is a commission from the owner to the broker – the holidaymaker doesn’t have to pay extra.
It is wise to keep an eye out for special offers as well. Holiday companies have always tried to entice people to stay when business isn’t maxed out, using discounts or children stay free deals: and 2013 is no exception to that rule. If you are to stay in holiday cottage in France then you should first be looking around to see what kind of offers are on the table at the moment. Also, if you are relaxed enough about where and when you go you may find specific special offers pertaining to individual properties. Sometimes a property is suddenly found empty due to a cancellation, for example – in which case you are likely to be able to get a week or two, for the period when it should have been occupied already, for an out of season price.
Villas and Gites
In general terms, a villa is normally located in or near to a city or town; while a gite is more likely to be out in the country, in or near a village. Gite is the French term for a country property, normally rustic and in keeping with its environment. Gites are frequently made mostly of wood, or of timber and plaster, and often occupy their own acreage. The preferred bolthole of the moneyed French – not to mention quite a few of the moneyed English – gites may be found all over France. They can be quite characterful, often with outhouses or with kitchens still heated from a range.
Villas are more likely to have modern conversions and conveniences – for example swimming pools and facilities for outdoor cooking. Some may have attachment to larger “communities” of holiday villas – while others will stand on their own.
Holiday cottages in France cover, as noted, a wide range of geographies and types of location. It should be noted that some gites and real rural properties are unlikely to be within easy transport distance of any major town – which can make getting to them something of an undertaking. In general terms, it is best to drive to these locations, either by flying to the nearest airport and hiring a car, or by driving over from the UK.
Emily Steves is a travel writer. She has traveled many places, mostly in France. She is writing a book, where she is sharing her valuable experience about the various regions and the holiday cottages in France.