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The direct booking process
Booking a holiday cottage directly with the owner is generally one of the safest and surest ways of ensuring a successful holiday - especially when you have had the opportunity to thoroughly check out the property you have chosen, as is the case with the Gitelink guide.
Private owners renting out their property directly often live in the same village, or close by, and have their own personal reputations to defend if there should be a problem. Many, if not most, take pride in ensuring that their visitors get a great welcome, for if not, it is they, they owners, who are in the direct firing line. They have no anonymous travel agency or tour operator to hide behind.
Remember, bad news travels much faster than good news, and holiday cottage owners have every interest in ensuring that no-one starts spreading bad news about their property.
Many of the properties in the Gitelink directory are run by British or English-speaking owners; flags in the directory indicate the languages in which they have put up their website.
A few properties in the directory will ask you to book through the "Gites de France" organisation. This is a reliable process.
Securing your booking
There is a standard tradition in the world of holiday cottage rentals in France. A deposit, usually between 20% and 40% of the rental cost, is required to secure the booking, and the balance is due either a month or so before arrival or sometimes on arrival. There is also a standard damage deposit requirement, called in French "la caution" - though there is no fixed rate. Between 200 and 500 Euros is normal. Usually the visitor must deposit this in the form of a cheque which will not be paid in unless required. In some cases a deposit in cash may be easier.
Few gite owners accept online payment, and those who do, especially if they use Paypal, often ask the customer to pay the transaction charges. The owners of many of the gites in the directory will accept cheques in sterling on a UK bank or in Euros on a French bank. When payment is required in Euros, this is no big problem even if - as is probable - you do not have a French chequebook in Euros. European banks have now all adopted the IBAN and SEPA (Single European Payment Area) system, and every bank account in France now has its IBAN number.
Holiday cottage owners who do not accept payment in Sterling should be able to provide an IBAN number; it is then a simple matter to instruct your bank to make payment of the required sum to the IBAN account indicated. You may even be able to do this yourself online, if you have Internet banking. Bank charges on IBAN / SEPA transfers are low, and even - for transfers between countries in the Euro zone, which includes the Republic of Ireland - normally free.
Holiday cottages in the Gitelink directory
Gites and cottages are not accepted into the Gitelink Directory unless they provide sufficient information and photos on their website for us, and you the potential visitor, to get a good picture of the property concerned. We specialise in traditional rural gites, which are like homes from home in French villages or the French countryside. We do not accept in the Gitelink directory accommodation that is too cramped, lacks an outdoor space, is inadequately furnished, or otherwise liable to prove less attractive than was imagined.
In twelve years of operation, Gitelink has received just one single - and unjustified - complaint regarding a property listed in the directory.
What is a "gite" ? Click here for details on distinguishing between gites, villas, cottages and other rentals.