is a gite? Is it different from a cottage or a villa ?
does the word "gite" actually mean?
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from a cottage
or a villa
a holiday rental
The short answer is "no" - at least not in the way that it is commonly
used (or abused) on the Internet. But even so the term does tend to be
used more specifically to define a particular type of holiday rental
accommodation, to the exclusion of other types.
For some holiday properties, the expressions gite, cottage,
holiday cottage, holiday let,
and vacation rental
may all be quite appropriate, and frequently used. But within this
disconcerting array of alternatives, each term has certain nuances of
meaning - or should have. The problem is that owners and agencies often
use words with a nonchalent disregard for their real meaning, and
sometimes choose a deliberately more flattering term to describe a
rental property that is really not much to write home about.
In correct usage,
the various terms that describe holiday rental properties can be
defined as follows:
gite is a most commonly a rural holiday rental, frequently in a
renovated traditional country cottage or barn conversion - in a village
or in the countryside. The word
"gite" more generally defines the function of the property, and in
reality there are plenty of "gites" in modern buildings. "Gite" is a
French word that has gained acceptance in English, notably but not only
to describe properties in rural France. Originally, "gites" offered
fairly rudimentary accommodation, and this is still the case today for
some properties, notably those that are listed as "one ear of wheat"
(un épi) with the Gites de France organisation. However, in
years, the concept of the gîte has gone firmly up-market, and
majority of gites, particularly those that advertise internationally,
offer good quality accommodation or even luxury accomodation. Using the
Gitelink directory, visitors can get a very clear view of the qualities
of each property, since most gites are presented on its own individual
websites, with plenty of photos.
In France (though not in the Gitelink directory), the word also defines
some other specific types of accommodation; a "gîte d'étape"
is rather like an old-fashioned youth hostel, a place offering fairly
basic overnight accommodation on a long-distance or popular hiking or
cycling route. A "gîte équestre"
is usually the same kind of
for riders trekking on horseback.
In Spain, "gites" are often referred to by the term "finca"
or "cortijo", which
imply detached rural houses, or simply called "casas rurales"
is more used to describe modern detached properties, or classic
residences, and defines the nature of a building rather than its
function. A detached house in the leafy suburbs of Nice, or a modern
house in a small village, might describe itself as a "villa", though
also be hired out as a "gite".
the term evokes the image of a small traditional rural homestead, the
kind of building that was once the home of a farm worker and his family
or a smallholder. It is commonly used in this definition today, though
on account of its homely connotations and the values the word implies,
the term "cottage" is also used more generally to describe any form of
self-contained rural accommodation, and is perhaps the best English
translation of the word "gîte".
term traditionally used to describe wooden dwellings in the mountains,
or traditional mountain buildings built of stone and wood. Today the
word is also used to describe modern wooden houses in the country, or
even small prefabricated wooden holiday homes. The Gitelink directory
includes traditional chalets, but not the small prefabricated type.
rental, holiday let: (in French, "location de vacances")
These expressions cover a much wider range of properties, and
include modern seaside apartments, bungalows, and almost any type of
flat or house that is rented out furnished for tourists or short-stay
apartment, vacation rental, holiday lodging :
these terms are essentially used in American English, but for this
reason have been picked up by a lot of international websites or
holiday websites in English that are actually run and/or owned by
people speaking other languages. For this reason, their usage on the
Internet is often rather arbitrary and general. There are plenty of
instances of holiday websites describing detached villas as "holiday
apartments" and vice-versa.
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How to book a gite
There are any number of different ways to book a gite: but take care !
If you use a big online rentals site, warning
: you may well end up paying far more for your gite or cottage holiday
than you need to. And if you don't pay more than you need to (and even
if you do) the chances are that the booking site is taking a good slice
of the booking fee. Many gite owners, like the owners of many small
hotels, b&bs and campsites, struggle hard to make ends meet,
and the big online rentals sites make the struggle even harder.
Depending on the rental
agency used, visitors can be charged a fee of up to 16%
on top of the
rental charge – not to mention the commissions charged to
For example, you discover a delightful holiday cottage, with
room for 4 people, for which the weekly rental charge
announced on the rental site is a reasonable 690 € for a week.
So you go through the booking process, and by the time you reach the
checkout, the cost has jumped up to 800 €.
What a waste, when you could have booked the
cottage at the stated rental price, by contacting the owners directly.
Most properties listed on Gitelink can be booked
avoiding the commissions and fees
charged by many online holiday rental agencies.
rates, no risk, no hassle!
Start your search by clicking on the map above
In addition, direct booking with the owners, or booking
through a portal that does not require you to pay them
first is by far the best option in the event that you should
need to modify or cancel your booking.
The Internet is full of horror tales from people
who have been unable to cancel a booking through a reservation site, or
who have done so and been charged nonetheless, or have been given a
very meagre reimbursement.
booking avoids this: you are in direct contact with the
property owner, and most owners take great pains to ensure good
is a fully independent website working directly with owners
but also affiliated to certain online booking platforms. Gitelink takes
no commission on rentals made directly with owners, but may
receive a small commission
only on bookings made through affiliate sites . This has no
effect at all on the price paid by the