Although the French term gîte simply refers to any kind of shelter, a Gîte is more specifically known as a French vacation home. These homes are available for rent, and are usually furnished and equipped with the proper accoutrement for daily necessities. This includes typical household items such as a refrigerator, working stove, cooking utensils and flatware, etcetera.
Most gîtes are converted from former barns or cottages used by farm workers, or from other buildings that are no longer needed for farm work. These buildings are typically on private property together with the home of the property owners, who likely still live on the property year round. Thus by renting out gîtes to tourists and vacationers, property owners have a source of income and are able to care for the property and guests easily.
Although rental of some gîtes is handled by outside property companies, most gîtes are cared for and rented through the property owners themselves. This allows owners to welcome guests personally, and remain available for any further needs of these guests. Vacationers who desire to stay in a gîte should check with the owners to make sure exactly what services are provided. For example, some gîte owners may offer linen services while others may not.
Other things to make sure of before choosing to stay in a gîte include whether or not pets and children are welcome, and what amenities are available. While some gîtes are offer amenities such as television and DVD players, others may be more rustic and, for example, have apart bathrooms. Details can be discussed by contacting the renting owners directly, or by contacting the rental service handling the property. Websites are available that list contact information for gîte rental and quality reviews.
Though the more traditional gîte is a converted building on a former farming property, many other types of residences can also be called gîtes, including anything from city apartments to resort-style accommodations available for rent. Due to this variety, different types of gîtes may go by different names. For example, a Gîte Rural is a gîte in the countryside near the ocean or mountains. A Gîte d’Enfants provides lodging for children. A Gîte equestre is an outpost for people traveling on horseback, and a Gîte d’Etape is similar to a hostel, where people may stay for a night or two while traveling by foot or bicycle.