If you’re looking for places to stay in France, you’ve certainly got your work cut out for you – there are plenty of hotels, hostels and other kinds of accommodation to choose from. On this page, we’re going to talk about those “other kinds” – namely, chambres d’hotes and gîtes.
Chambres d’hotes and gîtes (see French pronunciation guide) are excellent alternatives to anonymous hotels and bare-bones hostels. Not only will you get a more “authentic” French lodging experience; but because they’re mostly privately owned by locals, you’re getting a room with an in-house travel concierge. They’re really the way to go, especially in the more rural areas of France.
>>Read more about what to expect from accommodations in France.
These guest homes, known to us as bed and breakfasts, are often found in smaller villages throughout France and have now popped up in the cities as well. Originally an industry developed for tourists and businesspeople who could not afford a hotel, as well as a means for the owner to supplement income, these cozy establishments have won the hearts of travelers and Francophiles.
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A chambre d’hote is a room rented in someone’s home (although many times the entire establishment will be rented rooms, and the owners live on-site or nearby). These accommodations almost always supply a full breakfast as well. Some chambres d’hotes will sometimes also be listed with the phrase tables d’hotes, which means that dinner and sometimes lunch are also included in the price of the room.
If you are looking for a way to truly experience France, chambres d’hotes feature affordable and comfortable rooms, authentic French cuisine and conversations with welcoming locals. They sometimes require a minimum two-night stay, but this varies depending on the individual chambre d’hote owner.
While a chambre d’hote can mean almost any room rented out of a home, a gîte is generally old farm cottage, converted outbuilding or barn within the proximity of the owner’s principal residence. These accommodations are sometimes regarded as ‘basic’ in terms of facilities, however most gîtes are generally very well kept and a growing number will have excellent facilities such as fully fitted kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, TV, DVD and access to a swimming pool or other sporting activities.
The term gîte nowadays also encompasses most forms of self-catering vacation cottages, flats or apartments, so make sure to take note of the name where it pops up. But check prices carefully; a gîte is usually a more simple and rustic affair, but some luxury vacation villas have taken to “humbly” calling their mansions gîtes.
» Not convinced? It’s OK – here’s additional information on hotels and hostels in France. Or, if you’re looking for a bit more modernity, see what we have to say about general vacation rental properties in France.