Choosing the Right Gite or Cottage.

France is the ideal place for a self catering family holiday. Having made the decision to visit this beautiful and diverse country you should now consider what else you need to make this holiday truly memorable.

Assuming that you have found the area you want to visit, its time to make a short list of the properties that meet your needs. Using GiteSearch’s advance search criteria is a great way to make a short list. Once your shortlist is complete you can to start and judge one property against another. Compare each property against your wish list of facilities and “must have” essentials.

Although you shortlist may have already been based on price there are still a few financial considerations to be made. What’s included within the “headline” price. Some property owners impose an end of stay cleaning charge. This can be as high as €100 and is quite common in high season. Check that this cost is included in the overall cost or budget for it as an extra. In colder months, quite reasonably, many owners will charge extra for heating costs. It’s also a good idea to find out if bed linen and towels are supplied and are they included in the price. It’s less common now but some owners will charge for these things – a few owners still expect you to bring your own.

Your shortlist will have been based on the number of bedrooms and beds. It’s worthwhile checking the type of beds in the property and the location of the bedrooms. Parents usually want to be on the same floor as younger children and, perhaps, as far away as possible from teenagers. If limited mobility is an issue, then access to bedrooms needs to be investigated. You should check if any of the beds quoted are sofa beds and if these are acceptable to you. The availability of cots and stair gates is an important factor for families with young children.

In addition to cots and stair gates you should check, if needed, that there are high chairs and other equipment for babies and young children. If you need any of these items find out if they are supplied free or for an extra cost? GiteSearch makes it easy to search for child friendly properties with a simple click of the mouse.

Whilst on the subject of children, there are a few other considerations to be made. Does the property have a pool and is it safe? Pools in France must by law have one of three safety systems. The IMG_5337 - 800pool should be covered when not in use or have an alarm to detect someone entering the water or must be fully fenced with child proof gates. Our article on pool safety may help you to decide which system would give you the most peace of mind.

Not all pools are heated and some for only part of the year. If this is important to you , check out if and when it’s heated. At the same time look at how the pool is heated and is it chlorinated or salt water. Ask yourself if you’re happy with a shared pool.

Many properties are part of a group, perhaps a collection of old farm buildings and others are single properties with complete privacy. Renting a property with neighbours can give instant playmates for your children and a social life for you when they’ve gone to bed. If you want a complete getaway then opt for the single property.

On a more domestic note, look to see how well the kitchen is equipped and compare properties. Whilst you can survive without a dishwasher for a couple of weeks, a washing machine can be essential. Some group properties have shared laundry facilities. Check these facilities against the properties on your short list and decide what you consider essential. GiteSearch’s comprehensive list of facilities makes it easy to see how well equipped a gite is

Walking distance to shops, restaurants etc can be an important factor. If you’re taking your own car, or hiring one, it’s not too much of a problem.

Ask yourself if the location could cause problems. Is the property on a main road? Is it near something that could present a danger to your family? Look for clues in the name of the property. River view will be near a river, High Barns could be at the top of a hill. You may have to translate the properties name to get the full picture.

Lastly, what about pets. Obviously, if you want to take your dog on holiday you need to make sure the property will accept pets. There is sometimes an extra charge for this. Less obviously, but an important consideration, if you or someone in your family are allergic to dogs, you may be affected by a pet that has visited the property before you. If you have a severe allergy, you should consider avoiding properties that accept pets.  You can easily use GiteSearch to filter properties that accept pets.

When you think you have found “the one” try looking for it on one of the review sites and see what other people think. Check if the property has one of the recognised quality ratings or is listed with the local tourist board.

GiteSearch’s advanced search facilities are designed to let you easily and quickly find your ideal property based on the guidance we have given in this article  and many. A little bit of detective work and perhaps a few e-mails to owners can narrow down your shortlist and hopefully find you the perfect holiday location.

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