When people ask “What is a gite in France” often in their head they will pronounce it geet, with a hard G, like in the word “Go” – but this is not correct.
It should be pronounced with a soft J sound – almost like ‘jite’ or ‘jeet’- not quite exactly like a J, like “Jerry” – that too would be wrong.
Imagine a French person saying the word “Jite” – somewhere between the sound being a Z and a J. Maybe like “jsheete”.
So, now we’ve got the correct way to say “What is a gite in France“.
Now, what does it mean? What is “gite” translation?
The simplest way to think of the meaning is to say that it is a country cottage for hire, for holidays. This might be a holiday in France with children or with just adults.
It might be small, for just a few people, or it might be large. It might be basic, with few amenities, or it might be a luxury villas Dordogne type, like this one. It might be a villa with a private pool or it might not – that is not part of the criteria.
They will always be self catering – whether a low-end basic option or luxury family self catering France.
It might be attached to the owner’s house, where they might be available for any help. Or it might be a separate property, remote from all others, like this self catering in the Dordogne.
You wouldn’t call a chateau (which is a mansion or castle) a gite.
What Is A Gite In France ?
All that really matters to define it as a gite is that it is a holiday home or holiday rental property in France.
Gites in France is a house of any size you can rent for “les vacances”. “Gîtes de france” is an organisation of location rental property gites.
Origin of the Word Gite
It is fascinating to look at the history or origin of the word. Gitane was what the French used to call a gypsy lady. This was from an erroneous belief that gypsies came from Egypt, via the Spanish giptano, from Egyptano. (The gitane is now a brand of cigarettes).
So a gitane was the dwelling of a gypsy, ie a caravan or small remote cottage hut in the countryside. This gitane became gite and kept the connection as being the house or dwelling.
So the meaning of gite was for a long time purely the mountain huts that could be used as an auberge for hikers and travellers. This is why it evolved to mean the converted farm outbuildings and barns that were upgraded to be rented out to passers by.
The meaning then stretched for what is a gite to be any house or dwelling that was available as a holiday rental.
To find out more about this luxury villa in Dordogne France click here.
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