The Gîte Life Continued Pt. 2
Ok, now for some pointers and a little reality.
Staying in a gîte requires flexibility on your part. In other words, you must be able to deal with issues that arise mostly on your own. As I’ve said earlier, gîtes vary WIDELY and at times there will be issues that you will have to decide how you want to deal with (or not).
If you’ve noticed, one of the amenities previously listed was window screens. Yes, window screens. For some reason, in most of the gîtes that we have stayed in there were no window screens. I can only conjecture that on older buildings the French control the coolness or warmth of the the interior by opening or closing the heavy wood shutters. This necessitates opening the window and reaching out to close the shutters making having a window screen impossible, inconvenient, or a chore to deal with. I was perplexed by the idea of having window screen on windows that had exterior shutter so in the gîtes we stayed in that did have window screens, I was intrigued by how the solution was reached. The window screens rolled down from the top and had a tab to hold onto when rolling them down or up making it very easy to close or open the shutters. Why more buildings don’t have window screens is a mystery. In our stay in Bergerac, where in the countryside there are many small ponds and brooks, we were eaten alive by mosquitoes. Window screens would have made our stay so much more pleasant. Anyway, spending more money doesn’t necessarily guaranty that the gîte will have window screens. You should ask when making inquiries. It can’t hurt to do so.
I could get very specific about what kind of issues you might encounter, but let me just put it this way. Your stay in a gîte will most likely last one week or more. So, make the gîte yours for that time. You will find things that may be very different than what you are accustomed to so make it comfortable for you during your stay. Move the table, couch, or chair to suit you. Rearrange the kitchen dishes or cooking utensils where they work best for you. If you are concerned about remembering where everything was before you moved things, take a photo with your camera phone before you move things so that you can easily put the things back at the end of your stay.
Some gîtes may have several other gîtes and so the owners will be very busy dealing with cleaning, supplying, laundering, checking guests in and out etc. Many other issues may arise and the owner won’t always have the time or resources to deal with them. So you must be flexible. For us, staying in so many different gîtes has made us determine what was essential for us to have and if the gîte didn’t provide it, we went out and bought it. Nothing large or expensive but something as simple as cutting board, salad spinner, certain cleaning products, toilet paper, a good sharp knife, plastic wrap, a fly swatter, and a good fan. Mind you, some of the gîtes will already have some of these things and others will not. But for our convenience we carry these basics just in case. And what do we do with all these extra things we’ve accumulated on our trip when we’re finally ready to return home? We usually donate them to the last place we stay so the next occupants can take advantage of them.
Staying in a gîte can be a very pleasant experience or not. It all depends on how you go about it. It will save you money if you do your own cooking most of the time. Choosing a location that is close to or in a place where you want to be is always a plus and finally, you may have a chance meeting with interesting people.