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Washington Post: worldwide B&Bs and homes



Details: Gites and B& Bs

Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page P06

Web sites listing privately owned chambres d'hotes (bed-and-breakfasts) and gites (vacation homes) on farms and vineyards and in centuries-old villages offer travelers to France enjoyable and economical alternatives to hotels.

On Gites de France (see below), which bills itself as the largest guest-house network in Europe, average prices are $559 a week for a house in high season (generally June through August), $365 in low season. Rates vary according to location, region and the size of the gite, many of which are capable of accommodating a dozen or more. Chambres d'hotes -- guest rooms that often have their own entryway and bath (some may be down the hall) -- average $67 a night double, breakfast included.

Gites de France ( http://www.gites-de-france.com/gites/uk/rural_gites). Although this may be the most complete list of vacation properties in France, many listings are presented only in French. Navigation is sometimes confusing. The site also has links to vacation properties in 24 other European countries. Number of listings: 56,000 (in France).

TopRural ( http://en.toprural.com). A user-friendly site that also lists properties in Spain and Portugal. Number of listings: 17,200.

Likhom ( http://www.likhom.com). An easy-to-use site with properties in 18 of France's 22 regions. Listings: Several hundred.

Chambres D'Hotes France ( http://www.chambresdhotesfrance.com). This site focuses on France but also offers properties in Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy. A basic knowledge of French is helpful.

Les Vacances en France ( http://www.les-vacances-en-france.com). A no-frills site with some listings linked to the property owners' Web sites, which more than likely will be in French; others have no links and list only addresses and phone numbers.

Gite.com ( http://www.gite.com). A Canadian site aimed at the North American market, with an emphasis on "properties that are architecturally representative of their region, furnished in the local style, and whose owners will act as enthusiastic and knowledgeable ambassadors for their area." Listings: 350.

Owners Direct ( http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/France.htm). A British site listing properties worldwide. Listings: 17,000.

-- G.C.