Visitors in France will have no trouble finding hotels, from simple to luxurious. But what if an outdoor enthusiast wants something a little more, well, outdoorsy? Located on many trails and at other remote locations are refuges, rustic lodges which provide shelter for hikers. Some are looked after by caretakers who provide food and drink to guests. Some are open and accessible only during summer months. They are operated by park authorities, alpinist organizations or other private groups, and a small fee is charged for accommodations. More common, however, are gntes, of which there are several types.
Gntes are typically rural accommodations, varying from very rustic trailside shelters to more luxurious bed-and-breakfast lodging. While gn fall into specific categories depending on location and type of usage, there is some overlap in their characteristics. In general, each gnte has a maximum number of people specified, and the price is for the gnte, not the number of people using it. Prices range (very roughly) from 1200 to 1800 francs per week in August for a two- to four-person gnte. Note: 1200 francs is about $200, but be sure to check current exchange rates.
The gn d'i or gn de groupe is often a converted barn or an old stone house located in a rural area. It is intended for nightly stays by hikers, skiers or riders. Dormitory sleeping and facilities for cooking is often provided, and there is usually space for groups (reservations recommended). Some gntes have caretakers who prepare meals for guests, although they do not generally supply sheets, blankets and bath towels.
The gn rural is a furnished accommodation located in rural areas, at the seaside or in the mountains, usually priced by the week. It can be an apartment or detached house, with one or more bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen/kitchenette and bathroom. Except for the highest-level gntes, you must provide your own bedding and linen.
Holiday gntes differ from the more rustic,"roughing-it" gntes described above. These are farmhouse or cottages available for rent for weekends or weeks at a time. Guests often cook for themselves, although some farmhouse gntes offer prepared meals.
The gnte chambre d'htte is the equivalent of bed and breakfast accommodations, with room and breakfast in the home of the host.
Gnte de neige, gnte de pjche and gnte gntequestre are all variations of the Gnte d'i, where the accommodations or locations are especially suited to the specified visitor: neige - skiing; pjche - fishing;equestre - horseback riding. For information on the gntes contact the Gntes de France for the geographical department you are interested in, or the central office:
Fidiration Nationale des Gntes de France:
59 rue St-Lazare
Phone: 1 49 70 75 75
The camping experience in France can range from the familiar campground to "camping sauvage," in which campers stake their tents in wilderness areas or at theshore. Generally this type of camping is illegal. For example, camping is forbidden on French beaches and in protected areas, although folks do get away with it in certain regions. "Camping a la ferme," or camping on private farmland, is not uncommon, although campers must get permission from landowners first, of course. Sometimes the owners will share farm produce with hungry campers. Camping a la ferme is also coordinated by Gntes de France. See address above.
Special thanks to Russ Collins, Beyond the French Riviera for providing some of the information on this page.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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