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Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

3 posts
Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

Dear all,

My husband and I are planning to do a roadtrip to Brittany (Ille et Villaine - Les Iffs, St Malo, Cancale) and Normandie (mainly coastal route - Mon St- Michel, Bayeux, Caen, Honfleur, Rouen etc.) starting October 3, for 10 days.

I was wondering if it is essential we book all our hotel locations in advance, or can we take it a little easier and decide spontaneously where to spend how many nights??

Also, I have bought the "Gites du charme" book , but am slightly confused as to wether this only refers to holiday houses that one has to book for a whole week or weekend, or if it is possible to also rent rooms for a night at these places.

Would all of you who know this region rather suggest sleeping in hotels or are other Bed and Breakfast type places fine - and how do we locate them??

I would greatly appreciate as much advice on the above as possible!!

Many thanks,


Destination Expert
for Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Level Contributor
2,169 posts
115 reviews
1. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

One of the joys of a French road tour is being able to go as you please - if you see a small hotel you like the look of you stop.

At the time of year you are going it is not peak tourist season however I have found it is never possible to predict if a hotel will be open.

For example we booked a lovely hotel out outside of Dieppe - when we arrived we found the restaurant in the hotel shut Saturday nights out of season.

My inclination would therefore be to go for the spontaneous option but not to leave it too late in the afternoon before finding a hotel.

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
38,175 posts
11 reviews
2. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

100% in agreement with boucheboy.

A gite is a vacation rental, usually for a week or more at a time -- these absolutely must be booked (and a deposit paid) in advance. They are not typically available for a night at a time.

For a night-by-night option, look for "chambres d'hote" - these are bedrooms in someone's home, and a wonderful way to experience an area.

Level Contributor
2,470 posts
32 reviews
3. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

Actually the word "gite" means lodging and applies to both house rentals or room rentals. This was something that greatly confused me when I started my B&B as French guests would phone and ask to book my gite and I would try to explain that we only offered rooms, not a house and they always responded with yes I know, that's what I want, two nights in your "gite".

I haven't seen it but I believe the Gites du Charme book does also cover B&Bs as several of our French guests have asked why we do not advertise in it - (hard copy advertising is too expensive these days!)

You shouldn't have too many problems leaving the booking until you are here as you are not going to be here during any school or public holidays. Tourist offices should also hold a folder of local B&Bs which should have photos in them. Try and go for a B&B rather than a hotel as you will learn so much more about the area from your hosts than from a more impersonal hotel.

3 posts
4. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

Thanks to everyone for the very helpful replies. Glad to read that we probably won't have to end up spending a night in our little car :o)

Rochester Hills...
Level Contributor
1,947 posts
70 reviews
5. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

I was truly surprised by the number of "Chambres d'hote" signs I saw everywhere in Normandy this past spring. It seemed that at every little crossroad there was a tiny cluster of homes, and you had a good chance that at least one of those offered "Chambres d'hote". I don't think you need fear being forced to sleep in your car.

The only place I would say to reserve would be Mont. St. Michel.

Fresno, CA
Destination Expert
for Fresno
Level Contributor
1,632 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

We were in Normandy that time of year as well. We did stay in a Gite for 2 weeks, but that was because we traveled with a 2 yr old. Many restaurants and hotels were closed that time of year, after the tourists had left and they needed a break! It was not crowded at all. In fact, many of the towns felt almost abandoned as they locals were taking their much deserved break.

3 posts
7. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

Hmmm Muffyia,

that doesn't sound so very attractive! If everything's totally dead and ghostly and most places are closed.......

Hopefully we won't find the place too desolate - but then again I have been told it has a different, speical kind of charme when that is the case.....

Let's see!

Fresno, CA
Destination Expert
for Fresno
Level Contributor
1,632 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

I would prefer quiet over having the place over-run with people on the beach and no parking. It was nice not having to worry over getting in restaurants with no reservations or having the museums such as in Arromanche being a zoo! It was chilly and rainy, so make sure you pack accordingly. As we have no interest in the beach holiday (being from California) we loved being able to get around without the traffic of the summer season.

Washington, DC
Level Contributor
138 posts
1 review
9. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

My wife and I are planning almost the identical trip on the same dates. Arriving in Brussels on Oct 3 to drive to Honfleur for a night and then 4 nights in Bayeux using that as a base to do day trips around Normandy.

We could not get a room in our first 2 choices of hotels in Bayeux -- seems there is a war correspondents reunion or conference coinciding with those dates in October. But, as I recall, we then had no problem finding hotel availability at other places in Bayeux. You may want to check to make sure there are availability for those dates in the Bayeux area. Also, when i checked for a D-Day tour, the tour we wanted was almost booked up so we made a reservation in advance for that.

10. Re: Should I book all hotels/gites in advance??

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