When you arrive

There seem to be mixed views among gite owners as to whether to provide a welcome pack or not. Does it make a difference to locataires ? Do they appreciate the gesture? What should go in it? Should it be a proper starter pack with butter/milk/bread/jam etc or should it be a few local delicacies – olives, seasonal fruit, homemade jam, local wine?

In the dim and distant past when I was renting gites instead of renting them out people’s expectations were very different. I remember there being a huge disparity in what was provided. I once rented a small gite in Royan where we were the first locataires and the owner apologised for there not being an oyster knife!! Yes, really, I kid you not! The ‘batterie de cuisine’ (kitchen utensils) was far superior to anything I had at home.

At the other extreme we stayed for several years running in a beautiful rural gite in Sarthe – part of a large domaine – where we had to cram into our cases sheets, towels, sharp knives, tea towels, salt and pepper, plus all cleaning products and loo paper. The place would be completely bereft of supplies apart from the absolute basic cutlery/crockery/pans! But it didn’t stop us returning to the place time after time. The setting was magical and the owners tres sympa. And anyway it was a great excuse not to do so much cooking and test out the local restaurants.

I can’t remember any of the French gites providing a welcome pack although we did get a gift of homemade jam at a place in the Gard. What always made the difference for us was the warmth of the welcome (only once did we not get that – in the Var – and that’s another story!) we received after the long drive there. That’s what made us want to return to a place or recommend it to friends.

You’ll find the kitchen well-equipped here – you can even make your own jam to take home, if the urge takes you. There is a library full of cookery books – including the classics: Larousse Gastronomique, Elizabeth David and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as well as modern cooks and chefs.

And you won’t need any dried herbs with the herb garden outside the kitchen door and the perma-culture potager to raid in the main garden.

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