A number of people have asked how we choose the places we rent, so here’s a rainy day blog post.
Our rentals are generally through VRBO/Homeaway. The rentals there usually have pretty lenient cancellation policies, and all the information is in English. Our Brittany rental (which we first found on Homeaway) is through Gîtes de France Finistère, but that could be a struggle for some, as the contract is in French. We’ve heard of a lot of bad experiences with AirBnB rentals, so we don’t even look there. Once we’ve decided on the general areas we want to visit, J combs through what seems like a gazillion listings to find ones of interest. It’s amazing how many rentals are available in France. The key elements for us:
- Not on a busy street
- Two bedrooms – guests are great! – with easy bed access – we’re all getting older and most of us are less spry
- A well-appointed kitchen – one of the best parts of these trips is cooking great food from the local markets
- No smoking
- Comfortable seating for four in the living area with decent light for reading
- Linens and towels provided – they frequently aren’t in Europe, and they’re way too heavy and bulky to pack
- Washing machine – laundromats are not our idea of a fun vacation outing
Of course, pictures can always fool you. You have to really examine each listing to see if they are avoiding showing less-desirable features. That lesson was reinforced on our last stay on the Île de Ré, which was fortunately only for a week. One side of the bed was against the wall, but they never showed that in a picture. If they don’t show photos of the bathroom(s), they also don’t make the short list – who knows what horrors lurk in there! And some things you’ll never learn from a photo – that same house on the Île de Ré had a recurring issue with sewage smell from the septic tank, which was right next to the outdoor dining area. Bummer.