Our pick of 10 gîtes in northern France, perfect for embracing the slow life

Nicky deBouille

5 min read

The magic of a gîte holiday stems from life’s simple pleasures. We slip into a life lived at a slower pace: browsing markets for interesting cheeses, gently rolling down country lanes on two wheels, and breathing in the sea-air on coastal walks. We've selected 10 gîtes in northern France, renowned for its beautiful local food and landscape, that are perfect for enjoying the slow life.

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Our France expert, Nicky deBouille, has shared her tips and picked out ten very special places to stay to help you embrace the slow life on a gîte holiday in northern France.

‘I am very partial to an area called the Pays d’Auge – situated in Normandy around the city of Lisieux. It is a land of verdant valleys, achingly beautiful half-timbered and thatched-roof manor and farms, quaint many-towered chateaux, orchards producing cider and calvados, horse studs and herds of cows producing milk for the hearty (or ‘pongy’, as you wish) cheeses; Pont L-Eveque, Livrarot and Camenbert.

There is a cycle route which winds along small roads and cycle tracks through the prettiest countryside and through small villages.

Another route known as ‘the Cider Route’ winds between 20 cider producers through the landscape of the Pays d’Auge, connecting the villages of Cambremer, Beuvron-en-Auge (awarded one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France), Bonnebosq, and many others.

Read on to find our favourite 10 gîtes in northern France,perfect for embracing the slow life.’

Nid d’Hirondelles, Calvados, Normandy

This artist’s home is perfectly situated to explore the cobbled streets of Caen. On Friday’s potter through the bustling market at Rue Pémagnie or head to Place Saint Sauveur for produce from local artisans. Keep an eye out for grignettes, Caen’s pastry delicacy. Return to your cosy apartment with a basket full of provisions for an evening spent feasting and or gathered around a board game – there is a stack to choose from.

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Nid d'Hirondelles, Caen, Calvados

Kergudon Gîtes, Finistère, Brittany

You’ll soon feel at home in this effortlessly stylish and comfortable gîte. There’s a welcome box of eggs, honey, organic bread over which to plan your day’s adventures in the morning, and Breton ciders over which to recount them at night. Borrow bikes and cycle the Velo Vert route or swim from the golden beaches of Lac de Drennec.

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Maurice’s House, Pays de la Loire, Sarthe

This charming house has been cleverly restored and furnished with antique and flea market finds. If you’re feeling inspired, owner Rebecca can point you to gorgeous brocante fairs. For food and wine lovers there are fabulous markets and vineyards to visit in Saumur, Anjou and Touraine. Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei, voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, is only 15 minutes’ drive away.

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Maurice's House, Teille, Pays de la Loire, Sarthe

La Fermette at Numéro Vingt, Fillièvres, Pas-de-Calais

This farmhouse retreat will feel like home whatever the weather. There are plenty of walking and cycling trails from the door – bring your bike or choose from four circular walks that lead to lovely open countryside. Come home to cook in the well-equipped kitchen or fire up the barbecue and eat out on the quiet and sunny terrace.

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La Fermette at Numéro Vingt, Fillièvres, Pas-de-Calais

Penty de Lantecoste, Finistère, Brittany

This is one of those quirky places we hope to discover when exploring Brittany: a stone cottage on a country lane that leads to a charming little cove and coastal walks. Follow the windswept clifftop path up to Cap Coz, or head south to the resort of Beg Meil. Cycle or drive to Fouesnant for its Friday and Saturday markets.

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Penty de Lantecoste, Fouesnant, Finistère

La Cassine, Moulins le Carbonnel, Sarthe

A wonderful little bolthole for two adults for discovering a relatively hidden gem in Sarthe. The back courtyard and pool would be very hard to pull yourself away from in summer. A wonderful place to unwind, with an incredibly picturesque village just a few steps away. I would like to set up an easel along the river bank and try to paint the view that Corot did.

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La Chapellerie, Miniac Morvan, Brittany

This lovingly converted 17th-century barn, once used to make cider, is a light and open space. There’s wonderful walking and cycling along the river into medieval Dinan and along the coast, or drive 20 minutes to Dinard for some of the best beaches in the area.

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La Chapellerie, Miniac Morvan, Nr St.Malo, Ille-et-Vilaine

Tor ar Menez – Bihan, Finistère, Britanny

This stone cottage is a sweet retreat for a nature-loving couple, with a wild landscape of beaches and sea and skies filled with birds. Enjoy a sunset supper on the terrace with Breton ciders gifted by Agnès, the owner, and groceries bought at the excellent Friday market at nearby Plomodiern.

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Tor ar Menez - Bihan, Finistère

La Binellerie Gites, Miniac Morvan, Brittany

This 17th-century converted farmhouse is a warm and relaxed space from which to explore Brittany. The local bakery is two minutes away and there’s a lovely one-hour cycle route to the Bay of Mont Saint Michel. Return to the garden and tuck into the basked of sparkling wine, eggs, and local cheeses provided by owners Sue and Steve.

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La Binellerie Gites, Miniac Morvan, Ille-et-Vilaine

11 bis, Manche, Normandy

Spend your days exploring the beaches, bird-filled marshes and walking trails of Bricquebec or exploring the market stalls selling cheese and fresh fish in medieval Barneville-Carteret. Return to this pretty 19th-century cottage and enjoy a Breton cider in its suntrap courtyard.

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11 bis, Bricquebec, Manche

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