We have decided against buying a gite. For the economic reasons see my blog.
The other reasons are largely because it would mean Brian being away on his own for long periods to do the place up, and as I am still working I could only get there 4 weeks of the year anyway. If we were both retired and could spend a few months there at a time we would have been more tempted, but in the current circumstances it just doesn't pan out sadly.
Nice idea but not the right idea.
It wasn't so much the doing up of a place because unlike Chris and Xavier we would have done most of it ourselves (ie Brian) and there would have been no time pressure to finish so no need for architects and builders. France doesn't have building inspectors coming to see that you have done everything right, they apparently work on the theory that if you are going to live there you will make sure it is ok. You have to get a qualified electrician to do the junction box and wire in the sockets, we would have got someone to install a fosse septique, but the rest they leave you to it.
They have a really good way of doing roofing slates with a thing like a crochet hook which means you don't need to nail the slates and therefore they don't split. They sell lovely staircases in Mr Bricolage that you can just buy step by step. They have lovely windows and doors, especially the doors which have a window part in the top half so you can open the window but the door is still shut. Had my car been bigger we might have brought one home for the cottage, they would be ideal.
It was fascinating and we learnt a lot, but won't be buying anything.