Much to my surprise I have discovered that lots of people in France and all over Europe like walking. People of all ages shapes and sizes are out on the trails and Grand Routes (GR) of France. This includes GR65, the Le Puy Way of the Chemin de Saint Jacques. In order to accommodate all these walkers, all cities, most villages, and many rural areas along these routes have established small hotels (Chambres d’Hotes and Auberges) and pilgrim hostels called Gites d’Etape. Some hotels include both individual rooms and dormitories, but are pretty self-explanatory. The Gites, however are interesting.
Gites are both private (privat) and communal. All provide a bed in a common room, shared showers and toilets, and a safe secure place to spend the night. The communal Gites are usually operated by cities and villages, and are often in pretty basic old buildings with little personal attention. Most do not offer dinners, but many have cooking areas where guests can prepare meals and coffee for breakfast. The few communal Gites I stayed in were very clean, but one friend did suffer from bed bug bites at a communal. Most of these places in France apparently charge around €12/night.
I much prefer the Gites Privat. Although most are closed between 1 and 3-4 in the afternoons when the owners rest, I was always given a warm welcome and made to feel at home. Most dormitory rooms only held 4-6 beds. Most of these Gites offer dinner, and all offer a breakfast of coffee, bread, juice, etc.. Cost for the private Gites is between €12-20/night. When dinner (repas) and breakfast are included, the cost for a stay is between €30-35/night.
Here is the bottom line on costs in France for one person walking alone:
Dinner/main meal. €8-20
So at a bare minimum, not buying wine for friends, or getting an extra chocolate or biscuit, walking a Camino will cost a single walker €35-40/day. In many places the cheaper Gites are not available. In order to have a few comforts, €50/day is a pretty good figure. For couples who may wish to have the privacy of their own room from time, €75/day is a pretty good figure. €100/day will allow hotel stays on most nights when they are available.
One thing to remember for all dormitory type places is that you are expected to be out and away before 9 in the morning, so no sleeping in. As I recall, Spain is a bit cheaper. I’ll report separately when I get there.