Setting Up and Running a Gîte Business in France
This summer, Ray Mears presented a series of programmes on ITV called Wild France which beautifully illustrated the spectacular landscapes and the extraordinary variety of plants and wildlife to be found all over France.
If you’re looking for a way to trade the home counties, the commute, the office job to live somewhere beautiful and enjoy a better lifestyle, a gîte business in France might present the perfect opportunity.
French property is significantly cheaper than property in the UK. You’ll be surprised at what you can purchase and develop in France, especially when compared to prices in the UK for an equivalent property.
France is the most popular holiday destination in the world, welcoming around 80 million tourists a year so there’s plenty of scope to tap into the demand. You might consider buying a property that is already an up-and-running business. Or you might want to start from scratch and put your own stamp on the business right from the start. If you consider properties with the potential to convert outbuildings or space into a gîtes or guest accommodation then it’s worth researching whether the conversion and improvement building work might be eligible for grants from local, national and European bodies.
Chambres d'hotes (Guest House)
A chambres d’hotes is a number of furnished bedrooms (maximum of 5) within the host’s house that are intended to accommodate tourists. This is similar to a B&B or Guesthouse in the UK and can be an enjoyable way to supplement your living costs depending on how sociable you are. Running a chambres d’hotes means getting up early to cook breakfast, clear away and clean the rooms as well as checking guests in and out.
The trick is to maximise revenue without compromising your own living space. You might do that by converting outbuildings, or making the best use of existing space. A tariff for this type of accommodation generally starts from 25 euros for basic accommodation right up to prices inline with hotel rates for a stay in a boutique property.
A gîte is a fully furnished independent holiday rental accommodation booked in advance, usually for a week or more. Gites d'etapes are designed to welcome larger groups, usually from 15 to 20 people which can be ideal for hiking groups, cyclists or more than one family holidaying together. Running a gîte involves maintaining the property, responding to guest enquiries and a complete clean and laundry session on changeover days.
These days, to secure pre-bookings for both a gîte and a chambres d’hotes, you’ll need a good website that is easy to use with plenty of pictures, reviews and a simple booking facility. This involves thinking about your target market and promoting the area your property is famous for, be it cultural towns and villages or leisure and sport activities, or both of course!
On the legal side, it is obligatory for all owners of gîtes or chambres d’hotel to register their activity at the local town hall (Mairie) for tourist tax. There will be a rate set for the area you are located in and a small percentage of what you earn will be passed on to the local town hall. It is worth joining the Fédération Nationale des Gîtes de France or a similar recognised body within the trade. As a member of these organisations you can benefit from free marketing, a rating system and legal advice.
The only really tough decision is: choosing your perfect spot! Find some 'food for thought' here.