Becoming 'mine host' in France

Becoming 'mine host' in France

When it comes to earning a living in France, depending on your general skills as well as your French language skills, your choices may be limited. But one choice that is open to anyone who is sociable, good with people and has an eye for detail is the hospitality industry.

No matter whether you choose to buy a big house and convert part of it to a chambre d’hôte or you have two houses and you decide to dedicate one as holiday accommodation, becoming “mine host” is a great option. That said, no matter how low key or high brow you decide to go with your accommodation, it’s your eye to detail that will help you stand out from the crowd and secure more bookings. It’s with this in mind that we thought we’d produce this article.

In this article, we’ll talk about the different options when it comes to becoming “mine host” in France, as well as how to market your business in order to make sure you secure the bookings you need to make your dream life in France a reality.

Running a chambre d’hôte in France

Chambre d’hôte is the French term for bed and breakfast accommodation. Commonly provided by country folk who have a spare room or two, plus an extra seat round their table for breakfast, this can be a great way to get a first step on the ladder in the French hospitality scene. Setting up a chambre d’hôte is a straightforward process and depending on the number of rooms you’re offering for let, mightn’t even require any formal process. That said, if you can get yourself on a Tourist Board or an official chambre d’hôte footing, you’re more likely to get referrals and to secure extra bookings.

Running a gîte in France

Gîtes in France were intended originally to help supplement the income of farmers and rural inhabitants. Commonly finding themselves with more outbuildings than they could shake a stick at, the notion of setting up these outbuildings as basic, affordable accommodation for French and international tourists alike was introduced. Over the last 15 or 20 years, the whole concept of the gîte market has developed and while there still exists a number of basic options, there are also top of the range, boutique options popping up in all corners of the country.

Our Top Ten tips to help you stand out in a busy marketplace!

  1. Extend your property search to include properties with potential to develop either a chambre d’hôte or a gîte option. This will enable you to call on this income-producing activity if and when you need to.
  2. Ideally, seek out somewhere where you can welcome guests without them infringing too much on your privacy. If you can afford it, and income is important to you, buy an existing chambre d’hôte or gîte option. While this will cost you more at the start, it means that you’ll be able to hit the ground running and make income from Day 1.
  3. Aim for the highest quality possible. Holidaymakers and tourists are extremely discerning today and enjoy real comforts at home. What this means is that they expect similar standards when they come to stay in your chambre d’hôte or gîte, so don’t let them, or yourselves down.
  4. Differentiate yourself from the competition. The whole chambre d’hôte and gîte market is highly competitive and it’s essential that you establish what makes you different. It may be that you’re within walking distance of the boulangerie or bars, or that you have access to the beach; either way, it’s of paramount importance to identify why people should choose your accommodation and make that clear in your promotion.
  5. Make sure you get your pricing right. It’s essential from your point of view not to price yourself too cheaply in the market or you’ll end up working your socks off for next to nothing. On the other hand, if you’re too expensive, you could end up twiddling your thumbs because you have no guests.
  6. Do your research and visit competitor properties (either in person or virtually) as well as making an honest evaluation of where you come in the local offerings and calculate your price accordingly.
  7. Try not to limit yourself to the Anglo-Saxon marketplace. With even fairly basic French, you can double your reach by promoting your accommodation in French and in English.
  8. Set your business up in the most efficient way. There are various ways that chambre d’hôte and gîte businesses can be set up and the best way for you will depend on your personal circumstances. It is well worth spending a couple of hundred pounds to make sure you get the right advice so you can make the right decision.
  9. Make sure your property is suitable for year-round bookings. Limiting your business potential to the summer months is a real shame and something as simple as installing a wood burner or a few extra radiators could extend your booking season and income enormously.
  10. Aim for the best possible service levels and get word of mouth bookings. We all appreciate good service and no more so than when we’re on holidays. Particularly if you’re new to the hospitality industry, make doubly sure that you have a smiling face and a welcoming personality at all times. From time to time, you’ll feel like you’re spending your life bending over backwards for people, but it’ll pay off in word of mouth bookings. Even the likes of reviews on TripAdvisor will have an effect, so beware!

If you fancy seeking out a property you could develop into a chambre d’hôte or a gîte or you’re interested in investing in an option with a track record, why not get in touch?