Information gîtes and chambres d'hôtes

Below you find useful information concerning the exploitation of gîtes or chambres d’hôtes.

The services of Inter-France are available to anyone who has found a suitable site and will enter the purchase process. Have you already found a suitable site? Check our page ADVICE FOR PURCHASE.

Types of Gîtes and other rural holiday residences

The Gîte or Gîte Rural

A Gîte or "Gîte Rural" is a holiday residency that is offered for rental and is often found in a natural environment such as near farm, house or characteristic building. There are gîtes in the country, in woods, nature reserves, mountains and also in small villages. The Gîte is equipped for the stay of a couple, family or small group of people for a weekend or holiday and contains everything necessary for the stay. Sometimes the exploitation of gîtes is combined with that of a small nature camp-site.

Some figures: there are, at present more than 45.000 Gîtes in France and there are approx. 2.000 new Gîtes opened per year. With reference to the average rural occupancy in France, it can be deduced that Gîtes are rented out for an average of 16,5 weeks of the year, with noticable deviations from the average (favourably or unfavourably) according to the various regions. The turnover from renting out is on average 400 to 800 euros per week in the high season, 200 to 400 euros in the early and late season, 150 to 250 for a weekend.

The investment costs involved in the building and complete equipment of a Gîte are on average around 30.000 to 40.000 Euro, for an exact budget will be influenced by how much the renter is prepared to work on the site themselves or give the work to a third party.

The average length of a visit is 1,5 weeks and a large number of clientèle are families with 2 or 3 children. A quarter of the customers come from abroad, mainly England and Belgium, but also from the Netherlands and Germany. If you’re mother tongue is English and you want to offer a Gîte to rent, you will have a head start with other English speakers and for many it gives a “safe feeling”, it is also often useful to direct your publicity to the English market. Many Dytch, Belgian and German visitors will also appreciate the advantage of being able to speak English with their hosts.

By some collective organisations such as Gîtes de France (one of the most important) a star system is in use, which is based on location, fittings and facilities. The conditions required are usually:

  • A gîte should be an independant residence with it’s own entrance and facilities;
  • A gîte contains it’s own kitchen or kitchen area, livingroom, bedroom, washing facilities and toilet;
  • There should be a supply of hot and cold tap water and electricity;
  • Furniture and all necessary equipment for the stay of the family should be available, including impeccable bedding, cultery and crockery;
  • The position of the Gîte should be peaceful and set up for a pleasurable stay of the guests, preferrably with a garden or open terrain;

The mimimum supplies are indicated above, a higher level of supplies is being asked more often and profitability can be increased with a washing maching, dish washer and sometimes a more luxurious furnishing and bedding or extra appliances.

Special Gîtes

Some Gîtes can be the subject of an "Appellation" or quality contol or special features due to their specific positioning, extra special supplies or because they are aimed at a specific group of holiday makers, examples of special Gîtes are: Snow Gîtes: a holiday residence that is found next to or near to a ski area and in which the accompanying extra facilities are on offer. Every year a special guide is published in France for “Gîtes de Neige”;

  • Gîtes for the handicapped: a holiday residency that has adapted it’s accessability and furnishings for physically handicapped people or people in a wheelchair. These Gîtes regularly inspected by an orginisation for handicapped people and are included in a special guidebook;
  • Gîtes de Charme: Gîtes that distinguish themselves by their authenticity, architecture, special furnishings or environment or sometimes through a very high level of facilities on offer;
  • Gîtes de Pêche (fishing):Holiday residencies with the opportunity to fish in the direct surroundings and with extra facilities for that goal, often an extra room for storage and the hiring or selling of fishing equipment, sometimes even their own fishing pond. For this there is also a special guidebook published;
  • Gîtes et Cheval (Gîtes and Horses):Gîtes extra facilities for riding sports, for beginners as well as more advanced horse riders. These Gîtes are controlled by a (French) national riding sports organisation and mentioned in a special guidebook;
  • Gîtes Panda: Gîtes that are found in a national park or protected area where the observation of animals in their natural environment is possible. Special material and information is available for these. The “Gîtes Panda” are controlled by the French department of the World Wildlife Foundation, the WWF France;
  • Séjours en vignoble:Holiday residencies that are situated in a vinyard or wine-growing company, where it is actually produced. The holiday maker has chosen wine making as the theme of their visit and can have documentation, can visit the wine production and is given the opportunity to taste the product.

Chambres d'hôtes and Table d'hôtes

A chambres d’hôtes or table d'hôtes defines itself mostly by being a holiday residency offered within the home of the renter. The personal attention and availability of the renter is noticeably more intense than is the case by most gîtes.

Chambres d’hôtes

Just as for the Rural Gite, an organization can use a star rating ( 1 to 4 "épis"), and they can dictate some demands as shown below.

The maximum number of rooms that is put into some reservation organisations is 5, with a surface area of 12m². That means that the sanitary supplies consist of at least a washbasin in the room itself and their should be bathroom and toilet on the same floor that is only used by the guests. The cleaning of the room should be provided by the renter (not the guest), as well as clean bedding and towels. Breakfast is often included in the nightly rates and is served in the house of the renter.

Some figures: there are more than 25.000 Chambres d’hôtes in France and there are approx 1.500 new accommodations opened per year. With reference to the average rural occupancy in France, it can be deduced that Chambres d’hôtes are occupied for 14 weeks per year with deviations per region. The average visit lasts 3 days and the average nightly rate for 2 people varies from 40 to 80 Euros including breakfast.

The investment costs for the fitting of a Chambres d’hôtes which conforms to the accepted standards is estimated at approx 8 to 9.000 Euros, this is also based on the degree in which the renter is prepared to carry out the work themselves or have it done by a third party, this is also strongly influenced by the required financial resources.

As with gîtes there are a few specific types of Chambres d’hôtes, under which the "Chambres d’hôtes de Charme", stand out due to their character and/or level of facilities on offer.

Table d’hôtes

This formula is an extension of the Chambres d’hôtes, guests can make use of an often characteristic and atmospheric dining room, where regional specialities or traditional meals are served, mostly prepared with products from that region or even originating from the kitchen garden or farm of the owner.

Gîtes d’Etape and Gîtes de Séjour

These types of holiday residency offer accommodation for 12 to 15 people, who can be there individually or in groups. De Gîte d’Etape is always found along a walking route and offers a sleeping place for walkers who follow a route, so often for only one night, the Gîte de Séjour offers mainly group accommodation for longer holiday visits.

Gîtes d’enfants and Gîtes pour Adolescents.

Gîtes d’enfants

There are approx 340 Gîtes in France which are specially fitted for the accommodation of groups of children up to the age of 13 years during the school holidays. The original idea was to offer children a family atmosphere in a healthy and pleasureable envirnment in nature. The children, often city dwellers, can take part in diverse activities such as cycling, hores riding, working with their hands or handicrafts. The owner or permanent employee should be in possession of a special “brevet” that is given by the French authorities, the B.N.P.S. (Brevet National de Premier Secours) for children up to 4 years and the B.A.F.A. (Brevet d’Aptitude à la Fonction d’Animateur) for children from the age of 5 years. Gîtes d’Enfants are under the observation of the D.D.J.S. (Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports).

Gîtes for Adolescents

This refers to accommodation for youths up to the age of 16 years who are members of the families mentioned in the above residencies. The basis of this idea is to offer a holiday residency with the opportunity to discover the “rural life” and to participate in educative activities. The owner should be in possession of B.N.P.S. (Brevet National de Premier Secours) and a B.A.F.D. (Brevet d’Aptitude aux fonctions de Directeur).

Set up of new accomodation facilities

Should you find a suitable object Inter-France can bring you into contact with the regional branch of one of our business partners in France, who will help you with the set up of your project. Together with Inter-France, a technical adviser from the collaborating company in that region will inform you about all important technical and constructive aspects, your future position in the market, financial aspects and the feasability of your project. For the realisation of your project contact will be made with an architect and if necessary we can be of service for the application of financing.

At the same time the possibilities for obtaining a subsidy can be researched and where necessary contact will be made with several agencies, such as the “Commission de sécurité”, the “Direction Départementale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales” (D.D.A.S.S.) and the “Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports” (D.D.J.S.).

Renting out

The rental prices differ according to the comfort level and the time of year. It is important to offer a good price-quality proportion in combination with the best feasable rentability and occupancy. You can rent out by personally approaching potential customers, or via publicity managed by you making use of all available media. The alterative is connecting with a reservation organisation, where a percentage of the rental income should be given to the reservation central. This indeed means an apparently lower turnover, but on the other hand a considerable saving on self made publicity costs and above all less telephone interactions, and time given to administrative tasks and postal processes for sending documents for example. It is possible by some organisations to reserve the right to rent out directly to relations. Inter-France can bring you into contact with several prominent organisations, some of them also already give advice by the setting up of your activities.

Fiscal aspects

Small businesses or one-person businesses, with a turnover of less than 80.000 Euro from the sale of goods or renting out of holiday residencies or less than 32.000 in the case of service provided can take advantage of some moderate regulations of the French Tax authority:

  • According to the tax authority a turnover of less than 32.000 euro is does not qualify a person to be recognised as a professional renter if less than 50% of the income is obtained by this activity. Registration at the Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce) is then not obligatory and no social contributions have to be paid (an enormous advantage!), there is a simplified declaration policy and a forfeit cost-deduction of 50% is applied;
  • With a turnover above 23.000 per year registration is obligatory at the Chambre de Commerce, tax should be paid on the profit and approx 38% social contributions, you are also included in a number of social insurances;
  • With a turnover up to 80.000 euro per year it is possible to chose for a simplified tax system, that of the"micro-entreprise", whereby it is not obligatory to carry out a complete accountancy. The turnover should be registered, there is a forfeit deduction of 70%, on the profit in this calculation (so 30% of the turnover) tax is expected to be paid, and also approx 38% social contributions;

Should the turnover be higher than 80.000 euro per year, the fiscal obligations are the same as those for a company, therefore providing a complete accountancy and making a balance and profit and loss audit every year. This system can be chosen for larger turnovers if the fiscal results are expected to be substantially under the 30% of the turnover and the system of the “ actual calculation of results” is more advantageus fiscally than that of the "micro-entreprise".

It can still be adviseable, if expansion is expected, or if the purchase is to be done in several names, to register the purchase in seperate companies for property management and for the exploitation. The exploitation company then rents the real estate from you r “own” real estate comapny (a SCI). With this set up a number of savings can be made in taxes and social contributions. Inter-France can advise you on the choice of and set up of the right legal form of company.

It is possible to be exempt from V.A.T. (T.V.A. - Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée, the French V.A.T.) for the renting out of furnished holiday residences, this actually means that the V.A.T. that you have paid to suppliers or third parties that have worked for you is not be calculated in the accounts or asked to be returned. The same is valid for the sale of products and the serving of meals. Exemption is possible, but not always the best choice above the option to declare V.A.T. received and the return of paid V.A.T. for example if their have been large investments made, which are taxed with V.A.T.

There are also various rules appliable to the social contributions, Inter-France puts you in touch with the right experts to make sure your activities are set up in the most advantageous and correct way.

Establishment requirements

In the case of no special legislation or conditions for a specific location the conditions mentioned below as well as others apply to the establishment of gîtes en chambres d’hôtes:

  • A chambres d’hôtes should be located in a rural, touristic environment and can as an exception be established in a village or town as long as it is in an area of touristic or historical importance;
  • Should not more than 5 Chambres d'hôtes be exploited they do not have to fulfil certain standards required for hotels, as long as the exploitation is in the home of the exploiter;
  • More than 5 rooms falls under the legislation of "hôtellerie" and should conform to extensive conditions and standards including those concerning hygiene and safety;
  • If a building is bought for this purpose that is used as a private residency or already has a designated purpose as private residency, a "permis de construire" (planning permission) should be applied for, as the use of the building is changed (changement de destination);
  • This legislation is not valid for the exploitation of gîtes, it is therefore possible to start an exploitation of 5 chambres d’hôtes in combination with one or more gîtes, wtihout having to conform to the legislation and standards such as those necessary for hotels.
  • Should drinks be served by the breakfast or by other meals for the exploitation of a Tables d’hôtes you should apply for a “Licence de débit de boissons” (this is also valid for coffee, tea and soft drinks). It is often sufficient to have a licence that allows you to serve drinks as part of a meal
  • You should inform the building insurers of your activities
  • Prices should be clearly shown from the outside and inside of the site and on the door of each room
  • Should you also exploit a Tables d’hôtes there are certain conditions concerning hygiene in the kitchen set up and the preparation of food.

Financing

For Gîtes and/or Chambres d'hôtes it is mostly valid to say that the results can be enough to supply a reasonable source of (extra) income, depending on the scope and intensity of the exploitation. Those who are solely reliant on such an income should take into account that there is often not enough “extra profit” next to your own income to also provide the necessary repayments for the financial obligations connected to the mortgage or financer. In most cases it is worth making the choice to have enough of your own capital, mostly consisiting of your own assets, available for the purchase price and selection costs. It is sometimes possible to arrange a minimum of financing, for renovation or development, but the possibilities are limited. Should you have other sources of income next to that of the exploitation, it might be possible to use them to secure larger financial support.

Example final accounts

Below you find an example of final accounts for a successful exploitation round a restored farm on a terrain of 1,1 hectares in Bretagne with, as well as a royal living quarters (230m²): 5 Chambres d’hôtes, 1 studio and a small camp-site, natural space for 25 pitches.

beginning your own bead and breakfastThe camp-site is simple, but with good basic facilities. It is situated close to the sea and beaches and there are many tourist attractions in the immediate area. The exploitation was started in 1994, customers come from France, the Netherlands and UK. Due to the good state of the buildings and the considerable turnover the value of the site is around 500.000 Euro for real estate, to be increased by 150.000 to 200.000 for the transfer of the "Fonds de Commerce" (company activities, goodwill, inventory), total therefore being 650.000 Euro. The possibililty of financing would be approx 100.000 to 150.000 Euro, so a minimum own capital of 500.000 should be available.

Turnover:      
Chambres d'hôtes/studio 40.000    
Tables d'hôtes 8.000    
Camping (aire naturelle) 24.000    
Sales of diverse products 3.000    
Total turnover     75.000
Purchases and costs:      
Purchases   6.000  
Water   1.500  
Gas   900  
Electricity   1.800  
Maintenance products   1.000  
Small materials   1.200  
Office supplies   500  
Maintenance camp-site   500  
Maintenance buildings   2.000  
Maintenance inventory   500  
insurances   1.400  
Honoraria   2.500  
Publicity   5.000  
Travel costs   1.500  
Stamps   500  
Telephone   1.000  
  2.500  
Total costs:     -/- 30.300
gross result:     44.700