Interested in having an income in France? Setting up a chambre d’hotes just may suit you.
Some friends of ours have recently moved here lock, stock and barrel and bought a six-bedroom character house overlooking the Canal du Midi, which was already running as a successful chambre d’hotes. This is a popular and good way of earning yourself some money, entering into the French tax system for healthcare, and establishing your new life in France with a euro income. It is hard work, though.
A chambre d’hotes is basically a furnished room in your property which you rent out to paying guests, often with breakfast offered as well. The rules say that the maximum number of rooms must be 5 and the maximum number of guests 15, and there must be a set price publicised both at the property and online for the room and/or breakfast. The Code du Tourisme sets these rules and you must declare your business at your local mairie by filling out a form, Cerfa No. 13566*01.
I asked our friends for their advice on how best to set up a chambre d’hotes and they had several first hand tips:
1. Register with a label scheme. There are three main ones: Gîtes de France, Clévacances and Fleurs de Soleil. They will help you with general advice on how to advertise, how to handle reservations and accounts, and how to insure your business. Although this costs a yearly fee of a few hundred euros, it will give you peace of mind and allow you to concentrate on making your home warm and welcoming to visitors.
2. Food and beverage licences. You can provide an evening meal and offer alcohol, but make sure you ask for advice from whichever label scheme you have signed up with on which type of licence will be needed for both meals and alcohol.
3. Upsides: It’s a great way to meet people, earn some cash and be admitted into the French system relatively easily, even if your French is a little patchy. A good testimonial really boosts one’s spirits!
4. Downsides: It can be a lot of work: someone has to get up and prepare breakfast each morning when you have guests, however late you have been up the night before!
5. A final tip: It is worthwhile investing in quality bedlinens, beds, lamps, and bedroom furniture to make your place stand out from the rest. Also make sure that you get yourself known from the outset by distributing leaflets locally as well advertising online. An especially good chambre d’hotes will always be popular and busy.