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French Connections
Running a Successful French Holiday Gite Business

Staying in a gîte has long been one of the most popular ways to take a holiday in France. Usually the owner lives in the main house and the gîtes are in a separate wing of the house or in converted outbuildings such as barns.

Gîte accommodation used to be perceived as fairly basic, but expectations are now much higher and gîte owners need to ensure that they can successfully cater for this more sophisticated market.

If you offer a quality gîte that looks attractive and shows you’ve cared, then people will look after it well. Whatever the style of your gîte, a good starting point is to live in it yourself for a day or two – there’s no better way to discover those details you might have missed. Once you’ve got it right, then priorities are regular, reliable cleaning and inspection to fend off problems or complaints before they happen.

Gîte Kitchens

For a self-catering gite holiday, the kitchen is key, so it should be well fitted and appealing. Everything should be spotlessly clean, especially the oven. A dishwasher is expected these days, as are an iron and ironing board, and a washing machine is vital as guests generally prefer to do their own laundry. Make sure that you comply with safety regulations by providing fire extinguishers and fire blankets here too. Be sure to provide abundant cutlery, crockery and glasses, and include cooking utensils, a garlic press, chopping boards, plentiful bottle openers and plastic glasses for outdoor use, especially around the pool where people are barefoot. A decent kettle is essential, as is a cafetiere, and extras such as candle holders and a vase will be appreciated.

Gîte Bedrooms

Beds and bed linen are extremely important. Even if the bed frame is basic, buy a really good quality mattress that provides support for a comfortable night’s sleep and will last a long time. Mattress protectors benefit both owner and guest as they look and feel nice and can be washed. Bed linen can be plain but it should look nice and smell fresh. Keep the bedroom uncluttered but check that you offer sufficient hanging space, a full-length mirror, bedside lamps, fans and a hairdryer. A clock/radio is a nice addition.

Gîte Living Space

In living areas, general furnishings can be simple, making use of colour for interest and choosing a style that is appropriate to the house and its location. Washable upholstery covers are a good idea and a comfortable sofa is especially important for winter lets. If you provide a sofa-bed, be aware that it will wear more quickly than a regular sofa and choose accordingly. Keep ornaments and knick-knacks to a minimum to avoid a cluttered feel – but do hang pictures to make the rooms homely and give them personality.

Gîte Bathrooms

The bathroom can be one of the biggest potential sources of complaint so choose a white suite and keep baths, showers and curtains spotlessly clean and free of mould. The shower should be effective and free of limescale. Also provide a non-slip mat for the bath, mirrors, cupboard or shelf space, hooks on doors and ample hot water. Installing a modern ‘wet room’ in your bathroom is a good idea as it gives disabled access, offers shared showers and will appeal to your guests.

Outdoor Space

If your gîte or gîtes have a swimming pool, then your first priority will be to comply with French AFNOR regulations for safety and maintenance, including cleanliness and PH balance. Make the pool surround attractive and comfortable, with ample loungers, mattress cushions, shades and small plastic tables. Keep the grass mown and the garden well maintained and for al fresco dining provide adequate table and chairs, a good sized barbecue and outdoor lighting.

Added Extras

More and more holidaymakers to France want access to the internet in their accommodation, so it pays to provide this facility if you can. Visitors tend to expect a CD and DVD player and UK or English language channels on TV for time spent indoors, but they also appreciate low-tech games, especially families and groups. Table tennis, pool, table football, Scrabble, cards, draughts and chess are all popular. Outside, garden and sports equipment such as bikes, balls and games of boules or skittles will all help to make visitors feel that everything has been thought of to enhance their enjoyment.

It’s a good investment to leave some basic food and drink as a ‘welcome pack’ when guests arrive – some owners even offer a pre-booked home cooked dinner on arrival night at a small extra cost. Guests will appreciate a good resource box or folder with maps of the area, details of places to visit and information or recommendations for nearby restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as details of local markets, festivals and community events. Finally, keep a guest book or Livre d’Or. The payoff for the effort and thoughtfulness that you put into your gîtes will be glowing feedback that can be quoted in your advertising to encourage new business.

Advertise Your Holiday Property on French Connections

If you own a holiday home, gite, bed and breakfast, or rental property in France, then you should advertise on www.frenchconnections.co.uk. Our site was one of the original French holiday websites, and our low cost Advertising rates start from the equivalent of just £12.50 a month!

What do holidaymakers expect from gîte gardens and entertainment facilities?

On a gîte holiday, guests want to spend time relaxing outdoors and get out and about to explore the area. We give you practical advice on the facilities and information that you need to provide to ensure that modern holidaymakers have a good time – and will tell their friends and return.

Outdoor living

If your gîte or gîtes have a swimming pool, then your first priority will be to comply with French AFNOR regulations for safety and maintenance, including cleanliness and PH balance. The pool should be big enough for the number of guests and it’s a good idea to provide a cover and encourage guests to use it. This keeps the water clean and warm overnight and reduces evaporation.

Make the pool surround attractive and comfortable, with ample loungers, mattress cushions, shades and small plastic tables. Pool toys such as inflatables are nice; an outdoor toilet is a good addition if possible and helps avoid children peeing in the pool!

Keep the grass mown and the garden well maintained and for al fresco dining provide adequate table and chairs, a good sized barbecue and outdoor lighting. Timed or light-responsive lamps are practical and economical. You may want to provide ash trays outside to emphasise a no smoking indoors rule – and obviously you will provide fire extinguishers or blankets in the house.

Entertainment & technology

More and more holidaymakers to France want access to the internet in their accommodation – and for some it is a deal breaker – so it pays to provide this facility if you can. Outside big towns, connection is still dial-up, which means that you have to provide a PC. Some visitors will use this to keep in touch with work, others to keep children occupied and still others to find local information. Our users tell us that they even come to the French Connections website for ideas when they are in France.

Visitors tend to expect a CD and DVD player and UK or English language channels on TV for time spent indoors – but they also appreciate low-tech games, especially families and groups. Table tennis, pool, table football, Scrabble, cards, draughts and chess are all popular. Outside, garden and sports equipment such as bikes, balls and games of boules or skittles will all help to make visitors feel that everything has been thought of to enhance their enjoyment.

Hospitality

It’s a good investment to leave some basic food and drink as a ‘welcome pack’ when guests arrive and, if you live on site, to meet and greet visitors on arrival and invite them to join you for a drink and snacks. Some may prefer to maintain their distance but others will grab the opportunity to feel instantly at home and cared for. Owners who run a complex of several gîtes on one site often provide a communal social area and on-site bar or hold a weekly barbecue, all of which makes for a convivial atmosphere and generates income. Others offer a pre-booked home cooked dinner on arrival night at a small extra cost.

Local information

Guests will appreciate a good resource box or folder with maps of the area, details of places to visit and information or recommendations for nearby restaurants, cafes and bars. You can gather leaflets from attractions and tourist offices in the region to help and be sure to include local markets, festivals and community events.

Finally, do remember to maintain a guest book or Livre d’Or. The payoff for the effort and thoughtfulness that you put into your gîtes will be glowing feedback that can be quoted in your advertising to encourage new business.

Advertise Your Holiday Property on French Connections

If you own a holiday home, gite, bed and breakfast, or rental property in France, then you should advertise on www.frenchconnections.co.uk. Our site was one of the original French holiday websites, and our low cost Advertising rates start from the equivalent of just £12.50 a month!

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