If you are thinking of running a guest house type of business in France, you may be a little confused over the types of accommodation that France has to offer. The most famous guest house in France is a gite, which is basically a self-catering business, but there is also chambre d’hotes and table d’hotes. In this blog we attempt to differentiate between the different types and kinds of guest accommodation in France starting with the three above.
A Chambre d’hotes is the French equivalent to a bed and breakfast in Britain, guest stay overnight in your actual home in a room which is dedicated to hospitality. Part of the fee will include a cooked breakfast in the morning which the owner provides. There are a few regulations that owners have to abide by, there must be no more than five guest rooms and no more than fifteen people can stay at any one time. Also, the premises must be fully furnished, provide linen and charge per night. If alcoholic drinks are served, then a proper license must be sought from the Mairie and staff must have the training certificate, permis d’exploitation.
The Table d’hotes accreditation is required for owners of Chambres d’hotes who wish also to provide a dinner service to their overnight guests. In good old bureaucratic fashion there are rules and regulations that apply. Peculiarly the owner can only offer a single menu, and if possible, this menu must be made up of locally sourced product, or produits du terroir. This means that it is a set menu, and there are not any options for starter, main meals and desserts. The dinner should be one sitting at the same time as the owner eats, and at the same table. If wine or other alcoholic drinks are to be served, then the drinks license Mairie or license petite restauration must be obtained. On top of this a training certificate how to serve alcoholic drinks called permis d’exploitation will be needed. The owner may not just offer dinner to passing trade, to do this he must apply and conform to all the regulations a restaurant does.
Gites are classified into different categories in France, and they have to satisfy different regulations.
- Gite rural – can be located on the coast or in the mountains and is traditionally furnished and blends in with the local architecture.
- Gite de sejour – is a larger building that can accommodate up to fifty guests.
- Gite d’etape – buildings that can be found on a route-way that provides accommodation for travellers and walkers who would normally stay just one or two nights.
When two types of gite services are offered this is then called a Gite d’etape et de Sejour. Many of these distinctions overlap and are a tad confusing. Whatever a gite is called or classed as, the simple fact is that they are types of accommodation that offer self-catering stays. Food will not be provided, or alcohol served to guests, otherwise the gite will have to change its title and apply for the relevant permits.