A little b and b question

A little B and B question…

We’re thinking of opening a chambres d’hote on a very small scale - a table d’hote actually. I’ve just started the research and i’m thinking about the big picture… am i right in the follwing?

I need to make a declaration of registration at the Mairie

I need to register with the Chambre d’Hote organisation, and get a licence to serve meals

I need to get public liability insurance (esp. for things like food poisoning !) and make sure all is safe, eg electrics.

Declare to the tax authorities the income i generate as per my normal tax return

BUT i’m exempt from registration as a professional business if… less than 5 bedrooms (15 people), under e23,000 income, and that income is less than half of my total income…

thanks, teresa

thanks barbera - your house looks beautiful! i’ll be in touch

I am very happy to discuss my life as an operator of a chambre d hote.

I have lived here for nearly 4 years and understand how complex, and indeed

how exspensive it is running a property such as we have.

My friends who own fiarly small houses talk about their utility bills and I

think…well mutiply those figures by 12 and you get my outgoing costs.

Everything depends upon your ideas and where you are heading. The very thought

of life without a challeng is not possible for me…SO next year the marketing

concept will move on …HOPEFULY in a direction which can conquer the outgoings

and …then?

As an ex London restuaranter I have seen the good, the bad and everything else…

so really happy to chat about B and B life and who knows we may be able to help each other.

Must pick the cherries.

Teresa, why not have a look on the Livingfrance forum, they have a section especially for Chambre D’Hotes and Gites etc. There are so many experienced people that will really give you lots of important info.
I used it loads when we first came out here. Good luck with your new venture!


thanks Suzanne - that’s such a positive mail - we’re not afraid of hard work and we have done our research… like you, when you’ve lived through a renovation doing the work yourself, i honestly believe you can do anything!
our new life here in france in challenging, but it’s fun… let me know how the house sale goes, bon courage!

sounds great Teresa, some good friends of ours run a Chambre D’hote with Table D’Hote in Pezenas www.ladordine.com It’s very successful. We stayed there loads of times when we were house hunting & being able to enjoy a wonderful meal, choice of local wines for a reasonable price after a day trawling around everywhere was fantastic. Plus the conversations were excellent. We even went to their wedding & now are really good friends.

We look out for Table D’Hotes now whenever we’re travelling through France, its such a great idea.

Your UK house project sounds like ours, we took 5 years to do up our house then finished it ready to pop on the market! Now we have our first french home renovated completely & we’re about to sell that too…

Ah yes, Pease Pottage, Nr Crawley - good access to M23?M25 plus a nice golf course nearby !
I suppose it’sbeen harder for me because I have been on my own for 6 years so trying to do everything myself has been utterly exhausting…usual story, came to France for an easier life…ha, ha.
Good luck and enjoying your cooking !

Thanks Debbie - that’s really interesting and informative… i have a selfish reason for wanting to do the table d’hote - it will probably not make us any money - but i will be able to cook interesting things that my picky husband wouldn’t usually eat! plus - the husband is a very social person - and being irish loves to talk - i’ll be providing him with some ears for his stories…
i really must update my page - we landed in france 4 weeks ago and i’m just now getting back on track. our sussex project is done and dusted and rented out - after 3 years of madness it was finished the day before we left - perfect and beautiful, though we didn’t get to enjoy it - always the way. it’s in pease pottage which you MUST know!

Officially you should only offer the meal you are eating with your family and they should join you at the table the same time.
As for more than 5 bedrooms, 15 people - then you classify as a hotel and have to have separate male/female/disabled toilets, put in fire doors, etc, etc, and allow the public to come into your property when-ever they like, like a hotel.
Now chambre d’hote people have to pay additional cotisations because the hotels have been moaning they do not pay as much as them…if it carrys on this way, I shall be making a loss with the cost of electricity, oil, cleaning, washing, ironing, always keeping the house clean & tidy, the garden, the pool, DIY, repairs/replacements etc, etc…is it worth it now I ask myself after 6 years ?
All my hard work just goes to pay the bills to keep me living here.
There are many disillusioned/exhausted English who are now giving up, selling up and returning back to the UK

You only need a Petite Licence to serve drinks if they are an “extra” to breakfast.
Someone gave me a copy of a letter in French which I sent to a local police station, and several weeks later I received my official certificate.
I have not bothered with a grand licence to serve wine & alcohol because I really can’t be bothered to offer table d’hote any more - too much work - thinking of the menu, buying the food, spending a whole day preparing, serving it, washing up, staying up late for them to leave and then lay the table for breakfast the next morning. Decided it was too much work and effort for too little reward ! Now I just send them off to the nearest town or in the Summer offer them my BBQ or table & chairs near the pool for a picnic…but then they can end up spending all day at your house when you prefer them to clear off out leaving you in peace !!

Life can be a little strange. When we were ready to start up I spoke to the Chambres de Commerce in Tarbes who told me I had to call a lady in Vic en Bigorre who was only there on Tuesday mornings who, when I finally contacted her, said all I had to do was tell the local mayor!!!??? Knowing how keen the French are on paperwork I was a little suspicious but the mayor confirmed it, after he had managed to locate the paperwork (one sheet). The moment you go over five letting rooms and 8 people the rules change completely to those of an hotel. In practice we ahve not had a problem with the lack of choice as we rarely have more than a couple or a family at a time so we just ask them what they like and prepare a meal accordingly. So, if one eats fish and another not we just make a meal that includes both and then they can choose from what is on the table SIMPLES!! We have to eat anyway and Diane has always cooked for the five thousand as we have seven children between us (no longer living with us) so it is no great hardship and a great way to get to know your guests.

Oh? Now i really feel like i’m living in france… i’m totally confused! I was told (actually on here i think) that a chambre d’hote is b&b, a table d’hote is the addition of evening meals. Hmm… I should like to serve my guests an evening meal, to eat with us, no choice. So - I’m back on the Chambre D’Hote track - and get the licence from the douane.
thanks Norman, you’ve just made my life a little easier

Yes it the Douane. I would think that it would be a different mob who authorises meals. We did not have to do that as we are a Chambre D’Hote under the normal terms which means we can serve an evening meal but the guests must eat with us and there are no choices of different meals. You might be better looking under the rules for an Auberge.

Hm, yes, i heard that… by the customs authorities do you mean the Douane? I wonder if you can get the forms online - also - i wonder if this is the same place i must apply for my licence to serve meals? oh the joy…

hello barbara - thanks for that i think! it really seems like a minefield - but i’m hoping it will work in our favour… we’re ner revel in the Tarn 81… very excited about our new life here!

Ah yes, you have to do all that but in addition you need to apply to the customs authorities for a licence to serve ORANGE JUICE!!! Why? Haven’t got a clue. The licence is free so why do they bother. We had two French guests staying with us and they asked for orange juice and I had to point out that our licence had not yet arrived. They were quite happy to assist us in breaking the law as they felt it was unlikely that the Orange Juice Police were unlikely to turn up any time soon.

Teresa. …we started 3 years ago.
We found an accountant who speaks English and even though he knows his stuff …HE STILL
finds B and B a little difficult.
Where are you?
Are you excited about your project?

Hi Teresa

I replied and now my post has vamooshed…anyway just to say, you sound like you are on the right track but why not post here too as I’m sure there are other SFN members who will know


Have you finished unpacking yet??!!