Business model for running a furnished gite, AND or a B&B

Hi All,
I have been reading as much as I can find, and think i will eventually have to create a massive flow chart to navigate and understand systems Francais,
(Although Brexit may have a hand in upsetting the apple cart, we can only go on what we have).
I don’t mind all sorts of comments, because it can often trigger other questions i need to find answers for.

I have questions for different areas, so need to split them up…although they do relate/ have dependency from one to another.

My partner and I are looking avidly to purchasing something in the lower Normandy area, and oping to find a property with a small Gite, or a property that has a small building in the grounds to renovate and create one… also possibly renting an en-suite room as B&B style.
We both currently reside UK, she works full time , and myself part time with a forces pension.
What we intend, is rent out the gite part , holiday let only ( like 1000’s others).
Not expecting too much, but something to allay mortgage costs…

pre retirement age… still a uk resident
I would like advice on the mechanism that people would choose to run a FURNISHED gite, and or room as B&B. I wouldn’t expect extravagant income, so thresholds would be low.

Post retirement age in 6 years…i think my pensions would total about 17k euros per annum…
Would people choose to change the business model after that ?

I appreciate if also using as a part B&B of main house, could complicate the mechanism.


You probably need to be a bit more specific to get useful answers - but in terms of the business model (as distinct from organisational form or business plan) I think the key issue is specialisation.
There are as you say thousands of gites etc, and I know many have seen or are expecting a decline in demand. I think those that are doing well have some kind of specialisation linking the location/characteristics of their property and how they reach their target market.
We have increased business in our 2 gites every year since we moved here 5 years ago. We have 2 specialisms: small (pre-school) children and environmentalism. The main factor in our success has been an agent specialising in holidays for young families.
There are lots of options for target markets - eg. cyclists, fishing, singles, foodies, disabled people, arts and crafts - but not only must the location/characteristics of your property suit the target, there must be ways of reaching it (eg. advertising in a cycling, fishing, etc, magazine) - and it should ideally be your own passion too.

1 Like

Glenn, do it to the highest standard that you possibly can.
We have a successful gite in Southern Burgundy and we always ask our guests, over a glass of wine, why they chose us.
The main reason is always the swimming pool, then the en suite bedrooms and the overall appearance.
The beautiful views and peace and quiet help too.
It also helps if you have a unique selling point.
Research what is on offer in your intended area.
Look at other gites and see what the status of their bookings is and how successful they are.
The gite market is very competitive so I would suggest that you try and go for as high up the market as possible, as this is not as affected by hard times etc.

Just a word of warning - it’s notoriously difficult to get a mortgage in France to buy a gîte. That’s because in effect it’s a business loan, and French lenders are ultra cautious about business loans.
If you need a mortgage, I think you need to avoid properties that are already registered as gîtes and don’t mention your plans to the lender if you can help it without telling fibs. For a “normal” mortgage you typically need to prove stable income of at least 3 times the mortgage payments.

Having unique selling points and high standards are important but if you are offering any type of holiday accommodation you have to offer it in a location that people want to be. My neighbour runs a Chambres d’Hotes. All her business has come from two sorts of people, those who need accommodation because they are visiting the area, short term, for family reasons (wedding, birthday, christening etc) and those who are looking for an overnight stop on their way south. She has never had anyone stay because they wanted to holiday locally. I recently read a thread on another, accommodation centred, forum where a large B and B’s owner was concerned by her lack of bookings. As the house was fairly local I looked at its website; her house was lovely; big, spacious and in excellent condition. The accommodation looked comfortable and the outdoor facilities were well thought out. The prices seemed reasonable. All positive but… The house is located in an area that offers very little other than space and peace and quiet for the family groups she is targeting. It has very few ‘tourist’ attractions nearby. The holidaymakers who come to this area come to stay with family and friends in their own homes, it is not a holiday let area.
Location is the key, the wrong house in the right place will always do better than the perfect accommodation in an unsuitable location.


Thanks for your input Geof; yes I think I realised I would need to be a bit more specific. I was trying to gauge the “strategy” somewhat before committing to the type of property, hence wider range of query…difficult to define an answer without more information i know.

The placement is an interesting one; i think if we would like an area for “things to do” - generally, it would be part way there…but logistics is important to most.

I hadn’t though about specialisation - that is an interesting on for research, as is the “target market”.


Thank you Jane, I had a quick look on booking dot …this morning in the area we were thinking of, and realised that what catches my eye in looking at property pictures, would also be the same if i was looking for a holiday/stop over/rental place.
First impressions on adverts are the pictures…if it looks enticing you look deeper; so important that it reflects a good standard with features.
A swimming pool may be a bridge too far :wink:

Hi Anna,

That is very useful to know, forewarned is fore armed as they say :slight_smile:

The “plan” , is not to buy a going concern; but a house that does not need too much work, but has the opportunity, to use part of it, or a small building within it’s grounds that can be renovated ( if not already)
This then has various options - hence my wider and not so much specific question.

So hopefully in that regard, we should be ok - just have to keep the info in the noggin, if led up a different path :wink:
thanks many of.

Hi David,

Some very good points; in my head we wouldn’t be investing the world and more into a business that we had ill prepared for. Primarily the property is for “us”, rentals secondary.

That said, the world could change, and we may want a bigger bite of the cherry.

I have been trying to think through our own priorities of location - mainly ease of access such as flights or sea. Not too far from reasonable sized town… So we may head for a corridor from Nantes to Caen … I am liking the South Manche so far but we will see.
It seems to have a reasonable bit going for the area, plus access to coast, sizeable towns, ferry crossings, access to Channel Islands via Granville, some smaller airports ie Rennes - Nantes cheap flights to uk, but a bit far… so yes lots to think on.



Interesting - proximity to channel ports is important to us too, both personally (I occasionally work in the UK, and we still have family there) and because of our young families specialism - most don’t want to drive too far - and also because I don’t trust the budget airlines not to pull out of regional airports, especially now we have the Brexit uncertainty.
We actually looked mainly in Manche/Mayenne at first too, but in the end bought across in Brittany - which I’m glad we did because it has better travel (and cultural) links with ireland - a large English-speaking market that will remain in the Euro/EU and therefore likely to remain stable.

Yes the Channel ports, are i suppose the bread n better method, and also flexible ( car or walking options).

The airlines do occasionally restructure their business quite often, to drop locations or limit the months they operate…so i would tend to favour ports, with a weather eye on flights.
An interesting thought on the Ireland option for markets…

thanks Geof

Ahh forgot to say… until we finally decide ( that is if we CAN by then) to retire en France…our trips until then would be frequent and of shorter duration, so quicker access the better. Zooming to the South may be almost as quick by air, but the option to bring any car/van loads ( not that it would be that frequent ) a bit stinted…

hmm that gives me another idea.