Mad ideas.............. (Setting up Camping or Hostel type thing)

Has anyone who has a bit of space attempted to set up a camp site or camping hostel type arrangement, say using old outbuildings for basic accommodation etc, like the Youth Hostel type set up. I'm thinking along the lines of a very basic Stable conversion, that sort of thing.

Are there horrendous "Elf and Safety" (outside of the obvious) rules and regulations on this type of thing that make it not viable, or too much trouble?

It's all above-board. They work with the Office de Tourisme in Epernay, Reims, Châlons-en-Champagne etc

Until they are caught!

Got a bit of spare land?

Let people park their caravans and mobile-homes between trips - for a small rent.

It works well around here (Reims, Epernay, etc)

Some winegrowers add a power-source and a tap to each parking space in their courtyard and ' le tour est joué'

They're crafty because if the tourists who stay overnight there want champagne, it's a few steps away

No need for any over-the-top EU-regulations

I mentioned the local campsite that closed last month earlier in this thread. We buy fresh organic fruit from him, so yesterday whilst we there we asked him about the fire hydrant and defibrillator that was demanded of him. He said that for the six or so weeks he has people there, that he would have had to have a water supply installed and the hydrant at his own cost. When he had that estimated for him he decided to close down without finding out about the defibrillator which would have also meant he would have had to do a 'course' to learn how to use it correctly, again at own cost. He simply wanted to supplement his income by allowing small numbers of campers to use a field just near what used to be his parents' tiny house where he renovated the toilet and shower, modernised the kitchen a bit, put a washing machine and dryer in what was their tiny bedroom and left the main room as a place where people could sit, perhaps have their lunch or whatever. Despite renovations he was told that ideally he should have a men's and women's room separately and that the kitchen was too close to the toilet. However, he had no demand that he act on the advice. In the end he simply gave up because investment would have meant loans, he would have had no guaranteed return and anyway if it had worked it would have meant repaying beyond his retirement in less than a decade with none of his children interested in taking over a farm anyway.

Just seeing the wine picker dormitory bit reminded me we had chatted with him. There was an astounding amount more which I have forgotten. As you say John it is mainly EU regulations rather than French.

As for the gîtes closing down, my OH has had somebody resell at a loss earlier this year after two years trying to make a bean in what should be a pretty good place quite near to a very popular château tourist place. 75% is astonishing but not actually surprising.

Regulations are usually costly due to EU-regulations. Here in the Champagne region very few winegrowers lodge their pickers, since the harvest only lasts about 10 days, and the dormitories would have to be up-to-standard all year long.

75% of those registering with 'Gîtes de France' put the key under the door within 5 years.

this one's in English:


A case of 'barn today, corn tomorrow'.........

Let alone generations who came to be thanks to hay lofts :-D

I dread to to think! Gone are the day of innocence where you could let someone camp in your barn and let'em pee in the corner! Hey ho! :)

You mean it is easier elsewhere? ! ;-)

Thanks folks. Great input all round. Got to love good old rules and regulations! :)

A friend of mine set up a hostel type arrangement, not a CdeH but a self catering appt and has been mega busy, far bigger success than he imagined but he does work hard keeping up. Not in the greatest of locations but he takes mainly commercial travelers but has a student booked in for several months. Occupation levels started at 80% when he opened in the spring up to 98% in August.

Unless you are in a mega attractive holiday area forget the idea of making any money from the venture...

One very near here, actually on the local branch of the Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage route has closed for business at the end of August. The regulations about the things he had to have (he had neither fire hydrant nor defibrillator and a demand that he have them by next year - both expensive), the cost of insurance and any number of other things have made revert to farming on the field. It was for less than 20 campers, tents or whatever, so capital outlay that would require many years to get back killed that one off.

Gîtes are not doing especially well in some areas, so look at that very seriously. Six to eight weeks letting in a normal season filled every week seems to be the break even measure but quite seriously more are closing than doing well. There are so many going on the market that my OH has stopped taking them on if she can avoid it. As for hostels, I am not sure but know that the one near us (I am a YHA/IYHA life member so have used them most of my life) has always had free spaces last year and this and that is not only on the Compostella route but is in one of the most popular abbeys on that Grande Randonnée.

Whether mad or not depends on your 'market research' and planning authority.

Camp-sites are notoriously difficult to create: local mayors are extremely afraid of floods, tempests and other fire damage killing people in their communes. Better stick to the 'camping à la ferme' formula which allows you to accept up to five happy campers on your land without any official permission.

A "gîte d'étape" or hostel, is a good idea though. A gîte de groupe - with a couple of big dormitories or up to 8 bedrooms - gets around the '5 bedroom' rule for B&Bs. The catch is you need an organisation like Gites de France to sponsor you and award you their 'gîte de séjour' label. So your first step should be to contact them and ask them to help you. With them in tow, the local Mairie should not offer much resistance.

you'll need planning and that's where things might be more difficult depending on where you are and depending on the POS. Pop into your mairie and ask to speak to the person who deals with planning/building ;-)

Not such a mad idea if you are alongside a popular Grande Randonnée route for example the various routes to Santiago de Compostella otherwise probably not such a good idea.