Saturday, 19 July 2014

Renovation of a derelict house - The reality of having a B&B in France

Renovation of a derelict house - The reality of having a B&B in France

I seem to be neglecting the blog but we have been so busy, the B&B is taking off and we are getting really busy. Using has really helped.

This is a decision that was hard to make as they do charge high commission, 15% on every booking and because we have chosen to register under the Auto Entrepreneur tax system we are not able to claim any expenses.

We are taxed and pay social charges on our turnover, not our profit.

This is why it was a difficult decision we will not earn as much and the summer season is short but then on the other hand, it is a case of earn 85% of the nightly price or 100% of nothing (a no brainer really).

If you are considering doing what we have done, these are the decisions you may come up against.

The biggest learning curve and tip that I can share is that you are very unlikely to make a living from having a small B&B. It is perfect if you are topping up a pension or have taken early retirement, but unless you have enough rooms/live in an area with a long holiday season or in a very exclusive area where you can charge silly amounts for the night a small B&B will not give you a comfortable lifestyle.

You need to have a back up plan, offer something that nobody else does, this is why we joined Leggetts estate agency so that we can offer house buying breaks. We are also in the process of organising language breaks, where you can stay with us and have intensive French lessons, or photography breaks, but we are now in a catch 22 scenario, I need to spend time working on these, but I am so busy with the B&B and the estate agency I don't have time.

This does lead to stress again, but now it's stress in the old way from working not just from trying to get the house finished.

This blog post is not really specific to any thing but just to get how I am feeling on to paper and give you an idea of what it is really like when you have decided to open a B&B in France.

I would always say go for it, follow your dreams and enjoy it, but be prepared, there will be curve balls, we are busier than we could ever have dreamt possible, but unless that continues past the summer season, we may not make enough to live comfortably (but as a friend pointed out on face book, it is better to be broke living in an enchanted forest than in a city in the UK!)

I still miss my family and though I get to see the babies on Skype they are growing up and I'm not there to be a big part of it, they know me and are always excited to talk and we do go over often, though not in the summer season now they also cannot visit during this time!

I have just re read what I have written and it all sounds a bit negative, it's not, I wouldn't change anything but I do need to point out that not everything is a bed of roses, even when you are doing well.

Maybe I am just getting itchy feet again, after all we have been here for 2 years, or maybe I just woke on the melancholy side of the bed this morning, maybe I just need to get a bit of a grip of myself, but I thought it was good to let you know that life isn't always as easy as it seems but as I said I wouldn't change a thing, I just wanted to let you now if you are doing this, expect the good, the bad and the slightly melancholy, after all this isn't the TV program this is real life!

The biggest tips I can give you, and remember these are based on our real life experiences are:

  • Be prepared to spend money on your advertising, no matter how beautiful your property is, if people don't know they won't come
  • Be prepared that even if you are full for the holiday season it is unlikely to be enough to see you through the year
  • It will be stressful!!!!
  • You will still miss your family
  • You will need to get up before anybody else in the house and get a breakfast ready
  • Some days will not be as good as others
  • But above all if you don't try it you will never know!


  1. hi jenny...great post. my friend and i have taked about moving to france when our children leave home. she has just started seriously looking in the languedoc and whilst i am full of horrible envy, i think realistically im not sure if we can do it at this stage of our lives (we are i think a bit older than you). guess family is the big thing. my girls have only just started out. i love that you give a balanced and realistic view. my friend and i were just the other evening discussing her doing b & b on a small scale.i will pass your post along. but i guess better to have tried etc etc.....who wants to live with regrets. x

    1. H Elsy
      thanks for your comment and I do hope I haven't put you or your friend of doing this. It has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives, but when you read about it and watch the programs on TV they rarely tell the other side, you do miss your family but as long as you are not too far from an airport or the ferry you do manage, the other side is that when you do see time, it is quality time as you do not have the strains of work etc etc.

      If your friend is still interested tell her she is more than welcome to get in touch for a chat, if she e-mails me I'll happily give her a call.

      it is hard to find the right time as we waited till all had left home and were happily sorted but then thats when the grandchildren come along, so do you wait until they are grown and then risk being too old???? these are some of the biggest questions

      good luck to you both xx