Summer Holidays? Why The Future is France
Despite all the current uncertainties – from Covid-19 to Brexit – France’s future for tourism is looking pretty healthy, which means that now could be the perfect time to invest in a property with holiday rental potential. Whether it’s a holiday home you’d be willing to let out, or a separate building that could be converted into a gite, there are many reasons why France is a safe bet for future tourism.
Here are a few of the reasons why:
Easily Accessible by Road
Many travellers this summer have found their flights cancelled or have been caught out by fast-changing quarantine regulations, causing no end of chaos and disruption. Going on holiday in 2020 involved taking a calculated risk, as unlucky holidaymakers in Spain, Portugal and now the Greek Islands all discovered.
Yet France hits the geographical jackpot, enjoying borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. This means that tourists from any of these countries can drive into France for their holidays – and drive out again relatively easily should their governments change their regulations during their stay. The Chunnel between France and Britain also means that British tourists with their own cars have a better chance of returning at short notice than anyone holding a plane ticket.
This all means that, if you’re thinking of setting up a holiday rental business in France, you could enjoy a far wider market across Europe as well as Britain.
The French Love France
Let’s not forget French holidaymakers, who are extremely proud of the Hexagon, as France is affectionately known, and who appreciate the wide variety of landscapes their country has to offer. Staycations in France are no new thing, with many French taking off each August and heading for the sea, or the mountains, or to a rural landscape, or the rivers… France has so many options that many French see no reason to travel abroad! Why shouldn’t some of these become your guests?
Gites and Holiday Rentals
Many holidaymakers have become wary of staying in busy hotels and resorts, surrounded by other people from a variety of places who may have used public transport to get there. While this is very bad news for the hotel industry, it’s a huge boost to France’s well-established private holiday rental, or gite, business.
By renting a holiday villa or apartment, families can travel together by car within their own bubble, and stay together that way, enjoying as much or as little contact with others as they wish. Many families find that renting privately is a better option with children anyway, allowing for home-cooked rather than expensive restaurant meals, offering more space, and, perhaps a swimming pool, which will keep the young entertained for hours.
Despite the chaos of this summer, many gite-owners still found their businesses booming. Jon and Helen Booth’s two-bedroom gite in an historic former Gendarmerie, or police station, in La Chapelle Thireuil, Nouvelle Aquitaine, was fully booked all summer, and proved a huge hit with French tourists.
‘All our guests were French, most only having travelled less than a half a day to be with us,’ says Jon. ‘We had bookings from Pays de la Loire, Ile de France, Merpins, near Cognac, and Palaiseau, south-west of Paris. Most stayed for an average of three days to visit sites in the area, and a couple were here for weddings local to the area.’
Earlier this year France imposed a 100-kilometre travel limit, as the crow flies, with a signed attestation needed for any essential longer journeys, such as family emergencies. This, however, opened up travel opportunities for those who were fed up of being cooped up in the city, and benefited many countryside gites within a one-hundred kilometre span of urban areas. If you’re considering setting up a holiday rental, it’s worth considering your distance from a major town, because you might benefit from extra bookings of French longing to get away for weekend escapes from the city.
Winter or Unseasonal Lets
One developing new trend is that as companies are getting used to their staff working remotely, some employees are beginning to look into the idea of renting a home for short periods over the winter – providing it has a good wifi connection, of course! Some property managers are reporting a four-fold increase in off-season lets, and this could well be a trend that lasts well into the foreseeable future. This means owners may find a very welcome additional boost to their earnings in what is normally considered the low season.
Where in France?
France is so rich in natural and cultural features that you could choose practically anywhere and holidaymakers would still want to come. France just has it all – three beautiful coastlines, idyllic countryside, gorgeous rivers, the mountains of the Pyrenees or Alps, as well as numerous unspoilt towns and villages. So how best to choose the location of your gite, if you don’t yet have a fixed idea?
Here are a few points to consider:
- Get Strategic: what kind of holiday home do you want? Would you like to be in Brittany, for example, with easy access to the UK, or is hot weather more important to you, and you’d prefer to be near the Mediterranean or Poitou Charentes, for example, which enjoys the second sunniest climate in France? The Lot department is very scenic and popular, but tends to be a place of extremes – being both the hottest and the coldest department in the country! How important is it to you to be within easy reach of the coast and beaches, or are you a mountain person, who loves to ski in the winter and spend summers hiking?
- Define Your Business Plan: are you buying a holiday home that you’re also willing to let out, or a property which has a barn or outhouse that can be converted? Will you be there full time, and if so, are you prepared to manage all the changeovers and be on hand to help and advise your guests? Alternatively, do you need to engage a management company to handle all the details?
- Accessibility: how easy is it for guests to get to your property? How much driving would a family coming from either the UK or perhaps Germany have to do to get there?
- Immediate Area: most people want to rent somewhere that is peaceful and quiet, but they also want to be an easy drive from a major supermarket, and to be within walking distance of a café or bakery. Is there a nice bar or restaurant within walking distance too? That could be hugely advantageous.
- Your Property Style: there is a market for niche properties, that have character and style and offer a unique experience. Can you have some fun with the history of your property, particularly if it’s a former chateau? The key is to make that decision and own it – but if your décor stands out with a specific theme, there’s always the chance that some holiday makers will do the marketing for you, by uploading photos on Instagram and other social media sites.
Despite all the current uncertainties, France finds itself in an excellent position for tourism, which means that, if you are thinking of buying your dream property in the French countryside, there’s perhaps never been a better time to run a French holiday rental. With visitors able to drive over from so many different countries, your business could go even better than expected – and well into the low season, too.
There are so many attractions to keep holiday-makers coming year after year, that all you need to do is decide on a place that you love, and trust that plenty of others will feel the same way about it too.
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