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Everything posted by Cerise

  1. Hi Coco You have my sympathy.  I do not wish to get into a slanging match as to the merits of GdF - each person will have their own opinion - but I feel the same as you.  The bathrooms for 2 of our rooms are too small to meet the criteria even though the rooms are OK.  Neither do we have baths - what is this obsession with baths, I would have thought a national organisation might have accepted that showers, provided large enough, would save water if nothing else.  However, the too small rooms were the original 'cabinets' for those bedrooms complete with commode and washstand.  To alter the sizes would have completely destroyed the character of our house so we have arranged everything neatly - wall hung toilets for example - to give an admittedly small but comfortable and attractive en-suite.  However, as you say, not good enough. Surely the merits of a chambre de hotes should not be size but comfort and quality.  The person I spoke to seemed only concerned with whether we could extra beds in the rooms and said bathrooms would not be big enough for 3 people.  Well as the rooms are for 2 people and we have no intention of piling beds in rooms that seems ridiculous.  We have a family suite for 3 or 4 people and I do not want extra beds everywhere. I have also had a severe attitude problem from GdF.  I speak fluent French, but again not good enough they were concerned that my husband didn't.  At the end of the day we have decided against, but a bit sadly as we would like to be part of a national organisation. I am vice-president of our local tourist office and would say that more than half the CdH in our area are NOt with GdF.  This year I have had a large increase in French people booking directly from the internet  and they do not seem any more concerned than the British customers about GdF membership.  I know that this was not so in the past but things are moving on - until recently most French people I knew only travelled outside France with organised groups, but more and more are making their own arrangements and consequently deciding for themselves where they go, and I think this attitude is moving to their French based holidays as well. I am not against inspection and sensible rules, but do think that the charm of CdH is that they come in all different shapes and sizes and this is in danger of being lost if the licensing organisation really only want purpose built room of a specific size with identikit features.   Maggi
  2. I would have to endorse both Coco and Quillan's posts.  We simply would not make enough money to live if we had to pay back any loan for our B & B.  There are only 2 of us, and although so far we are managing to keep our heads above water it is worrying.  This year tourism in this area is down enormously, everyone I meet is anxiously asking if we have any guests - long established folk who have not worried before are ringing and letting us know they have vacancies just in case we have something to pass on  If I had a young family and a loan I would be beside myself. Will, I agree that in principle it seems to be harder to get a loan in France - but recently our bank asked us if we would like a loan (we wouldn't) and we certainly don't have enough extra cash to repay it.  That, however, didn't stop them trying to persuade us to take it.  I am therefore not convinced that French banks are any more scrupulous than English ones.  Unless a business is already up and running, projected figures are just that - projected not reality. I am not trying to be negative and do think people should try to realise their ambitions, but they should also have a realistic view of things on which to base their decisions. Good luck to Fay whatever she decides Maggi www.les-cerisiers.net          
  3. If you normally have bikes on the premises, then why don't you ask your own insurers what the position is.  If they cover you for your guests using equipment on the premises then great, if not leave it alone.  It is very difficult to spend your whole life wondering what somebody can sue you for!!  I am amazed that any of us actually take anyone into our homes at all.  If you can't use your own see if there is a local VTT association as they may know someone who can deliver rental bikes to you.  I know this happens in some areas. Good luck Maggi  
  4. Sorry I don't know anyone personally either but find that www.cybevasion.fr is easy to use when we go away ourselves and gives clearish indication of prices.  Otherwise suggest you look up local tourist office and ring/fax them.  They normally have a list of availability.   Maggi
  5. We pay extra 87 euros a year for 4 rooms and evening meals.  Check that it is in the policy 'cos the first year I paid and then couldn't actually find the clause - they had forgotten to add it - just as well we didn't have a claim. Maggi
  6. I think this is a question a bit like 'What is a hotel?'  Anything from a Formule 1 to the Ritz is the answer and likewise for CdH or B & B (don't think they are different). Our personal philosophy is that it is like staying with friends but you don't have to help with the washing up!  We try to treat our guests accordingly, but they must also accept that it is our home.  For example, this evening we have friends popping round for aperos as all the guests (for once) are eating out.  Any guests who happen to be around at apero time can join in but we don't not have our friends round just because we do CdH. We also do lots of things for our guests that perhaps a hotel wouldn't do - e.g. take them with us if we are going out, organise days out for them and try to be as helpful as possible. Having said that, there is a CdH nearby where you can only arrive at a certain time, you have to be out during the day (no sitting around on the terrace with a book) and where the only contact guests have with the owner is when she hands them a key.  Breakfast there is help yourself from a breadbin and a thermos jug. Today, we have had guests in and out all morning - currently one room is having a siesta, another person is sunning on the terrace, and the others are out somewhere but will almost certainly arrive back if I happen to put the kettle on We like our busy life and I (mostly) enjoy the guests.  By giving them lots of personal attention we get a fair bit of repeat business.  However, that is not to say that all CdH should be run like ours - I really think that that is the essence that Cdh are all different depending on the people running it. Maggi
  7. Thank you Jenny and apology accepted.  I was not very happy when I replied as have had a week of people messing me about. Guests last night had specifically asked if they could arrive between 9 - 10 pm so we were somewhat disconcerted to find them, not best pleased to find no-one at home, on the doorstep when we popped out for 5 minutes at 6.00 pm.  They then sulked as they couldn't have dinner (I did organise a nice restaurant for them) but I had already started dinner for other guests who had booked.  At times like that you wonder why you do it at all and when you read a posting criticising (even if it is perhaps justified) you do tend to fly off the handle. On another note - Alan, do you think we could make some sort of Tarn & Garonne sculpture with leftover croissants as even the dogs can't eat any more and I hate throwing so many away!!   Maggi  
  8. Dear Jenny If you can tell me where I can get these wonderful, willing to pay for quality, guests then I will be delighted.  Sorry to disillusion you, but we are fully aware that we are considered 'expensive' at 50 euros a night for a double room including breakfast.  If one more person locally tells me that there is a place down the road which does B & B for 45 euros I will scream. Despite the fact that it is not actually that nice, and their 'breakfast' consists of a lump of baguette and a cup of inferior coffee, the Tourist Office tell me, apologetically, that people actually want to save that 5 euros.  All our guests comment on the quality of our breakfasts, but sadly my ingredients cost more than the 3 euros which another of our competitors charge for breakfast.  We are quite lucky in that our garden is full of fruit trees, so most of the time we can have fresh cherries, peaches, figs etc for only the labour - but actually making all that homemade jam when it is 40° outside is not that much fun. Of course we care about service and quality, but we also have to live!  Not all of us are rich and retired, and in the face of cheap competition it is virtually impossible to give very high quality and make a profit.  If you are lucky enough not to have to worry about money then say a silent thank you and spare a thought for those of us who do need to earn a living and are trying to do so whilst dealing with a clientele who by and large do not want to pay much. I agree with Arnold - the breakfasts in many B & Bs is of a much higher standard than in many French hotels and costs a great deal less. Maggi
  9. Can recommend a place called Larrun Bixta 0559 541766 in St Pee sur Nivelle - the owners Claude & Yvette don't speak much English but they are utterly charming.  We stayed there in April and enjoyed enormously - the evening meal was excellent and the area is beautiful.  They are members of GDF so you can look up on their website. Maggi  
  10. Dear Fay So sorry to hear this awful news.  Condolences and wishing you all the courage it will take you to get through this dreadful time. It is very courageous of you to even think of posting at the moment and kind that you are able to thank others when you need all your strength yourself.  I'm sure everyone here is thinking of you. Love Maggi
  11. Try letting Air France lose your bags and you might not be so disbelieving!  Having had this not to be repeated experience a couple of years ago when our luggage seperated from our party I can assure you that the above was quite polite.  We had actually travelled with Lufthansa from Toulouse to Athens via Germany.  On the way back there were technical problems and we were transferred to an Air France flight from Munich.   Under international rules the last company you travelled with (even if you didn't book with them) are responsible for your luggage. Our cases went missing for a week and I don't think I have ever dealt with ruder or more incompetent people.  'You really are making a fuss' was something that was said to me and to my friend - who is French, so no possible misunderstanding - 'For God's sake, surely you have some other clothes'.  We did eventually get bags back, but I for one would not actually be surprised by the dialogue.  Also, there are ways and ways of saying 'Madame'. Maggi
  12. Dear SB You forgot to add leaving their driving licences in UK so that we can just 'pop' the 100 km to airport to collect them and then ferry them round for a week.  "So much better if we want to have a glass(?) of wine at lunchtime dear!" And, its not the cheddar I mind - but drinking my dry Martini.  Why can't you buy DRY Martini in France when you can get the other sort? Maggi
  13. La Redoute - nice material type, but symbolised with a little umbrella.  Don't worry about 7 year olds Coco - as Miki says anyone that can physically get out of their cot can (and will) come downstairs to grizzle. Maggi
  14. Hi Coco We have waterproof mattress covers for our single beds, but I have also have ordinary ones which I put on if there are only adults staying as the waterproof ones are hotter.  I have to confess also have a spare waterproof one for the doubles which I use if any very elderly guests.  Small children's mothers will normally admit to a bedwetter, but not granny!! We provide cot and hightchair and also have a spare microwave for mums with babies to sterilise bottles.  Most people bring own baby listening device .  Our family suite is on its own floor and has baby gate to stairs.  You can buy fabric baby gates for bedroom doors which might prevent small ones wandering if parents are downstairs. I also have a couple of feeder cups and plastic baby cups as I find people often forget those and little ones can't manage glasses for their drinks. It is also a good idea to remove all breakables from the room if you have under 7s in it. Big moan - why do people let their children jump on the beds?  Nearly all of them seem to do it and it drives me mad!! Hot and intolerant Maggi
  15. Hi Arnold I know you asked the question of Alan - and what we do may not work for you as we have less rooms, but we have a large communal fridge for the guests.  Drinks are in there, ditto ice packs for the picnic bags (we supply a few bags which people can borrow) and customers can also use for their picnic things, cheese and pate they want to take home etc.  We have a cupboard beside with glasses, picnic cutlery etc and works very well.  I collect anything dirty and put in dishwasher, but keeps guests away from our own fridge. Maggi  
  16. My reply should be after Alan's or it doesn't make sense - what is happening??? Maggi  
  17. Well Alan, I think you act with common sense.  We do more or less the same - i.e. provide fridge, but there are always drinks in it whether provided by us or by guests.  We have not had anyone taking advantage - interestingly we find that guests often buy more beer for example than they consume and then leave the remains behind, so we simply leave it there for the next lot. I am all for by being law abiding, but since you mention it Ian I regularly broke the licensing laws in UK by going to pub long before I was 18 (I'm tall and always could get to buy the drinks!!) and had no problem with the lock-ins at my Cornish local.  Sometimes I think that the people who use these forums are all candidates for sainthood with the shocked remarks they make.  Am I the only person here who has ever met decidedly dodgy folk, both French and English. Rules are made for good reasons, but I am happy to recall that when I collected my licence from the Douanes the very nice gentleman said to me with a big wink "Madame, this licence permits you to SELL wine and beer but in France most of us are very hospitable and GIVE our guests a nice aperitif!" Maggi
  18. Hi Coco We have a fridge for guests in which they can keep their own beer, wine etc and we supply corkscrews, glasses etc.  In practice we also give people the odd carafe of wine, bottle of beer.  I know Ian will probably shout at me, but everyone else does it, local bar owners know and don't care, so I think it is just good service.  We supply bottled water in the rooms too - in theory I suppose someone could query whether we are selling it, but I am just not that paranoid. Our local French competition sell all kinds of drinks and icecreams and have been doing so for years.  If I thought I was upsetting anyone I wouldn't do it, but I honestly think that it is fine to give someone a welcome beer and I can't really see anyone reporting me for doing so! At least half the B & B in this area are not licensed, registered or anything else so should the gendarmes start a purge I think they will have better things to worry about than a few bottles of LeClerc's cheap beer. I also ask people not to take wine into the rooms, and have not found that to be a problem as we have plenty of places they can sit and have a drink.  Do you think I can ban suntan oil as I seem to get all sorts of things - wall, bedside rug, towels - messed up by that. Maggi    
  19. Wanted to join 'extreme ironing' club but they say our terrace isn't an extreme enough place plus AGF don't want to insure me!! Surprised you find French don't like kettles Arnold.  Once they realise that it is free, and not instead of breakfast, ours all love them.  I find that my French guests are afraid to use anything in case they have to pay extra for it - so now I explain it is 'offert'.  In fact, local French B & B asked if I minded if she copied the idea as she thought it was so nice. Interestingly, we went away with French friends and although he is an electrician he didn't know how to use the electric kettle in house we were staying in. Maggi    
  20. Try registering as 'multi-service' saying you will cut grass, clear attics, look after dogs etc.  You don't actually have to do the other things.  The main problem will probably be that your cotisations will be greater than the payment you receive for the dogsitting!!  I have a couple of French friends who do exactly that and I'm reasonably sure that they don't declare it. "What just looking after a dog?"  I really think that the problem is that we British are too honest.  Despite the protests of disliking black labour which always appear on this forum, I think the French make far greater use of it.  My French friends all seem to think I am mad to declare all my earnings (I do) and as my best French mate pointed out the other day I don't seem understand the system! Will I ever. You might also try asking whether you could be paid 'cheque emploi service'.  Strictly speaking you should look after the dog at the owners' own house for that, but the use seems to be expanding so it may be worth asking. Good luck - if you ever figure out how it all works, please let me know Maggi    
  21. Dear Chris If you would like to pop over and demonstrate your marvellous technique and equipment, the EEC ironing mountain is currently downstairs in my laundry room.  Having been overwhelmed by both real guests and relatives this week I currently have the sheets off 5 beds awaiting me.  Any help and demonstrations of male ironing supremacy gratefully received. I ttoo am about to replace this year's iron so will look carefully at your and Ian's recommendations. Somewhat steamily Maggi  
  22. Maybe I am strange (what do you mean maybe??)but I do take one nighters as I actually think that is what B & B should do.  I am also a B & B user and we like to be able to stay for one night when we can get away. I understand the frustration of maybe losing a longer booking but have found that people on their way through (of which we get quite a few) often either come back themselves for longer or recommend others.  I did toy with the idea of saying no in July and August, but this year bookings in this area are awful and I actually know of 2 B & B with no advance reservations.  If you all live in places where you can afford to be picky and are full all the time,then Good Luck but in slightly less touristy areas I'm not sure it is a good idea to turn away any potential trade. That said, we do try to encourage longer stays by offering a discount for 3 nights as, apart from the possible loss of longer stays, the one-nighters definitely entail more work. Maggi
  23. When I was still in England our local market had a French stall which was always incredibly busy.  My French friends here pester me to bring back English goodies when I go to UK.  I don't even live in a town but in the deepest countryside yet still have ladies wanting marmite, lemon curd and shortbread - so why is anyone surprised by stalls selling different foods? Maggi  
  24. Well, I don't - nor do I know anyone who does.  We do take people's names, home addresses and landline phone nos when booking.  Don't bother with car numbers as they are usually hire cars.  Don't ask for ID either  No-one has ever asked us to do this and certainly other CdH in this area don't.  But I suspect it is like many other French rules - the fact that we don't do it,doesn't mean we shouldn't!! Maggi  
  25. Hi Coco You are a woman after my own heart.  I have to say I spend far too much time worrying about things that are not my fault. I feel terrible for people if the weather isn't nice and my worst day was when a particularly arrogant couple refused to book an evening meal, refused to let me book a restaurant for them (even though it was in Feb and lots of places are closed unless bookings are made) and refused to listen to me when I told them that the restaurant they were contemplating some 15 kms away was actually closed for its annual holiday.  Guess who actually made them a snack when they came back at 9.30 pm whinging that they had had nothing to eat?  Believe it or not I still felt guilty that they hadn't had a proper meal.  My husband says I am mad, but I can't help feeling it is my fault if everything is not OK, so understand exactly how you feel. Anyway, to cheer you up she probably sent the same e-mail to all the other places she had enquired about originally Keep smiling Maggi    
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