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Everything posted by CatherineS2

  1. [quote user="Quillan"]We too were approach a couple of years back as they had nothing in this area. We got them to send us a free book so we could look at the sort of places advertised and to be honest I thought we would be out of place amongst the grand old houses. They then told us how much we had to pay to get in the book which although I can't remember I did think was rather expensive at the time. They also expected the person who was coming to inspect us to only be charged something like £20 for their nights stay including dinner. I remember thinking I might be tempted to apply for a job of inspector, tester or whatever. I asked if they would give me 60% discount on being in the book as that was what they were asking me for but I hit a bit of a stone wall. Personally I have only ever met one couple in four years who has used the book and to be honest I had never seen or heard of it before they mentioned it which to my mind makes me think I am not alone and I can't see it's a good investment. I would be interested to hear if anyone is in the book and how much trade it brings them. The only English private book we are in this year is the Thomas Cook one and its produced quite a few clients. We paid to be in it for three years and we have had our money back already and its our first year so this to me is a good investment.[/quote] I have been using these books for many years, I have in the past used the guide to Paris Hotels, English Bed and Breakfasts, and French Chambres d'Hotes. Indeed I am using their website right now to find a B&B here in East Sussex for some relatives who will be visiting me in December. I have never been disappointed with any of the places I have stayed at, so I'm sorry to hear that some people on this forum have had bad experiences.  The whole point of them is that the guides are not all necessarily "de luxe" expensive places, as long as they are special within their budget. Also, it has to be noted that things change, people move on, and AS only inspect every two years - so it is possible that a place has gone downhill since the guide was published, particularly if you are not looking at the latest guide. Yes, we are in one of their guides (French Holiday Homes), and I can vouch that it was certainly not "easy" to get in - we had to fill in a detailed application form and provide loads of other information such as examples of our info pack, etc etc. Then, once we were "shortlisted" I had to badger them to make sure that they came and did our inspection. In the end the inspector came about 2 weeks before the deadline for the last inspections and I am sure that they only sent her because they were sick of me phoning them every week. Once she was there, she spent over two hours looking around the place and asking some very detailed questions. She told me that they had had over 1,000 applications for the 360 places that ended up in the book. Some people have mentioned the "high" cost to the advertiser for appearing in the book. Well, I paid £344 inc vat for being in the book and on the website for 2 years. This is cheaper than www.holiday-rentals.com and to me, 10 times as valuable - not just for the large number of bookings I get from the AS book and website, but also for the ability to mention in all our other advertising that we have been inspected by AS. Our gite has only had 4 vacant weeks since 4th February this year and is now booked to mid November. Not bad, and I am totally convinced that the AS guide has played a large part in this.   Anyway, to get back to the point, whilst I was looking at their website just now, I noticed that Alastair Sawday himself is going to be on Channel 4's "No Going Back" program this Thursday, if anyone is interested. (He is going to visit a chambres d'hotes in France, one that was previously featured in the last series, Chateau de Ribagnac). 
  2. Maybe she has justifiable reasons for taking such a large deposit, but whatever the size of the deposit I think it is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS that she should request it to be paid so far in advance!!! Think of the interest she is making from holding onto people's money like that!!! We charge £200 and we ask people to make sure we receive the cheque 1 week before the start of the rental. We do bank the cheque, because otherwise there would be nothing to stop people from cancelling the cheque should there be any dispute, but we also refund the deposit within a couple of days of their departure, so we only hold their money for the minimum period. I'm sorry you have had such a bad experience - I promise you that not all holiday home owners are so money-grabbing. I too am English, but I certainly do not have a "pretentious, i am something special, you owe me a living attitude". I'm sorry though, we are not in the Languedoc nor do we have a pool, but if you fancy a nice holiday in beautiful Normandy then I would be happy to welcome you! :)  
  3. Well said Jo! I think you have managed to put into words what a lot of us gite owners with genuine "experience and understanding" have been thinking as we read some of the comments on this mammoth thread! (Remember - "gite" is the operative word here, not "hotel"). My thinking is: "If on this holiday they decided they didnt want to do any house work, but just enjoy a private relaxing time for this short break" then Great! Lovely! Good for them! They should pay to stay in a hotel. If, on the other hand, they want to pay a lot less and stay in my house, then I will do everything I can to ensure that they will have a wonderful holiday, but in return I would expect them to keep to their side of the bargain - and if they have chosen to not take up the optional paltry £30 final cleaning charge then I expect them to leave the house in a reasonably clean and tidy state so that our cleaner can make sure that the house is ready for the next guests within a couple of hours (as opposed to the 4-5 hours that she would spend if final cleaning has been requested).
  4. Pun, your friends may well have wanted to leave by 9am in order to get to Calais, but I know that many many people do not want to drive 400kms in one day, and will break their journey by staying in a B&B on the way. This is what we do when we go south, it gives us the option to have a leisurely departure the day before our ferry and then drive half way to Calais. I would never stay in a gite that chucked me out at 9am - and I don't think I have EVER come across one with such an early departure time - they are nearly all 10am and some are even 11am. Similarly I have NEVER seen one that doesn't allow you in until 5pm - I am sure that 4pm is the norm. If you are going to do this, I think you too need to make it very very clear in your T&Cs that you are going to have such punitive arrival and departure times as most people will not expect to be in so late or out so early.
  5. [quote user="Cerise"] Really must get a life instead of talking about ends of butter...[/quote] Don't worry - you should see some of the things we gite owners spend hours discussing over on the LayMyHat forum! I think our record was the infamous "towel" thread that went on for about 18 pages....
  6. [quote user="Gastines"] Swiss[Don't ask] [/quote]   Oi !!! Watch it!!! My mother was Swiss...               ... and I totally understand what you mean! ;-)
  7. One other thing - they are looking for a month that straddles the two peak weeks of Christmas and New Year, for which we charge rates close to those of high summer, so I would not be interested in letting to them for that rate, and probably nor would most gite owners. Sorry. Now, if it were for 4 weeks in January or February, then that would be another matter :)
  8. This is what we have in our rental agreement: Your rental charge includes an allowance for electricity - we have worked out this allowance based upon our own usage. We feel that it is a generous allowance and should be more than sufficient for up to 8 people. £25.00 per week (Jun - Aug) £30.00 per week (Apr, May, Sep, Oct) £35.00 per week  (Nov - Mar) The meter will be read prior to your arrival and again on your departure. Any electricity used over and above the allowance will be deducted from your deposit. However, do please be aware that if you leave lots of lights on unnecessarily, or the electric heaters on at full power all night and day,  you may exceed your allowance. This way, if people are wasteful with electricity etc, then they will be paying the extra, not me. (It's never happened so far though). I am also considering applying to be included on www.responsibletravel.com, which in a nutshell is "a new way of travelling for those who've had enough of mass tourism. It's about respecting and benefiting local people and the environment". As a result, I shall be making a point in all my literature about people not being wasteful with energy. 
  9. The bit I liked best was at the end, when the notaire wrote out a cheque for the full purchase amount and handed it over to our vendor, who put it in her handbag! Good luck with your new adventure, I hope it gives you as much pleasure as we have had from ours (If you're interested, you can read our blog on our website to see how we have got on with the painting, cleaning etc over the past few years!!!) (PS, if you do contact either of the above B&B's, please say that I recommended them - Aysen from Le Gaillon) 
  10. Kathie, I can recommend the following: http://www.visitfrance.co.uk/accommodation.cfm?i=4989 (Rebecca is our keyholder, and they would have plenty of room for your trailer!). If they're full, you could also try: http://www.visitfrance.co.uk/accommodation.cfm?i=5166# (We stayed here when we were househunting and it is very nice too). Hope this helps! Catherine BTW, I enjoyed reading your blog just now - it brought it all back to me! (We signed our acte de vente 3 years ago but it seems like yesterday. My husband had done his back in so I had to drive us out there, and he spent the whole 90 minutes in the notaire's office lying on the floor as sitting in any chair was excruciatingly uncomfortable! It was most surreal).
  11. Eslier - these sound like a great idea. Can you tell me where you saw these loungers?
  12. Over the past couple of months I've been bookmarking properties in Florida as we are thinking of taking the children to Disneyland next Easter. By the time I actually get my act together to try to book somewhere, I won't have a clue which search string or rental portal I used! I am sure that there must be many people in the same boat... 
  13. (Not sure which forum to post this in - this is not strictly a question about France, but I'm sure there must be some members of this forum who may some suggestions). I have an American family coming to stay at our gite in July. They're American but living in Loughborough for a year. They recently emailed me about their travel plans and included the following: We will likely stay over in Dover to see the sights there as we have not done that yet.  Do you have any recommendations of where to stay for a night in Dover to see sights and not be too far from the ferries? I don't really know what to suggest to them.  I have never stopped in Dover - I don't know whether it has any sights worth recommending! (Apologies to anyone who lives in Dover if I am being disparaging towards your town, but from the main road into the ferry port it does look a little drab and unappealing!) Does anyone have any suggestions, either in Dover or in a nearby town/village?
  14. Oops! Yes, that makes sense.  Silly me, jumping to conclusions.[:$]
  15. I too am sorry to hear that TU is leaving. Although I have been accessing this forum for over 3 years (joined date is incorrect as I used to be plain CatherineS), I very rarely post on here anymore, but I know that TU had already been a long-standing member when I first joined and always seemed to give good advice, so I think it will be a loss to the forum. I have often wondered what the name "TeamedUp" means. But now I am even more curious about something else and have been since last night - and I can no longer resist asking the question. What does she mean when she says "Since I have been a woman" in her letter in Miki's post? Is there something I have missed? Someone please put me out of my misery!
  16. If you are a conspiracy theorist, these trails are known as "Chemtrails" and they are apparently the work of the US and UK governments spraying chemicals in the sky in order to reduce the population growth... I used to work with a guy who was adamant that this was true (but then again, he also believed that the 911 jets were flown by the US government by remote control - need I say more?). You can read more about this "fascinating" theory here: http://educate-yourself.org/ct/  http://www.rense.com/politics6/chemdatapage.html http://www.chemtrailcentral.com/
  17. I too have wondered about this. What would happen if I turned up and used my husband's credit card at the self check-in, without him being in the car? I have often thought that the inability to hold a "family" frequent traveller season ticket is a real bind. Also, if we go over with two cars (not totally unheard of) we can't use his season ticket for my car. [:@]
  18. Loads of good advice here, I don't think I can add anything further apart from sharing with you my motto in life: Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time... ...it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable. Remember this always. PS I too am an only child with aging parents (well, parent actually - my mother died a couple of months ago at 86, truth be told it was a relief for both of us) so I know what you are going through. We too were considering moving to France but didn't in the end, not because of the parents, but we did have to think about them at the time and they and I all agreed that if we wanted to go we should, and not delay it just because of them. Good Luck, whatever you choose to do in the end.
  19. Have you tried www.FriendsReunited.co.uk?
  20. 2004  28 weeks 2005  35 weeks 2006  27 weeks booked so far to 9th Sept, I am confident to at least get another 3 weeks in Sept, 1 week October half-term, then 2 weeks Xmas/New Year, so that should be at least 33 weeks. My secret? We are lucky here in Normandy, being just 2 hours from Calais, that people do pop over out of season so we don't have to just rely on July/August bookings (for example between 4th Feb to 9th Sept we will only have had 4 empty weeks (2 in March and 2 in May). Funnily enough, each year May has been harder to fill than March and April!   PS Patmobile - do you have a website? Can you share this with us at least?!  
  21. [quote user="Lou"] I will confess that I've never stood and read all the packets to check[/quote] I've always bought the same stuff but it was out of stock in the supermarket recently so I asked one of the assistants if the alternative one which I had in my hand was OK for fosses and she frowned and looked at me as if I was barking mad - "Mais bien sur madame!!!!". (As if...!) So I think you are fairly safe...
  22. Thanks Hewitts and Andrea, but as per my posting on 2nd March, they have already found somewhere. I hope you fill your vacant spaces soon (I'm sure you will - there are ALWAYS people looking to book at the last minute!)
  23. I would not expect or welcome anything like this if I were staying in a gite. The whole point of renting a gite is that  you want to be away from other people and have the place to yourself, I certainly prefer gites where the owner is not on site. But that is just my personal opinion, perhaps others would feel differently.
  24. Ok, fair cop Saligobay - I spelt it wrong!!! "I will be able to" = "je pourrai".  
  25. I thought that "pouvais" means "I could" as in Juswundrin's example "I could see it when I woke up", and that "pourrais" means "I would/will be able to", as in "I would/will be able to see it when I wake up".
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