Buying Property in France as a B&B

drewfromrisca Posts: 1,165
edited June 2009 in The bottom bracket
After sick of being downright miserable/fed up and thoroughly peeved off in work for the past 7 years, the missus and I have decided to look into buying a property in France and turning it into a B&B (aimed primarily at cyclists and the adventure types).

Any of you good folks either done the same/looked into it/know someone who has/advice on how it should be done etc etc?

One stumbling block we have is that we have no significant savings, don't own a house but we may have financial backing from her folks/grandfolks.

Obviously in these financially horrific times we are worried about doing this but if I don't find a new career soon I'm looking at a Michael Douglas a' la Falling Down episode!!! :evil:
There is never redemption, any fool can regret yesterday...

Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!


  • bobtbuilder
    bobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
    edited June 2009
    I've got no direct advice for you, but get in touch with Craig & Vicky at Veloventoux

    They did the same thing, and offer a brilliant service to guests (from personal expereince).

    Craig used to post on here, but I haven't seen him on here for ages.
  • drewfromrisca
    drewfromrisca Posts: 1,165
    Cheers Bob big help. I've looked at a few on the cycling weekly adverts. I'm just worried about how I go about getting the financial backing for this type of thing. Oh and the fact that I need to start practising the language!!!
    There is never redemption, any fool can regret yesterday...

    Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    In a B&B you limit your income from the number of rooms you have. Now if you had a field which you could use as a campsite......
    I think that there is money in camping and caravaning myself. Worth some research anyway.

    Also you could rent bikes. Think multiple income streams.

    Good luck.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • Special K
    Special K Posts: 449
    I work about 60 hours a week so that I can enjoy nice holidays.

    On my holidays I like to meet new people.

    Often conversation veers towards "what do you do?". I've met people from all walks of life and varied occupations and vocations, but never, ever, has anyone ever said to me: "I run a B&B". (Unless of course I was staying in their B&B and asked them what they did in a moment of supreme stupidity.)

    I have a theory about why this might be.

    1) People who run B&Bs probably never have the time to go on holiday as the place takes on a life of its own and always has to be open.
    2) People who run B&Bs earn very little money, hence they cannot go on nice holidays, (which might not be a bad thing, if it means they run into the likes of me).

    Something to think about.

    Having stayed in Chambres d'hotes and gites, I can safely say I have never noticed the owners to be anything other than totally run off their feet and exhausted. Margins are clearly slim, and being a foreigner without the language, you will find it hard to get any edge on the competition without some other revenue streams as mentioned above. Suggestions here of providing for the Brits abroad who can spend a few bob, for example in the Alps, is a good start, but it's a saturated market, with not much barrier to entry and also not much safety net. Talk to Gareth at (Morzine).

    If you're feeling brave and rich however, you might do it if you're utterly committed (there are no windfalls in this game) - France has record numbers of visitors every year and if you select your place well and market it successfully, you could do well. I would strongly advise private finance, as no bank will give you the money easily and with reasonable terms (terms = "what size barrel would you like us to stretch you over, sir?").

    Wishing you all the best and don't forget to let us know when you open so we can come and see you and marvel at triumph of optimism.
    "There are holes in the sky,
    Where the rain gets in.
    But they're ever so small
    That's why rain is thin. " Spike Milligan
  • geoff_ss
    geoff_ss Posts: 1,201
    The son of a friend of mine bought and runs a small hotel in Austria. He's both a cyclist and an aeromodeller so he caters for 2 of my interests.

    The hotel mainly caters for skiing (he's a ski instructor) and walkers but he's trying to get the local tourist providers to look into mountain biking in the Summer. He also taught himself (and went on courses) to cook to a good standard although he employs a chef at peak times.

    I think you need to think very carefully before embarking on a career in catering for tourists. Learn to cook, study the business financially (see what the margins are and if they are enough). Go to the areas that interest you and see how it all works. In France you may find you could combine B&B with a cafe or bar. Providing a camp/caravan site would help but that can be a big investment. People expect good showers and electric hook-ups these days.

    Not something to be taken lightly but a great thing to do if you go into enthusiastically and with eyes wide open. Remember that the Summer season in France is very short (July and August). When we go to France in May/June many campsites are still closed and we often have them almost to ourselves.

    Good luck

    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • dilemna
    dilemna Posts: 2,187
    Also bear in mind France is a very bureaucratic country and taxes are swinging if running your own small business. It is not like the UK. You will be run off your feet as taking on people in France is very costly, fraught with regulations and a legal minefield. But I think the first step would be to learn the language. Being excluded from a communtity because you cannot communicate as effectively as you can in the UK can be very isolating and hamper the success of your business turning it from dream to nightmare.
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • drewfromrisca
    drewfromrisca Posts: 1,165
    Thanks for the optimism folks!!!

    Nah all joking aside, it's great to hear of all the pitfalls and stress that it could cause. I must say it has somewhat put me off the idea. Seems like I'll be going from one stressful situation to another! I was worried that it might be a bit of a saturated market and on researching a few things it does appear that there are a lot of these type of B&B's around.

    Maybe my other idea of a bike shop with a cafe attached will be better!?!?!?!
    There is never redemption, any fool can regret yesterday...

    Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
  • 4kicks
    4kicks Posts: 549
    I own and run a small hotel in Mallorca, second on the way, so it is feasbible BUT
    Obviously its a lifestyle choice, sure as hell wont make you rich, and the resason you never see anyone on hoilidays who owns a B&B is I take 3 months off a year November to Feb, and NO, NONE, days off March thru October, Best I get is 3-4 hours for a ride in the middle of the day.. however, a couple of things
    1) Without capital, forget it! Unless you can find someone with a place which you can rent, you are likely to have put much into the purchase (no longer any bargains anywhere in Europe within couple of hours of an Easyjet route, imho), and, like most businesses, figure on 2 3years of SUBSTANTIVE losses before it all goes right

    2) Without the language I certainly woulndt advise it, for so many reasons, both the business and your own happiness there.

    Why not go and run a chalet on a Ski season for a year or two, if you like it you can then buy the place of your dreams.
    Fitter....healthier....more productive.....
  • Smokin Joe
    Smokin Joe Posts: 2,706
    A few of my customers run B&Bs. They use the income to suppliment either one partners day job or their pension. I very much doubt if anyone could make a full time living from it.
  • drewfromrisca
    drewfromrisca Posts: 1,165
    It seems that my little plan might not materialise anyway - missus got made redundant this afternoon!
    There is never redemption, any fool can regret yesterday...

    Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    Sorry to hear that.

    I wouldn't give up on the idea of living in France if that is what you want, just consider your options.

    I always wanted to live in Japan and I ended up doing it for three years. My best, perhaps only, option was teaching english as a foriegn language (TEFL). I ended up living in Kyoto and had some really great experiences. It put my career on hold but it was well worth it.

    Having your own business will always involve risk whatever you do and wherever you do it - just minimise it through research beforehand. I agree with the chap who suggested learning some French first though.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • As the saying goes,

    The only way to make 1 million from b&b is to start off with 2 !
  • berliner
    berliner Posts: 340
    A groovy fish and chip van/ trailer with an Austin Powers look. Go to the business rather than wait for it to come to you.
    Markets, tourist towns, Tdf Venues, .Festivals. Base yourselves down in the south.

    Didn't ex pro Allan Peiper do it for a while?
  • seataltea
    seataltea Posts: 594
    I fear it is a nice dream, the French have the market pretty well sewn up.
    'nulla tenaci invia est via'
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