Sunday, 17 January 2010

Looking to set up a Gite in the Languedoc?

Since 2004, there has been a huge increase in the amount of Gites available for rent in France. This is partly to do with the increase in property purchases in France, and especially in the Languedoc. The thinking behind this was to create an income flow to pay for the property for the year.The market is pretty full today, however, there still is a good income to be made if the property as well as the pricing is correct.

Firstly, what is a Gite? It is a self catering short term rental property that is fully equipped.This can be an apartment, a village house, a villa, a home in the country.

How to choose the right property. This is tough, as there are demands for every kind of property.However, consider:

Max 1 hour from airport/s.The majority of renters fly and hire a car.
Low noise levels are a plus - especially in Villages.Renters are on holiday and need sleep!!
If a large property with land, that sleeps probably 6 or more, consider a swimming pool.
Always have an outside space. We are in the sunshine State in the Languedoc- people love sitting outside.
Light and airy are good- let the sun stream in and brighten up the holidays.

How to set up a Gite. This is the tricky bit. You have just bought your home and now have to furnish it. The prime choice is furnish it for you, but keep an eye on quality of fabric for wear and tear, choose colours that are less likely to show stains, and whatever you do, don't buy the cheapest furniture that looks like circa 1970 tired!!! The Gites that have been in operation for 6/7 plus years, that have been cheaply furnished and not renovated, are suffering today with very few bookings!

Considerations for your new Gite.

Furnishing. All depends on budgets, but try and create a wow factor- that will look great on photos advertising your Gite, and even more wow when clients are- try to stand out from the large crowd. In my Gites, the most costly items of furniture are the beds.This is vital and is often commented on.
Kitchens should be homely,functional and well equipped. Good quality towels and sheets are worth considering ( state in your Terms that renters provide their beach towels).

Niche markets. Either you can provide or do good research within your immediate 30 ish kilometers for others offering painting classes, cooking lessons, wine tours, golf ( and other sports), French immersion classes, any outdoor activities( canooing,fishing,surfing,walking,etc).These can can incorporated into your marketing of the Gite.

How many weeks can I expect? Tough one this. Realistically, 6 weeks covers the UK summer holidays.Then you have the retired clients who like to come out of season- give them incentives to do so.Then, there are events in your area that could attract others- over Easter ( like the Limoux Carnival for example) and other interesting events, Christmas markets and so on.
Bottom line!!! Be marketing led and offer your Gite for 12 months of the year ( or less if you are going to stay yourself)

Maintenance. There should be on going maintenance as well as a once in 5 year plan to renovate.You will need a friendly neighbour or nearby professional who can be called out at short notice to fix any problems that may occur.
The biggest headache is the garden and cleaning of the Gite. If you have a garden, you will need a contract to keep it well maintained,and more importantly, a contract for pool maintenance.This is vital and will dig into your profits, but you have no choice.
Then, the nightmare of changeover!!! Clients usually book Sat-Sat- out by 10 am and new lot in earliest 4 pm. The place has to be spotless and a meet and greet person needs to be there to hand over the key, show how the Gite works, and give info about the village/area. Research needs to be done early for all of the above.

Marketing. Through my own experience, I used portals such as French Connections for the first 3 years followed by using solely my own Gite website.
Pricing is very sensitive in the current Gite market. My marketing plan was to check out all the competition first via Gite portals - comparing like with like. Using an average price, I undercut this by 10% for the first 2 years- so I was at the cheap end .This worked well- averaging 17 weeks in year 1 and 2. Year 3 I took advantage of £ € exchange rate and increased my prices by 20%, showing a very keen £ price compared to $ and €.Since then, I have increased slightly each year, and last year had 18 weeks of bookings.
The BEST marketing tool- happy renters!

Still keen to set up your own Gite?

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Enjoy a romp around the Aude, Languedoc

This Aude Languedoc property site is designed to give extra credibilty to buy property and find property for sale in the Aude, Languedoc as a holiday home or main residence.

There is detailed information on all you need to know about buying property in France and especially in the Aude,Languedoc. This can be found on

If you come to the Aude to buy Property, and need a Gite to stay in, have a look here:

Happy romp!!