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Starting up a Gîte

A gîte? Gîte comes from the old French word of gésir, meaning to lay down. It's only used today in the expression gîte et couvert, meaning 'food and and a place to stay'. Until the 16th century, people would ask for le vivre et le couvert. After that date, gîte was used and substituted, because of the use of the word gîte, as a place to sleep, literally 'lay down'.You might see ci-gît on old tombstones...literally the person is laying down...

But, what of our modern gîtes, gîte rural ou gîte d'étape...a stopover place to stay

Starting up a gîte is a prime example of the quantity of administration and the entire complexity of it in France. If you thought it was an easy process, then you're wrong. Sorry. A quick search on internet will give you some idea of the complexity of the set-up and the confusion between different sectors. Although, the French administration is attempting to make that easier by grouping everything together in the same place, these days.

First of all, you will need to fill in forms, but you'll have to establish if the tourists you'll be welcoming are in the same building as you or not. If that's the case, then it's not a gîte, but a Chambre d'hôte. But if it's in a different building to your main house, then it's a gîte. If it happens to be more than 5 rooms, then it's a maison d'hôte. If it's for more than 15 people it's an hôtel...and so the list goes on. If you're not lost by now, then you will be when you try to find out how and who you need to send the forms back to, to get your immatriculation sorted out.

There are other rules and regulations. For example for a chambre d'hôte:

  • You must rent the room for at least one night and provide breakfast out no more than 5 rooms in the house.

  • Each room must measure at least 9m2

  • Have no more than 15 people stay at the same time.

  • Provide linen for beds.

  • Not bill the cleaning services for the rooms.

  • Allow each room to have direct or indirect access to bathroom facilities.

  • You don't have to own the house, but you do need to live in it to run the chambre d'hôte.

Gîtes have to have the following:

  • A common area for the people staying.

  • A kitchen that is available to them, with at least a sink, a cooker and a refrigerator. There must also be tables and chairs and somewhere with the cooking and eating utensils / cutlery.

  • There must be at least a sink and a shower and inside toilets.

  • One or more rooms with beds and furniture.

  • Electricity, drinking water (on tap) and hot running water as well as heating.

  • Means to wash and dry and even iron clothes.

  • They must all be in good working order and the security of the occupants must be taken care of (smoke alarms, etc...).

The next question that you'll have to ask is whether or not it's furnished, as that changes everything as well. Is it just from time to time, or are you doing it as your main business? Each time, it's a different classification and so, therefore, a different place to send it to with different information. It's no wonder when you try to call someone and get the information, they don't really know themselves, unless with a stroke of luck you get on to the right people amongst the multitude of the Centre de formailtés des entreprises (CFE). There are a tonne of CFE in France and each one has jurisdiction over something completely different.

You mustn't forget to inform the Mairie of the town where you are located, otherwise you will be fined 450 euros. There's a special form for that and it has to be done with at least 15 days of starting the business. The number they will give you has to be put on everything from bills to advertising, etc. Oh, and if you serving wine, or at least selling it, then you need to get a licence. There's a special training course that has to be attended and it's in French (in fact, you have to be either French or from the EU, and certain countries that have agreements (such as Canada)). Depending on what type of alcohol you're selling (spirits or just one), then you need a different type of licence. There are also rules and regulations for the people that you are having staying in your gîte. If they are foreign, then there are records that have to be kept including name and place of birth and nationality, amongst others (including a permanent address).

There's a limit to the amount of money that you can earn and if you go over that limit, then the status of the company has to change, and the way that the money is declared. If it's a chambre d'hôte, then that limit stands at 5,348 euros a year for 2020-2022. If it's for a gîte, then it's limited to revenu of 23,000 euros per year (2020-2022). This means beyond that limit that there has to be affiliation to the company Social Security payments via the URSSAF, for example.

The revenue of all of these different types of places must be declared (that's why you need a SIRET number - which will be given when you have sent your forms back to the right CFE).

If it's your main source income, and not just from time to time (under the above limits), then you will need to register also with the Registre du commerce et des sociétés (RCS). French administration loves abbreviations and you will see them everywhere.

If that all seems as if it's going to be too much, then let us deal with it.

Just click on the CONTACT button and call us. We will gladly make life easier.

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