With 10 years experience of running a gite complex consisting of 3 gites and our principal house for B&B I feel I know how it really is. We decided to go the total renovation route, because at the time complexes like ours were very few.
This brings with it your first question. Do you buy an up and running complex or renovate one to your taste? In today’s climate, up and running is good. There are a lot of very nice gite complexes for sale, so you can take your pick, take up the reins of an established complex and earn an income from day one with bookings already in place. Most gite complexes are sold ‘turn key’ i.e. ready to go.
Gites, are they a viable option?
Most established gite owners would be happy to discuss their turnover with prospective buyers in person, if they are genuine sellers.
I am surprised by the expectations of clients regarding the turnover. The gite business here in France has been under pressure for revenue and bookings for a few years now. You definitely need a USP (unique selling point) or you are just one of 50,000 gites for rental in France, (figures were supplied by Gite de France and there are many more not registered with them). We have been established for many years now, we have a communal pool and individual hot tubs in each garden so this is our USP.
At least three gites are needed to make gites a viable option if you are to rely entirely on the gites income, more if possible. But obviously the more gites the higher the purchase price. In Brittany we have a real mix of gite complexes, ranging from a three gite complex for €185,000 to a large manoir style complex at €1.2 million with eight gites.
Here comes the statement that will put the cat amongst the pigeons! You would really benefit from a second income. It is very rarely that income from gîtes alone are enough to keep a family going throughout the winter months.
The holiday season here in France is relatively short, maybe mid April to mid September, so you need to make your money then. You can do winter lets but at a reduced rate. We get people coming for October half term, Xmas and New Year, but with heating costs, firewood etc. It can be a little tight on profit. People are also still hoping to get late bookings at a reduced rate, so they are booking their holidays later and later. They do fill up in the end though.
After saying all this, if you have some capital left over from a house sale or a nice pension coming in, there is no finer way to make a living. Long sunny days, a very sociable time with guests who are lovers of the French lifestyle and the beautiful Morbihan region of Brittany. You get a real mix of nationalities and make a lot of good friends who return year after year. We have guests booking for the next year on their departure, “same time next year?”. Bien sur!
- With thanks to David Walton