Owning a house in France means that you can sometimes feel as if you are unintentionally running a hotel and restaurant, especially if said house happens to have a pool, a sunny climate, and interesting activities on offer in the vicinity. Many of the reasons that you chose the property are the same reasons that makes it appealing to guests –which is great, but hosting people for a week is quite different from having someone over for a meal.
However, there is another huge plus side to owning a house in a location where people want to come on holiday; you will find that suddenly you are in huge demand for home exchanges.
We have just done our second home exchange, this time to Paris and we had a week in a beautiful apartment in a stunning building right in the very centre of the city, walking distance to just about everything. An apartment in central Paris sleeping six people would be hugely expensive to rent for a week so, in the current belt-tightening times, what could be better than exchanging homes instead, especially if it is the difference between having a holiday or not?
The whole idea is such a clever and obvious concept; after all, why leave your house empty for a week and pay someone else to spend a week in their house – why not just find someone who lives in a place where you would like to go, who would like to visit the area you live and then swap houses, cars, pets, neighbours etc? Obviously it helps to not be too precious about your house and the scheme is very much based on trust but it is a trust that works both ways which is why it seems to work.
What’s more, living in a real home is so much nicer and more authentic than staying in a hotel like all the other tourists; we felt as if we were real Parisians not just visitors. We were able to go out every morning to buy our croissants from the bakery around the corner, eat out in our hosts’ favourite restaurants and live like locals for the week.
Of course, we also did the museums and tourist sights and re-discovered some of our favourite Parisian haunts all the time knowing that our hosts would equally enjoy swapping the grey skies of Paris for the sunshine of our beautiful part of the Ariège. Maybe we have just been lucky but, so far, exchanging homes seems a win-win situation and by the number of requests we get on our home exchange site, it certainly seems to be a concept that is gaining in popularity.
There are many advantages of living in a very beautiful part of France but being able to exchange our home for other wonderful homes was not one we had thought of until we realised that we lived in a place that everyone else wanted to come on holiday.