You are thinking about starting a guest house in France and are wondering what are the main differences between a gite, chambre d'hotes and table d'hotes. This article summarises the characteristics of each accommodation.
Opening a gite in France
A gite is a short term and self catering accommodation rental for holiday makers. The gite could be a flat, a house or a cottage. Most gites are self catering and the owner may also provide extra services such as cleaning services, bed sheets or activities (tours, yoga classes, retreats).
A gite can be declared as a professional activity, hence being registered with Registre du commerce. Or it can be register as a non professionnal activities called Loueur Meublé Non Professionnel (LMNP), if it is a secondary source of income.
Opening a chambre d'hotes in France
A chambre d'hotes is the French equivalent to a guest home or bed and breakfast. Guests will be staying overnight at your home and their stay will also include breakfast. There are a few regulations to comply with. For instance a chambre d'hotes can only have 5 bedrooms and accommodate a maximum of 15 people.
The chambre d'hotes has to be furnished, needs to be provided with linen and must include breakfast. The stay is charged on a night by night basis. If you plan to serve alcoholic drinks to your guests, you will have to request a drink licence from your Mairie and comply with a training called formation permis d'exploitation.
Opening a table d'hotes in France
Table d'hotes is for the owners of chambre d'hotes also wanting to provide diner to their guests. Once again there are some regulations to comply with. For instance the owner of the table d'hotes must only offer one menu, preferably composed of local products produits du terroir. This means that you cannot offer two starters, two main meals and three desserts.
Meals should be taken at the family table with the owner. If you plan to serve alcohol, you will have to apply for a drinks licence with your Mairie called licence petite restauration and take a compulsory training called stage permis d'exploitation costing about 250. Finally diner cannot be served to the passing trade or you will have to comply with restaurant regulations.