Bonjour mes Amies
It’s been about seven weeks since we welcomed our first guests to La Résidence and we've worked solidly through the busiest time of year. We’re pretty tired but very pleased at how things have gone. Wonderful guests, our basic French, warm handshakes, lots of smiles, not to mention the lifeline that it Google translate has got us a long way. Our French has got a little better and we’ll resume lessons now that we are going to have more free time.
There were some people who cautioned us against taking over a BnB in the busy season but we had a good handover from the previous owners, did a lot of research online and asked for advice when we needed to, and don’t regret our decision to dive straight in.
In fact, having to make decisions on the spot rather than having time to discuss them together has meant that we’ve probably built our confidence quicker than if we had waited until a quieter time. That’s not to say that we haven’t made mistakes, but using a little judgement and a big dose of common sense has worked so far.
For those of you thinking about running a BnB, then I recommend you check out Yvonne Halling and if you’re moving to France and want some paperwork assistance, then Tracy Leonetti is a great resource. They have been a tremendous help to us in understanding the BnB business and establishing ourselves as French residents.
Here’s the top 5 things that we have learnt so far about running a bed and breakfast.
Overwhelmingly the best part of the job is the people that we meet. Our guests have been French, English, Australian, American, Dutch, Belgian, Danish, German, Spanish, Swiss and South African. They have been couples of all ages and older family groups. They’ve been in St Antonin attending weddings, family reunions, cycling, motorcycling, rambling, canoeing, participants in local arts and craft courses or just passing though.
The worse part of the job is ironing fitted sheets. I think that Richard and I have both been guilty of putting them to the bottom of the pile hoping that the other person would do them! If anyone has found genuine non-iron sheets, please let me know.
You can’t design the perfect breakfast. It’s not true that all the Dutch like meat and cheese nor the Brits chocolate brownies nor the French croissants and bread. We offer a little of everything to everyone and it seems to be working. Of course, it’s a bit special when a guest asks how you’ve made something and you can share your muesli recipe with them.
Having your own private space is crucial. At the end of the day you don’t really want your guests seeing you lounging around in PJ’s with a glass of wine watching Sherlock on Netflix (last night’s rock and roll party). When the last guests are checked-in and happy, it’s great to retreat to your own space and relax.
No matter how many ways we tell people that we don’t have onsite parking – we’re in a medieval town not built for horse and cart, let alone cars, they still drive right up to the door through very narrow pedestrianised streets looking for a parking space. I’m just amazed that there haven’t been any scrapes or dents.