If truth be told running gites is about the easiest job you can have, once they are up and running. OK there is the occasional bit of urgent maintenance when a fridge breaks down, a child drops an ice-cream on the settee or a snake falls in the swimming pool but generally these incidents are quite painless and easily dealt with.
More demanding visitors also seem to prefer it if the property has been cleaned a bit before they arrive, but that is only every Saturday and the rest of the time the owner can sit there sipping vin rouge and watching the Tour de France on the TV.
But the weather this month, which has been the worst May I can remember, reminded me of the other pressure that gite owners are under…
All those pictures on websites that advertise properties are carefully taken when the skies are blue and the children are playing in the pool while Mum and Dad sort out the barbecue. What they don’t show is people huddled under umbrellas in the pouring rain, wishing they had brought warmer clothes and the gite had central heating while Granny huddles under a blanket!
To have a whole week like that is pretty rare luckily but it can happen and there is nothing worse for the property owner, having sold the holiday on the idea of glorious sunshine and fields of sunflowers, is to see a holiday completely spoiled by the weather. A bit like when you sell a second-hand car to a friend and it breaks down an hour later – you didn’t know it would happen and you can’t do much about it, but still feel guilty…
The answer if you are going on holiday in France shortly is to ensure:
1) the gite has as much wood to burn on a fire as you could ever need. Nothing beats the pleasure of a wood fire when the day is cold and it gives Dad something to do when he can’t use the barbecue (never been any good at barbecues myself but that’s another story…) or understand the television
2) You visit somewhere with lots of caves nearby. Ok these are cold, but they are always cold whatever the weather outside so it will seem normal, perhaps even warm, inside the caves.
3) As soon as the sun comes out from behind the clouds you should force the children to swim in the icy pool and rush around taking photos. This is so you can tell everyone else you had a great time, and so that when you look back at the photos 10 years later and memories have started to fade you might even think you really did have a good time…
4) Try to squeeze a pair of thick socks and a woolly jumper into your Ryanair baggage allowance if possible. Ideally old and worn out so that you can leave them behind afterwards and fill your bag up with wine and cheese instead…
5) You have plenty of money to sit in cafes and restaurants if necessary. This is much more fun than sitting in the car looking miserable as the car fills up with crisp packets and chocolate wrappers, but bills can mount up very quickly when your children drink their coke in two minutes flat and ask if they can have another…and another!
Note: over the years I would guess that less than about 1 week in 20 is actually spoiled by the weather in the south of France (although dodgy days are more frequent), really it’s quite rare – so son’t panic too much!
Running a gite can be hard work!!!…………… a bit of cleaning ! My gite is spotless and people expect nothing less. It takes me four hours on a Saturday morning to clean and prepair my one bedroomed gite for visitors. Then there is all the washing to do,bed linen bath mats kitchen towels, hand towels etc etc. sort out the recycling,Cut the grass weed the garden and there be on site when visitors arrive to welcome them as I love to do…………it’s good and I enjoy it but it is not as easy as you may think!
Tanya, that comment about cleaning was slightly tongue-in-cheek, we had two gites for ten years so I know exactly what is involved…saturdays when both properties had ‘handovers’ were not amusing!
(In my defence I was a founder member of a site called yourholidaymatters – sadly no longer active despite great work by lots of people – whose principal goal was to ensure that rental properties listed met exacting standards, including cleanliness I’m pleased to say, and that visitors could be assured of a pleasant surprise on arriving rather than a nasty shock!)