Gites v B&Bs – what’s the difference?
People often ring us with a vague request for a “gite and B&B property”. When questioned further it becomes clear that they haven’t really understood the fundamental difference between the two formats.
* a ‘gite’ is a self-catering, self-contained accommodation (house or flat) for tourists, let out by the week. The owner may or may not live nearby.
* A B&B offers guest rooms in the owner’s home, by the night, with breakfast provided. Sometimes a ‘table d’hôte‘ (evening meal) is also on offer.
Running a gite implies intensive work on changeover day (usually Saturday) as one customer leaves and another arrives. During the low season there is maintenance work on the property to be done.
Running a B&B implies much more contact with the customer, changing sheets daily, providing breakfast (and perhaps dinner) daily and generally attending to the needs of the customer and maintenance of the premises.
A gite owner can afford to live ‘off-site’ and manage the gites at a distance.
The B&B owner must be on-site all the time that guests are present.
Having said all that, there are exceptions to these rules … and the trend is towards mixing the two formats according to the season. If, for example, some of your gites have bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, then these can be used as B&B guest rooms out of season. Platforms such as AirBnB and Tripadvisor facilitate this sort of letting.
Obviously, for this mixed format to work, you have to be keen on the B&B concept and keen on having strangers sharing your house with you, poking their noses into your cupboards, rifling through your CDs and commenting on your taste in trashy literature. Most B&Bs in France last no more than 18 months due to ‘client fatigue’.
Still, it’s worth trying the B&B idea if your gites have en-suite bedrooms: it can make the difference between a successful business and one that just survives. B&B’s turn over twice as much as gites, per square metre.
Gites v B&Bs – income
Income from gites is variable but the rule of thumb is that one standard two-bedroomed gite with access to a pool should generate about €10k pa. 2 gites = €20k and so on. This means that if you intend to ‘live off’ your gites you’ll need at least four of them.
Income from B&Bs is more variable: location and comfort play a bigger role. But in general one guest room with ensuite bathroom in a reasonable tourist location should generate about €10k pa. 2 rooms = €20k and so on. As one is limited to a maximum of 5 guest rooms annual turnover will hit a ceiling of €50k. By offering a table d’hôte one can expect to add €25k to the yearly income.