Skip to main content

Renting Our House in France - Analysis Over Time

The 2009 French holiday rental season is just about over. It’s the fifth season that we’ve rented out our little village house in the small working class village of Cazouls-les-Beziers in the Languedoc region of southern France. The first season, the summer of 2005, doesn’t really count though. We didn’t put up a website and we didn’t contract with any of the holiday rental websites. Instead, we arranged a long-term rental with a single woman whose house in the region was undergoing extensive renovation. That rental served as a sort of shake-down for our house before we put it up for rental on the open market in 2006. So, four years…

In the fall of 2005 we put up our website:
http://www.southfrancerental.com/.

Take a look.

In the ensuing year, we received about a half-dozen inquiries through the website and three or four modest bookings. Not enough traffic. Not enough bookings. We spoke with folks that we had met who had a vacation/rental property near ours. They were quite satisfied with VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – www.vrbo.com. We did searches on Yahoo and Google using the search terms +”vacation rental”+France+Languedoc. VRBO came up highly ranked. We booked on their site in September of 2006.

We received a few more inquiries. Business improved during the 2007 rental season. But not dramatically.

We spoke with a friend in England with rental property on the Isle of Wight.

“Americans take vacations,” she said. “Brits and English-speaking Europeans go on holiday. I use holidaylettings.co.uk.”

I went up on Yahoo and Google again and sure enough, changing “vacation rental” to “holiday rental” made a world of difference. So we kept our ad on VRBO and added holidaylettings.co.uk for the 2008 season.

Again, a modest increase but no great shakes. One final adjustment. We cut our rates.

Cazouls is a pleasant little town but it’s not a ‘destination’ town. It’s not on the Med but it’s less than a half-hour drive away. The Canal du Midi (for boating, walking and biking) and the Orb River (for swimming and kayaking) are each five minutes away. The Haut Languedoc National Park (hiking and climbing) is a half hour away. Abbeys and cathedrals and all sorts of historic sites from prehistory through the Middle Ages abound.


And the house itself has no garden or pool although the patio is private and has a bbq. There’s no internet connection – the tourist office is three blocks away and offers high-speed access at reasonable rates. Satellite television. Full service kitchen. Beds and sofa beds and a futon. A good place to hang your clothes and spend the night while you and your friends tour the region. So…

We cut our rates. There was a world-wide recession in the works, after all.

Presto. The best summer ever.

After four years, we think that we’ve finally got the formula right. Our website plus a website catering to North Americans plus a website catering to Brits/Europeans. Do I sound confident? We’ll see how the summer of 2010 shakes out.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAND CAFE OCCITAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

  We made our way to a new restaurant the other day, up toward the hills past La Liviniere in the small town of Felines-Minervois. None of our party had been there before, but a friend had visited and said that she'd enjoyed it. She's a vegetarian. First clue. Now don't get me wrong. I have no gripe with those who choose to go meatless. I understand the environmental concerns and I understand the horrors of factory farming. But I also understand that form follows function in the design of tools, in the design of appliances, and in the design of human teeth. Our incisors and canines did not develop over the course of hundreds of thousands of years to rend the flesh of a fresh-caught broccoli. We are omnivores by design, Darwinian design. And I enjoy eating omni. Enough preamble... I never went inside the Grand Cafe Occitan. A young lady who would be our server met us at the front door of the nicely pointed old stone house, leading us to a pebble-covered courtyard on the side

Kreuz Market vs. Smitty’s Market: Texas Barbecue in Lockhart

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I didn’t taste Texas barbecue until I was twenty-two years old. What the hell do I know about barbecue? And what could I add to the millions of words that have been written on the subject? Well, I know a bit about food. I’ve managed to check out a few of the finer joints in Texas – Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas, Joe Cotton’s in Robstown before the fire, the dear departed Williams Smokehouse in Houston, and the incomparable New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville . So I can speak from a reasonably wide experience. This will not be a comprehensive discussion of the relative merits of Texas barbecue as opposed to the fare available in places like Memphis or the Carolinas. It’s simply a take on our recent visits to Lockhart and the relative merits of Smitty’s versus Kreuz from our point of view. I’ll get all over academic in a later post. On our way out to the ranch in Crystal City, we stopped at Smitty’s. You have to look

RESTAURANT TEN, UZES: RESTAURANT REVIEW

Ten sits just off the market square in Uzes, one of the prettiest villages in southern France. The newly renovated space is airy and comfortable with tables of sufficient size and sufficiently spaced to provide for a pleasant dining experience. Service was cheerful, fully bilingual, and attentive without being overbearing. The food presented well to both eye and tongue. And the rate of approximately 30 € per person for a party of five included starters, mains, a dessert or two, two bottles of local wine, and coffees at the finish. Reasonable if not cheap eats.  So why am I hesitant to give an unqualified thumbs up?  It took me a while to figure it out. Uzes is a quintessentially French village in a quintessentially French region of southern France. There are those who will say that the Languedoc is just as beautiful but less crowded and less expensive than its eastern neighbors. I know. I'm one of those people. But the fact remains that for many people, villages like Uzes are t