What should you expect from your Joie de Vivre holiday accommodation?
Renting a holiday home is undoubtedly one of the best ways to holiday! It allows you the opportunity to experience the authentic life of a local whilst holidaying at your own leisure and pace.
Joie de Vivre are the specialists when it comes to self-catering holiday accommodation and through booking with us, you benefit from our many years of experience in this field. We have put together the following information to provide a helpful guide when renting a holiday home with Joie de Vivre Holidays.
Much of the information here is the detail and whilst some of it may appear a little tedious, we’d recommend that you familiarise yourself with all the information so that your holiday runs smoothly and you know exactly what to expect from your rental.
All our holiday accommodation is self-catering, meaning there will be adequate facilities for you to prepare your own meals. (Incidentally, all the areas that we cover are also known for the excellent local cuisine – so we’d strongly suggest that you eat out at least once during your stay and sample the delights that are on offer locally! All the owners, as well as the staff at Joie de Vivre, know their regions intimately and will be delighted to help with suggestions for local restaurants/pubs/cafes etc..)
General Property Standards
Our mantra when it comes to choosing accommodation is, “Would we be happy staying here ourselves?” If we cannot answer positively to this question, we simply don’t accept the property in our portfolio. This gives our customers a level of assurance and confidence in their choice.
Most of our properties are locally-owned, private properties and it is reasonable therefore to expect a different taste in furnishing and decor to what you are maybe used to at home.
Equally, although our properties will all conform to local building regulations and standards, they would not necessarily comply with UK regulations. (Stairs for example can be very steep without handrails and toilets may open directly from kitchens and have no proper ventilation.)
Many of our properties are located in the countryside which brings many differences when compared to city life. Local people will often rise early and take a siesta in the afternoons, especially if the weather is hot. Hence you have to anticipate the working day, and all its associated noise, may not be the same as at home.
In France, privacy is protected by law and after 22:00 at night, noise and disturbance is prohibited. If you do rent accommodation with us, please respect your neighbours.
Rural life brings many differences. You will find unfamiliar smells and wildlife, in the form of field mice and insects, will often visit. This is especially true if the house has been empty or there has been a rainy spell. They are very rarely a problem but to discourage unwelcome visitors(!), we suggest that clients ensure that any waste and garbage is well wrapped and deposited in the appropriate containers.
Accommodation will often have been shuttered up prior to your arrival, so you may find that the property needs a good airing when you arrive, especially if it was empty the week before you. Occasionally you will find the odd spiders web and cracks in plaster of rural properties are not uncommon. It is all part of the package that comes with older and often more characterful properties!
Sometimes road works and construction works may be carried out without warning. Of course whenever we can, we would let you know about these in advance but we cannot influence either local authority or neighbours' decisions to carry out such works. In most villages in the south of France, there are local fetes and festivities. These are usually fantastic events to attend and help you to immerse yourself in the local ambiance and culture. Please remember though, they may create noise as well as enjoyment!
Arrivals & Departures
To ensure that your arrival goes smoothly, we will always provide you with comprehensive directions to your accommodation.
You will usually be greeted by an owner or housekeeper/caretaker on arrival. At some properties, they will visit a day or two later, rather than wait for you to arrive. This is often the case where the local person is looking after several properties.
The time of arrival is usually between 4pm and 6pm and the departure time is generally 10am. This gives the property owner sufficient time to carry out any minor property repairs and clean and prepare the property for your arrival. The specific timings relating to your individual property can be found in the Property Information Document that is sent to you before the holiday.
In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to arrive an hour or two earlier or later but this is strictly by advance arrangement with us.
Once en-route, if there is a change to your arrival time on the day, we ask you to call the local contact as there is not always someone available at the Joie de Vivre office, especially at weekends and in the evenings.
If you gave us your mobile phone number when you booked, we will have passed it on to the owner in case they need to contact you urgently for any reason. If you didn’t give us a mobile phone number or it has since changed, please email it to us.
With the majority of our properties, you will be asked for a returnable deposit in case of damages, breakages or losses to the property or its equipment, furniture, furnishings, etc. The security deposit is also there to guard against additional cleaning requirements should they be necessary.
The amount varies according to the individual property but they are all displayed under the property details on our website. The method of payment also varies from property to property:
* arranged in advance and held on credit card by Joie de Vivre
* payable on arrival, held on credit card
* payable by cheque on arrival, payable to the owner
* cash payable to the owner on arrival
Cheques are sometimes cashed, but more often than not they are simply kept by the owner and returned either on the day of departure or a few days after departure. Again, specific details will be sent to you depending on which property you have booked.
You must inform the owner or their representative of any breakages or damages before you leave the accommodation. Where at all possible, we would always advise guests to be 'checked-out' of the property by the owner or their staff before leaving.
Security against cleaning costs is also included in the damage deposit unless specifically notified. It is therefore imperative that your accommodation, especially the kitchen and bathrooms the terrace/patio and barbecues, are left clean & tidy, otherwise you will be charged. Alternatively, there is often an option to avoid this situation and and pay for a cleaning service in advance (depending upon availability)
If there is a dispute between the holidaymaker and accommodation supplier regarding damages or cleanliness of the property on departure, we regret it is not possible for Joie de Vivre to enter any such dispute.
When you arrive at your accommodation, you will find that it has been cleaned and prepared, ready for you to begin your holiday.
As part of our Terms and Conditions, you agree to be a considerate tenant and to take good care of the Property and to leave it in a clean and tidy condition at the end of the rental period.
Whilst you are not expected to fully and deeply clean the whole house on your departure, you are expected to perform some basic cleaning tasks. Regardless of whether you have paid for an and of stay clean, the following should always be carried out prior to vacating the property:
* Wash-up and tidy all kitchen items
* Empty fridge/freezer/dishwasher
* Remove all perishable foodstuffs from cupboards
* Dispose of all rubbish and waste at the designated point and times
* Clean BBQ and utensils
In addition, if you have not opted for an end of stay clean, you are expected to sweep all the floors and ensure that the bathrooms (including basins, sinks, and WCs) are clean
Please note that in the event that the property is not left in a clean and tidy condition, the owner will make a deduction from your security deposit. The charges for cleaning vary but they are outlined on our website under the property details for each property.
We understand that for many people, cleaning is not high on the activity wish-list whilst on holiday! Hence we try to encourage our owners to also offer an optional cleaning service so that you can have the option of paying someone else to undertake this task for you. Charges and further details of this for your individual property will be on the website under the property details or in the Property Information Document. If you need any further information please contact us.
In addition, many of our property owners also offer additional services such as a mid-stay clean, cooking services, babysitting etc. Again, please check the property details on our website or ask us if you are interested in any of these options.
Tax de Sejour
Tax de Sejour is a local holiday tax levied by the local authority in each town. It is a per person, per night tax. Wherever possible we have tried to include this in the overall price that you pay for the accommodation. Sometimes this is unfortunately not possible and it will need to be paid locally, to the owner or their representative, whilst you are on holiday. Details are outlined under each individual property on our website and also in the Property Information Document that we send to you. Typically it costs about 0.80 to 1.20 euros per adult, per day.
Towels, Bed Linen & Cots
Historically, holiday rentals in France were always offered on the understanding that the holidaymaker brings their own bed linen and towels. In recent years, and especially with the advent of meagre baggage allowances by the budget airlines, owners increasingly offer this service to guests but charge it as an optional extra to cover their laundry and labour costs. We would prefer, for pricing simplicity and because most guests need and expect bed linen and towels, that this cost is included in the overall price that the customer pays. Unfortunately not all owners feel the same so in many cases they charge extra for this service. If you require bed sheets to be supplied, they generally need to be requested in advance and paid for on arrival locally.
In any event, all the beds have pillows and either blankets or duvets are supplied.
Equally irksome to us is the fact that beds are rarely made for your arrival. Property owners are keen to point out that this gives the holidaymaker the ability to see how clean the mattresses are before they sleep on it. Which is true. However, after a long days travelling, a nicely made-up bed would be very welcome! Wherever we have been able to persuade property owners, they do offer this service. Regrettably for the remainder, beds will need to be made by the holidaymaker. We are trying to change this but it is very much a cultural difference and although it is increasingly offered, it is by no means 100%!
As such, on your departure, the owners also also ask that you strip the beds.
Whilst towels are increasingly (but not always!) included, beach and swimming pool towels are rarely offered so please remember to bring your own.
Most property owners make a cot available for their guests with babies but they must be requested in advance. If cots are requested as an extra these will invariably be travel cots. Cot linen is not provided and you must take your own. Please note that French cots do not usually have high sides and may not correspond to British standards.
General Safety and Security
Some standards of safety and hygiene in France may differ from those in the UK and elsewhere. Wiring and plumbing may look very different and perhaps may appear DIY but all our houses meet local safety standards.
It is important to shut the shutters of the house when you go out and to lock up. Even if you are only at the pool it is advisable to take security precautions. It is common sense not to leave valuables in your car.
If you have any concerns about the safety of your property, whether it be the garden, the equipment or the facilities, then please tell the owner or caretaker immediately.
Details about the Accommodation
We make every effort to describe exactly what is included under the property details on our website. You will find that there are a few differences in the kitchen when renting a French holiday home. All our properties are well equipped and increasingly microwaves and dishwashers are supplied. However, whilst there are enough glasses, crockery and cutlery for the maximum number of occupants, we often find that they lack a kettle and teapot, something that British people would view as essential items in the kitchen! Again this is a cultural difference that is unique to renting French and Spanish properties.
Basic cleaning supplies (eg Washing up liquid, toilet cleaner, bleach etc) are often left in the property from the previous tenants. The general rule is that if any of them run out during your stay, you purchase a replacement for the benefit of the next guests in the property. For your first night, it is probably a good idea to take kitchen and bathroom essentials (toilet rolls, soap etc.) but after that it is very easy to purchase everything you will need in the local supermarkets. You also need to take tea towels, a washing up cloth and kitchen towel.
In some properties you may also find that there will be basic cooking items such as oil and salt and pepper but this cannot be guaranteed as some property owners dispose of any food goods that have been left in the property on the grounds of health and safety.
If you find that something is missing, please let the owners know whilst you are there. More often than not they will be able to provide for you whatever is missing (within reason!)
In French households, the focus tends to be very much on the meal and cooking, hence the living room is often not as well equipped as one might be used to at home. As such, not every house has comfortable armchairs and sofas in the living room. Where there are televisions, unless otherwise stated, they are generally just French language channels.
Bathrooms & Toilets
You can always expect a reasonable standard of bathroom facilities with of course a toilet, hot and cold running water and at least one shower or bath in every property. It is quite normal in France for showers not to have a shower curtain and also for there to be a shower attachment above the bath. This is not really intended for a full shower but to assist you whilst taking a bath. Another peculiarity which is ever present across France and Spain are odours from drains. Many properties, particularly rural ones, are on septic tank systems and precautions about their use must be strictly followed. Where this is the case there will be clear instructions about the usage. Any related blockages that require the visit of a specialist are expensive to clear and inconvenient, both for you and the owner. You may also be charged if you are responsible for blocking the drains.
When we describe double beds they are usually 140cm wide and singles are usually 90cm. If this is not the case we have tried to indicate the size on the property details. Bedroom furniture for hanging and storing clothes can be a bit limited in some properties and many bedrooms are not carpeted. Shutters often replace curtains in French houses and for the bedrooms, once you get used to the difference, we find they are great for holidays! They keep the sun out and the room cool as long as they are kept shut during the day and at night you can also partially open the shutters and open the windows behind the shutters to let air flow. If you like the dark shutters are excellent blackouts - just beware that they are so effective you may not wake up until well into the morning!
This is an area, often above the living room or sometimes above a bedroom, which is not likely to be totally private and is sometimes accessible by steep steps.
Sometimes French houses have much steeper stairways than we are used to and they will often have no hand rail. If you have small children or people with limited mobility in your group, we would advise that you check such details with us in advance.
Gas, Electricity and Water
In all our properties, gas, water and electricity costs are all included in the rental during the summer months. Often in the winter, there is an additional charge for winter heating. Most hot water systems in France heat up the water at night time using cheaper price rates and store the water during the day for your usage. High water use may result in not much being left for later in the day. Please remember that electricity and water are very expensive in France.
Standards of plumbing and electrical installations is very different in France. It is not uncommon to see exposed wires and light bulbs and often fuses will trip when too many electrical appliances are being used at the same time. These differences do not mean the property is unsafe and all our rentals adhere to the legal safety regulations.
Gas in most of our properties is not mains piped gas but supplied in bottles. There should always be some in the bottle when you arrive but if it runs out during your stay, and there is no obvious spare bottle, please contact the owner or their local representative who will be able to help you. Unfortunately it is always the way that if it is going to run out, it will run out at a crucial time in your cooking!
Gardens, BBQs & Swimming Pools
Gardens in France can be, especially in the countryside, a little “less tended” than your typical English garden. Do not expect beds to be manicured and lawns fit for croquet! That said, there are some exceptions and some of our properties make the most of their stunning situations to offer an exquisite outdoor setting.
There is generally out door furniture and loungers available at most of our properties although not necessarily for the maximum number of people in the house. If this is important to you, please let us know when you book with us.
BBQs are a heavily used feature in most French gardens. They will take various forms and charcoal, rather than gas is by far the most common fuel. Due to the danger of forest fires, there are often local fire restrictions imposed and in some properties, particularly in wooded environments, BBQs are forbidden. Sometimes these are imposed by the local Mairie at a village/commune level, depending on current climatic conditions. For many people BBQing is an important part of a summer holiday, so if it is important to your group, be sure to mention it to us when choosing your property.
Swimming Pools are another important element to many peoples summer holiday. In France there are very strict regulations covering the use of swimming pools. To meet the regulations, all the swimming pools at our properties are protected by either a physical barrier and child proof gate, a pool alarm or an infra-red pool fence. Despite these precautions there really is no substitute for diligent parental supervision.
Pools are generally open between the months of May and September and unless specifically stated, they are not heated. Pools are regularly maintained but climatic changes can affect the chemical balance, which can result in the water becoming discoloured or cloudy. If this happens , the owner or their representative should be contacted and a period of time - at least 24 hours in most cases - allowed for rectification.
What if there are problems?
We hope that you have a wonderful holiday but in the unlikely event you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your holiday accommodation, you should immediately report this to the Property Owner. They are responsible for the care and maintenance of the property and its equipment. If there is a serious issue that can not be resolved on site you should then notify us as soon as possible. Please email or call your Joie de Vivre representative using the details on our website which you can find at the following page: Contact Us Even if you think nothing could be done to make your situation better, you must say something while you are on holiday. This at least gives us the opportunity of making things better for you.
Joie de Vivre Holidays rely on the quality of our accommodation and the level of service our customers receive, both from us and from our property owners. To maintain the high standards that we aspire to, we ask our customers to complete a feedback survey on their return from the holiday. Your feedback, comments and suggestions provide valuable information on how we can further improve our holidays. Please take the time to complete your questionnaire - we value your opinions.
We recognise that purchasing a holiday is an hugely important decision and there are numerous elements that have to combine in order to benefit from a successful and enjoyable break. Whilst we cannot control all of them, here at Joie de Vivre we are committed to ensuring that at least the accommodation element of your holiday is a success. We are confident that you will benefit from our service and enjoy the accommodation. We hope that like many of our customers, you will return regularly to Joie de Vivre Holidays and trust us with your holiday accommodation choices.
In the meantime, we would like to wish you “Bonne Voyage”, have a safe and pleasant journey and above all, a fantastic holiday!