Accommodation in France: all you need to know
In a hotel
Most hotels in France are government rated. They are inspected and rated with respect to their level of comfort, amenities, and quality of service. French hotels are approved and checked by official authorities, and classified into seven categories: no star, 1*, 2*, 3*, 4*, 5*and Palaces. Prices, which are displayed at the hotel entrance and in the bedrooms, must include taxes and service. Hotel rates are also unregulated and usually there is an extra charge for breakfast and a surcharge can be added for an extra bed. In most cases, rooms must be freed by noon on the day of departure. In general rooms provide double or twin beds. Supplements can be charged for an additional bed.
There are dozens of hotel chains in France that group standardized hotels. The range also covers all categories, from upscale to mid-range like Accor Group (Sofitel, Novotel, Libertel, Mercure & Ibis) or Concorde Hotels, to more economical hotels near major cities (Hotel Formule 1, Etap Hotel, Balladins, Bonsaï, Liberté, Première Classe). Hotel chains usually have central reservations facilities.
Quoted per night for a single or double room. Rates are quoted per person if they include room and board. Hotels include taxes and services and the minimal per person, per day tourism tax.
Bookings can be made by letter, fax, email, internet, phone, etc. At that time, an advance deposit should be sent to the hotel. Your booking, room rate and receipt of deposit should be confirmed in writing, by the hotelier.
To book your room, ask at the Tourist Information Offices, or at booking agents for the hotels chain.
An advance deposit is required to secure your reservation. The exact amount is not fixed by law but, in general, the deposit amounts to the equivalent of 25% of the total cost and one night for shorter stays.
Whatever the type of accommodation you choose, pay a deposit. The deposit will not be refunded unless the contract stipulates it. If the hotel cancels your reservation, he must pay you the double of the deposit.
A deposit amounts to a contractual obligation: if you cancel your stay, the hotel can ask you to pay for the entirety of your reservation.
Always ask for details on the conditions of rental or reservation before you commit yourself, and make all reservations in writing.
Guests are expected to arrive at their hotel no later than between 7 and 10 pm. To avoid misunderstandings, it is best to let the hotel manager know the approximate arrival time, especially if it might be late. If a telephone reservation has been made without a deposit, the hotelier is not required to hold the room after 7:00 pm.
The French Civil Code, Article 1590, regulates the rights of hotel guests and hoteliers regarding cancellation. In addition, many hotels follow stipulations laid down by the International Hotel Convention. Be sure to request details of the hotel's cancellation policy along with the reservation confirmation.
If guests must cut short their visit, the hotelier is permitted to keep his deposit. If a stay is shortened because the guests feel that the hotel is inadequate, they must furnish proof of the hotel's inadequacies to the French hotel authorities to reclaim the deposit or seek other restitution.
If guests arrive before 7:00 pm on the day of confirmed reservation and find that no rooms are available, a hotel is obligated to find them a room at a comparable price. If they arrive later, the hotelier has no such obligation.
At a campsite
France offers more than 9,000 fully equipped campsites officially grated from 0 to 4* and 2,300 farm campsites. The Official Campsite Guide is on sale at bookshops, newsagents, FNAC (national department storechain…) and all good retailers, as well as by mail order (postage and packing: 3 euros per copy).
Camping off-site is permitted with the authorization of the landowner, but prohibited on beaches, roadsides or at designated sites.
For information, please ask at Tourist Offices or the "Gendarmerie" (local police).
In tourist residences
These are buildings housing apartments for rent, fully equipped and with a choice of hotel services.
In furnished accommodation
These are fully equipped holiday villas or apartments for rent to tourists: information from Tourist Offices and estate agents.
In Gîtes or Guest Houses
By renting a room in the owner's home (per night or per week, with breakfast and, occasionally with evening meal), you will have the chance to discover more about, and share in, the French way of life.
In Holiday Villages
Non-profit making organisations who offer especially designed accommodation for families and groups, the holidays villages also have excellent leisure activities. A stay in a holiday village is a great way to meet French people in a friendly environment and at the same time keep a feeling of individual freedom.