Have you ever wondered what is behind that throw away soundbite found on many French Chambre d’hôtes (bed and breakfast), “Table d’hôtes / evening meal available”?
Probably not but it is actually quite interesting because table d’hôtes has a very special status in France that allows bed and breakfast owners to serve evening meals to their guests.
The status of table d’hôtes is enshrined in law and there is a detailed summary of the applicable laws and their provisions on properbnb.com alongside all the rules and regulations for a bed and breakfast in France. Here, we will summarise the requirements and advantages to give you an idea of what it’s all about.
First, table d’hôtes is only available at a registered chambre d’hôtes. No other type of accommodation is allowed to provide table d’hôtes.
So what’s a chambre d’hôtes? In a nutshell it has a maximum of 5 guest rooms and maximum capacity of 15 people. It offers a single room rate that includes breakfast, this is crucial and without it owners can get in to trouble with the authorities. The owner lives onsite. The rooms must be in the main house. Annexes, glamping such as yurts or cabins, seperate barns etc are not allowed. The chambre d’hôtes must be registered with the local mairie and in most regions also with the tourist board.
So now we have an idea of what a chambre d’hôtes is all about, what’s so special about the evening meal? The answer is that rule and regulations are in place to prevent competition with local restaurants who often pay between €10,000 and €20,000 for their license.
- The local prefecteur must be informed that table d’hôtes is being offered.
- The source of all meat products must be declared.
- Only overnight guests can be served the meal.
- The meal must be served at a single table
- The owners must eat with the guests
- There is but one menu, no choices
- Produce should, where practical, be regional and sourced locally
- The price is fixed and must be displayed clearly.
- The appropriate insurance must be in place.
- If any alcohol is served then a Petite or Grande Restaurant License (applicable to Chambre d’hôtes) must be held by the owner. The Grande License allows spirits to be served.
In France it’s considered incredible that dinner would be served without at least a glass of wine so in effect anyone offering an evening meal must hold a license as mentioned above or be viewed very suspiciously by the police. It’s easy to obtain the license by attending a 1 day training course covering hygiene, alcohol and paperwork. The cost of the course can vary but expect to pay around €250 to €350. The license is issued free of charge and you have a free choice of the petite or grande license.
Here at La Maison au Coin we chose to adhere closely to the rules surrounding table d’hôtes because our French guests expect the meal to be the traditional experience they ordered.
According to our local Mairie we are the only fully registered and licensed bed and breakfast in Le Vigeant allowed to serve table d’hôtes. Why not book a stay with us and see what it’s all about?