People in France with large private gardens and swimming pools are increasingly renting them out to others in a bid to provide cool spaces during the hot weather.
The website Jardins-prives.com, which was first launched in 2016, is one of a growing number that enables homeowners to list their outdoor spaces online, where they can be rented for a few hours or an afternoon by visitors who may otherwise not have access.
The sites are often most popular for birthdays or family parties but this year’s heatwave has brought about an uptick in interest, building on the growing success of the initiative over the Covid pandemic, when people were also looking for large outdoor spaces.
For example, in Nantes, four young people spent an afternoon at Sylvie Medjber’s property to the south of the city. She has a 1,500m2 garden, large terrace, and 17-metre-long pool.
Ms Medjber, who is in her 60s and has been on the Jardins-priives.com website since it started, told Le Journal du Dimanche: “During a heatwave, I get a lot of requests. People in the city can suffocate a bit. They need a cool space. It makes me about €3,000 per year.”
Other websites include WePeps, MyPrivatePool, Louer une piscine and Kiwiiz. They work on a similar basis to short-term rental website Airbnb, but only for a few hours.
A group of five people might pay on average €30 per person for a half-day of use.
Pascale Krief, co-founder of Jardins-prives.com, which has around 1,000 properties in France (including 700 in Ile-de-France), said: “We have had a lot of requests for garden reservations over the past two weeks, especially for properties with pools.”
Jérémy Benchetrit, a regular user of the service, said that he likes how it offers a way to be outside without worrying as much about the safety of his children as he would in a public place. He said: “It’s a way of finding a cool space while maintaining privacy.”
Sarah Jamy, communications director of Swimmy.fr, a website that specialises in the rental of private pools, said: “Summer has started very strongly. As soon as Météo France announces a heat spike, our activity rises.
“We have more requests than offers. Our big challenge now is to recruit owners.”
Read more: Website helps you rent out your pool
With 3.2 million private pools, France is behind only the United States globally, and the type of people who have them in the country is changing.
A study by la Fédération des professionnels de la piscine (FPP) has found that while pools in France were once the preserve of the rich, almost a quarter (24.7%) of owners are now manual workers, farmers, or regular employees.