Behind the scenes at Gîtes de France's new B&B project

Carole and David Movrel run Gîtes de France’ s best city break chambre d’hôtes , in Mont-de-Marsan, Landes. We spoke to Carole about how the project came to fruition.

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When did you buy the property and why?

In 2017, after 23 years in business, my husband and I decided to change our lives. This project was a collective family decision, we wanted to live in the city for practical reasons and to get away from the isolation that country life can cause. We visited a house that we really fell in love with. It lent itself completely to a bed and breakfast project, as the layout of the rooms allowed us to separate our private life from professional life – in order to preserve everyone’s privacy and comfort.

Tell us more about the project goals

Our project consisted of the rehabilitation of an old house, located in the heart of the historic town centre of Mont de Marsan, in order to fit out five guest rooms and a gîte (in the old barn adjoining the house).

What condition was the property in?

The house was not in good condition at all – everything has been redone except the floors.

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Who managed the project?

My husband oversaw the building site’s progress and worked with several local craftsmen and material suppliers for a year and a half.

What was your inspiration for the interior? Colours, atmosphere, style, brands, etc.

For the decoration, I was inspired by the general atmosphere of the house. I didn’t want to take away its “soul”. For the furniture, we found it in local antique shops and sometimes, out of necessity, bought it on the internet. The historical character of this old building is preserved and associated with elements of contemporary comfort; the objective being to keep the house almost identical, with a maximum of traditional architectural elements while offering services and a level of comfort that meet the current demands of the clientele. The charm of the project also lies in the enhancement of the square inner courtyard: landscaping has been carried out to create a relaxing patio with trees, fountain and cobblestones.

So what can guests expect during a stay?

Our guesthouse is composed of five comfortable rooms, each carefully decorated, intended not only for visiting tourists but also for business customers who can occupy the rooms throughout the year. Each room is spacious yet cosy, with a surface area varying between 16m² and 30m², is equipped with private bathroom facilities and offers quality equipment: large beds, free WiFi access, flat screen TV, courtesy tray, quality furniture and a lounge area. Each is carefully decorated to give a unique atmosphere.

What other facilities do you offer?

An indoor heated swimming pool as well as a gym with fitness equipment, are installed in an outbuilding of the house to enhance the “well-being and relaxation” spirit of the place.

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Location is key to a successful B&B...

Our location, in the centre of the historic district of Mont de Marsan, with all the shops, restaurants and services within walking distance, makes it possible to attract different ‘targets’ of national and international clients, couples and families on holiday during the summer period and in the context of cultural and/or sporting events organised in town.

You won a top award in 2019. Please tell us a little bit about it.

It was with the ‘city break’ label that we won the “Most beautiful accommodation in a city” award in 2019. This prize is awarded at the national level by Gites de France and we are very proud to have received it. Such a project is, of course, in line with the Gîtes de France charter based on a warm welcome and the development of a quality tourist offer.

Do you have any advice for those considering undertaking such an important construction job?

Undertaking such a renovation requires several criteria to be met in order to avoid unpleasant surprises that could very quickly lead to difficulties. Ideally, you need a minimum of experience in the building industry to be able to follow the construction site. You also need free time, because site visits require an indispensable presence. And you need to understand the project’s budget in order to limit surprises.
You also need to be inspired in the choice of materials and decoration (substitutes for expensive or high-end products) for budgeting purposes.

Finally, thoroughly study the site in detail before acquiring the building so that a fair purchase price can be set according to the works to be carried out and so that the overall budget (acquisition + work) is consistent and reasonable.

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