Stress-busting tips for when friends come to stay with you in France

Living in France can mean acquiring ‘new best friends’ who invite themselves to stay, columnist Cynthia Spillman helps navigate this with grace

You can select who will be easy guests, be lovely to see, and will muck in rather than those who see your home as a cheap holiday

You’ve achieved your dream and own a French home.

You look forward to long days in the sun, sipping wine or getting on with a bit of bricolage.

Suddenly, however, a deluge of ‘new best friends’ invite themselves to stay.

How do you select those who will be easy guests, be lovely to see, and will muck in from those who essentially see your home as a cheap holiday?

Self-care is not selfish

First, remember, you never have to endure the company of someone who upsets you.

No excuses. Just say no!

This particularly applies to self-inviting ‘waifs and strays’.

This isn’t selfish – it is self-caring and if it does not feel right, then trust your instincts and refuse.

If people are offended, that shows a lack of sensitivity on their part. A good test can be to ask what that person would do if the roles were reversed.

You decide length of stay

Having decided who you will accept, agree and communicate how long they can stay. Our English friends in Nice have a Four Day Rule, which seems perfectly reasonable.

There is clarity and in four days guests are unlikely to outstay their welcome. It is up to you to decide the period you feel most comfortable with, but make sure you do not leave any loose ends or you might feel anxious during your guests’ stay, willing them to leave.

You do not have to be a tour guide

Before the guests arrive, ask what they would like to do. Send details of local sights. Suggest activities and, if you so choose, tell them you will not be able to escort them everywhere.

Build in some time for yourself. It is far better to set these boundaries in advance.

If you have to work, make it clear. You don’t have to sabotage your normal routine.

Read more: 12 phrases every tourist must know before coming to France

Read more: Five of France’s most beautiful coastal walks to try this summer

Be clear about dining and house rules

Remember to ask about dietary requirements and, if you don’t always want to cook for them, make that clear before they arrive. You can put your kitchen at their disposal.

Never feel you have to foot the bill if you dine out. If guests offer to pay, think twice before refusing. They might feel good about giving something back.

Finally, communicate other house rules – regarding smoking, for example. If you have pets, inform guests in advance. Apply these measures and you are more likely to relax when people stay. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!

More guest stress-buster tips

• Communication and planning are key

• No is a complete sentence, no further explanation is needed

• Self-care is essential

• Boundaries are vital but build in some flexibility too

• Silence your inner critic, who might attempt to guilt-trip you

• Plan some time out for yourself

• Have a contingency plan in case things go wrong

• Avoid setting expectations for future visits

If you have your own set of house rules, wonderful or terrible experiences to share, or have any questions on the emotional aspects linked to living in France, Cynthia would love to hear from you. Please email her via

Related articles

How to keep your swimming pool open despite drought in France

Latest data on how house prices have changed in your corner of France

‘We built a €120,000 eco-house for a thrifty retirement in France’