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Paris: Host with the Most

The “scuttlebutt” about the city’s new “Charte de Qualité” for Bed and Breakfasts in the Capital was released yesterday at a special press conference in the “salon de réception Georges Bertrand” of the Hôtel de Ville.

Assistant to the Mayor in Charge of Tourism, Jean-Bernard Bros, led the line-up of presenters, who included heads of the member companies: “Fleurs de Soleil,” “Bed Break,” “Good Morning Paris,” “Une Chambre en Ville,” “Alcove & Agapes,” “France Lodge,” “BAB France” and “2 B in Paris.” Chantal Goldstein, President of the “Les Parisiens Associés” who headed the committee, sat on the front row quietly listening to the presentations and questions from journalists.

Several arrondissements have agreed to be the first to pilot the project — 3rd, 6th, 9th, 13th and 18th — and a few of the representative mayors attended — Serge Blisko, the Mayor of the 13th arrondissement, sat next to me on the front row.

The goals of the initiative hopes to insure comfortable accommodations and a friendly welcome, and as a plus, encourage interaction between Parisians and visitors. The purpose of the charter is to “define the notion of a Parisian Bed and Breakfast based on the criteria of welcome, comfort and amenities. It also sets down the commitments of the Member Companies, who benefit from the seal of approval of the Paris City Council and the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.”

There are 75,000 hotel rooms in Paris and only 300 guest rooms (to-date and growing) by comparison, yet the hotels are up in arms over the city’s intervention in promoting them. The “Hôte Qualité Paris” committee defends the accusations that the initiative will hurt hotel business, but believes that it will only augment what the city has to offer for the 26 million annual visitors and create a more welcoming atmosphere.

The press material fails to include the number of furnished apartments in the city available for short-term vacation rental nor has there been much discussion as to how their business might be affected. My own personal opinion is that someone who stays in a furnished apartment more likely fits the profile of someone willing to stay in a Bed and Breakfast and therefore the initiative is more competition to rental agencies and owners than to the hotels.

Guests of Chambres d’Hôtes will most likely be, first, Europeans from nieghboring countries, then Americans and Candadians followed by Japanese visitors. There is special consideration for guest rooms that accommodate the handicapped and the elderly, particularly those on the ground level.

I personally exactly fit the profile of the kind of people who are willing to open their homes to guests…women over 40, single, in three room or larger apartments, whose kids have grown and gone. No wonder I’ve so happily rented my daughter’s bedroom as a guest room — and enjoy the friends I’ve made this way so much!

For those who want to do the same, and become a part of the city system, the rules are pretty simple. There are parameters for the quality of the room, specific amenities it must have (such as heating, one window, size of the bed, lighting, closet sp

ace, linens, etc.). The bathroom can be shared or private and the room must be cleaned daily if shared and every four days if private. Price is suggested to be between 25 and 70 euros per night.

One thing they were adament about…breakfast must be “carefully served by the homeowners, the French-style family breakfast must include at least tea, coffee or hot chocolate, milk, fresh bread, butter and jams.” I loved this attention to detail and hospitality!

Click here for complete information and the list of requirements can be found in English.

From the visitor’s perspective, the new “Hôte Qualité Parisien” does indeed open up more choice and also offers a peek into the world of a Parisian’s life as well as an opportunity to get to know one another better. There’s certainly nothing wrong in building better relationships between us!

When you look at the bigger picture, it should bring even more visitors to Paris as a result and therefore fill more hotel rooms, apartments and Bed and Breakfasts. If the competition gets tough, then the strong will survive and that means the quality improves for everyone.

Paris aims to be the “Host with the Most” or should we say “Hostess with the Mostest” since so many owners are women? Either way, I’m all for it.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
[email protected]

P.S. The Hôtel de Ville is (what many believe) is the city’s most magnificent building. As part of the Working and Living in France Conference May 20 – 22, we’ll be taking a private tour with Official Guide Marie-France Benett. For more information and to register, click here. For a virtual tour, now with English subtitles, you can visit the Hôtel de Ville by clicking here.

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