CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today CLICK HERE

What’s it like to live in Cordes-sur-Ciel?

PUBLISHED: 11:43 18 January 2017

Christianne Zeelen and Nico Thomassen run the B&B, La Maison au Puits in Cordes-sur-Ciel

Christianne Zeelen and Nico Thomassen run the B&B, La Maison au Puits in Cordes-sur-Ciel

Archant

Moving to the enchanting village of Cordes-sur-Ciel was a dream come true for Dutch couple Christianne Zeelen and Nico Thomassen. Now running a B&B in the village, they are well and truly settled in the French way of life

When did you first come across Cordes-sur-Ciel?

We visited the region in November 2009, not knowing Cordes-sur-Ciel or the Tarn region at all. We fell in love with this magical place – the different landscapes and the medieval villages made us decide to move to this part of France.

Why did you decide to start a B&B business in France?

The B&B business is a very well known one in France. We wanted to buy a property, as opposed to rent, and back then in France, the properties were, as they are now, very affordable.

When it came to buying a property, did you have something specific in mind?

Cordes-sur-Ciel in TarnCordes-sur-Ciel in Tarn

Because we were looking to run a B&B, the most important criteria were the surroundings, proximity of airports, motorways and being located in a village with stores, such as a boulangerie and a pharmacy.

Have you done much work to the property?

Over the last few years we’ve renovated the rooms to our standards with new bathrooms and we have redecorated. We also redesigned the garden and made a special roofed area where we can have dinners and breakfast for up to 14 people. We’ve done all the work ourselves because it’s much cheaper. Because we’re not artisans, the work took more time than we expected, which was stressful at times.

____________________________________________________________________

Related articles

7 things to consider before buying in a French village

7 villages in Tarn you need to visit

Nico and Christianne outside their B&BNico and Christianne outside their B&B

____________________________________________________________________

What are your day-to-day responsibilities in the B&B?

I am responsible for cleaning the rooms every day, the laundry, and everything which has to be done to keep the house clean. Nico’s main task is the kitchen – being a son of a Dutch chef, he prepares meals for our guests. He also takes care of the garden and the business correspondence. You have to be a jack of all trades – it’s one of the most important things. Without being one, it’s almost impossible to survive in the French B&B business. You have to try to keep the costs low and do your best.

Any advice for those thinking of opening a B&B?

Cordes-sur-Ciel is surrounded by beautiful countrysideCordes-sur-Ciel is surrounded by beautiful countryside

Make sure the rooms are impeccably clean, and be friendly and welcoming. Also, think about how people will hear about you. In the beginning, we were quite quiet but now we have our own website with the possibility to book direct, which we prefer. Two of the most important sites are Tripadvisor (where we have a five-star rating) and Booking.com (which takes 15% commission). Those sites are very expensive but it’s necessary to join those sites because lots of tourists visit them. Also, after six years in business, we can say that word of mouth has started to have an effect; many of our guests have been recommended by others.

Any tips for learning the French language?

In general, if you don’t speak their language, don’t think the French willspeak another language to you. You have to take lessons. Our neighbours welcomed us immediately, but it took a year to integrate properly. The French are very friendly to you when you are friendly to them.

What’s it like living in the area?

It was a 100% surprise to discover this fortified bastide. In summer the village and the whole region breathes a medieval atmosphere and during these months, Cordes-sur-Ciel welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world, so the village is very alive. It becomes a very quiet place in the winter. Winters are mild and much shorter than we were used to; it’s the typical climate of southern France. One of the bonuses for us is that we have four seasons, all four with their beautiful colours and temperatures.

Is there anything you wish you had of known before you moved to France?

French law is different and it’s essential to know the ins and outs, as well as taxes, and healthcare, etc. Looking back, we took a big risk moving to France. We didn’t have much money, but by working hard we’ve survived.

And the risk paid off. Christianne and Nico’s hard work and determination has led to a wonderful life in one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Have a look at Christianne and Nico’s B&B, La Maison au Puits lamaisonaupuits.com

Other articles you might like...

Top 5 French villages

Village visit: Cordes-sur-Ciel

Running a well-being retreat in Tarn

Out on the Tarn

What is life like running a B&B in France?

Setting up a B&B in France

Article by Living France Living France

More from Living in France

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How does a jewellery designer, filmmaker and restaurateur who was born in Israel and grew up in New York come to turn a French château into an artists’ retreat? Ziggy Attias shares his life in Champagne-Ardenne

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When Lin France and her husband Geoff moved to La Suisse Normande in Calvados they took on a major renovation project, turning a derelict building into a lovely home and a holiday accommodation business

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

France has helped launch a satellite to study the effects of global warming; but how do French attitudes towards climate change compare to those of other Europeans?

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

France has historically been on the leading edge of eco-friendly projects and regulations. While many argue that much more needs to be done to meet environmental goals in France and globally, here are 11 ways that French government, companies and people are striving to be green.

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Seen a French property that would make fabulous food business but unsure of the paperwork and process? Read Tracy Leonetti’s at-a-glance guide to opening a restaurant or cafe in France

Read more
Running a business
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking of setting up a campsite in France? Here’s what you’ll need to consider when it comes to planning permission.

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

With its unbeatable wine and cheese and laissez-faire attitude, there’s nowhere better to retire than France. But which cities are best for growing old in? Here’s the top 10

Read more
Pays de la Loire
Thursday, January 25, 2018

If you are buying in or moving to France you will need a French bank account but before you open one make sure you read these 11 things you need to know to avoid making a costly mistake

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

France might be experiencing a shortage of general practitioners but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a GP willing to take on new patients. Here’s what you need to know about finding and registering with a doctor when you move to France

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now