Shabby small town French hotels

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Shabby small town French hotels

Postby johnnyhamster » 22 Apr 2014, 10:57pm

My first cycling trip to Normandy / Brittany was 1986, we took a small tent but no sleeping mats. After two uncomfortable nights we moved into small town hotels. Saggy beds, dodgy plumbing, wallpapered doors, and threadbare carpets. We used these as stopovers for years (not necessarily cycle touring) until we discovered BB hotels and Chambres d'Hotes. Do such places still exist? I've been looking in vain revisiting town squares on Streetview - I reckon most have gone.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby BeeKeeper » 22 Apr 2014, 11:26pm

Chamber d'hotes certainly exist. The hotels are mostly a bit more upmarket but saggy beds can still be found if you look. The chain hotels like Comfort can be found on the outskirts of some towns but the local tourist office, if you can find it open, is the best place to ask for budget accommodation.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby nirakaro » 23 Apr 2014, 12:55am

I stayed in a pretty cheap, pretty rough Moroccan-run hotel on the outskirts of Valence last summer. Not half as cheap and rough though, as the prison cell I paid €11 for in Algeciras the year before!

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby andrew_s » 23 Apr 2014, 2:55am

Hmmm - dodgy hotels...
My worst was in Nyalam - rats living in the bases of the beds, toilets (such as they were) across a courtyard with a fierce guard dog, and locked in overnight (probably because of the dog). The saggy beds were as nothing.
Then I've had a hotel in Santiago (Chile) whose main business turned out to be as a brothel. In that case the saggy bed had been fixed by putting an old door under the (thin) mattress. The electrics in Chile were generally pretty dodgy - things like warm water for the shower being created by wrapping a naked electric fire heating element round the pipe to the shower head.
Closer to home, I've had a few in Spain - this one (streetview) did the saggy beds and non-working plumbing, but the food was good even if the formerly magnificent dining room was starting to fall apart, and in one place we got parked in an airless, shabby annexe about 100m off, that ended up with me taking all my bedding up the ladder onto the roof.
I've done a prison cell too, in Namur. The locks had been taken off the cell doors, but the windows still had the bars. Still, it worked quite well - we had the wing to ourselves so we saved money by taking over the dining room and bringing in supermarket beer rather than drinking in bars.

All the French hotels I've used have been quite good, but that's mostly because the hotels were all on organised tours (Raid Pyreneen, 2 x CTC tours & one club tour). If I'm not on an organised tour, I camp.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby georgew » 23 Apr 2014, 10:21am

I've a fondness for small shabby hotels in French towns although I admit I found the F1 chain hotels great for touring in that they allowed one to keep bike and trailer in the room.
That said, I did spend a night in a run-down Brothel/Bar in Rouen when I couldn't find any other accommodation. Not bad apart from the wash-hand basin coming away from the wall.....good breakfast too.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby Psamathe » 23 Apr 2014, 11:36am

Several years ago (and I would expect little has changed), the trend in accommodation in France was slowly moving towards gites; hotels, etc. becoming less common as they became more expensive. Reason was the increasingly stringent regulations meaning operators had to charge more or, as they did not comply with regs close (due to costs meeting the regs). Gites however are not included in the same regs (and actually had a pretty beneficial tax basis as they were designed more for farmers to convert a few old barns to supplement their income).

It was brought home to me when I sold my place there and the Dossier Diagnostique Technique report identified some lead in some of the doors (that had actually had the paint stripped). Apparently the levels were low and not relevant to the house being used as a residence but were I to let the property out (rental or any "paying guests") then the doors would have to be sorted and re-tested.


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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby johnnyhamster » 23 Apr 2014, 12:50pm

Reason was the increasingly stringent regulations

probably explains it , also why B&B are relatively expensive in UK. Once places are listed, they're subject to all sorts of regulations. We have stayed in some potential death traps over the years thinking about it, but have also stayed in some rather wonderful Chambres d'Hotes. I wonder if a some of the bars / cafes' in France still offer accommodation on demand, but just don't advertise it.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby JJF » 23 Apr 2014, 8:46pm

No doubt there are "Shabby small town French hotels" as there are shabby hotels in many countries.
However there are reasonable hotels too. For example there are "Logis Hotels", a collection of about 2,600 independent hotels in rural France. They advertise jointly but the hotels are individually owned and run. Try I have used several of them and have almost always been very pleased.
This is recent experience.
There are of course several inexpensive chains of hotels which are very uniform and are sometimes found near motorway junctions and service areas.
Also there are lots of Chambres d'hotes (B&Bs). Try (but there are other groupings). On that site you have to specify whether you are looking for a gite or B&B.
Like in Britain, you tend to find B&Bs where there are tourist attractions such as the seaside but elsewhere there may be nothing on offer.

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Re: Shabby small town French hotels

Postby bretonbikes » 24 Apr 2014, 4:07pm

Lots of Chambre D'Hotes but the catch is finding them as there are a thousand 'label' each with their own website and tourist offices have no idea of what's in the next town so you can't plan ahead. Currently the best (and poor) bet is go to google maps - bring up the area you want and search 'Chambre D'Hotes' and they'll pop up - only about 10% of those availabe, and many brit owned but it's the best you can do. This may be of help - ... rance.html

Edit - If you want to see the problem go to the biggest for all sites search for B&B - you'll get a listing for a department, but no map - so rather than looking at B&B on a map and linking them into a route (takes 5 minutes) you have to plan a route - search for B&B at each stop (by commune) then if you can't find one chnage the route and so-on - takes days.

Trying to educate the tourist industry over here that people need maps and actually move about - for the last 25 years - has turned my hair grey...