The following notes do not constitute bookings conditions but are intended as a helpful guide to some of the finer points of renting a self-catering holiday rental.
This information, whilst admittedly quite tedious, is nonetheless essential as it covers aspects of the rental which, understandably, are not always uppermost in your mind. As such, being familiar with this information will make your holiday run more smoothly. You can browse the whole page or skip to a specific topic:
Please also refer to our Travel Directory for a range of practical information and advice for travellers to France.
It is a requirement of our agency booking terms and conditions that you leave the property in a 'presentable' state. You are not always expected to prepare the property for the next guests but you are expected to perform some basic cleaning duties, typically as described below. Even if you have paid for an exit clean or one is included in the rental you are still expected to carry out the asterisked* duties. Failure to perform these cleaning duties will probably lead to the supplier making a deduction from your security deposit. Cleaning charges vary according to the size of property but €30-50 for every bedroom is a reasonable guide.
If you haven't paid for an exit clean or there isn't one available, on a self-catering holiday you will also be expected to:
Understandably, cleaning is not something most clients want to be doing at the end of their holiday. We are encouraging suppliers to offer an Exit Clean to clients so that they can opt out of the majority of cleaning duties, and we're pleased to say that many properties now offer this option. Please check the property details or ask us to see if there is an Exit Clean available at your property, how much it is and when the service should be booked and paid for.
Many of the holiday properties available in our collection also now offer the chance to book mid-stay cleaning. Again, please check the property details or ask us.
What is it for? Before or on your arrival, you will be asked for a returnable deposit in case of damages, breakages or losses to the property or its equipment, furniture, furnishings, etc. The security deposit is also there to guard against additional cleaning requirements should they be necessary.
How much, and how do I pay?The amount ranges from £150 to £2,000 for the most prestigious properties. The average is around £500. The method of payment varies across suppliers:
-on-site on arrival, held on credit card
-held on credit card by Alternative Aquitaine as an appointed booking agent for the supplier
-cheque payable to the owner
Cheques are sometimes cashed, but more often not, and are often required by the owner in advance of your arrival. Please write your name and address on the back of the cheque.
The deposit will be returned either on departure, or, soon after departure. The average is 14 days and at the very most, within 4 weeks afterwards.
How to avoid problems. You must inform the owner of any breakages or damages before you leave, to avoid ambiguity later. For this reason, we also advise clients to be 'checked-out' of the property by the owner or their staff before leaving.
Please note that security against cleaning costs will be included in the damage deposit unless separately specified in a 'cleaning deposit'. It is therefore imperative that your property and its equipment (notably barbecues) are left clean & tidy, otherwise you will be charged. (Alternatively, you can pay for this by prior arrangement if you wish to - and where this 'opt out' service is available.)
If there is a dispute between the client and accommodation supplier regarding damages or cleanliness of the property on departure, we regret it is not possible for Alternative Aquitaine to enter any such dispute.
The security instructions for the property you have rented will be provided in your Arrivals Pack.
Arrival & Departure
Bar one or two exceptions, holiday lets run from Saturday-to-Saturday during July and August.
Outside the main July/August holiday period, it is sometimes possible to arrange a different changeover day - please enquire with us.
A shorter stay may also be possible, subject to a minimum of 5 nights. However, even during summer it is usually possible to arrive and depart on the day of your choosing (to suit your flights or ferry times for example), so long as the reservation is made on a Saturday-to-Saturday basis.
You will usually be greeted by an owner or their representative on arrival. At some venues, the local house manager will pop round a day or two later, rather than wait for you to arrive. This is often the case where the local person is looking after several properties.
If you are being met at the the property, the time of arrival is usually between 4pm and 7pm.
In exceptional circumstances it may be possible to arrive an hour or two earlier or later, but no more, and is strictly by advance arrangement direct with the local contact (which we will provide you with in your Arrivals Pack). Clients are asked to call the owner (or their local contact) en-route if there is any delay to your journeyas there is not always someone available a the Alternative Aquitaine office in the UK at weekends and in the evenings.
If you gave us your mobile phone number when you booked, we will have passed it on to the owner in case they need to contact you urgently for any reason. If you didn’t give us a mobile phone number or it has since changed, please email it to us and quote your booking reference number.
Plumbing and electrical standards are different in France than in the UK or USA. If you see exposed wires or light bulbs it does not mean the property is unsafe; all properties comply with relevant laws. In some locations, especially rural ones, electrical circuits may trip if too many appliances are used concurrently.
Rural properties have septic tanks not mains drainage and occasionally an unpleasant odour may be present; please follow local rules about what not to flush and use of toilet bleach.
Older properties may have small damp patches or cracks in the plaster and at the start of the season some properties may appear musty on arrival.
At rural properties you may encounter wildlife and associated noises and smells. Insects, spiders and rodents do find their way into properties but you can help avoid this by ensuring food and refuse is not left unattended.
Country people and animals rise early and some concessions may be needed for early morning noise.
Please respect your neighbours; French law prohibits noise and disturbance after 10pm.
French kitchen equipment rarely includes toaster/kettle/teapot but there should be enough crockery, utensils and cutlery to serve the maximum number of guests.
Cots are of the travel variety unless otherwise specified.
Swimming pools are always protected by alarm or cover or fence – please ensure that you use the required security device and watch small children at all times. Please also be careful what you put into the pool – it’s very easy to damage a pool liner with toys unsuitable for a pool and damages could lead to a very costly charge to your security deposit. Please see our FAQs for further information about swimming pool safety.
What Household Items You Should Take With You
Cleaning products/equipment and a tea towel will be available. Some non-perishable foodstuffs may have been left by previous guests and most private rentals offer a modest welcome basket of goods. However, it’s best to assume no food will be in the property. Please also be aware that most supermarkets are closed on Sundays and bank holidays. Please consult the Shopping section of our Survival Guide for information
It is a requirement of our Agency Terms and Conditions that clients have a travel insurance in place when they travel. Either we or the accommodation supplier can request to see this and you may be refused entry to the property if you are not covered. Please consult the Travel Insurance section of the Travel Directory for further information.
If Problems Arise
Of course we hope your holiday runs without a hitch but should you encounter any problems during your stay, please speak in the first instance to the supplier or their local staff (contact details will always be available in your Arrivals Instructions). The supplier is responsible for the accommodation.
Alternative Aquitaine Contact Details
Our offices are open 8.30am–6.00pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am–5.30pm on Friday. During the summer season - typically mid-May to end-Sept - a local contact is based in the area.