How I Make the Good Life in France Happen for You

Chris Smith
5 min readJun 3

What goes on behind the vacation brochure.

Picture this — it’s a hot summer’s day in a small town in France. On the terraces outside cafes and restaurants people are enjoying a leisurely lunch. Apart from the diners, the streets are deserted.

I’d love to be one of them — sitting at a cafe table savoring a croque monsieur and a glass of beer. But, I’m not.

Instead, I’m sitting in a baking hot car in a dusty municipal car park. I have a map spread over the steering wheel and I’m trying to locate a farm called Le Mas des Poiriers as sweat drips off my forehead.

Being paid to spend weeks on end exploring one of the most beautiful countries of the world doesn’t sound like hard work but it is.

Yes, there is beautiful scenery, historic sights, fantastic food and wine, and a lot of sunshine. But that is the problem.

Everyone else is enjoying all this but I don’t get a chance to. While they are on vacation, relaxing and soaking up the French way of life, I’m clocking up the miles searching for rental properties to be included in vacation brochures.

I am a purchasing manager for a vacation company that markets vacations in French country cottages (also known as ‘gites’).

Gites range from converted farm buildings, or the grandparents’ old cottage to a part of the owner’s house. They are usually privately owned by people such as farmers or other local people who rent them to tourists as a way to supplement their incomes.

My job is to track down likely properties by whatever means possible. Once I have found one I inspect it, write the brochure description, take photos, and haggle with the owner over the rental price. Plus I have to write the all-important ‘How to get there’ instructions so that holidaymakers can find the property.

A typical property inspection goes like this. Someone will tell me their friend/cousin/ex-wife’s brother-in-law has a property worth investigating.

Often, all I have to go on is the owner’s name and phone number written on a slip of paper. I call the person and arrange to view their gite. If I can, I try to get location details from them.

Chris Smith

Freelance marketer and writer of various things for clients.