Saturday, 29 January 2011

Taxe de séjour

I am not a great fan of paying tax, taxes and other rather cutely called “social payments” are very high in France as it is, but the “taxe de séjour” (local tourist tax) has a real purpose and we have seen the benefits of it. Voie VerteIn theory tourists who come to this area have to pay tourist tax when they stay in registered accommodation. So anyone sleeping on our campsite or renting one of our gîtes has to pay roughly 20 cents per person per night over and above the price we charge. However, the rules around this figure and the way to calculate it, are not as straightforward as one would imagine – this is France after all, why make something simple when you can complicate it? For instance if there are lots of children from the same family, the price per adult goes down according to a non-linear sliding scale, children do not have to pay the tax, it is charged only in the months of May to September, if you are accompanying a youth group you don’t have to pay anything at all and according to the type of accommodation you stay in, the price varies as well.. All in all, if we charged this tax on to our visitors it would be a mathematical nightmare for us every time someone came to pay. So Cees does all the wizardry in the background and we pay the tax out of our profits, not bothering our guests about it and significantly reducing the hassle factor for us.

However, all these little 20 cents add up, this tax generates just short of 20 thousand Euros a year for our “Communauté des Communes entre Grosne et Guye” Balades Vertes (the local cluster of communes) and from the beginning, the president promised that the income would only be spent on things to improve the tourist experience in our area. He has really been true to his word. This money has been spent on maintaining the Voie Verte, the cycle path that spans South Burgundy giving easy access to many attractive towns and villages around here, it has been used to put up the signs which mark out the Balades Vertes, local walking routes that get you to some interesting sites in this area and this coming year it is being used to build a climbing “wall” in an old quarry almost at the end of our road.

Climbing wall We have cycled up and down much of the Voie Verte and we have done the local Balades Vertes, so now it is the turn of the climbing wall. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was an old quarry at the end of our road, it is overgrown and hidden by the dense trees and bushes, but the other day we went out to investigate and we were stunned to see quite how high it was in parts. This area is going to be converted into between 12 and 15 “climbs” with a separate area for children which is described as “acrobatic and fun” with a small climb for them too. We can only imagine what it will look like when it is finished but to give an idea Cees took a photo of me in the quarry. For those of you who know how well I do heights, there will be no doubt in your mind as to whether this photo has been “photoshopped” or not. In any case we are looking forward to the creation of yet another attraction for our guests and I will come back with a photo of the real thing as soon as it emerges from the undergrowth.

Having looked at the photo again, I think I might pluck up the courage to climb a ladder and put the TV aerial up now - maybe not.

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