France used to be a popular location for me at Christmas, usually in the Alps or Pyrenees for skiing! Now with premium rates charged for accommodation in European ski resorts over the holiday period, it’s unlikely that many, or any, house sits will appear in our email alerts!
Nomador is an international platform with assignments all over the world. But France is the place where they have most listings. We asked their founder, Mariannig Ferrari, to give us her lowdown on locations and events that might attract house sitters during the winter months, and at Christmas in particular.
Christmas House Sitting in France with Nomador
There are Christmas listings on Nomador all over France at this time of year, because it’s traditional for families to get together to celebrate and enjoy the festive season. Properties become available as people move around the country to join their family members, or to vacation away from home.
For house sitters, the most popular locations are cities, especially when there are Christmas festivities organized. The Alsace, for instance, is very popular because of the Christmas markets.
Christmas markets are called “Marchés de Noël” in French. Although traditionally found throughout the stunning region of Alsace, many have also been “exported” to other parts of France. So you’ll also find Christmas markets in cities like Lille, Rouen and Bordeaux.
Of course over the border you’ll also find other famous markets in Switzerland (Basel) and Germany (Heidelberg and Freiburg-im-Breisgau).
Paris, like many other European cities is also high on the list for Christmas house sitting. Especially for the amazing illuminations that light up the streets. Also Lyon and Provence are well known for markets and the “Foires aux Santons”.
It becomes a little more difficult to fill remote house sits that would be very popular in summer time (for example, in mountain villages), because house sitters often fear transportation issues if there is snow. But snow can provide its own magic, especially if you enjoy activities like snow-shoeing or alpine skiing.
The French Christmas season
House sitting is a great way to re-unite families. It helps some pet-owners spend Christmas with their families and helps house sitters spend Christmas near their parents or children.
The only “difficulty” with Christmas house sits, is that they are often shorter – just 4-5 days or a week.
This is at least true in the Northern hemisphere, because it’s not really the long holiday season. In Australia, by contrast, where summer is in full flow, Christmas house sits can be organized for much longer periods.
It’s really useful to book trains in advance of the Christmas holidays as travel during this period usually results in over-crowded trains.
BlaBlaCar is a platform and app that’s really useful to get from A to B in France. It’s a ride-sharing platform that is safe, easy to use and cheap. Plus this is a good way to practice your language skills by chatting with other passengers.
They operate now all over Europe and in Mexico, Brazil and India. In fact they are adding new countries all the time. The site is worth checking out if you are on a limited budget, can’t get a train ticket, or don’t want to be a victim of overpriced plane tickets during the holiday season.
BlaBlaCar at a glance
BlaBlaCar is a trusted community marketplace that connects drivers with empty seats to passengers looking for a ride. More than 10 million people use BlaBlaCar every quarter creating an entirely new, people powered, transport network.
With a dedicated customer service, a state of the art web and mobile platform, and a fast-growing community of users, BlaBlaCar is making travel social, money-saving and more efficient for millions of members.
Christmas house sitting generosity
One thing I love about Christmas is that it creates a wave of generosity especially from home owners. Many leave a small treat in the refrigerator for their sitters’ Christmas dinner. Perhaps some Foie Gras, or even a bottle of Champagne.
I’ve noticed that many owners are happy to give priority to candidates who explain they want to look after the home because it will allow them to spend Christmas close to their parents or children.
Finally it is usual to read friendly little messages on listings. For example: “We’ll be back on the 30th, but if you’d like to spend New Year’s Eve with us and some friends, you’ll be very welcome…”
Wherever you are house sitting this year, I hope that you experience generosity within the house sitting community. And remember this is a perfect time of the year to practice being a part of the sharing economy.