Dominique and Christian | October 23, 2023

Spotlight on France

spotlight on france

Dominique and Christian from Nantes, France have been fans of house exchange since 2002 and have carried out no fewer than 72 exchanges. Discover their tips for repeatedly ensuring a 5-star welcome!!

Why this enthusiasm for home exchange?

For us, home exchange has become a way of life. To date we have done 72 HomeLink exchanges. Home exchange is a unique opportunity to build new relationships and meet people who have a genuine desire to help discover and enjoy the charms of their home and their region.

Last September we had two consecutive exchanges, in Bayonne and Madrid. We are going back in October for a week to Siena (Italy) and again to Madrid in November. We will have made 10 exchanges in 2023, as many as in 2022.

Our exchanges now take place throughout the year outside of school holidays and during long weekends. Whether it is sunny southern countries or regions further north, we like to explore all sorts of landscapes, by bike or on foot. Any idea for a walk is welcome.

After all, this was at the time when we were sent a printed catalogue and there weren't that many people who had pictures (only room for 1) in the catalogue. It was really exciting to sit and browse through the catalogue. I found 2 places in Sweden and wrote letters to them. I got a letter back and both families were interested in coming to Lura.

How do you repeatedly ensure 5-star exchanges?

A successful exchange is based on mutual consideration, from start to finish. From the start, we do everything we can to reassure our partners by providing as much practical information as possible to facilitate the exchange.

We also provide a welcome guide to our home and region in French, English and Spanish to help our exchangers with the practical considerations of living in our home and advise them on local areas of interest.

Of course, we routinely leave welcome gifts with a welcome note.

Our guestbook also helps us improve the quality of our welcome. And we take advantage of the feedback we get from our exchanges to improve.

During the exchange itself, we communicate regularly to help our guests with any eventual difficulties.

What makes an exchange particularly memorable?

A charming destination combined with the quality of contact with your exchange partners makes many exchanges unforgettable.

Last year our exchange in Venice exemplified everything we hope for in an exchange. We bonded with a Venetian couple before, during and after the exchange. From the beginning, multiple contacts via the HomeLink website allowed us to fine-tune the details of the exchange.

When the day came, we went to pick up Valéria and Stéphano at Nantes airport. A discovery tour of Nantes was essential to give our guests a first glimpse of the city of dukes and allow them to get their bearings and return there more easily. This first approach to the city was followed by lunch at our place. Dominique had prepared a home-cooked meal in the French tradition, an opportunity for an interesting discussion on different culinary traditions. Then Valéria and Stéphano drove us to the airport.

Arriving in Venice, we had at our disposal, thanks to our hosts, two unlimited public transport packages, a great gift to discover Venice by Vaporetto. Without any problem, we found their beautiful apartment in the Lido, 20 minutes by Vaporetto from St. Mark's Square. Throughout the week we made the most of Venice, its museums of course but also its many churches and canals. The plus of the exchange, our hosts left us information for a privileged discovery of places little frequented by tourists. In short, ideal conditions for enjoying this exceptional city.

Our return home was a continuation of the quality of our wonderful stay. Upon our return to Nantes, Stéphano came to the airport to take us home where a typical Italian meal awaited us – a treat made by Valéria with products from our own Basse-Indre market. When it was time to part ways, we drove our guests to the airport. But that wasn't the end. The conclusion exceeded our expectations when we received in the mail sometime later the gift of a beautiful painting of Venice, painted by Stéphano himself. The painting is now displayed in a prominent place at home in memory of this beautiful exchange. Here it is:

spotlight on france 2

What are the attractions of your home and your region?

Indre is a town of 3,800 inhabitants, located on the banks of the Loire 10 km west of the center of Nantes, easily accessible by car, bus, and even train. In fact, we are just up-stream from Nantes if you paddled up the Loire River, clearly visible from our house.

Nantes is a pleasant city, very easy to explore on foot. Old Nantes is a network of small, picturesque streets gathered around the castle of Anne de Bretagne.

A must-see in Nantes in recent years: the island of Nantes with its exhibit of huge mechanical robotic machines, its carousel of marine animals on 3 levels, and its Mammoth-size elephant in which you can even go for a scenic ride.

A little further (20 to 30 minutes by car) is the Muscadet region, the Safari Parc and of course the Loire castles!

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Our house in a classified wooded park facing the Loire River
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Passage Pommeraye, an emblematic place in Nantes

What are your future exchange plans?

We have exchanges planned in Siena in October and Madrid in November. Regarding 2024, an exchange is scheduled at Forêt Fouesnant at the end of May. Two other exchanges are under discussion in Portugal and another in Northern Italy. A long weekend exchange is hoped for in Oléron, which we have already enjoyed during a previous exchange.

Our three children are now adults and stand on their own two feet, which gives us great freedom. Indeed, exchanging our home to discover the world and its peoples has become a way of life for us – hard to imagine traveling any other way!

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