According to various sources, France is the most popular tourist destination in the world. The industry is still growing and made 6,5% of the French GDP in 2012. 84,7 millions of tourists visited France in 2013, 2% more than in 2012. For tourism, the French state can count on the national agency Atout France. The public board promotes and develop tourism in France by implementing marketing campaigns, providing market analysis and helping French tourism-related businesses to optimize their hosting capacity. Essential for tourists, the hotel rating system in France provides an easy framework to evaluate hosting services.

Rating hotels in France

Green 3 stars Camping display

Along with other missions, Atout France manages the hotel rating system in France. The system has been updated in 2008 by the French hospitality organization led by Accor. It reflects the level of service for tourism facilities, from 1 star for basic services to 5 stars for the high-end palaces. This system gives a quick and easy overview for any guest traveling in France of what to expect: minimum room size,  furniture, lifts… If some requirements stay mandatory, others remain optional with points value. Star attribution also require a certain amount of points.

The hotel rating system extends to all categories of tourism facilities in the scope of Atout France. Regulation concerning the attribution of stars differs for each category. However, all tourism facilities in France does not display stars as this rating system enforces standardized service levels, even for the first star.

A lot of tourism facilities choose not to get rating. It is mostly due to the gap between the level of service provided by the hotel and the comfort reflected by the obtained stars. Indeed, all the services and equipments improving the level of a hotel can’t be listed. It is also sometimes impossible to break down walls in too small or protected historical buildings to install a lift or make larger rooms. Some businesses, especially in the luxury sector, prefer rather not to be rated than to display too few stars on their front. According to the INSEE28,6% of the hotel rooms are not rated neither 35% of the camping hosting capacity.

Rated tourism facilities categories

Atout France publishes data of rated tourism facilities in France as an open dataset. Hosting capacity, number of stars, addresses and many other information are provided in a detailed list. The French hotel rating system covers 5 types of tourism facilities:

  • Residencies: 1196 rated residencies host guests in France. These apartment hotels offers a flexibility guests seems to appreciate.
  • Hotels: Atout France lists 12445 rated hotels, the most classic form of hosting.
  • Camping: 5411 campsites. From the simple campgrounds to the wide resorts offering various kind of entertainment for campers.
  • Holiday villages: The kind of hosting depicted in the famous French movie “Les bronzés“. This national lampoon depicts adventures of French tourists in a resort providing various services like shops and activities to the guests. A kind of upgraded camping. Atout France lists 222 facilities of this category.
  • Residential parks: These facilities provide housing and basic services to the guests. The appeal resides in the originality of housing units and environment. Rooms can be huts, tipis, yurts or more classic bungalows in the countryside. Atout France only lists 98 rated residential parks.

Keep in mind that the total number of rated facilities does not reflect the real number of rated facilities open throughout the year. Indeed, a large part of tourism facilities close during winter in France. Atout France does not provide opening dates for each facility. However, most if not all tourism facilities open during the summer.

Rated hotel or rated camping?

This pie chart show the total hosting capacity for each category. Hosting capacities are not provided by Atout France for campsites and residential parks. However numbers of campgrounds and housing units are available. We can safely assume each of these has a hosting capacity of  6 persons. This number usually shows on facilities terms of use and security notices.

Rated hosting capacity by facility type

With a rated hosting capacity around 4,4 millions, campings provide the most of the total hosting capacity in France. Indeed, according to the French organization of campers, camping remains the most popular form of hosting in France. This success is explained by several factors:

  • Due to their nature, campings require by far less investment than others types of hosting. Consequently camping offers the cheapest hosting solution.
  • Requirements for the first star are very low. A location over 90 m² on a clean field, cold water sinks and showers are enough to be rated.
  • The majority of campings close during winter, reducing costs even more.

The more classic hotels come in second position. This more expensive form of hosting being used for business purposes in addition to the touristic uses. Residencies and holidays villages follow. Residential parks comes last, as it is the least developed type of rated hosting in France.

Hotel rating: mapping all the facilities in France

These map show all of rated facilities in France for each category. Use the top right selectors to display, stack or unselect maps.

 

  • Hotels: Paris attracts as much rated hotels as tourists. Airports surroundings also displays hubs of hotels. CDG airport at the north of Paris is the 8th busiest airport in the world, surrounded by hotels.
  • Campings: 2 zones in France are full of rated campings. At the south of Montpellier on the Mediterranean sea lays the Cap d’Agde. This famous beach becomes saturated with tourists during the summer. During winter, Agde becomes a ghost town with most of its businesses closed. But the more important cluster of campings in France can be found on the Atlantic coast. From Biarritz to Quimper, these beaches are very popular among French and foreign tourists during the summer. The French comedy movie Camping shows common French camping holidays over the Atlantic coast.
  • Residencies: Tourism residencies buildings make it easy to spot. They usually consist in large concrete buildings mostly situated in touristic areas. Paris, the west and south seaside, and the Alps.
  • Holiday villages: Holiday villages mostly settle over the Alps or on the seaside, the common touristic areas as previously seen.
  • Residential parks: Rated hosting in residential parks can be found on the west of France. Indeed, these countryside resorts offer guests some fresh air and quietness.

I you ever plan to travel to France, take your time to review all the possibilities offered. User reviews over the web can be somewhat different from reality. However the French hotel rating system offers a clear and sure way to classify services. It then becomes easy to choose the right place according to your needs and expectations.

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