Roadtrip France - impending disaster

Old Jul 4th, 2014, 12:37 PM
  #1  
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Roadtrip France - impending disaster

Hi all, I apologise for the dramatic topic title, but I need help urgently. I have been planning a 5 weeks France trip for the past 6 months. Had all my ducks in a row and booked accommodation in April 2014.
We were going to end in Dijon and I booked an extremely nice apartment in Dijon 15 to 18 September (via Booking.com) The owner informs me NOW the apartment is not available, due to "works", (whatever that means!) and I can not find anything else at this late stage. Researched all possible sites. We are looking for an apartment/cottage with garden/terrace.

Stu recommended Coco, but fully booked. As are most other places. Shall I try another village or town? And where?

Last question. Is this acceptable behaviour? From the booked accommodation I mean.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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First of all, needing to re-book 3 nights of a 5 week trip that isn't beginning until mid-September is hardly a "disaster". Is there something available without a garden/terrace that you could book? How about a b&b with a good cancellation policy while you look around. Was there some particular reason you wanted to be in Dijon? Would you be happy elsewhere? There must be a zillion other accommodations still available nearby or in other cities.

Whether or not the behavior is acceptable, it is common. Occasionally the owners are telling you the truth -- although 2 months ahead of time, it is hard to see how.

Have you contacted booking.com and asked them to look into this?
sandralist is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Well, it happened to me in Rome. I too doubted the sincerity of the works, but it turned out that there was a problem in that apartment; I found out when another Fodorite booked it and then read my warning. I ended up renting the same apartment about a year or two later, and they gave me a small discount for having previously cancelled on us.

I guess you've tried Flipkey, VRBO, Homeaway, etc.?
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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You are at least lucky that the apartment owner let you know that the place had become unavailable. (I suspect that works is a result of a flawed translation.) I assume you are not out money. Since Booking dot yeah! is making so much noise on TV about how they do magical things, I would suggest you contact them and see what they can do.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:09 PM
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Is this acceptable behavior?

Would you want to stay in an apartment under construction? Perhaps the construction is not under his control. Our upstairs neighbors's toilet overflowed for several weeks, flooding and destroying our bath and the bath in the condo downstairs from ours. None of us were there, but all three condos are uninhabitable.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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You are staying in Dijon all of 3 days? Book a hotel like most people, you will survive. Yes, sometimes apartments have unexpected problems or need work and then the owners cancels them. If one can't handle that, one shouldn't be booking apartments because that can happen, more than in hotels (hotels can be overbooked, it happened to me because it was full and one person wouldn't leave, but it's not too common). I have read several threads on Fodors about that happening in various cities, apts needing work or repairs unexpectedly and not being available.

You do not have to have an apartment or cottage with garden and terrace for 3 days on vacation. Here is a 3* hotel I stayed at in Dijon and enjoyed a lot, they have doubles for only 115 euro on your dates
http://www.hotel-nord.fr/

Sure, it's not glamorous and the rooms have been modernized, but it has an excellent restaurant and you couldn't ask for a better location.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:17 PM
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We stayed in this couple's lovely Beaune apartment. It appears they have an opening in their country house near Beaune. Highly recommend. Good luck. Mary
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:17 PM
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http://www.graperentals.com/availabi...ilability.html
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:19 PM
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Oh so sorry! I misread your dates! Thought it was 5-8th
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:28 PM
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Things like building renovations are voted by the co-owners association generally about 6 months in advance, but the actual date that the work is to begin is often not announced until a couple of months in advance. Sometimes it just means that the building will be covered with scaffolding, which some renters would find unacceptable and others would not really care much. Sometimes it is something much more important. For example, all lead pipes must be removed from old buildings within the next two or three years. Even though the deadline keeps getting pushed back, sooner or later it has to be done, and in my own 300 year old building we are shuddering about what a mess this is going to be when it is finally done.

When apartments are not available due to "works" it shouldn't automatically be assumed that it just concerns the one apartment that interests you, but it is often a situation regarding the entire building. If you feel suspicious, just ask what the works are -- if it is just scaffolding on the outside or painting the stairwell, perhaps you will make the owner very happy if you say that you don't mind.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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Dijon, your dates, 147 possibilities (altho some may be out of town):

https://www.airbnb.com/s/dijon--fran...ire+home%2Fapt
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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I'm guessing "works" is just a literal translation of "travaux." And yes, rental owners face situations like this all the time. I'm not renting my French house at the moment, but I need two tirants installed to repair a crack in the side of the house that is threatening to pull the roof apart. It will be months before the workmen will actually show up. Most people renting in France aren't familiar with what's involved in the upkeep of centuries-old properties, or what kinds of requirements owners' associations and other entities may impose.

You have plenty of time to find something else.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 02:36 PM
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Anybody planning "works" on their apartment or who has applied to get them done should not be confirming dates to a prospective renter. Nor is a toilet overflowing unexpectedly the same as telling someone to whom you've committed the use of an apartment for their vacation 60 days in advance that unspecified "works" will be happening.

I'd let it go and be glad I didn't rent from that person, especially if there attitude was "What will they know anyway?" It is one of the reasons many of us no longer want to deal directly with owners. Attitudes like that. (Me first and no sense of living up to a business contract.)

I would contact booking.com and tell them of this, because if it has happened before with this listing, especially more than once, then it is likely booking.com will not want them listed on their website. They have a reputation to protect.

I get the impression airbnb would not have allowed the owner to contact you and make arrangements directly outside of the airbnb framework. If they had wanted to cancel, they would have had to notify airbnb. Not sure, but I think that is one of protections airbnb offers, and booking.com should.

There are plenty of people who own property who enjoy deriving income from renting it to tourists but also want to make it available to their friends, relatives, or themselves when they are in the mood, or who will dump you if they get a better offer. What the dumped party is told is that the apartment needs "work". Sometimes it is true, many times it is not, but months in advance it looks rather strange that this was apartment was on the rental market but now it is off.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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By the way, anybody who has ever owned a house anywhere knows how hard it is to pin down a contractor and that permission from the town will often need to be secured in advance if the work is of a certain sort. Even renters working to get things fixed through landlords know this.

If friends or relatives call you up and ask if they can visit at some future date when you are thinking of getting work done on your house, you tell them you'll have to let them know later and why. There is no mystery about how to behave. You don't tell them "sure, buy the plan tickets and ask your boss for vacation days" and then come back to them after they've made their plans to reveal you were planning work in that time frame.

So enough of this malarkey that this is some kind of French mystery. Or that maintenance on an old house is an unknown to American so any rip off should be seen in that light. Plenty American homeowners know exactly what is involved in this type of situation. It's a minority of people trying squeeze money out of a tourist business who play all the angles and figure the tourist can be left holding the bag if need be. But they do exist, and the answer to this OP's question as to whether this is acceptable is "No" absent a very compelling explanation (none of which I have seen posted here).
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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I'm chuckling because the way we operate, we wouldn't have even thought about a trip or booked flight tickets yet. Much less all lodging for a five week trip. But, I know not everyone operates the way we do.

You will find something acceptable (and probably something better than you had originally booked). We are nearly always last minute planners, and we have always found nice accommodations. And, our rule of thumb is for a stay of three or more nights, get an apartment. So, I have had experience with apartment rentals.

I agree that "works" is probably the result of using a translator. Last year we rented an apartment for a week in Venice. All of our communication had been done via e-mail, and we assumed the owner spoke English. This wasn't the case, and we found out she relied on a computerized translator. It got pretty comical when we had to meet her by one of the vaporetto stops so she could show us to the apartment, and we couldn't find each other. We were texting back and forth, and she had to find someone else to pass the phone off to who could speak English.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 03:17 PM
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If you cannot find an apartment you like, you might look into Hostellerie du Chapeau Rouge, which has a michelin star restaurant. I don't remember much about the hotel, except for that wonderful restaurant, where we had a fabulous birthday dinner, and a delightful breakfast buffet. With Dijon such a small, walking town, it was well enough located as well.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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My understanding is that is in even more difficult pinning down contractors in many parts of europe than inthe US. And it's prefectly possible it's something that applies to the whole building (roof, elevator, plumbing. pointing for a brick building - for which they just got a date.)

Agree you may not get exactly what you want - but it's hardly a disaster.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 07:17 PM
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I second fodorite Christina above who suggested Hotel du Nord right smack in the middle of Dijon, with heavenly restaurant downstairs. We were there in the fall some years ago but it still ranks as a good spot.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 10:01 PM
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Roadtrip France - impending disaster
Posted by: dewet on Jul 4, 14 at 3:37pm
We were going to end in Dijon and I booked an extremely nice apartment in Dijon 15 to 18 September (via Booking.com) The owner informs me NOW the apartment is not available, due to "works",


Hardly a disaster. You are lucky the owner informed you NOW. You have over two months to find an alternate.

The term "works" in the British way of using our language is "construction" in the USA. OTOH, the skeptic in me says that the owner may have rented to someone else with cash in hand or to a prior client. In any case it's not worth your time to pursue a lost cause.

Being as how your visit coincides with the annual grape harvest and festivals in celebration thereof, not to mention possible trade fairs in Dijon, you might need to look a bit further to find what suits you.
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Old Jul 4th, 2014, 11:58 PM
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***The owner informs me NOW the apartment is not available, due to "works",*****
But these "works" could be elsewhere in the building and out of the owners control. So do not be too harsh on them. He could be cancelling to save you some hassle from the building noise.
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