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Ess Feb 22nd, 2001 12:15 PM

What's the deal with half board / full board at hotels?
Does anyone have any experience with half board and full board at hotels/B&B's in France? Full board includes all meals, right? But does half board mean breakfast, or lunch, or breakfast plus one other meal? I'm confused.

StCirq Feb 22nd, 2001 12:33 PM

Half board usually means breakfast and one other meal, but it's best to check because some B&Bs don't serve lunch and occasionally one will serve lunch but not dinner. And just so you know, it is not legal in France for a hotel or B&B to require you to take full or half board, but occasionally one will try to make it a condition of booking.

Ed Feb 22nd, 2001 12:34 PM

You're right on full board, of course. <BR> <BR>Half board is usually breakfast (type unspecified) and one other meal, most commonly dinner. At times the guest may have a choice of lunch or dinner as the second meal, though more and more, lunch is not an option. <BR> <BR>Ed

Ess Feb 22nd, 2001 12:39 PM

Thank you for your responses. StCirq, why would a b&b in France require you to take 1/2 board, since it's included in the price? Or isn't it?

Ed Feb 22nd, 2001 01:09 PM

Forgive me for answering your question directed to StCirq, but in case no reply from him: <BR> <BR>In fact it is more common to price a hotel or B&B with board avaialable with and without the half-board. Basic price is usually (explicitly stated) with breakfast, with an optional price for the half-board. <BR> <BR>It is common in some, often resort, areas to only commit rooms at peak times with half-board included. It may be illegal in France, but it's certainly not unusual to find such practice elsewhere. <BR> <BR>Usually all the wording is pretty clear, but if any doubt whatsoever in ones mind don't be bashful about asking the property what they mean and what they expect. <BR> <BR>Ed

Ess Feb 23rd, 2001 07:00 AM

Ahh, now I understand. Thank you, Ed.

Bob Feb 23rd, 2001 08:00 AM

Half board is not normally included in your price. A breakfast of bread, jam and coffee is included. Dinner at a B&B can be cost 150ff to 250ff each. I don't know why anyone would want full board since you may not be there at noon and you will be having a large dinner.

Ess Feb 23rd, 2001 09:20 AM

You're right, Bob, I probably wouldn't want full board as we will be touring the countryside in a car. We probably won't have more than one meal in the same place - but it's nice to know what one's options are, and I was unfamiliar with the terms. I came across "full board" and "half board" in my research on smaller hotels and b&b's in the countryside. It doesn't seem to be offered as often in the cities like Orleans and Tours. Thanks very much!

Lexma90 Feb 23rd, 2001 09:25 AM

Re full board & half board, my impression is (somebody who lives there may be able to confirm) that dining at one's lodging (and/or expecting to do so) is more customary in France & Italy than it is in the US. I think us Americans are more accustomed to eating at a restaurant other than the one at the hotel. That's why you keep seeing the information.

StCirq Feb 23rd, 2001 10:46 AM

&lt;&lt;Why would a b&b in France require you to take half board, since it's included in the price?" <BR>Half board should not be included in the price is, I guess, what I'm trying to say. I just double-checked my Fodor's "Hotels and Country Inns of Character and Charm in France" and, as I thought, B&Bs list the price of rooms separately from the price with half and full board. That has been my experience over many years; half board and full board are options above and beyond the price of the room. What I meant was that some B&Bs will try to tell you that you can't rent a room unless you agree to the half board or full board option.

Austin Feb 23rd, 2001 11:23 AM

<BR>I dont know about B&Bs but I can advise you on hotel half board (demi-pensions) which consist of breakfast and either lunch or dinner. <BR> <BR> <BR>I would stay away from them. At first it sounds like a much better deal but heres what usually happens: you go to dinner and attached to the regular menu is a small typed menu with very few choices. If something on your little menu within a menu sounds good==like say smoked salmon===there is a surcharge for it. <BR> <BR>If you want something from the main menu there will be an extra charge for it--my feeling: who needs this--even if you are on a budget theres no real savings involved. <BR> <BR>Ah <BR> <BR> <BR>

Christina Feb 23rd, 2001 11:27 AM

I'm currently researching and reserving for a trip to Provence next summer and have found a lot of these inns will have a half-board option, and it is always specified in the price list (most of the ones I've seen give you a choice of lunch or dinner as the second meal after breakfast). These can be a good deal compared to a la carte dining if it is a good restaurant. I think this is a carryover from old days when there were not so many restaurants and when people vacationed, they frequently ate meals at their hotel (a la Room with a View). Today, I could never see it for lunch as you would be out touring, but for dinner it might be a good choice if you were in a more rural area where there weren't so many restaurants nearby and did not want that kind of vacation (going out every night looking for a restaurant). Even today, I have seen info (on web or elsewhere) saying demi-pension is obligatory in-season, so I'm glad to know that is illegal. One place I was particularly interested in (La Gacholle in Gordes) does not say that on their web site, but it said that about that inn in the Gault-Millau guidebook (which was prob. a few years old). I really like that guidebook, but it is not updated frequently enough, I've noticed. I could have sworn some of these places say you must tell them ahead of time if you want demi-pension rates or not, which I don't quite understand (maybe it's you tell them which days you want that option) as their dining rooms are closed for certain meals or days of the week, so choosing demi-pension with dinner would be a gyp if they were closed for dinner Sunday night, for example, and that was one of your stay nights. All of the web sites I've seen on this issue not only mark the price list separately, but tell you what meals you get for that rate.

clairobscur Feb 23rd, 2001 11:59 AM

<BR> I do believe indeed it's illegal to refuse to rent a room if you don't accept half-board. But there's quite nothing you can do in such an instance. <BR> <BR> In the same way, AFAIK, it's illegal too to refuse to rent a room in an hotel if you don't stay for at least 2 days/4 days/whatever. However, it's quite common that an hotel refuses a reservation for only one night in high season. What can you do? Sue them from another country? <BR>Possibly contact a consummers board... But who will be willing to do that instead of searching for another hotel?

Ess Feb 23rd, 2001 12:01 PM

Christina, my thought was, as you mentioned in your post, that if we were in a rural area we might have limited dinner options and would then want to have dinner at the b&b or inn or whatever. But if the half board is just going to be the cheapo menu in tiny print, as Austin mentioned, then it would be better just to spring for an a la carte meal and a decent bottle of wine. I'd hate for sirens or something to go off around our table. You know the old joke..."Tourist class, you may now deboard, first class we'll be landing shortly!" Anyway, somebody's likely to take pity on us and give us a meal. Thanks again for your responses. Hope you all have a good weekend!

Austin Feb 23rd, 2001 01:07 PM

<BR>Ess- <BR> <BR>I must add to my reply that the regular menu may contain both ala carte and regular full course menus in addition to the little demipsension menu <BR> <BR>Also this is not the case in every hotel but in most hotels--especially relais chateaux type places of all budget levels---that I have visited in decades of travel <BR> <BR>AH

Christina Feb 23rd, 2001 03:00 PM

Ess, I had the same thought and finally booked three nights at the Mas d'Entremont just outside Aix-en-Provence and declined the demi-pension rates. The rates did not seem bad (about 300F added on per day) as that made dinner only about US$30 (breakfast was probably about 85F), but I wondered if you were given a dinner that was not as nice as you might choose yourself from the menu for about the same price or only a little more. I did not want to get into if that included drinks or not, etc, and just told them I didn't want demi-pension. I am really a risk-taker :-) just kidding, what's the worst that could happen, I pay $5 more for dinner a la carte? This same inn gave me a rate sheet that listed "menu" as 210 and 250F, so if that means the daily "menu" is that price, obligating yourself to the demi-pension only saved you about 40F a day. Not worth it, as I may want to go out. BTW what's the deal with the outrageous price of breakfast at the French hotels in Provence? It is generally higher than in Paris (I've seen rates of 75-125F for breakfast).

steve Feb 25th, 2001 06:39 PM

Altho not at all common in the USA, full board is often refered to as 'American Plan' and half board as 'Modified American Plan' <BR> <BR>It used to be (and might still be in some countries) that hotels were regulated as to what they could charge, depending on what services they supplied. Therefore many hotels offered half board (i think this is almost always breakfast and the evening meal) in order to be able to charge more. I stayed at two pensiones in Italy that were half board (demi pension) in 1970. Altho the menu selection was very minimal, the food was superb.

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