Thursday, September 10, 2009

France and the recession.

Whilst on our holidays I used purchase Ouest-France every morning and read it whilst having my pain, cafe , jus, fromage et jambon. The Ouest-France is a Brittany-centric paper much like the Examiner (but with better proof-reading, less hysteria and no JBM).

One of its themes deals with the lower numbers of tourists around, reduced spending, the failure of restaurants to pass on the VAT reduction (sounds familiar ??) etc.

I read an article about tourism in Saint Malo and one hotelier was interviewed and he bemoaned the reduction in turnover, the reduction in footfall and the poor weather.

That hotel was "Hotel France Chateaubriand". It's a nice hotel, just inside Porte St Vincent and in front of the town hall. Quite old fashioned (in the best sense) and lunch is silver service (they did lovely grilled sardines). We've eaten there a few times over the years.

This year when in St Malo we were looking for a restaurant. It was 2.20 and as we walked along we passed many which were thriving and full of happy customers. We wandered up to the Hotel France and asked about lunch. They grudgingly agreed to serve but only from the "a la carte". Lunch was pedestrian, service was frazzled (even though there were few customers) , the staff seemed to be arguing amongst themselves, the toilets were midge-ridden and all told the experience was not as good as previous years. Whats worse the lovely outdoor area was in the process of being festooned with Coke banners....

So what's the lesson here ?

To me it seems that not all the reduction in turnover is necessarily due to a recession. Maybe as in the case of the Hotel France businesses need to examine their offerings and see if they are in some way falling short.

We won't be back to the Hotel France next year - we'll try out one of the other restaurants.