Accommodation in France: home exchange

The savvy traveller's guide to accommodation in france - home exchange - MyFrenchLife.orgSo you’re planning your next trip to France, and the excitement has suddenly given way to a feeling of being completely overwhelmed…

When it comes to finding accommodation in France these days, the options are endless! This is a fantastic thing – but as we know, also a very daunting prospect. With so many options, how do you know which is best for you?

Well, we’ve decided to vanquish vacation anxiety for good with our savvy traveller’s guide to staying in France! We’ve already explored the possibilities of French gîtes and villas, and this time we’re going to look at the growing trend of home exchange.


A growing trend at the moment is the concept of home exchange, where individuals live in each other’s homes for an agreed period of time free of charge. France is no exception to this trend with more French people listing their houses and apartments every day!

Profiles required by agencies or online services are detailed and users are encouraged never to go ahead with an exchange unless they are one hundred percent comfortable. It is truly a different experience – so much so, that the BBC is filming a new series surrounding the experience of first time home swappers this year!


The average exchange period varies but if you are looking to stay somewhere for a week plus, a home exchange is a great idea as it means your own home is being looked after at the same time! Guests will often be required to do things like checking the mailbox, feeding a pet and so on.

What the experts say

According to the University of Bergamo’s study conducted with users of Troc Maison, 93% of guests in a home exchange agreement were ‘satisfied’, with 76.8% of that number saying they were ‘very satisfied’ with the experience.

The savvy traveller's guide to accommodation in france - home exchange -

This same study also found that those likely to participate in such a venture were travellers who were motivated by curiosity, searching to experience something unique, interested in their environment and passionate about different cultures. Sound like you? We would certainly think it does, particularly when that different culture is French!

Writer for the Guardian, Emily Kasriel describes home exchange as an amazing experience and writes:

“One of the ideals of a holiday is to have a transformative experience that lingers long after you return to your daily routine. As we learn to become a little less precious about our separateness, swapping homes and lives may become an increasingly attractive and popular adventure.”

Things to watch out for

The complication of home exchange or house swapping is the reciprocity!

The fact that you need to exchange means you need to find a perfect match for location, time period, style and quality of the home, and responsibilities such as caring for pets.

We’ve all heard the horror stories and these often occur for two reasons: compromise, and an insufficient amount of trust. Trust is, after, all a complicated thing to establish in such a short amount of time over the web!


Travellers can compromise and accept terms and conditions which are not ideal simply because of the romanticism and economy of travelling this way. We suggest you make your list and be practical, remembering that risk can be mitigated through the verification of your potential swapper’s profile before you agree to exchange.

Home exchange is certainly complicated in our view…

Where to look

If you are interested in such an adventure, try TrocMaison or Home Exchange for some great listings and also advice on how to set up your own profile.

If the issue of reciprocity makes things too complicated for you then you could consider a different model to achieve a similar outcome…

Home exchange without the exchange

In short: it’s a lot less complicated! You can list your home for others to care for, without needing to find a person to exchange with who is an exact match for your dates, needs and location.

For instance, we would recommend you look at either Ilidor (an agency service in France) or a global site like Nomador, which is based in Sydney, Australia. Nomador operates similarly to sites like AirBnB and Bedycasa: each party involved transacts directly with the other.

Nomador is also interesting in that it has developed a way to build trust online via the creation of trust profiles for house-sitters and also home owners, allowing for even more peace of mind!

Accommodation in France: home exchange

Have you ever tried home exchange? Tell us about your experiences! Join the conversation below…

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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