You will find the Ferme de Pontaly in a hamlet located just 10 minutes from the Château de Versailles. It is where Cécile now lives and works. At 35 years old, the young woman is a cereal farmer and host on Airbnb with her husband Alexandre and their two daughters, Juliette and Alice.
“It is a unique family farm. It has the specificity of being very close to the city, but once you get there, you feel like you’re in the countryside.“
The farm is surrounded by 12 hectares of vast expanses of wheat and rapeseed fields that protect the family from urban life.
A PLACE THAT USED TO WELCOME TRAVELLERS 300 YEARS AGO
The history of the Pontaly farm is also a nod to its activity as a listing on Airbnb. “The farmhouse was built on land that already welcomed guests: visitors to the court of Louis XIV! In fact, in the seventeenth century, Louis XIV had built “l’Hôtel des Moulins”, a residence for visitors and friends of the Sun-King who wished to visit him.” Charles-François Félix, the very famous surgeon of the king stayed regularly in this hotel, which was then destroyed during the Revolution.
Three centuries later, it is Cecile’s farm that hosts guests on the farm, where there are about ten horses, half a dozen tractors, free-roaming hensand, above all, a huge silo in a barn where grain reserves are stored.
AIRBNB, A SOLUTION TO DIVERSIFY FARMERS’ INCOME
“Agriculture today is a noble profession, but also very difficult to assume financially. That’s why we needed to explore new opportunities.” To diversify her income, Cécile welcomes classes of children to meet animals and opens her farm for educational visits. She also turned to home sharing with Airbnb.
“Airbnb quickly became an important source of supplemental income. The income we earn from hosting is used to maintain the 18th century buildings of our farm.“
In addition to a financial motivation, Cécile feels that sharing her work with her guests contributes to her personal development. “To me, being a host in the countryside means helping people discover the unknown lives of all the farmers who feed French people. There is a lot of transmission and pedagogy. When guests come to stay on our farm, they are part of both our personal and professional lives. For farmers, both are intertwined. I’m proud to be a farmer and to help guests discover my everyday life.”