Here’s where you can stay in France this summer as it reopens for tourists
France officially reopened its doors to (vaccinated) international travelers – and not too soon, say travel agents, who immediately found themselves scrambling to meet demand. “We are already seeing availability problems in July and August,” said Philip Haslet, co-founder of French travel specialist Kairos, speaking from his home in Provence. “It’s the busiest I think I’ve ever been.”
This is good news for the travel industry, which faces a year and a half of deficits. But for travelers, that leaves a lot to unravel; some run short stays at multiple resorts to bypass reservation dates and other restrictions. Combine that with the fact that many of France’s most exciting hotel openings are yet to come, and there may be good reasons to (briefly) delay a visit.
Plus, says Haslet, August is still expected to be relatively calm amid typical summer shutdowns in Paris and beyond. “It’s France,” he exclaims. There may be fewer businesses shutting down for the month, “but I’m afraid the underlying Gallic DNA is triggered.”
Not that there is never a bad time to visit France. So whether it’s in the near future or after the dust has settled, here are the hotels to prioritize … assuming you can get in.
Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Controle In the closed enclosure of the emblematic estate of Louis XIV and opposite its famous Orangerie is Le Grand Controle, a complex of three buildings which once housed dignitaries and which has recently been reborn into a luxury hotel of 14 rooms. This is the first time that related commoners, not courtiers, have been able to sleep within the storied walls of the palace, a privilege that allows them early morning access to the gardens and to visit the Hall of Mirrors after hours. opening. The sumptuous period-inspired rooms give the impression of a journey back in time to the 18th century. But the Alain Ducasse restaurant, the Valmont spa and the sophisticated geothermal heating system that were installed during the multi-year renovation remind you that 2021 is a golden era in its own right. Rooms starting at $ 2,000.
Saint James ParisImagine the quintessential French country house, then drop it off in the 16th arrondissement a few minutes walk from the Trocadéro or the Arc de Triomphe, which is wrapped according to the design of the (late) artist Christo in September. That’s what you get at Saint James, which opens with 50 rooms and a membership club on July 1. The gracious estate was once an elite school, and its gardens occupy a former hot-air balloon launching pad; now it will have an ambitious restaurant run by Ducasse’s protégé Julien Dumas and enough space for guests to go horseback riding or cycling. For the ultimate urban oasis book, the Pavillon d’Amour, a self-contained triplex chalet with its own steam room and elaborate fountain up front. Rooms starting at $ 535.
Tuba Club, Marseille You would think this chic five-room inn, run by the owners of a popular restaurant that shares its name, was on its own private island in the middle of the sea. The opposite is true. Of course, it is located on a rocky outcrop with daybeds under the Mediterranean sun. And yes, the house dish, “Linguini Tuba”, is coated in a clam sauce that smells of the Italian Riviera. But Tuba is actually perched on the edge of a fishing enclave on the outskirts of Marseille, a vibrant cultural capital that’s poised to surpass its reputation as France’s second city. Even with the traffic, you’re only 30 minutes from the Old Port, where you’ll find the Mucem Art and Architecture Museum, with its hit summer show Jeff Koons. Rooms starting at $ 200.
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La Maison d’Estournel, Bordeaux The original tenant of this large Haut-Médoc estate, Louis Gaspard, was one of the first Bordeaux wine exporters, sending cases for distribution to India in the early 1800s. under the careful management of Michel Reybier Hospitality, a group which also owns La Réserve in Paris, Gaspard’s legacy is preserved intact. You’ll notice its influence in the house’s 14 bedrooms and many common areas, from a secret basement cellar (now available for wine tastings) to its sprawling vineyards and subcontinent-inspired decor. Make friends with the concierge, who can organize tours of premier grand cru vineyards, cooking classes at local houses, or lunch with oyster farmers along the charming shore of the Arcachon Basin. And expect to treat yourself. Bordeaux is perhaps best known for its grapes, but it is the region that gives us foie gras, truffles and some of the best produce in France. The House highlights all of this whenever it has the opportunity. Rooms starting at $ 300.
Les Sources de Cheverny, Loire Valley No one does bucolic luxury like the French, and nowhere is this clearer than Les Sources de Cheverny, a 49-room chateau that draws its ethereal design from the ancient forest that surrounds it. ‘surrounded. The location is convenient for Cheverny and Chambord, but the hotel is a destination in itself, with yoga classes in the woods, a spa that offers ‘crushed cabernet scrubs’ and open-air thermal baths, as well as a wine bar in the former domain of the estate. cellar that favors lesser-known local grape varieties. Rooms starting at $ 240.
Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre, Provence The home car of this fully renovated 75-room resort is a Rolls-Royce, but most guests choose to drive around the property – and the surrounding quaint town – with a fleet of homemade electric bikes. It’s Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre Resort & Spa in a nutshell, with various luxury touches for many types of guests. For families, there’s a free kids’ club that accepts kids three and up, with a bouncy castle and gardening workshops. For nature lovers, there is an equestrian center and the possibility of canyoning or paragliding. And for the sybarites, there is a fragrance garden, aviary, and four restaurants that draw ingredients from the aforementioned on-site garden. There is no better place to choose your own adventure. Rooms starting at $ 275.
Hotel Lou Pinet, Saint-Tropez travel specialist Haslet, says this hotel alone made Saint-Tropez relevant again, contrary to any impression that the destination was resting on its laurels or that it would be better suited for one or two nights. getaways to simply soak in excess. This is because the Lou Pinet Hotel has something that many of its neighbors lack: three generations of soul. Family-owned, the hotel has only 34 rooms with eclectic design, inspired by artists such as Picasso and Cézanne. Its soundtrack is more cicadas than electronica, the property is planted with fragrant trees (Lou Pinet means “pine” in the local dialect), and the swimming pool is tiled in a romantic shade of egg blue that matches the shutters of the garden. ‘hotel. It all sounds a bit like a ’60s reverie, with Brigitte Bardot glamor to match. Rooms starting at $ 625.
Worth the wait
Those who wish to plan an entire trip around a truly special hotel will have two openings to watch out for in the coming months: the Maybourne Riviera on the French Riviera and the Cheval Blanc Paris, owned by LVMH. Neither has started accepting reservations, but there’s a good chance both will open before summer is over.
The Cheval Blanc project occupies a two-storey building in the 1st arrondissement, right next to the Quai du Louvre. A former department store, it is completely reinvented as a 72-room urban oasis by Peter Marino, all sprayed with a personalized scent designed by Maison Dior’s top nose. It’s LVMH, so Dior will also take care of the spa, where flowery baths will be on the menu; it is expected that there will be many opportunities to showcase the company’s various champagne brands. In typical LVMH style, the business builds a mystery around the finer details, but it’s a business that can always beat the hype.
There is more to chew on with the Maybourne Riviera, literally. A modernist setting of glass and steel near the medieval village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, it will have 69 rooms facing the sea with access to a series of restaurants designed by the best chefs in the world. Mauro Colagreco, whose three-Michelin-starred Mirazur currently holds the title of Best Restaurant in the World awarded by William Reed Business Media, is in charge of a venue; Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Japanese sushi legend Hiro Sato oversee the others. This is quite appropriate for a hotel group whose crown jewels are the Connaught and Claridge’s.