Art, culture, food, savoir-vivre, and lush, varied landscapes characterize the largest tract of land in the EU; from romantic Brittany to idyllic Alsace, from the sophisticated Côte d’Azur to the castles of Burgundy. And but of course, Paris scores as one of the most worth-while capitals in the world, boasting famous sights, great shopping, and charming bars and restaurants. The hotels in France vary from chic design hotels to vineyard hotels, from beach hotel to small, fine boutique hotels—so for any kind of taste, there’s a charming double room waiting for you.
Where to stay in France? France’s favorite regions & locations at a glance:
Paris: Capital of love, fashion, & art
Sauntering down the Pont Neuf, criss-crossing the Île de la Cité, or sitting with a glass of wine on a bench against the backdrop of the Notre-Dame Cathedral; there might not be anything as romantic for both freshly-in-love or longtime companions. On the other hand, world-famous museums like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Georges Pompidou Center, in addition to windy streets ripe for all-day exploring, make it obvious how the city lends itself to solo traveling, too. For trips like these, try a small hotel, where you’ll be warmly welcomed in the heart of Paris with an intimate atmosphere and attentive service. Gourmets will be thrilled by the myriad great bistros and restaurants serving Parisian fare and opulent seafood dishes. Fashionistas can get their money’s worth in Paris’ boutiques. Night-owls will find a vibrant nightlife replete with hip bars and clubs. Admirers of high culture will be in heaven with a wide selection of classical-music concerts, theater, and film. France’s capital promises to beguile all the senses with that certain je ne sais quoi.
Provence and Côte d’Azur: Lavender fields & sophisticated beach life
Between Avignon, Nîmes, and Arles, great cultural monuments such as the Pope’s Palace and the Amphitheater rear their heads. In the Luberon Massif, enjoy hiking and cycling with the locals. The Aix-en-Provence university city boasts a great atmosphere that has made the Provencal metropolis the dream city of the French. Magnificent country homes in Provence smell of Mediterranean herbs and the region is overrun with ubiquitous lavender fields. The markets are full of color, smells, and regional delicacies, inviting the gourmet in for an hour or two. The Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera, gives off a sophisticated vibe and is a hot spot for the world’s elite—in the high-season, you’ll need a reservation for any of the chic dinner spots. With an espresso in hand, treat yourself to some people watching from a trendy harbor cafe, looking out at the expensive yachts, celebrities, and the super-rich. In the off-season, the quiet charm of the “blue coast” becomes more apparent. The most picturesque beaches are west of St. Tropez, but it’s also worth heading east to the classically-beautiful city of Nice. This city, frequented since the 1700’s, is composed of wide boulevards, pastel-colored facades, and the amazing Parc de la Colline du Château, a park on the edge of the city with panoramic views and a waterfall. If you’re looking to stay out of the hustle and bustle, have a look at the enchanting villages in the hinterland, such as Ramatuelle or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, for spa hotels with sprawling wellness areas.
Atlantic Coast: From Aquitaine to Brittany
Well-known seaside resorts like Biarritz, Arcachon, and Cap Ferrte are ideal for water-sport enthusiasts and those who prefer sprawling Atlantic beaches as opposed to the more gentle Mediterranean ones. The vast region of Aquitaine stretches from the Atlantic Coast inward, encompassing the lively capital city of Bordeaux, which exudes a fascinating fusion of old and new in its architecture, cuisine, and spirit. If you’re looking for a special hotel in Aquitaine, consider a night or two in one of the many castle hotels or boutique hotels. These historic buildings reflect the charm of this largely-unspoiled region and are the ideal “home base” for an exploration around beautiful Burgundy, legendary for wine production, like that in Saint Emilion. While puttering around the area, make sure to check out early-medieval Romanesque churches and abbeys that litter the bright-green land. Brittany, on the northern coast, is characterized by typical stone cottages, a rugged, wild coastline, and of course, crepes and cider. In this architecturally- and scenically-unique region, find stunning castles and modern spa hotels, where you can take some time to relax if it’s not swimming-season yet.
Alsace: Dream landscape for the Bon vivant
When trying to imagine the region of Alsace, think culinary delights: in the morning, wake up to the smell of freshly-baked Gugelhupf, yeast-based cake, wafting through idyllic villages, in the evening, after a glass of sparkling Crémant d’Alsace, savor specialities such as the famous Choucroute garnie paired with a full-bodied Riesling. Foodies should hightail it to a gourmet hotel, which offer high-starred restaurants as well as simple-country cooking that’ll have you feeling like royalty. Alsace, sharing a border with Germany, exists at the meeting point between French and German culture; in everything from architecture, to language, to cuisine. The typical half-timbered buildings of the cities, famous monuments such as the Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar and the cathedral in Strasbourg, as well as the magnificent low mountain ranges with picturesque grapevines make Alsace one of the most dynamic regions of France. Hone in on this energy of dualisms, combining a hiking trip with a city trip, an eating trip with a drinking trip, or a romantic trip with a history trip—best spent in a castle hotel.