PHOTO: Courtesy of La BASTIDE de GORDES
Each one of these swoon-worthy hotels sets its own fairytale scene.
There’s no doubt that Paris can fulfill some of the most romantic dreams with its centuries-old facades and cobbled paths leading to palace hotels. These include the left bank’s iconic art deco Hotel Lutetia, dating back to 1910, and storied hotel Ritz Paris at Place Vendome, embodying French art de vivre with its Belle Époque décor. But journey outside of the City of Light to discover the dreamiest star-studded properties set on regal estates and discreetly tucked into historic towns and cities.
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Château de Fère
One of the first family-owned castles to be converted into a hotel starting in 1956, Château de Fère rests upon a vast property just 40 minutes from Reims. Enter a portal into history while exploring these bucolic grounds when you cross a Renaissance suspension bridge leading to the ruins of a fortified castle, Château de Fere-en-Tardenois dating back to the 13th century. Gourmands, too, will be satisfied with the options in French gastronomy. Their history-laden spa even features a hammam and Turkish bath.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Château d’Etoges
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Notable guests whose presence graced the regal chambers at 17th-century Château d’Etoges, a registered monument, include the Sun King Louis XIV and Emperor Napoleon’s royal court. At the very heart of the Champagne region, a quick drive from Epernay, indulge in champagne tastings at nearby cellars in-between leisurely walks around the lush park surrounding the château. A gourmet restaurant and relaxing spa further pamper both mind and body.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Hotel Le Cep
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Hotel Le Cep
Welcome to Beaune, often considered the most charming medieval town in Burgundy. In the very heart of this wine lover’s paradise, discover an inviting five-star address composed of two family homes united by historical courtyards dating back to the 16th century. Hotel Le Cep offers a luxurious respite from which you can discover the neighboring Hospices de Beaune or savor a world-class wine tasting in the hotel’s private wine cellar. Many of Burgundy’s top wineries are only a bike ride away.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Auberge du Jeu de Paume
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Auberge du Jeu de Paume
With select rooms offering a view of the château’s estate gardens, a sojourn at Auberge du Jeu de Paume will transport you directly into the dreamy landscapes of the Domaine de Chantilly. When not dining at the upscale Michelin-starred restaurant or the more casual bistro, relax in the hotel’s luxurious spa or take a walk to the neighboring castle, a royal monument closely connected to the history of France. Don’t leave without tasting the decadent cream that Chantilly is so well known for.
PHOTO: Courtesy of La BASTIDE de GORDES
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Airelles Gordes, La Bastide
Chiseled into the hilltop above the captivating village of Gordes in the Luberon Valley, Airelles Gordes, La Bastide sets a fairytale-like scene. Complete with a restored 18th-century white stone citadel offering scenic sleeping options, five restaurants, and a luxurious spa, there’s no need to leave the property. After viewing the hotel’s over 2,000 paintings, you’ll quickly understand why Gordes was a favorite destination for artists including Marc Chagall, Victor Vasarely, and Pol Mara.
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Baumanière Les Baux-de-Provence
The natural beauty surrounding the bijoux hilltop village Les Baux-de-Provence can best be enjoyed from within the nearby setting of family-run gem Baumanière Les Baux-de-Provence. Husband and wife team Jean-André Charial and Geneviève Charial take extra care of their guests, which have included Queen Elizabeth, Hugh Grant, and Bono. Whether lounging poolside, relaxing at the spa, or dining at three Michelin-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière, a visit to this hidden haven will feel like a Provençal dream.
PHOTO: Christophe Bielsa, Courtesy of La Mirande
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Set in Avignon’s city center overlooking the Popes’ Palace, a former fortress and palace, the imposing hotel La Mirande dates back to 1309. Once the residence of cardinals, its rich history is omnipresent throughout each of the exquisitely outfitted 18th-century guest rooms where no detail is spared. An ancient kitchen sets the scene for La Table Haute Chef’s where cooking classes are on offer. Michelin dining is also part of the royal treatment at this exceptional address.
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Crillon Le Brave
Escape into a tiny hilltop village where hotel Crillon Le Brave blends in with the Provençal landscape. This ideal hideaway is composed of eight 16th- and 17th-century houses set among bucolic orchards, vineyards, and olive groves. Discreetly chic rooms look towards the sprawling valley or majestic Mont Ventoux. Dine on four-course meals at one of two restaurants boasting spacious terraces, and find your zen in the spa, whose former vaulted stone stables date back to the 18th century.
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Château Saint-Martin & Spa
Originally a Roman fort and home to Saint Martin, then Bishop of Tours in 350, Château Saint-Martin & Spa is set high on the hills overlooking the picture-perfect town of St Paul de Vence. Surrounded by a 34-acre estate filled with centuries-old olive groves and lavender gardens emblematic of the South of France, a romantic scene is set. This enchanting hotel included a château and private villas, Michelin-star dining, a heavenly spa, and a pool, all set against the backdrop of the French Riviera.
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Château Troplong Mondot
Perched on top of the Mondot hilltop, 19th-century wine estate Château Troplong Mondot is renowned for its Premier Grand Cru Classé. Neighboring medieval city Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO-world heritage site, is only a 20-minute walk away. Options include a stay at the Keys of Troplong Mondot boutique hotel or the more intimate and rustic Vineyard House. When not tasting the local wine while picnicking in the vineyards, dine at their Michelin-starred restaurant or hop on an electric bike to explore the pastoral landscape.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Domaine des Etangs
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Domaine des Etangs
Escape into 1,000 hectares of lush countryside comprising forests, grassy plains, and lakes in remote Massignac when you visit the Domaine des Etangs. The estate includes farmhouse cottages and a regal 13th-century château housing noteworthy contemporary art by artists including Matisse, Picasso, and Ugo Rondinone. The gourmet restaurant serves seasonal delicacies farmed from the Limousin region. Activities at Domaine des Etangs include boating, horseback riding, fishing, tennis, and yoga in addition to a spa set in a converted watermill.
PHOTO: DDupard [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons
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Château d’Artigny & Spa
From the dreamy Belle Époque home of perfumer François Coty in the Loire Valley to a fairytale castle hotel since 1961, Château d’Artigny & Spa remains as stately as ever. This white stone masterpiece is set among a sprawling park boasting a blooming French garden, marble statues, woodwork, and trompe l’oeil frescos. Travel back in time when you enter the luxurious rooms outfitted in period furniture, the gourmet restaurant gilded in gold leaf, and the book-lined bar. The wide range of body treatments at the subterranean spa will keep you well-balanced.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Château de Bagnols
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Château de Bagnols
Step into eight centuries of French history at Château de Bagnols, set deep in the heart of the Beaujolais countryside. The medieval castle invites into majestic modern suites featuring XII to XVIII century murals and a gastronomic restaurant fit for a king. The natural landscape is filled with treasures including a cherry tree orchard, a fragrant garden, a terrace shaded by lime trees, and a Roman swimming pool. From here, explore the Beaujolais wine route by bike, play a game of golf or hike the miles of nearby trails.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Hôtel de la Cité
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Hotel de la Cité
Enter the medieval walled city of Carcassone in France’s Languedoc region, and settle into palatial Hotel de la Cité, set in a dazzling garden between two historic landmarks, the Roman Chateau Comtal and the Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire. Throughout the hotel, sculpted wood paneling evokes a more stately era complemented by decorative tapestries and stained-glass windows. Dine in cathedral chairs over a Michelin-starred meal in the imperial dining room, combining Neo-Gothic and 1920s Art Deco styles.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Le Manoir de Ravenoville
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Le Manoir de Ravenoville
Grand 17th-century family home Le Manoir de Ravenoville near Normandy’s landing beaches is at once elegant and inviting. Composed of three separate buildings (Le Manoir, Le Pigeonnier, and Le Pavillon), take your pick of housing options at this self-catered property dating back to the days of Louis XIII. Stroll the gardens to discover the remains of an old castle and its moat, or sit by the fire and fantasize about days gone by.