Top 5 French Hotels
I don’t know about you, but I travel for diversity, to see ‘the other’. I live in a beautiful city – multicultural, on a magnificent harbour, full of great art, culture and architecture, with some of the world’s best eats. So why travel at all? Because I like to wake up, look out the window and find myself transported to somewhere totally different … somewhere that couldn’t be Sydney. And so I love travelling in France, because north, south, east and west, its regions are so distinctive. And I love finding hotels that echo the history and culture of those diverse regions … and give me an early morning view that makes me know I’ve been transported to somewhere else. Here are 5 of my Top French hotels.
Hôtel de la Plage, Sainte-Anne la Palud (Brittany)
On a stunning sweep of wide beach on France’s wild north-western peninsula, what started as a humble café is now a Relais & Châteaux hotel run by the great grandchildren of its founder. Dine in a glass conservatory virtually on the sand, where sole meunière, sourced from local fishing boats, is superb.
Le Royal à Lyon, Lyon (Rhône-Alpes)
Once a grand family home in the heart of this very foodie city, now a beautiful hotel furnished with gorgeous fabrics and quirky objet d’art. Request a corner room overlooking the colourful Ferris wheel on Place Bellecour; and enjoy the breakfast buffet that feels like raiding a friend’s well-stocked kitchen.
L’Auberge Basque, Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Pays Basque)
This restored 17th century farmhouse, perched on a hilltop between the Pyrenees and the coast, retains its rustic charm and is an ideal base for exploring south-western France, where Spanish and French culture merge. The attic room has a wonderful secluded terrace, and breakfast includes superb local gâteau Basque.
L’Auberge de l’Ille, Illhaeusern (Alsace)
Many of the cosy, colourful rooms look over the River Ill, for which this village on France’s Germanic eastern border is named, and the Torsado suite has the feel of sleeping in a spacious upturned barge. The Haeberlin family have retained 3 Michelin stars here for almost 50 years, so you’ll dine well.
Hôtel Relais Saint Germain, Paris (Île-de-France)
This boutique hotel, with each room dedicated to one of the literary figures who made Paris their home, is an easy walk to so many favourite haunts. The views out over the cafés and bars that breathe life into this wonderful city – and breakfasting in the art deco dining room – spell Paris for me.