The best local hotels in France

Ochicken in France, traveling in French. It may not be an official adage, but it’s the best way to immerse yourself in the culture. Staying at locally owned and operated properties in a country synonymous with high-level savoir-vivre and design invites travelers to better understand the rich past, present and future of France’s most beloved destinations. And it’s never been easier: a handful of hospitality newcomers have sprung up in recent years, disrupting an industry long dominated by big, iconic luxury hotels and international hotel groups. Discover five hotel groups that offer something for every traveler.

If you fancy gardens and the seaside

The Domains of Fontenille

It all started in 2016 with the Domaine de Fontenille. Fréderic Biousse and Guillaume Foucher opened the 18th-century mansion and winery in the village of Lauris, one of the few pockets in Provence’s Luberon region that isn’t overcrowded with tourists. In the same year, Biousse and Foucher knew they could not stop there.

They quickly set up Les Domaines de Fontenille, a collection of accessible luxury accommodation that emphasizes agritourism and the conservation of local culture (restoration of regional architecture and vineyards, production of organic wine , olive oil and herbs to be used in all properties) and have a typical French style. aesthetic.

From now on, clients will find the group’s properties in magnificent natural sites across Europe, although its French hotels will remain the benchmark. Want to be near the water? Try the 19-room Marseille-based Les Bords de Mer, housed in an art deco waterfront villa and topped with a rooftop bar and popular seafood restaurant, or Les Hortensias du Lake in the southwestern surf town of Hossegor, north of Biarritz.

But it’s the leafy 30-room 18th-century hideaway on the Primard estate (formerly owned by Catherine Deneuve!) in a quiet Norman village that makes for an ideal getaway, especially from Paris. An hour from the capital, you can stroll through 100 acres of restored gardens, dine at one of two farm-to-table restaurants overseen by three-star chef Eric Frechon, and plan a trip to Monet’s home in Giverny, a 20 -minute drive.

If you need to get away from it all

Pariente Houses

Whether escaping to the slopes of the French Alps or on a lounger by the pool to admire the view of Mont Ventoux in Provence, travelers turn to the family group Maisons Pariente for their growing collection of hotels in a restorative setting. Each of their three properties – Crillon le Brave in Provence, Lou Pinet in Saint-Tropez and Le Coucou in Méribel – incorporate the comforts of home but are designed to feel like true getaways.

Part of that is through design: at Le Coucou, a 10-story ski-in ski-out resort, the family hired famed architect Pierre Yovanovitch to reinvent the traditional alpine chalet. The result is fresh and slightly cheeky: funky fabrics, teddy bear armchairs in the bedrooms, owl head coat hooks and a trompe-l’oeil swimming pool. And like any good escape, Pariente family properties have strong dining programs, top-notch spas, and unbeatable access to spectacular outdoor adventures.

One of the Airelles junior suites, with a view of the slopes and their own hammam.

If you can’t get enough story

Lingonberry Collection, Lov Group

Prestigious properties in historical destinations is the central idea of ​​the Airelles Collection. The company is best known for Bastide de Gordes in the ancient hilltop town of Gordes in Provence’s Luberon region and Les Airelles in the chic Alpine town of Courchevel. Each property is meant to fully evoke its environment and heritage.

In Gordes, the Provençal of the 18th century lives on, literally. It’s woven into the decor, as well as the staff: the men wear culottes and earth-tone waistcoats with straw hats; women wear floral bodices and flowing beige skirts. Les Airelles in Courchevel — with its generous use of wood paneling, plush fabrics, and period uniforms sported by staff — looks more like a 19th-century Prussian castle than a ski resort.

The opulent calling card of the collection, however, is Le Grand Contrôle. A luxury hotel with 14 rooms and apartments, it opened its doors in the summer of 2021 on the Château de Versailles estate. Frances royal heritage is on display throughout the property: visit the restored bookcases and explore more than 900 original pieces of furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries. And enjoy unrivaled proximity to one of Europe’s most beloved historic sites. Guests can explore 2,000 acres of Versailles grounds on their own and join one of the twice-daily private guided tours (before and after hours) of the Hall of Mirrors or the Queen’s Apartments included in the room rate. bedroom.

Live out your French Alps dreams at Le Val Thorens ski-in ski-out lodge.

If you want to play outside all day


After generating serious buzz (and adoration on Instagram) for its remarkable Riviera property, Les Roches Rouges, the Les Hôtels D’en Haut group changed hands and visions and, in 2021, became Beaumier. Named after 19th-century French writer-geographer Auguste Beaumier and aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, the collection emphasizes hyper-local experiences, well-crafted design and stunning natural surroundings in each of its eight properties.

There are recently refreshed ski-in, ski-out favorites Le Val Thorens and Le Fitz Roy in the French Alps, or Le Moulin, Beaumier’s newest opening, a former 18th-century oil mill in the heart of Lourmarin in Provence. Next step: measured expansion in Europe, including Switzerland, where the group has just acquired three mountain hotels in Wengen.

Nolinski's suites are fitted with vintage furniture from the 70s and objects from around the world.

If you are obsessed with design

Evok Hotels

Faced with the imposing and impersonal presence of Airbnb in Paris, Evok Hotels opened its doors in 2016 to offer unique, community-oriented accommodations that would appeal to locals as they did to visitors. Creating appealing hangouts has certainly been part of the group’s success – Evok is known for its sexy bars and restaurants that are worth crossing town – as is its focus on luxury service and chic designer interiors. .

His first property, the Nolinski, avenue de l’Opéra, felt taken from the pages of Architectural Summary. Evok’s latest hotels (all five-star spots, hugely popular with Parisians) are in their own way. The Brach has interiors designed by Philippe Starck with sleek materials and contemporary art, as well as an on-site sports club suitable for athletes at Roland Garros or Parc des Princes, both located nearby.

Sinner, in the heart of the Marais, is playful and seductive with an avant-garde theme imagined by interior designer Tristan Auer straddling the monastic and the modern. There are vaulted arcades, stained glass windows and even a candlelit crypt reminiscent of the Knights Templar and doubles as a concept store.

But its most prestigious addition to the portfolio opened in 2020: the Cour des Vosges, an intimate getaway with 12 rooms and suites in a 17th-century listed building. mansion (mansion) on the Place des Vosges. In the future, expect to find designer outposts in Venice, Madrid and Rome.

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