Tel: 33 3 80 49 02 29
A stay at the Abbaye de la Bussière suggests that monastic life isn't so bad after all. The setting alone is divine—an idyllic village in Burgundy with canals and poplars. The estate dates back to the twelfth century, and most of its stone buildings, from a crypt to a wine press, haven't been touched for some 700 years. The main house consists of 12 plush chambers, and even the smallest have giant Jacuzzi tubs, feather beds, DVD players, and a castle's worth of polished antiques. Its three sitting rooms are ideal for contemplating a glass of the local vintage, which the pleasant staff can obtain for you. As with any respectable French country hotel, this one comes with a Michelin-star restaurant (featuring a $110 seven-course degustation menu) and a casual bistro. Since both dining rooms feel somber, get a table on the terrace overlooking the immaculate gardens.
5 Rue du Château
Tel: 33 3 80 21 98 57
Winemaker Michel Picard spent a decade and millions of dollars restoring this château in Chassagne-Montrachet from the 11th-century cellars up to the tiled roof. Opened in 2007, the one-of-a-kind B&B houses five suites, each spectacular in its own way. All have thick stone walls, modernist furniture (Mario Bellini's Cab armchair, Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair), original artwork, and neo-Baroque bathrooms designed by local artist Jean-Jacques Argueyrolles (two suites have pool-size sunken bathtubs). The billiard room, salons, and lounge areas are sometimes used for temporary art exhibits, but the pièce de résistance here is the glittering, climate-controlled tasting room. Picard, who got his start at age 14 selling wine from a cart, now owns 325 acres in Burgundy, including several Grand Cru and Premier Cru parcels: The winery's best vintages include Clos de Vougeot, Puligny-Montrachet Village, Chassagne-Montrachet Village en Pimont, and Corton Grand Cru Clos des Fiètres. A winery tour and tasting are included in the room rate; reserve a week ahead and you can do a tasting and catered lunch of rustic regional fare. Since there's no concierge, night porter, or room service, the posh premises feel more like a wealthy friend's home than a B&B: Once the staff leaves for the night, you and your fellow guests—often international wine connoisseurs—have the place to yourselves.—David Downie
Hotel open year-round; winery open Mondays to Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm for visits and tastings; lunch served March through November by reservation only.
Tel: 33 3 85 28 08 48
Travelers looking for family-style hospitality at bargain prices and wholesome French country food will be delighted by this B&B on a working farm in southern Burgundy. With its tiled roof, heavy timbers, and imposing tower, you'd never guess that this stone farmhouse was completed in 1992. The guest rooms, decorated with a mix of contemporary and vintage furniture, aren't fancy, but they all have private bathrooms, and at $70 per night—including a breakfast of fresh bread and local honeys and jams—they're a great value. The best and biggest room is in the tower; four others are tucked under the roof of a two-story wooden loggia that faces the auberge. In the restaurant, homegrown produce and meats from local farms make for a memorable meal. Dinner might include the best oven-roasted chicken you've ever had, chèvre topped with fresh cream or honey, apple or apricot tarts, and, if you preorder a week in advance, exquisite gâteau de foies de volaillesa chicken-liver paté that's as thick and chunky as meatloaf (prix fixe options start at $20; à la carte is about $40 per person). Since the stone-walled dining room's communal tables are often packed with both locals and vacationers, reserve at least a week in advance—and request a table on the terrace to avoid the noise. Finding the Ferme-Auberge de Lavaux can be a challenge (drive east from La Clayette about six miles on highway D987, then one mile north on D300), but once you pull up to the landscaped grounds, which include a fishing pond surrounded by weeping willows, you'll see why this rural idyll is worth seeking out.—David Downie
Inn open spring through mid-November; restaurant open by reservation only from noon for lunch and from 7 pm for dinner.
18 Rue Jules-Rathier
Tel: 33 3 86 42 10 63
Don't expect surprises or compromises from this hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in the middle of Chablis town. The 36 guest rooms have an old-fashioned, French country look, with overstuffed furniture, floral upholstery, thick carpets, and flowing drapes. Those on the top floor are the most atmospheric, with gabled windows under the sloping mansard roof. In the dining room (which overlooks a leafy back garden), the food is artfully presented and lighter than traditional preparations, yet an underlying rusticity reflects chef Michel Vignaud's roots in the nearby Morvan mountains. Like so many starred practitioners, Vignaud goes for variations on foie gras and seafood, but his classic oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in Irancy red wine), signature chicken-liver paté macerated in Chablis, and earthy sautéed sweetbreads are well worth sampling, too. The wine list includes hundreds of Burgundy's best bottlings; sommeliers lead Chablis tastings in the restaurant's cellar. If the prices here seem steep (prix fixe menus start at $55; à la carte can run upward of $130 per person) and you don't mind sitting cheek by jowl with fellow diners, head a few doors down to Le Bistrot des Grands Crus, where prix fixe menus start under $30 and you can sample Vignaud's peppery tripe sausage, garlicky snails, and boeuf bourguignon.—David Downie
Hotel and restaurant open late January through mid-December; restaurant open Mondays through Fridays 7:30 to 9 pm and Fridays through Sundays noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 9 pm.
27 Rue Maufoux
Tel: 33 3 80 22 35 48
There's nothing trendy about the Hôtel le Cep, a collection of handsome town houses near the Hospices de Beaune built between the 14th and 16th centuries. Unlike at many new designer hotels, where showy public spaces are all too often underutilized, guests here regularly congregate in the leafy garden courtyard and the maze of wood-paneled salons ornamented with giant Gothic fireplaces and original oil paintings. Each of the 57 guest rooms is conservatively decorated with antiques, thick curtains, and plush carpets, often in shades of gold and scarlet. Deluxe rooms are $70 more per night than a standard room but are worth booking for the extra space (320 square feet compared with a standard room's 225), king-size canopy or four-poster beds, carved wooden armoires, gilt mirrors, and bathrooms with tubs and double sinks. Breakfast is served in a 16th-century stone loggia, making it worth the extra $30 in summer; at other times of the year, consider grabbing breakfast at one of Beaune's dozens of attractive cafés. Expect quietly professional, Old World–style service, and plan to dine at the Loiseau des Vignes—the standout restaurant that helps cement Hôtel le Cep's status as Beaune's top hotel.—David Downie
Tel: 33 3 85 37 10 26
On the Beaujolais border, in a town named "Saint Love," this eight-room hotel and restaurant run by brash young chef Cyril Laugier and the love of his life, wife Valérie, is ideal for a romantic rendezvous. Decor in the dining room and public areas—old trunks, crystal chandeliers, mannequins draped in lacy lingerie, and more wrought-iron, textile, and plaster hearts than you can count—looks as if it's been lifted from a funky Victorian inn. Upstairs, each guest room is different: Gingembre has a claw-foot tub and a view over the village square; Réglisse is tucked under the eaves; Sésame has a private entrance, balcony, and a freestanding bathtub; Nigelle has a sultry Art Deco feel with a black four-poster bed, black lamps, and polished plank floors. All the rooms are ideal for exhibitionists, with bath and bed within view of one another. There's a small swimming pool, a landscaped yard, and in the restaurant, Laugier's ever-changing daily prix fixe (around $55), which focuses on spicy world cuisine. In fall or winter, you might find a silky coriander-spiked pumpkin soup with foie gras, curried squab with ginger and mint-perfumed chickpea purée, and cinnamon crème brûlée with diced Jerusalem artichokes and chocolate ganache. If you're looking for classic Burgundian lodgings and food, you might feel slightly lost here, but it's a tantalizing option for intrepid travelers who aren't shy.—David Downie
Restaurant open Wednesdays through Sundays noon to 1:45 pm and 7 to 9:30 pm.
Tel: 33 3 86 87 18 26
In Burgundy's far north, medieval Villeneuve-sur-Yonne is home to this wantonly romantic, blissfully quiet hotel and restaurant owned by actress Leslie Caron (An American in Paris, Le Divorce). It's housed in four landmark buildings on the Yonne River's north bank and attracts a primarily Parisian clientele. Caron herself decorated the four love-nest rooms with canopy or four-poster beds, antiques, and oil paintings. In the airy dining room, 31-year-old chef Grelier adds a touch of creativity to refreshingly simple dishes. The seasonal menu might include fresh fish in an aromatic herb sauce, crispy escargots with homemade puff pastry, or rhubarb mousse with almonds and a strawberry sauce; the wine list includes many regional bottles. Don't expect Hollywood glitz or cutting-edge style—Caron's tony establishment is best suited to savvy, seasoned travelers and attracts a number of aging boomers and hip professionals.—David Downie
Hotel open February through December. Restaurant open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm, February through December; Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 7:30 to 10 pm and Sundays 7:30 to 9:30 pm, July and August.
9 Place de l'Abbaye
Tel: 33 3 85 27 00 47
The charming owners of La Tour du Trésorier, former wine merchant Michel Vialle and his wife Lotti, call their antique-filled B&B near the Romanesque St. Philibert Abbey a "guest mansion"—and the name is apt. This is no ordinary chambre d'hôtes: Two of the four bedrooms are in a 1643 tower that once housed the abbey's treasury. The most romantic is dubbed La Tour, a crow's nest with exposed beams and 360-degree views of the abbey, the Saône River valley, and Tournus's rooftops; La Saône is a two-room suite with classic red-check textiles and a roof terrace. On the ground floor, the L'Abbaye room has a Victorian feel and a pocket-size private garden, while the Gladys suite on the second floor is filled with 1920s Art Deco furniture and artwork. This hotel is perfect for those who prefer intimate, highly personalized accommodations to a full-service hotel: There's no restaurant, but breakfast is memorable (particularly the homemade jams), and Michel organizes wine tastings by request. Reserve several weeks in advance; if the rooms are booked, the neighboring 26-room Hôtel de Greuze is a good alternative.—David Downie
Open February through December.