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France hotels

French hotels have defined elegance since César Ritz created the first of his luxury lodgings here in 1898. But, given the strength of the euro these days, they don't always define good value. What Parisian hotels lack in bang for the buck, however, they more than make up for in ambience, whether at gilded grande dames like Le Meurice and the Hôtel de Crillon or hyper-hip boutique hotels like the Murano. Properties across the country make excellent use of their historical heritage. For example, the country châteaux of the French aristocracy now provide luxe lodgings to Loire Valley visitors. Those looking for a more rustic experience can hole up in Provence's cozy chambres d'hôte, converted country houses that are the French answer to a bed-and-breakfast. If you want to try your hand at French cuisine, book a room at a gîte, or self-catering hotel, and hit the local markets. It helps to speak some French at these more rural spots—but the extra effort can translate into a great location amid vineyards and lavender fields or in the mountains among the farmlands. (Go to www.gites-de-france.com for reviews and centralized booking.)

The government's four-star system rates all French hotels, taking into account room size and amenities. One- and two-star hotels are almost always small and drab affairs, so be sure to avoid those. Hotels in the three- and four-star range exist at most price points, so focus your search on those properties. In countryside hotels, Internet connections often don't come standard (if they come at all), and even cell phone reception can be spotty. Many of the smaller hotels in France have yet to create online booking engines, so you'll need to make reservations via e-mail. Be sure to leave ample time to do so, as proprietors don't always offer same-day responses.

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Domaine des Hauts de Loire, Onzain

A publishing magnate with aristocratic pretensions built this ivy-covered faux château in 1860. The estate covers 173 acres of woodland and includes two...more

see the Loire Valley guide
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Editors' Pick
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Domaine de Verchant, Castelnau-le-Lez

With the opening of the 20-room Domaine de Verchant, the area around the sun-kissed ancient southern city of Montpellier finally has a hotel that shows off its...more

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Editors' Pick
Ferme-Auberge de Lavaux, Châtenay-Lavaux, Burgundy

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...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Editors' Pick
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Four Seasons Hotel Paris George V, Paris

Just off the Champs-Élysées, this grande dame completely changed the luxury-accommodation game in Paris when it reopened as a Four Seasons after a...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
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Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche, Tourrettes

"The location is isolated but very scenic" at this contemporary resort 30 minutes from Cannes. "Beautiful rooms" in hillside villas have rattan chairs, local...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
Grand Hotel des Alpes, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

The Grand was built in 1840 and is located right in the centre of town, convenient for both the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the restaurants and nightlife. A...more

see the Chamonix guide
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Editors' Pick
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Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

You may never see more entitled-looking children than at the Grand Hôtel du Cap, a family-friendly but ultraluxurious palace on 17 manicured acres...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
Grand Hôtel Nègre Coste, Aix-en-Provence

Smack in the middle of Aix-en-Provence's bustling Cours Mirabeau, this hotel is a bargain-priced gem of old-school grandeur—slightly rough around the...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
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Hégia, Hasparren

Arnaud and Véronique Daguin, who previously ran Biarritz's one-Michelin-star Les Platanes restaurant, converted a 1746 stone farmhouse in the Basque...more

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Editors' Pick
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Hi Hotel, Nice

This has to be the most moderne hotel on the coast, designed by the school-of-Philipe-Starck Matali Crasset with all the wacky concepts you can handle:...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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