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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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Hôtel Château de la Tour, Cannes, France

Sitting in its own palm-lined park in the hills above Cannes's western outskirts, the Château feels like a slice of southern California slipped onto the...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Clarion Cloitre Saint Louis, Avignon

An inexpensive alternative to the grand, luxe La Mirande—though with rather smaller rooms and nowhere near the antique style—the Cloître gets...more

see the Avignon guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Croix-Blanche, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

This 35-room, alpine-style inn, conveniently situated in the heart of town, is Chamonix's oldest hotel (established circa 1793). It has a white stucco exterior...more

see the Chamonix guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel d'Europe, Avignon

Built in 1580 as the Marquis de Graveson's palace, the Europe has been a hotel since 1799. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning eloped here, and a who's who...more

see the Avignon guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel Daniel, Paris

The elegant "voyage to the Indies via the Casbah" decor of this well-mannered 26-room town-house hotel in Paris's stylish 8th Arrondissement instantly won it a...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel de Blauvac, Avignon

Call this a 17th-century boutique hotel: just 16 stone-walled rooms decorated in a refined Provençal style. The hotel lies in the heart of town,...more

see the Avignon guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel de Crillon, Paris

In this, its flagship property, Concorde Hotels manages to make the the oppressive designs of the ancien régime—stone staircases, mile-high...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel de la Cité, Carcassonne

The only luxury hotel within the town's medieval walls, this neo-Gothic structure was built in 1909 on the site of a bishop's palace. "Beautiful and delightful"...more

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Editors' Pick
Hôtel de Normandie, Bordeaux

Old-fashioned (but refurbished in 2006), the three-star, 100-room Normandie is a great bargain in a prime location on Bordeaux's main street of wine tasting....more

see the Bordeaux guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel de Sers, Paris

Even though it stands in the very grand shadows of the George V in the heart of Paris's "golden triangle" luxury district, the Hôtel de Sers is no...more

see the Paris 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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