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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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Abbaye de la Bussière, La Bussière-sur-Ouche, Burgundy

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...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Editors' Pick
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Alpaga Hotel, Megève

On the edge of a tony Alpine resort, the new 22-room Alpaga offers a fresh take on French chalet chic. The lodge is a major—and welcome—change from...more

see the Megève guide
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Editors' Pick
Auberge de Chavannes, Courlans

At the 11-room Auberge de Chavannes, a welcome addition to eastern France's hilly Jura region, chef-owner Nicolas Pourcheresse has updated the wayside...more

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Editors' Pick
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Banke Hotel, Paris

The first French property of the Spanish Derby Hotels group, known for such edgy properties as the Urban in Madrid and the Claris in Barcelona, occupies a...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Bastide Relais de la Magdeleine, Géménos

This rambling stone manor in a park full of plane trees is just a few miles from the A8 highway between Cassis and Aix-en-Provence, making it a fine launching...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
Beau Rivage, Nice, France

In another sign of Nice's accelerating South Beach–style comeback, the venerable 119-room Beau Rivage (Chekhov and Fitzgerald scribbled here) has been made...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
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Benkiraï, St. Tropez

This 39-room property has been attracting the hot crowd since opening in 2006. The requisite star designer—this time it was Patrick Jouin—helped:...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Editors' Pick
Boscolo Exedra Nice, Nice

Like an art gallery waiting for an installation, the Exedra in Nice—a historic Belle Époque hotel that was recently taken over by the Italian luxury...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
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Byblos St-Tropez, St. Tropez

Just about as scene-y and in-your-face as St. Tropez gets, the legendary Byblos has been the reigning address in town since 1967, when Brigitte Bardot and...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Editors' Pick
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Caron de Beaumarchais, Paris

Playwright, spy, financier, and American revolutionary sympathizer Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro in his town house at 47...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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