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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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Villa Rentals

To a certain extent you get what you pay for, and in Provence you're likely to pay handsomely. Dreamy four-bedroom hilltop stone farmhouses with valley-view...more

see the Provence guide
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Villa Marie, Ramatuelle

Need a place that's outside of St. Trop itself, but close enough to get a dose when you want it? Welcome to Villa Marie, a 43-room bastide tucked away in a pine...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Editors' Pick
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Villa Gallici, Aix-en-Provence

Perched in a private park on a hillside above Aix-en-Provence, Villa Gallici is a vertical paradise of hidden terraces and sweeping views, a hideaway spot that...more

see the Provence guide
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U Palazzu Serenu, Oletta, Corsica

The fashionable nine-room U Palazzu Serenu fills a real need on the island, where most of the lodging choices are large, fusty hotels or modest B&Bs. The...more

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Editors' Pick
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Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux-Martillac

Set among vineyards a 20-minute drive from Bordeaux, this luxurious spa specializes in wine-flavored treatments it calls Vinothérapie. You don't just...more

see the Bordeaux guide
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Editors' Pick
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Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port, Marseille

A superbly located four-star on the harbor (though, despite the name, not really within the Vieux Port), the Sofitel exudes all the charm for which cement-block...more

see the Marseille guide
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Shangri-La Hotel Paris, Paris

Near the Trocadero in the buttoned-up 16th arrondissement, the Shangri-La occupies an elegant 1896 limestone mansion. Originally built as the residence of...more

see the Paris guide
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Royal Riviera, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France

In 1999 the estimable Grace Leo-Andrieu took charge of this noble creature, which has been perched for over a century on the Cap Ferrat peninsula, one of the...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
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The Ritz, Paris

There are two things the uninitiated always want to know about Paris's most famous hotel. First off, is it really as ritzy as the name would imply? That's a...more

see the Paris guide
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The Regent Grand Hotel, Bordeaux

Following a lavish renovation of this city center grande dame, Bordeaux finally has the luxury hotel it so sorely lacked. Opposite the magnificent...more

see the Bordeaux 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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