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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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Hotel Photo
Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan, Paris Eiffel, Paris

Overlooking the quiet Place de Mexico in the silk-stocking sixteenth arrondissement, this handsome triangular limestone Haussmannian building is a smart,...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
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Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, Paris

At this "very luxurious property with beautiful art" near the Louvre, the "elegant and extremely well-maintained" design extends to the "Zen meets Paris" rooms'...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
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Pan Deï Palais, St. Tropez

With only 12 rooms in an apricot-painted villa in the heart of town, the Pan Deï Palais feels like an intimate guesthouse that channels the gently...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Editors' Pick
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Palais de la Méditerranée, Nice

Hotel operators love to bandy around idiotic phrases, of which "A Legend Reborn" is one of the most annoying, but this ocean liner of a hotel in the dead-center...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
Ostapé, Bidarray

Alain Ducasse's new auberge in Bidarray, with just 22 rooms divided between four new villas and the original farmhouse, is set on 90 acres deep in the Basque...more

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Editors' Pick
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New Hotel of Marseille - Le Pharo, Marseille

With its bold graphics and contemporary art, the 100-room New Hotel injects South Beach style into this old port city. Herb gardens that supply the hotel's...more

see the Marseille guide
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Editors' Pick
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Murano Urban Resort, Paris

If you're very young and very hip, the 24/7 party theme at the unabashedly self-conscious Murano can be wildly fun. Opened in 2004 on the Marais's eastern edge,...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Mercure Marseille Beauvau Vieux Port, Marseille

Overlooking the Vieux Port, the Mercure is the best situated of the three-star chain properties and ranks as the oldest hotel in town (not to worry: it was...more

see the Marseille guide
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Editors' Pick
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Mas du Clos de l'Escarrat, Jonquières, Provence

If Charles and Andrée Barail's B&B in a 17th-century stone mas surrounded by unruly flowerbeds, lawns, and gravel terraces shaded by mature trees...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
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Mama Shelter, Paris

Located in a funky eastern Paris neighborhood, this sassy hotel is an instant hit for its low prices and tongue-in-cheek Philippe Starck decor. A renovated...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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