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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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Le Yaca, St. Tropez

With terra-cotta tile floors, white-washed walls, and wood-beamed ceilings, this 28-room hotel, built in 1722(!), almost seems humble—until you get a hold...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Strato, Courchevel 1850

Judging by the exterior, this could be any cute Savoyard chalet in a blingy Alpine resort town, but inside, the backlit photo panels of skiers suggest serious...more

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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Les Jardins de la Villa, Paris

Not far from the Champs-Élysées, near the Porte Maillot, this stylish 33-room property takes its name from its vest-pocket garden, where brown rattan...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Les Hautes Roches, Rochecorbon

Five miles east of Tours, this elegant, 18th-century, white-stone mansion sits on the banks of the Loire. It was built on the site of an ancient...more

see the Loire Valley guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Les Fermes de Marie, Megève

This "ancient" hotel looks like it has been in place for 100 years, but it was almost entirely formed in the 1990s from the reclaimed timber of local barns. The...more

see the Megève guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Sezz, Paris

Designer Christophe Pillet has taken a former Best Western in the sleepy sixteenth arrondissement and turned it into a style-monger's address. Walls in all...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Les Chalets de Philippe, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

This collection of exquisite wood-and-stone mazots (ancient barns) has been converted into 10 chalets—the smallest can accommodate one person, the largest...more

see the Chamonix guide
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Editors' Pick
Les Ateliers de l'Image, St.-Rémy-de-Provence

This 32-room contemporary stands out from the pack—by being contemporary in the first place (thanks to architect Roland Paillat) and by having photography...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, Paris

Who knew that Le Royal Monceau, always an also-ran in the Paris luxury-hotel race, was in fact a sleeping beauty? With designer Philippe Starck as Prince...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Le Prieure, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

It may be a bit far from the action— located across the Rhône from Avignon proper, near the A9 highway—but that just means this Relais &...more

see the Avignon 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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