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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 Grimaldi, Nice, France

The Belle Époque Le Grimaldi is the epitome of a boutique hotel. The lobby is small and simple and the 46 rooms are done in a restrained, luxurious range...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Le Gai Soleil, Megève

This little family-run inn of 21 bedrooms, tucked into a chalet between the village center and the ski slopes, is one of the best bargains in town. The decor is...more

see the Megève guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Le Fer à Cheval, Megève

This 50-year-old hotel, bought by the designer Jocelyne Sibuet and her family (who also own Hôtel Mont-Blanc and Les Fermes de Marie) a few years ago is a...more

see the Megève guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Couvent des Minimes, Mane-en-Provence

Savvy Provence lovers are heading east of Apt, where the lavender fields aren't hemmed in by tour buses. Discover this unspoiled place in the sun from this...more

see the Provence guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Le Cagnard, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

The cliff-side Le Cagnard is in the preserved walled medieval city of Haut-de-Cagnes (about halfway between Antibes and Nice), with a ruined castle and...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Burgundy, Paris

If location is everything, this 59-room beauty, born from a nondescript hotel on the same site, lords it over other new small hotels in Paris with an unbeatable...more

see the Paris guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Le Bellechasse, Paris

Inspired by theater sets as well as tarot and playing cards, couturier Christian Lacroix has designed Le Bellechasse's 34 rooms as colorful little nests. With...more

see the Paris guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
La Tour du Trésorier, Tournus, Burgundy

The charming owners of La Tour du Trésorier, former wine merchant Michel Vialle and his wife Lotti, call their antique-filled B&B near the Romanesque...more

see the Burgundy guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
La Réserve Ramatuelle, Ramatuelle

Despite its proximity to the rocking scene in St-Tropez, six miles away, this discreet little oasis feels a world away from the high-octane glitz. Its 23...more

see the St. Tropez guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
La Reserve de Beaulieu & Spa, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Cote d'Azur

Once a seafood restaurant, this early-twentieth-century Florentine-style villa between Nice and Monaco occupies "an idyllic part of the world," hence the...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
$$$$
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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