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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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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
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
Hotel Photo
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
Hotel Photo
Château de Noizay, Noizay

Yet another of the Loire's four-star châteaux with a revered restaurant, this handsome early 16th-century building has steep slate roofs, a balustraded...more

see the Loire Valley guide
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Editors' Pick
Ferme-Auberge de Lavaux, Châtenay-Lavaux, Burgundy

Travelers looking for family-style hospitality at bargain prices and wholesome French country food will be delighted by this B&B on a working farm in...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Editors' Pick
Grand Hôtel Nègre Coste, Aix-en-Provence

Smack in the middle of Aix-en-Provence's bustling Cours Mirabeau, this hotel is a bargain-priced gem of old-school grandeur—slightly rough around the...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Hôtel Langlois, Paris

Though it offers great value for the money, there's nothing visibly budget about this Belle Époque beauty, with a great Right Bank location. It was built...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Hôtel Molière, Paris

Paris used to have dozens of small, independently owned inns with busy floral wallpaper, tiny bedside tables, and curious telephones. However, these good-value...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
Hostellerie des Clos, Chablis, Burgundy

Don't expect surprises or compromises from this hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in the middle of Chablis town. The 36 guest rooms have an old-fashioned,...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Editors' Pick
Hotel Clarion Cloitre Saint Louis, Avignon

An inexpensive alternative to the grand, luxe La Mirande—though with rather smaller rooms and nowhere near the antique style—the Cloître gets...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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