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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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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
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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
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
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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
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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
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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
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Le Placide, Paris

Le Placide was opened by two affable sisters in October 2006, in what's long been a hotel desert at Sèvres-Babylone, near the Bon Marché...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
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Le Pavillon des Lettres, Paris

Occupying a powerful little corner of Paris (near the French Ministry of the Interior and the Élysées Palace), this 26-room sister hotel to the...more

see the Paris guide
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Editors' Pick
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Le Meurice, Paris

Gone are the days when surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, a frequent guest, would open his window and dangle a lobster from the end of a fishing pole into...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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