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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 Mas Candille, Mougins

If you were Picasso, you too might choose to live in the exquisite hilltop, predominantly 15th-century cobbled-street Mougins for 15 years, but since you're...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
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Editors' Pick
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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
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Editors' Pick
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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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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
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Editors' Pick
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La Mirande, Avignon

When you exit the Palais des Papes, dazzled and seduced, you'll be relieved you had the foresight to secure one of the 20 rooms across the street in Avignon's...more

see the Avignon guide
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Editors' Pick
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La Maison du Paradou, Paradou

Run by a delightful English-Scottish couple, this hôtel de charme will set more than one nine-to-fiver to dreaming of following in their footsteps. Right...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
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La Bastide de St-Tropez, St. Tropez

If you're well into your middle decades and need your beauty rest—but still can party till 4 am when necessary—this is your place. La Bastide is the...more

see the St. Tropez guide
$$$$
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
La Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Alain Ducasse is no mere chef with a growing worldwide empire of exceptional restaurants and a constellation of Michelin stars, you know. No, he's also a...more

see the Provence guide
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Editors' Pick
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Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, Antibes, France

From this resort on nine forested acres, most rooms have views of the sea and the Lérins Islands. The restaurant serves traditional French cuisine "that...more

see the Côte d'Azur 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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