10 Bucket List Worthy French Hotels

Frankly, we could have easily come up with a bucket list of dream hotels for Paris alone, but we decided to cast a wider net and cover all of France. Here, a few favorites we’ve been lucky enough to visit, plus the dreamy spots we’re currently drooling over, both in Paris and beyond: a chateau in Champagne, a private ski chalet in the snow-capped Alps, and a gated mansion on a secret peninsula on the Côte d’Azur. The only question left is: When can we move in?


    After four years of renovations—the first closure in the hotel’s storied history—the Ritz Paris finally reopened in June of 2016. To everyone’s great relief, the renovation kept the old hotel’s charming, traditional style firmly intact (if a bit spruced up), down to the grand window treatments, gilded frames, and copious chandeliers. As ever, the rooms are exceptionally luxurious—each is outfitted with a marble bathroom, generous windows and famously soft sheets, with many boasting antique furnishings. The hotel is also home to three restaurants, two of which now have retractable glass ceilings on their patios: L’Espadon, for a traditional, white-tablecloth French dining experience, including breakfast and lunch; Bar Vendôme, a moody brasserie with red velvet booths; and the Ritz Bar, a more casual spot with shared plates and an Art Deco design palette. The hotel is home to a new fitness center—also available to private club members—where guests can swim laps in a stunning tiled pool or sign up for a treatment in the Chanel spa. Amidst the bells and whistles, though, we’re probably most excited about the re-opening of Bar Hemingway, the author’s historic haunt that’s now famous for some of the world’s best cocktails. Blessedly, bartender Colin Field is back at the helm.


    Built in 1928, this opulent, eight-story hotel—just steps from the Champs Elysée—is pretty much the gold-standard for city-based, luxury hotels. It’s never a bargain, but if your budget can support the splurge, there’s really no better place to stay in the city. Besides the lavishly appointed rooms—most are complete with perfectly Parisian mini terraces and all the little extras one might expect from a Four Seasons property—the service is superb, each of the three restaurants is better than the next (Le Cinq boasts three Michelin-stars), and the location is hard to beat. Best of all, the unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower are storybook perfect (read: Instagram gold).


    The first reason to pop the bubbly? One hour from Paris, and you’re in Champagne, literally. This stately, turn-of-the-20th-century chateau in Reims, France is situated in the namesake region of the good stuff (bubbly produced anywhere else is technically sparkling wine). The second? The timelessly elegant, double-Michelin-starred Brasserie le Jardin has more than 600 labels to choose from. Do not pass up the cheese cart. Guestrooms are as classic French chateau as it gets: Each of the twenty rooms—sprinkled throughout the main castle and the on-property cottage—is decorated in a variation of quintessentially French style, meaning toile de jouy-print wall treatments, elaborate furniture, and some of the fluffiest oversized beds around. In addition to all the creature comforts one might expect from a five-star property (high-end gadgets, incredible service, and a solid wi-fi connection) the activities roster is packed with hiking excursions, fishing trips, and of course, wine tastings. For the littles (and fresh-air-starved adults), there are 17 acres of gorgeous countryside to frolic.


    Strategically sprawled over an especially beautiful slice of the French Riviera between Nice and Monaco, this century-old palace-turned-hotel never offered guests much to complain about, yet now, with the Four Seasons group taking over operations, things are bound to get even more spectacular. The Pierre-Yves Rochon-designed mansion houses seventy-four guest rooms and suites, decked out in a minimalist-chic (for perpetually glam Côte d’Azur, at least) style that allows the lush surrounding and stunning views of the water do all the talking. Like the 17-acre property itself, the amenities cover a lot of ground: There’s Le Spa, a massive, opulent wellness oasis with its own gardens, world-class masseurs/aestheticians, and a tricked-out gym; a picturesque infinity pool (there’s a miniature version inside the spa); and several on-site restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Le Cap, plus a phenomenal room-service menu. So yes, you can leave the property to explore, but why would you want to?


    While many luxury hotels in this neck of the woods claim seclusion, none can hold a candle to Hotel Cap Estel and the private peninsula upon which it is situated. The eighteen rooms (most are suites, actually) are done in varying intensities of seashell-inspired blushes and creams and are spread out over three buildings: Le Cap—the main house that started it all—and three additional wings, all of which have their own distinct personalities and views of the otherworldly grounds. There’s much to explore around the property: chef Patrick Raingeard’s Michelin-starred Le Table, an intimate and exceptionally well-stocked bar, a spa (with its own indoor pool and a menu of surprisingly advanced wellness treatments), not to mention, the beautiful private beach. That said, the thing to do is post up by the salt-water infinity pool for the day. Also worth mentioning is the luxe on-site movie theater.


    Originally intended as a retreat for writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized it in Tender is the Night) and perched at the rocky tip of Cap D’Antibes, this 116-room resort is something of an architectural jewel on the French Riviera. Housed on twenty-two immaculately landscaped acres with parasol pines and seaside palm, the highlight is the restaurant and heated saltwater pool (which inspired many a Slim Aarons shoot), which is expertly cantilevered over the sea. The guest rooms are wonderfully old-fashioned (but now updated with WiFi and flat-screen TVs) and feature views of either the Mediterranean or the property’s manicured gardens. Room no. 5, for example, features floor-to-ceiling drapes, French doors that open up onto a marble terrace, and a Louis XV writing table. Dinner on the hotel grounds is predictably pricey though memorable, and the hotel concierge can arrange for meals in nearby Nice. While there’s no beach access, there is an overwater trapeze and carefully placed diving boards for those who want to plunge straight into the crystal waters.


    Spoiler alert: Chalet Les Brames isn’t a hotel—it’s a private residence a quick drive from center of Meribel Village. The house itself sleeps up to twelve and each room features floor-to-ceiling windows to better frame the property’s incredible views and . (The master bedroom, which has its own floor, features a south-facing terrace with views of Mount Vallon.) The bedrooms are tastefully appointed and generously sized with nods to Alpine style—think faux-fur throws and rough-hewn wood furniture—and bathrooms that feature soaking tubs to soothe achy ski legs. For the littles, there’s plenty to occupy them—from a library of movies to sleds, and lots of outdoor space for friendly snowball fights.


    For a taste of the picturesque countryside, look no further than La Colombe d’Or in Provence. Tucked between the hills of Nice and Alps Maritimes, this family-run inn, once favored by the likes of Picasso and Matisse, prides itself on a discretion decidedly unusual for the South of France. Here, this quiet rustic hotel has amassed a museum-worthy art collection of 20th century masters—Chagall, Calder, Braque, Matisse, and Picasso—all of whom were regulars and donated works in exchange for a stay or a few meals. A large Calder mobile hangs over the swimming pool; there’s a Léger mosaic mural overlooking the terrace. The rooms, housed in a simple stone façade, have a quiet, understated beauty, with four-poster beds, white duvets, and worn-in Oriental rugs. La Colombe d’Or remains delightedly old school, and bookings must be made by phone or requested in writing. The hotel is closed from October through Christmas.


    Just six miles from the oft-touristy St.-Tropez, La Réserve Ramatuelle offers a dose of something more serene. Set on 25 acres of cypress trees and parasol pines, this secluded retreat was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose most notable commissions include LVMH’s Paris headquarters and galleries in the Louvre. Relying on a quiet palette of terracotta tiles, white walls, and linen-upholstered furnishings by Poltrona Frau, much of the property’s design is meant to bring the outdoors in. South-facing rooms have views of the Mediterranean coastline and Bay of Pampelonne in the distance. There are nineteen suites and nine rooms—all with their own terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows; for those looking for something a bit more grand, they’ve recently added two new villas to their assortment, each of which comes with a chef, butler, housekeeper, and heated swimming pool. The 10,000 square-foot spa is a real draw, with 11 treatment rooms (the spa menu uses La Mer for all its services), full gym, and a multi-day wellness program through Nescens. Chef Eric Canino cooks up a menu of health-conscious dishes inspired by the fruits and vegetables he grows on-site in his garden.


    Locals Patrick and Edith Saut spent the better part of a decade transforming this 250-acre working farm into an idyllic country retreat they could call home, smack-dab in the middle of wine and olive-oil country. Just an hour from St. Remy, Avignon, and Arles, Domaine de Manville has 30 guestrooms, a swimming pool, spa, and an eighteen-hole golf course surrounded by olive groves. Meals can be taken on the terrace at the more relaxed Bistro, or at the more formal, La Table, where chef Matthieu Dupuis-Bauma serves up seasonal dishes like stuffed sole, artichokes a la barigoule, slowly roasted tomatoes, and apricots paired with rosemary honey harvested on site. During the week, guests who want to get a flavor for local life can accompany the chef to the local markets in town and return to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking class. In the fall, there are winery tours by bike at the area’s nine surrounding vineyards.