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6 Great New French Hotels Outside Paris

By Lanie Goodman

Oct 20, 2021

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A Provençal castle—exclusively yours for $29,100 a night.

Courtesy of Château d'Estoublon

A Provençal castle—exclusively yours for $29,100 a night.

Storybook castles, leafy country retreats in deep Provence, and contemporary palaces—France’s new hotels mix new and old.

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Paris has seen an influx of great new hotels recently, and plenty more have opened across France. These new stylish stays are in perfect sync with their natural surroundings, celebrating timeless beauty, fragrant gardens, and open spaces while offering striking decor and outstanding farm-to-table cuisine.

They range from a highly affordable country auberge to an uber-luxurious Provençal castle for multi-generational family reunions—from Normandy’s countryside to sundrenched Mediterranean winegrowing regions. 

A modernist retreat awaits near Monaco.

The Maybourne Riviera, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Côte d’Azur

Book now: From $2,085 per night; maybourneriviera.com

From afar, this dazzling white concrete and glass rectangle clinging to a cliff on the Grande Corniche, just east of Monaco, looks almost like a mirage. Up close—after years of restoration of the long-abandoned hotel Vista Palace—the Maybourne Riviera (the latest addition to the Maybourne Group) offers an exceptional experience, inside and out. Expect bespoke furnishings by designers Bryan O’Sullivan, Andre Fu, and Pierre Yovanovich, an Eileen Grey and Le Corbusier–inspired lobby, museum quality art, an infinity pool, lemon tree–lined walkways, and some remarkable cuisine.

The concept: locally sourced and garden-to-table menus created by Michelin three-star chef Mauro Colagreco (Le Mirazur, Menton), who heads the rooftop seafood restaurant, Ceto, and the informal all-day Riviera Restaurant. Suites have floor-to-ceiling windows, sea-view terraces, exquisite modernist details, and white quartz bathtubs. Two new restaurants, with supernova chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Japanese sushi wizard Hiro Sato, are coming soon.

Domaine de Primard, Normandy

Book now: From $256 per night; lesdomainesdefontenille.com

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On the banks of the tranquil Eure River, an hour’s drive west of  Paris, this rehabilitated 18th-century castle, formerly the country home of actor Catherine Deneuve, is one of the latest openings by French hotelier couple Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher of luxury hotel group Les Domaines de Fontenille. The pair have transformed the 99-acre estate into a dreamy bucolic hideaway. Its 30 rooms and 9 suites are decked out in plush contemporary furnishings and one-off antiques. Guests can enjoy its three restaurants—the intimate l’Églantine, the Octave for classic bistro fare, and a Table d’Hôte serving haute comfort food—helmed by three Michelin-starred chef Éric Frechon. After a swim in the pool and a massage with fragrant alpine plant oils at the Susanne Kauffmann Spa, guests can explore the grounds on an electric bike, have high tea in the rose garden, or laze in a lounge chair and watch swans glide by.

Do St. Tropez the right way.

Château de la Messardière, St. Tropez

Book now: From $1,340 per night; expedia.com

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Built in 1904, this pale ocher turreted castle sits atop a wooded hill surrounded by prime real estate—25 acres of manicured grounds and windswept umbrella pines. Along with the art deco-inspired lobby, the elegant new sea-view suites, and the sleek Christophe Tollemer–designed Valmont spa, this resort-style landmark is humming with nouveau vibrancy. The pirate-themed Kids’ Camp is another highlight, a villa with arcade games, plus a pool, restaurant, cinema, and outdoor sports program. There are three new dining choices—Provençal classic Auberge des Maures, Japanese fushion restaurant Matsuhisa, and the market-fresh buffet, La Table. A Rolls-Royce shuttles guests to its stylish beach club, Tropezina, for delicious seafood and a dip in the shimmering Mediterranean.

The Relais Notre Dame is a great base for exploring the Gorges du Verdon.

Relais Notre Dame, Quinson

Book now: From $93 per night; maisonsmalzac.com

Hidden away in the northern Var, by the jade waters and craggy cliffs of the Gorges du Verdon, this stylish spot was dreamed up by hoteliers Julie and Nicolas Malzac (Hôtel des Deux Rocs, Seillans). They converted a former village postal station into a charming auberge deep in lavender country. The 13 rooms are furnished with a jumble of handpicked rustic antiques, some with foldout beds for couples with children in tow. Kids will love the impressive Norman Foster–designed Prehistoric Museum next door and the variety of water sports, including kayaking and electric boats, a short stroll away. Dinner is a fête of seasonal dishes including homemade gravlax, duck breasts with honey and rosemary, local goats’ cheeses, and citrus panna cotta for dessert. The result is a rare mix of Provençal simplicity in an unbeatable location. (The hotel is closed for the winter season and reopens in March 2022.)

Le Moulin de Lourmarin was an olive mill in a former life.

Le Moulin de Lourmarin, Provence

Book now: From $147 per night; expedia.com

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Entirely refurbished and under new management, this former gastronomic haunt and olive mill-turned-luxury hotel is now a contemporary retreat of uncluttered chic. Teaming up with innovative French architects Jaune and design studio Be-poles, the hotel group Beaumier (Les Roches Rouges) reimagined authentic Provence with 25 comfortable rooms, whitewashed walls, vintage pottery, original art, woven straw rugs, and gleaming red ocher tiled bathrooms. For regional cuisine, chef Julien Serry dishes up a flavorful array of veggie and fish-driven classics: stuffed zucchini, creamy monkfish bourride, and a raspberry tart with poppy ice cream, served on a starlit patio terrace.

Château d’Estoublon, Fontvieille, Provence

Book now: From $29,100 per night for the entire place (sleeps 20); chateau-estoublon.com

A majestic cypress-lined path leads you to this historic 15th-century Provençal castle surrounded by a sprawling agricultural estate of vines and olive groves. The opulently restored 22-room Château d’Estoublon, a new addition to the Airelles luxury properties, is an extremely upscale option for private celebrations among friends and family, with full hotel services. The 10 bedrooms are outfitted with romantic period piece four-posters and rare antique finds. There’s a heated pool, fitness studio, and movie lounge—as well as a 96-acre olive orchard ripe for exploring. Lunch on your private terrace or at La Table d’Estoublon next door, for weekly Japanese barbecue buffets and tasty regional specialties including a signature bouillabaisse and a mouthwatering chocolate mousse by pastry star Christophe Michalak, all accompanied with Estoublon’s fruity Roseblood rosé.

>> Next: France Unveils Next Generation of Greener High-Speed Trains

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