Top Luxury Travel News From France in 2016

(La Réserve Paris)

It’s been a busy year for the hospitality industry in France, and here we take a look at some of the top stories from the Hexagon in 2016.

In the luxury hotel world, all eyes were on the Ritz Paris, which (finally) opened to much fanfare and celebration in June 2016. This renovation—the result of years of work—lives up to the hype; the palace hotel on the Place Vendôme is getting rave reviews from star-struck guests. There’s intense competition in the “palace hotel” sector in Paris, and the city’s renowned palace hotels don’t rest on their laurels; they up the ante with new amenities and special offers. For example, Le Meurice completely renovated their restaurants, enlisting Philippe Starck and his daughter Ara to change the look. Le Bristol unveiled the Café Antonia, Le Royal Monceau-Raffles teamed up with Nobu Matsuhisa on a new restaurant, Four Seasons George V opened a Jeff Leatham-designed pop-up spa on the fourth floor (while the spa is under renovation), and La Réserve- now helmed by General Manager Didier Le Calvez- launched a new dining concept called La Pagode de Cos.

Speaking of La Réserve Paris: Four new French hotels achieved the prestigious palace distinction in 2016: Le Royal Évian in Évian-les-Bains, La Bastide de Gordes in Provence, Les Sources de Caudalie (in the vineyards outside Bordeaux) and La Réserve Paris.

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Outside of Paris, Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges Courchevel has opened in the glam alpine ski destination, and next year we can expect a new Four Seasons in Megève.

Note that in 2016, the number of French regions was reduced from 22 to 13. For example, the Languedoc-Roussillon region merged with Midi-Pyrénées to create Occitanie. (Sud de France, the tourism brand, now markets the enlarged region.)

There have been some exciting museum openings in France this year. The Cité du Vin is a magnificent Bordeaux landmark exploring wine civilization; this is a must while visiting Bordeaux wine country. In Paris, the Grand Musée du Parfum opened in December in a grand mansion on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré that used to be the Christian Lacroix maison de couture.  This sensory perfume museum is set to become a “must-visit” attraction while in Paris.

In restaurant news, the Michelin guide added two new three-star restaurants, 10 new two-star restaurants (half of these are located in Paris), and 42 new one-star restaurants. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and Le Cinq, chef Christian Le Squer’s gastronomic restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, were the only new restaurants to score three stars. Also buzzworthy: Super chef Alain Ducasse opened a restaurant called Ore at the Chateau de Versailles.

Train station restaurants opened by celebrity chefs has become a thing. After Eric Frechon at the Gare Saint Lazare, Ducasse moved into Les Halles with the popular Champeaux brasserie, and Thierry Marx (who helms the kitchens at the Mandarin Oriental) recently opened a brasserie called L’Etoile du Nord at the Gare du Nord.

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