Domaine De Manville stands at the foot of the medieval hilltop village of Les Baux-de-Provence.
From the beaches to the alpine peaks, France serves up a slice of paradise for food lovers, culture vultures, and fashion fiends. Not to mention its capital’s awesome allure. Another reason to faire la fête in Paris? The Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by architect Frank Gehry with dramatic glass sails, will open in October in the Bois de Boulogne, and this month Paris says bonjour to The Peninsula. (Luxury Travel Advisor attended the hotel’s exclusive pre-opening event, and you can believe the hype.) Beyond the Boulevard Périphérique, France’s attractions continue to thrill the world’s jetsetters. Voici some of the best new addresses from our little black book.
Pictured: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal’s Panoramic Suite offers views over Paris’ major monuments.
For a “suite” respite in the beating heart of Paris, the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal—which opened last fall as the only luxury address next to the iconic courtyard gardens—has two dreamy signature suites on the top floor. From the terraces, you can peer over the walls of the Palais-Royal, its mosaic-floored arcades lined with luxury boutiques such as Didier Ludot’s dépôt for vintage haute couture. Acclaimed designer Pierre-Yves Rochon was recruited to decorate the hotel interiors and the look reflects the sophisticated, contemporary style you find in his other projects (Four Seasons George V, Shangri-La Paris, and Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat). Resembling chic private apartments, these light-filled suites have Calacatta marble bathrooms, prestigious Zuber wall coverings, and designer furniture, such as Charles Eames armchairs. The Palais Royal Suite has a unique lounge in the dome of the 18th-century building, while the Panoramic Suite—accessed by private elevator, and frequently used for fashion shoots and luxury product launches—offers vistas over the city’s major monuments. For VIP bookings, contact Sales Director Séverine Greault ([email protected]; 011-33-014-723-8851).
Pictured: Domaine De Manville is a luxurious retreat amidst olive groves and lavender fields.
With just 68 rooms and suites, this intimate five-star hotel has a Carita spa and a well-connected Clefs d’Or concierge team helmed by Antoine Guillon ([email protected]; 011-33-014-296-7221). Looking for a good table just a stone’s throw from The Louvre? The hotel kitchen is overseen by Jean-Yves Bournot, who honed his skills under the tutelage of star Chef Yannick Alléno. A sublime spring lunch started with savory éclairs as an amuse-bouche, followed by parmesan-crusted asparagus, perfectly cooked fish, and a bijou lemon tart flecked with gold foil. After lunch, have a peek at the forged iron staircase, which is heritage-listed; at its foot is a custom luxury trunk that was commissioned as a unique sculpture.
Another hotel to put on your radar is Le Cinq Codet, which will be opening in September in the seventh arrondissement. Jean-Philippe Nuel, who is one of the hottest designers in France today, was given carte blanche to transform the circa-1930s telephone exchange into a luxury boutique hotel. (Nuel is known for his transformative hotel projects in heritage buildings like the InterContinental Marseille and the new Molitor in the landmark pool complex in Paris). Rooms will be reminiscent of artist’s ateliers with designer décor from the likes of Tom Dixon. The Agence Nuel also created special custom furniture, like the lobby desk that resembles one of Rodin’s sculpted blocks of marble, in homage to the nearby Rodin Museum.
Pictured: Hôtel Jules César’s makeover by Christian Lacroix reflects the 17th-century building’s history, with period detail and local art de vivre.
Nuel is also waving his wand over the historic casino in Trouville, sister town to Deauville on the coast of Normandy. This is the oldest seaside resort in France, captured on the canvases of prominent Impressionist painters, and the new property—opening in 2015—will follow the tradition of the grand hotels of the Belle Époque. Called Les Cures Marines de Trouville, the sea-facing complex includes a thalassotherapy spa center and a five-star hotel by MGallery. Indeed, Accor’s new upscale brand (the “M” in MGallery stands for “memorable”) is growing by leaps and bounds. Each of the properties—as evidenced by the new Molitor hotel in Paris—is grounded in its local setting, brimming with personality.
Luxury Travel Advisor met with the sales team at this year’s Rendez-vous en France trade show. We were impressed by the brand’s vision and growth.
From Trouville, a scenic drive north along the Normandy coast will bring you to Fécamp. Once a fishing village and a major pilgrimage site, Fécamp is the birthplace of Bénédictine, the age-old liqueur that today is seeing a renaissance as a special touch in mixologists’ craft cocktails. We highly recommend a visit to the Palais Bénédictine, the neo-Gothic palace that houses the distillery, as much for the stellar art collection as for the immersion in the drink’s mysterious origins. Created by an alchemist monk in the early 16th century, the herbal elixir was revived by Alexandre le Grand in the 19th century, and the recipe—a mélange of 27 herbs and spices—is closely guarded to this day. The savvy businessman was the first to export liquor to America and also an advertising pioneer (he commissioned artists to create posters promoting the health benefits of Bénédictine).
Pictured: Domaine De Manville’s rooms feature contemporary design by French interior decorator Annie Zeau.
After your tour, unwind in the lovely tasting room, stroll through the contemporary art gallery, or partake in one of the new cocktail ateliers, taught by the award-winning barman from the Normandy Barrière in Deauville. For VIP reservations, contact Sales Development Manager Julie Leseurre ([email protected]; 011-33-023-510-2630).
South in Provence, the Domaine de Manville, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, opened in June as a luxurious retreat amidst the olive groves and lavender fields. The medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the prettiest in Europe, embodies the special spirit of Provence that’s so adored by visitors. And this luxury hotel, the brainchild of Edith and Patrick Saut, is situated on a 100-acre estate, formerly a working farm, at the foot of the hilltop village. There are just 30 guest rooms, and sumptuous facilities include a spa, pool, and an 18-hole golf course designed in an eco-friendly way to blend into the surrounding landscape. Patrick Nayrolles is the general manager. For VIP bookings at the Domaine de Manville, contact Sales & Marketing Manager Florence Biscarrat ([email protected]; 011-33-049-054-4020).
Also buzzworthy in Provence: The five-star Hôtel Jules César in Arles has been given a makeover by designer Christian Lacroix. Housed in a former Carmelite convent dating from the 17th century, the hotel was acquired by new owners, the Maranatha hotel group, in 2013. Lacroix wanted to tell the story of the building’s history, showcasing period detail (like the baroque chapel) and local art de vivre. There are 52 rooms, including 11 themed Suites and Junior Suites (Provençal, Monastic, and Lacroix). A new spa will open in fall 2014.
Pictured: Palais Bénédictine, a neo-Gothic palace, serves as both a distillery for production of Bénédictine liqueur and a museum.
In the world’s wine capital of Bordeaux, we are waiting with bated breath for the opening of L’Hôtel de Bernard Magrez from the French wine magnate who famously owns four Grands Crus Classés including Château Pape Clément vineyards. Magrez has teamed up with Michelin-starred Chef Joël Robuchon, who will open an atelier on-site, so guests can indulge in a Bordelais feast, then drift off in sumptuous comfort. Across from the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez, the hotel will have just six suites. Word on the street is the opening will be at the end of 2014.
Certified France specialists Kathy Morton and Debra Fioritto of New York-based Tour de Forks specialize in designing high-end culinary travel experiences. Of their rolodex of favorite French finds, here is just a sampling:
“Cooking classes in Provence at Chez Charlotte. Jane and Andrea combine their cooking expertise with an authentic experience in the country farm home of French actress and screenwriter Charlotte de Turckheim (who often decides to join in). The women impart their knowledge of locally sourced foods followed by a four-course meal on a delightful, vine-covered terrace.
In Bordeaux, the ultimate luxury wine experience. Bernard Magrez has opened three of his most prestigious properties to visitors: the iconic Pape Clément in Bordeaux, Chateau Fombrauge in St. Emilion and La Tour Carnet in Haut Médoc. Clients are treated like royalty in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. Each chateau offers private stays with tasting and dining experiences with a personal chef. It’s possible to book a private helicopter tour of the vineyards.
In Toulouse, star chef Michel Bras opened a fun new restaurant concept in January. Called Capucin, this twist on fast-food restaurants features ‘Le Capucin,’ a crêpesque cone-shaped sandwich made with buckwheat flour and filled with locally sourced products. The 20 variations include aligot (cheesy whipped potatoes) and sausage; foie gras and mushroom; and Laguiole cheese with apricot chutney.”