Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Top 5 Hotel Chains in France

I'm often asked by friends to help organize their trip to France, and it's always such a pleasure for me to do it. After many years of playing travel agent, I decided to combine a few hotel tips here. (Sorry I know I haven't posted any recipes in a long time, but they're coming soon!). 

I have chosen to focus on French hotel chains because they can be found all over France. Now, of course there are oh so many fantastic mom-and-pop hotels all over France, but it would have been too hard for me to combine it into one post.

A French chain of hotels of great quality that are small (about 19 rooms) and most of the time family-run. Each hotel has to meet a very strict quality charter to be labeled Logis de France. They all have a restaurant, whose focus is always put on the discovery of local specialties, using local products. The food quality is always excellent. You will not be disappointed. Here's an example of the Burgundy region specialty menu: Starter-Crispy pike perch with Sainte-Foy red butter, and thinly-sliced caramelised chicory, Entree-Almond-coated pheasant supreme, marrow, fried forest mushrooms and grapes, Dessert-Lightly-cooked vintage chocolate cake with pistachio ice-cream.

What I love most about Logis de France is that you can select your hotel depending on what you like to do. 

  • If you like staying at place that has a lot of charm and reflects the style or culture of the region, you can select a hotel under the category Logis de Caractere. You can then expect a hotel with lots of interesting local architecture and furniture, beautiful flowers, and a focus on overall perfect appearance. 
  • If wine tasting is what rocks your boat, you will select your hotel under the category Logis Bacchus. The hotel will be located within 1.8 miles (3 kms) of vineyards. The wine list of the restaurant will reflect the local wines. The staff will be trained in wine tasting, the manager of the hotel will organize tours to wine cellars and tasting, etc. 
  • Other categories include Logis Neige (if you like skiing), Logis Randonnee Pedestre (if you like hiking), Logis Nature Science (if tranquility, rest and well-being is what you need), Logis Peche (fishing), Logis Velo (cycling).
The cost for one night will depend on where you are staying (it will be more expensive in Paris for example, about 97 euros). I have found prices as low as 50 euros for one night in the French countryside. It does not include breakfast (usually 8 euros extra) or dinner. It is very reasonable for what you get, trust me! 

Very affordable. Good for low budgets. I have stayed at these many times and they're good hotels for the money. One night for 2 will bring you to about  70 euros in Paris and about 50 euros outside of big cities (and sometimes lower). The rooms are clean and modern with flat screen televisions and the beds are comfy. Like most hotels in France, breakfast is extra, usually about 8 euros. But it will get you a wonderful breakfast buffet: fruit, yogurt, bread, croissants, pains au chocolat, ham, cheese and more! A lot of these hotels have a restaurant, simple and very decent. You'll usually find these hotels in most French cities and big towns.

Rent a studio, an apartment or a home through Pierre et Vacances and live the French way! An apartment for 4 in the Mediterreanean in Argeles-sur-Mer for 6 days will cost you about 384 euros. There is a balcony with patio furniture. Bed linens are included and the kitchen is equipped. You can pay more and have house with a pool, or easy access to the beach, or in another location, close to the ski slopes. Great choice when you're traveling with friends - you can split the cost! 

I stayed at many of these with my parents when I was younger when we were on vacation, and I have wonderful memories. A lot of these hotels have a pool (it depends on location), which is wonderful if you're traveling during the summer. They have a buffet type restaurant where they serve breakfast (a hearty one), lunch and dinner. One night in Juan Les Pins (on the French Riviera) for 2 in June will cost you about 75 euros. Campanile is great when traveling with kids and a good deal overall.

If you want to experience the finest of the finest without making your wallet explode, try Relais Chateaux. The actual hotels are set in stunning mansions, castles, manor or country houses. Want to live like a lord and sleep for one night in this 15th century castle? It's possible, for 130 euros (depending on the season of course). Each hotel offers wonderful culinary experience - really worth it. It might be a little too tight for a lot of budget but once in a while, there's nothing wrong in splurging. 


jessica said...

i second the "relais chateaux" idea. we actually held our wedding at one on a lake in switzerland. the crazy thing was that i learned quickly that outdoor weddings were completely unheard of there, and that's what we wanted, so this R.Ch. had NEVER had a wedding on their grounds (only hosted the dinner). it made me feel super spoiled to be the first and only, and it was amazing. too bad the rooms were so expensive we couldn't even stay the night!lol..

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Anonymous said...

It is very overwhelming write up about Switzerland and its delicacy.The scenic beauty is just wonderful.It is hard to take eyes off!Ski vacation would be like cherry on a cake.