In a country as magnificent as France, where class and style are as prevalent as the grapes in the endless vineyards, selecting our favorite Backroads hotels is a nearly impossible task. But we've done our best! Here are seven exceptional properties visited on Backroads trips in this remarkable country. To stay at any of these incredible accommodations is to immediately recognize that you've arrived somewhere truly special. Whether enjoying a Michelin-starred meal, vistas of imposing mountain peaks or the scent of immaculate gardens, each of these hotels promises a complete sensory tableau.
Château Richeux Stay here on Backroads' Brittany & Normandy Walking & Hiking Tour. The exclusive 11-room Château Richeux, with each room named for a different spice of the world, offers a welcome respite from days spent traversing the apple and cherry orchards of the Breton Coast. Built upon the remains of an 11th century home, each suite presents a masterful blend of past and present. Expansive ocean panoramas and views of Mont Saint-Michel are the perfect backdrop to a tranquil stroll in the hotel's Celtic garden. Grab complimentary mud boots for clamming along the coast. Their famous Michelin-starred Le Coquillage restaurant dances with the palate through an array of locally sourced seafood, vegetables and herbs. With aperitif in hand and the sparkling English Channel before you, let your imagination run wild with visions of French corsairs stalking the nearby sea.
Château de Berne Stay here on Backroads' Provence to the French Riviera Biking Tour. No matter the length of stay, a visit to Château de Berne leaves you wishing for more. To reach this secluded hotel one must first meander along a miles-long forested road that leads to one of the greatest properties in Western Europe. Over 1,200 acres of private grounds encircle this five-star hotel, world-class spa, Michelin-starred restaurant and centuries-old vineyard. Intimate and exceptionally elegant, this is a place where your heart will remain long after you've left.
Domaine des Hauts de Loire Stay here on Backroads' Loire Valley Biking Tour. When biking the Loire Valley, it's easy to lose oneself in history. Châteaux seem dusted across the landscape like powdered sugar on a croissant aux amandes. Known as the "garden of France," the essence of the Loire is encapsulated within the Domaine des Hauts de Loire. Grab a refreshment and stroll the extensive grounds on one of several walking trails or spend some time on the tennis courts to build an appetite for Chef Rémy Giraud's Michelin-starred cuisine, complemented by seasonal offerings from the hotel's garden. A member of the exclusive Relais & Châteaux designation, staying here is a glimpse into the aristocratic life a bygone era.
Hôtel des Berges Stay here on Backroads' Champagne & Alsace Biking Tour. Over 150 years ago, along the banks of the Ill River in Alsace, a small country inn began welcoming the weary traveler. That same spirit persists today at Hôtel des Berges, set in one of France's most historically complex regions. Alsace has changed hands many times throughout history, from the Prussians to the French, to the Germans and back--as a result, a slow cultural mélange has emerged here. From cultural conversion came the diverse Alsatian gastronomy, which can be savored at the hotel's superb restaurant, Auberge de l'Ill. Wake up refreshed and ready to explore villages nationally recognized for their beauty, bike along the Rhine River Valley, soak up views across Germany and unravel the unique history of a land fought over by would-be emperors, dictators and the brave French Resistance.
Abbaye de la Bussière Stay here on Backroads' Burgundy & Chablis Biking Tour. This Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1131 and, while historians point to the end of the 13th century as its peak, Backroads guests would argue that today is still a strong contender for one of France's best hotels. A Relais & Châteaux property boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant, Abbaye de la Bussière is situated in an immaculately landscaped garden and park, ideal for reflection over the perfect glass of Bourgogne. Tread through tranquil and ornately carved halls that monks inhabited nearly 900 years ago and let the same harmony they found here envelop you as you slip peacefully into sleep.
Hostellerie de Plaisance Stay here on Backroads' Dordogne & Bordeaux Biking Tour. Centered in the world-renowned village of Saint-Émilion, the Hostellerie de Plaisance is the perfect destination for wine connoisseurs and passionate historians. A name that holds great weight in the wine world, Saint-Émilion is the first region to have their ancestral vines deemed worthy of UNESCO's World Heritage status. As you putter about the village, grab a macaron--produced here since the 1600s--but save room for a six-course meal at the hotel's restaurant, where exemplary sommeliers are on hand to help find the perfect wine pairing for each bite!
Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix Stay here on Backroads' French & Italian Alps Walking & Hiking Tour. After a day spent trekking in the Alps, life often seems at its zenith. However, the five-star Hôtel Mont-Blanc extends that sense of euphoria to another level. Centered in the heart of Chamonix, hotel guests will discover why this town has the reputation of Europe's preeminent outdoor sport destination. As the last evening light lingers on the snowcapped Alpine peaks, admire Mont-Blanc's majesty from the heated outdoor pool. Recently renovated, this mountain retreat beautifully blends modern amenities with timeless elegance.