Top 10 Hotels in France
Since 1967, the Byblos has come on like the Med’s poshest sea-side village. A series of what look like fisherman’s houses – all ochre and harmonious – unwind round the pool, and are themselves inundated with Med greenery. the hotel’s focus of attention is the heated outdoor pool. Somewhere nearby is France’s first Sisley spa, whose Salon Libanais – all 17th-century wooden marquetry and wondrously carved panels – hosted at least part of Mick and Bianca’s wedding night. You’ll maybe need it after a night in the Caves-du-Roy, France’s most celeb-filled night-club. The nearest beaches are a 10-minute walk, the more famous Pampelonne stretch 15 minutes by car.
Hotel du Palais
Old World elegance and grace in an unmatched, seaside setting. The Hotel du Palais – a true Biarritz icon – dominates the seafront from its elevated perch above sandy Grande Plage. It was originally built by Emperor Napoleon III as a summer retreat for Eugénie, his bride, and retains its regal grandeur to this day. An indoor pool and Guerlain spa occupy an annexe, and there’s a second pool outside with expansive terrace and unbroken sea views. The helpful concierge can arrange surfing lessons, rounds of golf or daytrips to Bayonne or Basque villages. It’s well worth upgrading to a sea-facing room for the sheer joy of waking to the sound of the waves.
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
A throwback to the F.Scott Fitzgerald era, this grand 19th-century mansion on the Cote d’Azur is set among nine hectares of landscaped gardens, with a guest list that reads like the credits of a Hollywood movie. There is a heated infinity pool, five clay tennis courts, 33 cabanas and a boutique. The Sisley spa has four treatment rooms, as well as a sauna, steam room, gym and beauty salon.
There are also jet skis, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and parasailing equipment. Have a drink at the Eden-Roc Champagne Lounge on the Mediterranean. he gastronomic Eden-Roc Restaurant serves classics like roasted sea bass and lobster with tarragon; the Grill offers Provençal-style gambas at the seafront pavilion.
Hotel La Perouse
The seafront Hotel La Perouse has startling sea views, top-class beds and a good restaurant. Though minutes from the centre, La Pérouse seems slightly withdrawn, in a private stretch of Provence where comfort, politeness and flowers hold sway.
Le Patio restaurant is on the hotel’s splendid terrace, just down from the swimming pool. Eating here, underneath the lemon trees, it is as if one were dining on a little Provençal square privatised for the privileged. Food is good, simple Med fare with no aspirations to Michelin stars. In this setting, it doesn’t need them.
Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
Opened in 1908, the Grand-Hôtel is a real jewel in the south of France’s crown and since a Four Seasons takeover, benefits from the group’s exceptional service standards. Club Dauphin is the hotel’s pièce de résistance; a once Olympic-sized heated infinity seawater pool so blue it seems almost to blend into the horizon when viewed from above, accessed via a funicular in luscious gardens.
Once there you can enjoy spectacular views of the Mediterranean, complimentary refreshments plus free sun cream. If you want to improve your technique in the pool, book a lesson with Pierre Gruneberg, the club’s famous swimming instructor, whose pupils have included everyone from Charlie Chaplin’s children to Robin Williams.
InterContinental Carlton Cannes
When you win the film festival’s Best Actor or Actress award, I’ll expect you to be staying at the Carlton. Liz Taylor brought all seven of her husbands here. Faye Dunaway allegedly ordered gallons of goats’ milk for her bath. Today, it remains the spot which says: “You’ve arrived” when you walk through the door.
Prestige suites on the seventh floor have outstanding sea-view terraces – but not all the rooms actually oversee the Med. Giving onto the Croisette, the outdoor Terrace in particular, is a fine place for a drink, if only because passers-by will wonder whether you’re famous or not. There’s no pool, but the Carlton’s private beach is just across the road.
La Bastide de Gordes
Gordes, the most spectacular of the Luberon’s perched villages, probably required an ultra-spiffing hotel. After an £18 million rip-out-and-rebuild refurb, this is it. On the terraces, besides the outstanding valley view, there’s a pool for families and, on the level below, a longer item for determined swimmers.
Mineral, grey-green Med gardens run the length of the terraces, affording a week’s worth of nooks and crannies. There’s also a Sisley spa. Pierre Gagnaire’s gastronomic restaurant is aiming for the (Michelin) stars. Along the terrace, the Citadelle second restaurant has a Bible-length wine list and mains like tuna on ratatouille. The views will be the most arresting you’ve had during dinner for a while.
Château St Pierre de Serjac
After a €25-million revamp by winemaker Laurent Bonfils and hoteliers Karl and Anita O’Hanlon, this 200-acre Languedoc wine estate works as well as for romance as it does for breaks with family or friends. The 19th-century chateau has eight splendid rooms, plus 36 stylish self-catering residences.
It is is surrounded by balm-for-the-eyes countryside. Mediterranean, river and lake beaches are all half an hour’s drive away. A poolside terrace fit for a modern-day F Scott Fitzgerald fronts the house. There’s also a restaurant, bar, working winery, spa, tennis courts and bikes to explore the estate.
Possibly the most luxurious address on Lake Annecy, this five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel languishes on the lake’s eastern shore, a pebble throw from Annecy. Eight boutique rooms evoke a cosy, uber-stylish Alpine chalet and haute-cuisine dining is an exquisite gastronomic ode to the beauty of nature.
A rustic hot tub, hammock and barrel-shaped sauna all gaze out across the water, while boats moor at a private pontoon. There is water skiing, wake boarding and stand-up paddle boarding on site, and guests can borrow bicycles to tour the lake. Should you do this, make sure to request a gourmet picnic from the chef before setting out.
The Monte-Carlo Beach arcs around the Cap Martin coastline, sheltered amidst umbrella pines atop a rocky promontory in the French village of Roquebrune-Cap- Martin towards the Monaco border. Show-offs arrive by boat to this ultra-luxurious Art Deco hotel’s private jetty, and golden-heeled guests dine upon Michelin-starred cuisine after a day by the Olympic-sized pool or private beach.
Watersports fanatics with everything from parasailing to FlyFish rafting. Lunchtime venues include the chic, poolside Le Deck restaurant serving salads, meats and fish or the more informal, beachside La Pizzeria serving Monaco’s tastiest organic focaccia and pizza.