August 3, 2021

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Travel Finishes First

Where to Stay in France This Summer: New Hotels for Vaccinated Travel

7 min read

France has officially reopened to (vaccinated) international travelers—and not a moment too soon, say travel agents, who have immediately found themselves scrambling to meet the demand. “We are already seeing availability issues in July and August,” explains Philip Haslet, co-founder of the French travel specialist Kairos, speaking from his home in Provence. “This is the busiest I think I’ve been—ever.”

That’s good news for the travel industry, which needs to make up for a year and half ‘s worth of deficits. But for travelers, it leaves a lot to untangle; some are piecing together short stays at multiple resorts to work around booked-up dates and other restrictions. Combine this with the fact that many of France’s most exciting hotel openings are still to come, and there may be good reason to (briefly) delay a visit.

Plus, says Haslet, August should still be relatively quiet amid the typical summer closures in Paris and beyond. “This is France,” he exclaims. There may be fewer businesses closing for the month, “but I fear that the underlying Gallic DNA will kick in.”

Not that there’s ever a bad time to visit France. So whether that’s in the near future or after more dust settles, here are the hotels to prioritize … assuming you can get in.

One of the 14 rooms at Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Controle

Source: Airelles

Surrounding the Cities

Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Controle
Within the gated grounds of the iconic Louis XIV estate and facing its famed Orangerie is Le Grand Controle, a three-building complex that once hosted dignitaries and has recently been reborn as a 14-room luxury hotel. It’s the first time that relative commoners—not courtiers—can sleep within the palace’s storied walls, a privilege that buys private early morning access to the gardens and after-hours tours of the Hall of Mirrors. The sumptuous, period-inspired rooms feel like time travel to the 18th century. But then the Alain Ducasse restaurant, Valmont spa, and sophisticated geothermal heating system that were installed during the years-long renovation remind you that 2021 is a gilded era all its own. Rooms from $2,000.

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Saint James Paris looks like it belongs in the countryside, but it’s actually within a short walk of the Trocadero or Arc de Triomphe

Source: Saint James Paris

Saint James Paris
Imagine the quintessential French country estate—and then drop it in the 16th arrondissement within a few minutes’ walk of the Trocadero or Arc de Triomphe, which is getting wrapped according to the (late) artist Christo’s design in September. That’s what you get at the Saint James, which will open with 50 rooms and a members’ club on July 1. The gracious estate was once an elite school, and its gardens occupy a former launchpad for hot air balloons; now it will have an ambitious restaurant helmed by Ducasse protégé Julien Dumas and enough space for guests to go horseback riding or cycling. For the ultimate urban oasis book, the Pavillon d’Amour, a stand-alone triplex cottage with its own steam room and an elaborate fountain out front. Rooms from $535.

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A rare, quiet shot of Tuba Club; the hotel is normally busting with a fashion-forward set.

Source: Tuba Club

Tuba Club, Marseille
You’d think this chic, five-bedroom inn—run by the owners of a popular restaurant that shares its name—were on its own private island in the middle of the sea. The opposite is true. Sure, it’s set on a rocky outcropping with daybeds under the Mediterranean sun. And yes, the house dish, “Linguini Tuba,” is coated in a clam sauce that smacks of the Italian Riviera. But Tuba is in fact perched at the edge of a fishermens’ enclave on the outskirts of Marseille, a vibrant culture capital that’s ready to outgrow its French second city reputation. Even with traffic, you’re just 30 minutes away from Vieux Port, where you’ll find the Mucem museum of art and architecture, with its Jeff Koons summer blockbuster show. Rooms from $200.  

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Each room at La Maison d’Estournel, outside of Bordeaux, is slightly different in its colors and accents

Source: La Maison d’Estournel

New Countryside Classics

La Maison d’Estournel, Bordeaux
The original tenant of this grand estate in the Haut-Médoc, Louis Gaspard, was one of Bordeaux’s early wine exporters, sending cases for distribution in India throughout the early 1800s. Now under the careful management of Michel Reybier Hospitality—a group that also owns La Reserve in Paris—Gaspard’s legacy is kept intact. You’ll notice his influence throughout the maison’s 14 rooms and many common spaces, from a secret basement cellar (now available for wine tastings) to its sprawling vineyards and subcontinent-inspired décor. Befriend the concierge, who can arrange tours at premiere grand cru vineyards, cooking classes in local homes, or lunch with oyster farmers along the charming shoreline of the Bay of Arcachon. And expect to indulge. Bordeaux may be best known for its grapes, but this is the region that gives us foie gras, truffles, and some of France’s best produce. La Maison puts all of that on display every chance it gets. Rooms from $300.

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The exterior of Les Sources De Cheverny, in the Loire Valley

Source: Les Sources De Cheverny

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