Perché dans le Perche, Bellou-le-Trichard
A treehouse seemingly suspended in the branches of a 200-year-old sweet chestnut tree and a separate, stilted cabin Perché dans le Perche – with views of the Orne’s Perche Natural Park – evokes nostalgia, but is much more luxurious than childhood dens-of-old. It has two bedrooms, a sitting room, terrace, bathroom and summer kitchen.
From €170 (£150) per night for five, based on a seven-night stay, perchedansleperche.com
Moulin Royale, St-Etienne-Roilaye
Ever wanted to step inside the wardrobe of a royal? Former textile mill Moulin Royale in the Oise produced fabrics for Empress Eugénie, Napoleon III’s wife. Renovated in 2019, it now has a heated outdoor pool and is located in a picturesque, 800-year-old woodland. An hour from Paris, the B&B rents bikes and organises champagne picnics.
Doubles from €88 (£77), moulinroyale.com
Entre Terre et Estuaire, Honfleur
Built in 1850, this guesthouse was originally the home of fruit farmers. The four rooms are named after types of apple, and breakfast (served in the garden or in your room) is made from local, organic produce. The centre of Honfleur, arguably Normandy’s prettiest port town, is just five minutes away on foot, with complimentary e-bikes available for guests.
Doubles from €104 (£92), terre-estuaire.com
Manoir de la Salle du Roc, Bourré
In the heart of the Loire Valley, 18th-century Manoir de la Salle du Roc feels like stepping into a Beauty and the Beast adaptation, with gilded vanity mirrors, marble fireplaces and Renaissance-style bedside tables that look as though they could spring to life and start singing. The neighbours are worth a visit: Chenonceau, a turreted château, is just 15km away. Call the carriage, please.
Doubles from €167 (£147), manoirdelasalleduroc.com
Ecolodge Charles & Ashton, Morbihan
It doesn’t get much more tranquil than a houseboat on a lake surrounded by 12 acres of fields and woodland. The only sound at this Brittany floating lodge, made of Scandinavian wood, is birdsong. The rugged Gulf of Morbihan and Penvins beach are a 10-minute drive away.
From €145 (£128) for four, ecolodgecharlesashton.fr
Les Ormes, Dol-de-Bretagne
Sandwiched between Mont-Saint-Michel and Saint Malo in Brittany, Les Ormes – once the site of a 16th-century château – has been transformed into an estate sprinkled with quirky accommodation and activities. With off-grid raft houses, bubbles, treehouses and wooden “barrels”, and activities including zip-lining, horse riding and climbing, it’ll appeal to all ages.
From €105 (£95) for four, hostunusual.com
Ardennes Bulle, Sy
Bubble domes are all the rage, and who can resist curling up in bed with a view of the night sky? Ardennes Bulle even has bubbles suspended above the ground. Kitted out with comfy armchairs for stargazing and seemingly a million miles from anywhere, we recommend reserving its sumptuous picnic to enjoy under the stars.
From €115 (£101) for two, les-insolites-des-ardennes.fr
Les Chambres du Parc, Monnières
In a building which formerly belonged to a valet of the Knights Templar, Les Chambres du Parc in the Jura, between
Dijon and Besançon, now looks more like an interior design shoot. There are just three rooms, positively palatial in size, a swimming pool and a vast estate complete with donkeys and goats. Dole, the former seat of the dukes of Burgundy, is three miles away.
Doubles from €130 (£115), chambres-du-parc.fr
ReMIX Hotel, Paris
Few breaks have the ability to empty the contents of your wallet quite like a stay in the French capital, but, fortunately, ReMIX Hotel is stuck in the 80s not just in style but also price. A true throwback, it even has an old-school gaming arcade. The 259 rooms scream character, with design features including cassette players and rotary telephones. It is easy to get to central Paris; the hotel is in La Villette, a few minutes’ walk from two metro stations. Prepare to listen to a lot of Alphaville.
Doubles from €135 (£119), remix-hotel.com
Glamping La Fraventure, Saint-Palais
Choose from an old fire truck, a vintage camper or a luxury tent at this campsite north-east of Limoges. For those with a head for heights, there are tents suspended from trees. In the heart of the Auvergne countryside, there is plenty to entertain visitors, including canoeing, treetop adventure courses and visits to an alpaca farm.
From €79 (£70) for four, lafraventure.fr
Amama Baita, Hendaye
Meaning “grandmother’s house” in Basque, Amama Baita is decidedly more chic than its name might suggest. Breakfast at the farm guesthouse is lavish, home-cooked and changes daily, often using eggs from the owners’ chickens. The balconies brim with flowers and the views are all rolling hills and a sliver of the Atlantic – it is hard to believe that bustling Hendaye is a five-minute drive away.
Doubles from €130 (£115), amamabaita.com
Fisherman’s Cabin, Lacaud
Swim straight from the door of this cabin perched on stilts over a lake on the estate of a ninth-century château in the Dordogne. It is entirely solar-powered and there is no phone signal, but with a private lake, a handmade wooden raft to explore and fishing rods, who needs social media? Pets are welcome on prior arrangement, but due to the location it is not suitable for children under five.
From €169 (£148) for four, canopyandstars.co.uk
Le Vinois, Caillac
After seeing Caillac on the French TV series SOS Village, which encourages people to buy businesses in villages at risk of becoming ghost towns, Thomas and Eva couldn’t resist the challenge of taking over Le Vinois. Its seven rooms are now exquisitely designed – but the highlight is the restaurant that draws visitors from miles away. On the doorstep are châteaux, Malbec vineyards and the medieval city of Cahors.
Doubles from €90 (£80), levinois.com
Whaka Lodge, Seissan
There’s glamping, and then there’s glamping, and at luxurious Whaka Lodge, an hour-and-a-half west of Toulouse. you’re spoilt for choice. Choose from tents, safari lodges with Jacuzzis or cabins. The three lakes offer a variety of watersports, including canoeing, paddle boarding and wild swimming.
Tents from €105 (£93) for four, two-night minimum stay, whakalodge.com
Auberge Whoo, Bordeaux
This new hostel in Bacalan in the north of Bordeaux may look like a multi-storey car park, but inside is an industrial-chic bar, a gym and comfortable pod beds replete with charging points. Just steps from the river and cheaper than frites, you can save your euros for wine tastings at Le Cité du Vin, next door.
Dorm beds from €26 (£23), whoostay.com
La Casa Païral, Collioure
La Casa Païral in the Pyrénées-Orientales occupies a former sardine factory (once the main industry in Collioure), but you would never guess – the exquisitely designed hotel looks more like a Moroccan riad, with a wisteria-fringed swimming pool and leafy courtyard with mosaic fountains. Each of the 27 rooms is individually designed, and the beach is just 150 metres away.
Doubles from €115 (£102), hotel-casa-pairal.com
SOUTH-EAST AND ISLANDS
Lou Becus, Les Contamines-Montjoie
With sheepskins and a log fire, this Alpine refuge in the in the Haute-Savoie might look like a Christmas card, but in the summer the surrounding mountains are a haven for for hiking and biking. Carpets of Alpine flowers, cows and more often than not, marmots greet you as you open the shutters, and at 1,500m altitude, temperatures are rarely extreme.
Doubles from €90 (£80), chambres-hotes.fr
Le Bunker, Val-des-Prés
If weird and wacky is your style, this Second World War bunker in the Hautes-Alpes is a time capsule. Kitted out as it would have been 80 years ago, there are bunk beds and candles, and owner Max frequently greets his guests in period dress. The illusion breaks when you step outside, surrounded by the spectacular mountains of the Serre Chevalier Valley.
From €60 (£53) for six, airbnb.fr
On the site of a former monastery, Montrieux in rural Provence – north of Toulon and Hyères – has created an entire community. With 42 bedrooms, two restaurants, a vegetable garden, goat farm and even its own on-site brewery, you may not want to leave. Activities on offer include yoga in the orangery and concerts in the Roman chapel.
Doubles from €70 (£62), montrieux.org
Le Voilier, Porto Vecchio
Move over, Uber: owners Sabine and Thierry transport you to your floating lodgings by boat. Once aboard, you are cast adrift overnight, floating in the bay off Corsica’s chi-chi Porto Vecchio, listening to the gentle lapping of waves. There is a small fridge and gas hobs for cooking, but this is a true mariner’s experience, and the toilet and water are both manual. Showering (unless in the big blue) is only possible at the harbour master’s office back at port (€2.50/£2.20).
From €110 (£97) for two, plus a €150 (£133) cash deposit, stlocavoile.com
published 2023-04-21 13:00:00