Tearing yourself away from Paris is like bursting out of a bubble of romance. But away from the charming capital, France’s rolling countryside and coast are not to be missed. Each of the villages retains a provincial distinctness that goes much deeper than cheese specialties. If you visit Paris in high summer, you might find it somewhat deserted, as the locals flee for the lush Loire valley, fresh Alpine air or Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. Each region, from Brittany to the Côte d’Azur, boasts a rich cultural heritage, delectable gastronomy and unique hotels that embody local traditions.
In southwest France, the Aquitaine region borders Spain, with the Atlantic lapping at its shores. Alongside the stunning coastline, the region is home to the historic cities of Bordeaux and Biarritz, where life is a breeze in one of the local luxury hotels, which offer top-class service. France introduced the five-star classification for hotels in 2009, and the famous Hôtel du Palais Impérial Resort and Spa enjoys the top designation, overlooking the beach at Biarritz. What a dream to while away an evening slurping oysters and wandering seaside!
But to really soak up the provincial charm, it’s best to whisk your lover away into the fresh air of the country (and why not in a vintage Citroën?) and enjoy the old buildings that have been converted into sumptuous accommodations. Many farmhouses and châteaux have been revamped, with all the modern conveniences, and made into beautiful, romantic hotels. The fresh and airy Château Grattequina sits on the bank of the Garonne, and with just 10 rooms, oozes the charm of centuries past. Near Bordeaux, it is the ideal escape from the buzz of the city. For exquisite gourmet cuisine served in an old tobacco-drying room, stay in the small country hotel Le Vieux Logis, which has a relaxing pool and lush gardens.
For romance and regional specialties after your visit to Paris this summer, head to the stunning southwest region of France and indulge in great wine and accommodations.
Visit the following site to learn more about romantic hotels in France.
Editor’s note: For hotels and tours in Paris, consult our Book It page.