Big and small, urban, rural, or coastal, French cities have a patina of thousands of years of history and that indescribable French charm that makes them such a delight to visit. Greeks and Romans established many of the cities, and their location in the center of Europe made them a valuable target many armies fought over, and all left their marks. They are full of ancient castles, spectacular cathedrals, and magnificent palaces and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.
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Everyone knows Paris, even if they have never been there. Everyone knows the tall spire of the Eiffel Tower, the broad avenue of the Champs-Élysées with majestic Arc de Triomphe at its end, the enchanting Notre Dame cathedral, elegant bridges across the Seine, lovely sidewalk cafes, and priceless art treasures of the Louvre.
You can see all the iconic sites of Paris known from hundreds of movies and immortalized by poets, painters, sculptors, and writers. Ancient and modern, Paris is a dense network of diverse neighborhoods with distinct character, history, colors, and aromas, with the never ending buzz of life – always changing but always enormously charming. You can live in Paris your whole life and not see all the City of Light has to offer, but visiting it is an unforgettable adventure. Things to Do in Paris
2. St Tropez
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Once a peaceful fishing village on the Mediterranean, St. Tropez needed Brigitte Bardot to transform it into a hot jet setters’ playground when she came in 1956 to film And God Created Woman. Celebrities come to be seen, tourists come to see the celebrities, the million-dollar yachts show off in the marina, and the village is bustling with crowds and buzzing with excitement.
In the winter when tourists are gone, St. Tropez reverts to its real nature, and you can stroll peacefully through its charming narrow cobblestoned streets, watch fishermen bring in the catch, and enjoy watching old men playing petanque, and you will understand why this quintessential French coastal village inspired greats such as de Maupassant.
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Located only about 22km from Paris in the quiet Parisian suburbs of Versailles, Versailles is the most glorious of all the French palaces and chateaus. The Baroque château was built in the mid-17th century by King Louis XIV and was the home of French kings until the French revolution. With time, various kings added to the splendor of Versailles, with additions such as the pink marble beauty of Trianon, Marie-Antoinette's estate, spectacular fountains, miles of formal gardens, and much more. A visit to Versailles is as delightful as it is overwhelming.
Versailles acquired a new role in the 19th century as the Museum of the History of France, and many royal apartments and lavishly decorated rooms were converted to house collections of artifacts that cover the country’s history until the early 20th century.
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A jewel of the French Riviera, Antibes is a lovely resort town between Nice and Cannes on the Mediterranean coast. The old town is surrounded by the remnants of 16th-century ramparts with the Fort Carré, and it overlooks many ports, from fishing and cargo to luxury yachts’ marina Port Vauban. On one side of the town is the woody peninsula of Cap d’Antibes where the old trees hide many luxury villas of rich and famous Europeans who started coming to the lovely Antibes since the 18th century.
With forty-eight beaches and sixteen miles of scenic Mediterranean coastline, Antibes is packed with tourists in the summer who are attracted not only by the wide, sandy beaches but also by thriving nightlife, great restaurants, and endless festivals.
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Beaujolais is a French province with its capital in historic Villefranche-sur-Saône, world-known for its light, fruity wine, and beautiful scenic landscapes dotted with picture-perfect vineyards. Located north of Lyon, Beaujolais is ancient and breathtakingly beautiful with charming stone villages, imposing Romanesque churches, and elegant17th and 18th-century Renaissance châteaux such as de la Chaize, de la Salle, and du Basty.
You can visit the vineyards that surround many of the castles, stay overnight, and taste their wines. Some of the most beautiful castles like Bagnols are actually luxury hotels. In the 19th century, many vineyard owners built beautiful large manors you will notice standing proudly on top of the hill surrounded by orderly lines of vines. If you drive through Beaujolais in November when they open barrels of new Beaujolais wine, you will find roads dotted by farmhouses offering their own wine with some local cheese and sausages.
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World-famous for its film festival, Cannes is a luxury resort town on the French Riviera overlooking the blue Mediterranean and lined by sandy beaches. The town is known as the playground for the rich and famous, and there is usually a parade of expensive cars cruising along the Boulevard de la Croisette, which curves along the coast.
It is lined on one side with beaches covered body to body with lounge chairs and umbrellas and on another with expensive boutiques and chic, palatial hotels. It is glitzy, expensive, showy, and very beautiful with a colorful lively harbor full of luxury yachts, while the charming old quarter of Le Suquet is perfect for strolling around and soaking up the city’s history.
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Located in the village of Chambord in the Loire Valley, the royal Château de Chambord is a stunning and massive châteaux, and is one of the most easily recognizable of the French castles for its distinctive French Renaissance style of architecture – a fine mix of traditional medieval French style with classical structures of the Renaissance. The chateau was built by King Francois I and completed in 1547 under Henry II.
The chateau has eleven kinds of towers and three kinds of chimneys. It also has no symmetry and is framed at the corners by the enormous towers. Its silhouette resembles that of a city more than of a building. The towers and moat are decorative since the chateau was never meant to provide protection. The château has 440 rooms, 282 ornate fireplaces, and 84 staircases including a unique double spiral staircase. It is surrounded by a 13,000 acre park and hunting reserve and a 20 mile long wall.
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Èze is a gorgeous town in southeastern France, renowned internationally for its stunning hilltop views of the Mediterranean Sea. The French Riviera city, which is located approximately eight miles from Nice, was a favorite European destination for famed animator and entrepreneur Walt Disney and retains much of its medieval character, with buildings such as the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix dating back to the 14th century. World-class attractions within the city include the Jardin Exotique d'Èze, which has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its beautiful collection of cacti, succulents, and other exotic plants. A large number of art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants line its beautiful historic downtown area.
9. La Turbie
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Located about 23 km from Nice on the border with the Principality of Monaco high up in the Alps at 1,150m and hanging over the Mediterranean, La Turbie looks like it is floating in the sky with the gigantic 35 meter high Trophee d’Auguste dominating the landscape. Built 2000 years ago by the Romans, the magnificent monument is the town’s pride, so start your exploring there before strolling through charming cobblestoned streets with ancient stone houses with flowers dripping from every window.
You will pass under vaulted passageways, sit at cool little stone fountains, admire old gemelled windows, and take a photo of the enormous ornate fountain and beautiful baroque church with an interesting square bell tower and varnished tiles on the roof. Take one of many narrow paths up the hill through beautiful local parks and enjoy the magnificent views that stretch for miles – on a clear day, you can see all the way to Corsica.
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Lourdes is a small town in the foothills of the Pyrene in south-western France. For centuries, the town was known for the beautiful fortified castle Château fort de Lourdes perched on an escarpment in the town’s center until 1858 when young peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous reported sightings of the Virgin Mary at the Grotto of Massabielle.
The city became one of the world's biggest pilgrimage sites and religious tourism destinations with six million visitors that descend on Lourdes every year. The city has a constant flow of religious activities – you can attend mass, take part in the daily Candlelight Procession, or visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Surrounding magnificent mountains offer an opportunity to enjoy breathtaking natural beauty such as the Gavarnie Falls.
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Lyon is a 2,000-year-old city in France at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The whole city is one large museum, from the Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, austere medieval, and ornate Renaissance architecture in Old Lyon to the covered dark passageways between towering buildings that connect Vieux Lyon and La Croix-Rousse hill.
Lyon is also a modern, sophisticated city, and it is the third largest in France with excellent museums, vibrant nightlife, great shopping, and lively atmosphere added by the students from the local university. Lyon is famous for its unique gastronomy and excellent restaurants. Some of the must-see sites are the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the beautiful square Place des Terreaux with Fontaine Bartholdi.
12. Mont Saint-Michel
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One of the most magnificent sights in Europe, Mont Saint-Michel is located in the bay where Brittany and Normandy meet. The small but incredibly beautiful island looks like it is floating in the air with the medieval monastery perched high up on the cliff and ancient ramparts surrounding its banks. The monastery was built in the 8th century by Aubert, bishop of the nearby Avranches.
The construction of the magnificent Benedictine abbey was supported by the dukes of Normandy and later by French kings. The abbey became a famous center of learning, with some of the greatest European minds spending time between its walls. Many other buildings were added to the steep village street, most now converted into hotels, restaurants, museums, and boutiques. The island and the bay are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Established by the Greeks in 350 BC and made fashionable by rich and famous Europeans in the 19th century, Nice is a lovely coastal city on the French Riviera between the Mediterranean and the Alps. It has a huge pebbly beach that hugs the bay, shops, restaurants, and all kinds of hotels that greet millions of tourists every year.
Once the playground of the elite, Nice is now flooded by tourists from all over the world who cannot resist the unique combination of a perfect sunny climate, warm Mediterranean waters, spectacular architecture, ancient ruins, superb French cuisine, and all the tourist trappings of the 21st century. The mesmerizing beauty of the city and its lively spirit has attracted artists for a long time – Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall called it home at one point and created some of their best works in Nice.
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Strasbourg is an interesting old town that the Romans established 2000 years ago and many armies fiercely fought over. Located strategically at the border between France and Germany, it has a bit of everything with regards to culture, language, religion, and even food. It is perfectly unique and very much its own.
You can feel the city’s history from Roman and medieval times – the Gothic cathedral in the old town will take your breath away – and you can feel the buzzing energy of a modern city with a large university and many European institutions established here, including EU Headquarters. Stroll by the scenic canal that reflects colorful townhouses in its murky waters and stop by one of winstubs (typical Alsace taverns) to try the local goodies.
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The small charming town of Fontainebleau just south of Paris is popular with both locals and tourists. While tourists flock to the magnificent Chateau de Fontainebleau, locals love to escape the bustle of the city to the shady, magnificent Forest of Fontainebleau that is spread around the castle. Both the forest and the castle are recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The castle was built in the 12th century as a royal hunting lodge, but it was abandoned and neglected for centuries until the 16th century when King Francois I rebuilt it and incorporated then fashionable French renaissance style that makes the castle so beautiful today.
The king also incorporated many elements from Italian renaissance, especially Rome. The most striking elements are the Trinity Chapel with painted walls and ceilings, magnificently decorated royal apartments, the Pope’s apartment, Napoleon’s apartment, and the Francois I Gallery, and it is decorated in the typical highly ornate renaissance style and so much more.
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Founded by the Romans in 123 BC, attacked by the Cimbri and Teutones, occupied by the Visigoths, plundered by the Franks and Lombards, and occupied again by the Saracens, Aix started thriving only after the 12th century, when it became a seat of learning and an artistic center. A home and inspiration of Paul Cézanne and a home of many art schools and several universities, Aix is breathtakingly beautiful, charming, and lively. It is full of magnificent architecture that reflects its turbulent and rich history, and the timeless beauty of Provence surrounds it.
Shadowed by the imposing white limestone mountain, Aix is a city for walking – it is the only way to experience the cheerful chatter of students having coffee in one of many outdoor cafes on the main drag of Cours Mirabeau, admire elegant homes and many museums in the Quartier Mazarin, enjoy smells and colors of the flower market in the old town, and sit by one of many magnificent fountains.
Dartagnans is a crowd-funding platform in which you can effectively become a patron of historical locations around France that are in need of help. Whether it’s providing funding for the restoration of an old castle tower or reinforcing a chapel roof, Dartagnans lets you make real contributions to restore and preserve landmarks of historical importance.
With the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris shining the spotlight on how harrowing and heartbreaking it can be when a beautiful piece of history gets damaged or destroyed, people all around the world are realizing the importance of saving historical landmarks and preserving them for the future. So how does Dartagnans help? The process is very simple, and can be broken down into just a few steps:
- The Platform - With so many incredible historic sites all over France, it’s no surprise that some of them tend to go ‘under the radar’ and don’t get the love, attention, support, and funding they need, but the Dartagnans platform shines the spotlight on these places. Users can log on to the Dartagnans site, which functions similarly to other crowdfunding platforms out there, and see a huge list of all the different projects and buildings currently in need of funds.
- The Projects - Whether it's helping to restore the castle and outbuildings of the iconic Château de Vigny or fixing the roof of the Chapelle de Limerdin, there are many different projects listed on the Dartagnans site at any one time. You can click on each one, learning more about them, seeing exactly where your donation would go, if you choose to make them, and even seeing the fundraising target and learning more about the people who have donated so far. Dartagnans gives you all the information you need to make an informed decision about any donations you make, and it's easy to create whole new projects too if you have know a building or site in need of help. dartagnans.fr
What are the 16 Best Places to Visit in France?
The 16 Best Places to Visit in France according to local experts are:
More Ideas: Hotel Chais Monnet
France is by far one of the most beautiful and incredible of all European countries, a must-visit destination for any traveler who enjoys fine dining, unique cultural experiences, and stunning landscapes. Whether you're sunbathing on the beaches of the country's southern coast, exploring the castles and manors of the Loire Valley, roaming around a quiet little village in Brittany, or visiting a big city like Lyon or Paris, France simply has so much to offer.
One of the country's prettiest areas is Cognac. A commune in the Charente department, Cognac is situated in the western part of France, about 90 minutes north of Bordeaux. The town is, of course, best-known as the home of the alcoholic drink of the same name, and there are plenty of interesting things to see and do in and around Cognac, with many of the town's key touristic hotspots having direct links with one of the world's best-known forms of brandy.
There are no less than six vineyards all around the Cognac area, and the town itself is home to a delightful historic quarter with medieval buildings and stone gargoyles, as well as the Château des Valois trading post and a couple of museums and galleries too. Clearly, for those who adore brandy, Cognac is an unmissable destination, but it also has a lot of appeal for family vacations too. If you’re looking for the best hotel in Cognac, consider the Hotel Chais Monnet.
Hotel Chais Monnet
Set beside the Charente River, the Hotel Chais Monnet is a luxury Cognac hotel offering fine dining, exceptional French hospitality, beautiful accommodations, and lovely amenities for guests of all ages to enjoy. It's one of the best hotels to choose if you're looking to explore Cognac and the surrounding area, and a great place to stay for those who just want to get away from it all and enjoy a little luxury and indulgence in a gorgeous setting.
- Luxury Hotel in the Heart of Cognac - Located right in the center of the commune of Cognac, the Hotel Chais Monnet is spread out across around two hectares of grounds. It's one of the most beautiful and beloved modern landmarks in the area, designed from the ground up by architect Didier Poignant, who successfully married the modernity of the hotel's style and offerings with the heritage and traditions of the town to create a truly sublime accommodation complex offering luxury, peace, and tranquillity to every guest.
- The Rooms and Suites - Guests of the Hotel Chais Monnet can choose to stay in any of the following rooms and suites: Comfort Guest Rooms, Executive Guest Rooms, Junior Suites, Suites, and the Jean Gabriel Monnet Suite. From the simplest guest rooms right up to the most deluxe and exclusive suites, every single living space at the Hotel Chais Monnet has been designed with comfort and elegance in mind, decorated with warm tones and furnished with eye-catching products to create a truly homely feel.
- Dining - Guests at the Hotel Chais Monnet will have no less than five luxury dining destinations to choose from when staying at this deluxe Cognac hotel. Les Foudres is the hotel's fine dining restaurant, with Executive Chef Sebastien Borda serving up local specialities while diners admire ancient Cognac barrels all around them. La Distillerie is a rustic brasserie blending traditional dishes with modern flair. Le 1838 pays homage to the commune's pas, offering more than 400 different cognacs from over 40 producers, as well as cocktails and other spirits too. The Angélique Café is where to go if you're looking for sweet treats and flavorful teas on a relaxed afternoon. Finally, Guinguet' is an outdoor rooftop bar space offering cocktails and nibbles.
- Wellness and Fitness - Many people escape to the quiet charm of Cognac to get away from it all, seeking total relaxation, and the Hotel Chais Monnet offers plenty of amenities to meet all of your wellness needs, as well as a fully equipped fitness center with weights, bikes, treadmills and more. The hotel has its own expansive swimming pool, as well as a beauty salon offering make-up and beauty treatments of all kinds. There's also a spa at the Hotel Chais Monnet, with trained therapists using high quality Codage serums and lotions to offer deluxe body treatments, massages, and more.
- Meetings, Weddings, and Other Events - The Hotel Chais Monnet is one of the best wedding venues in Charente, and can also offer hosting and catering services for other private, social, and corporate events as well. If you're getting ready to say "I do" and want to make the day extra special, the luxury setting and services of this Cognac hotel can definitely do the job. The Hotel Chais Monnet has a range of indoor and outdoor spaces to choose from for your wedding or event, providing full catering services and planning assistance too, with the dedicated team of professional planners ensuring that every little detail is attended to.
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More Ideas: Les Fermes de Marie
France is one of the most incredible countries in all the world. Home of so much history and heritage, France is renowned for its laid-back lifestyle, world class cuisine, gorgeous scenery, and rich diversity. France can offer everything from sun-soaked beaches and warm waters in the south to rustic coastal villages in the north and beautiful big cities all around. It's also a prime destination for skiing, with its Alps offering some of the best skiing experiences in all of Europe.
There are plenty of pretty, fairy tale skiing villages to be found around the Alps, and Megève is one of them. Situated in the southeast part of the country in the Mont Blanc massif, Megève is known for its rustic chalets, cobbled streets, and gorgeous views all around. It's a commune that can be enjoyed in both summer and winter, and one of the best places to stay in Megève is Les Fermes de Marie.
Les Fermes de Marie - Luxury Hotel and Chalets in Megève
Visits to Megève can be made so much more magical, memorable, and speical by staying at Les Fermes de Marie. A luxury destination, offering both hotel rooms and chalets, as well as spa services, event spaces, fine dining, and more, Les Fermes de Marie is far more than just a simple hotel. It’s a true home away from home, a beautiful property filled with life and rustic charm, just waiting to be uncovered.
- The Hotel - This 5-star Megève hotel is unlike anything else. Designed in the classic rustic cabin fashion, but with a big dose of luxury and elegance spread all around, Les Fermes de Marie successfully marries elegance, refinement, and sophistication with typical sky chalet charms. A dreamy retreat nestled snugly among the Alps, Les Fermes de Marie aims to offer a warm and welcoming experience for every guest, with a soothing ambiance in both the rooms and communal spaces. This family-friendly hotel has been designed, decorated, and furnished to an impeccable standard, with warm woods and cozy blankets dotted all around.
- Accommodations at Les Fermes de Marie - Those who choose to stay at Les Fermes de Marie will have the choice between several different rooms, suites, and private chalets. From the simple Classic Room, with its 18 square meters of space and nest-like ambiance, right up to the 400 square meters of the Chalet des Fermes, with its five rooms, private terrace, sauna, jacuzzi, and alpine garden, each and every accommodation here has been designed with comfort and convenience in mind, aimed at offering a luxurious experience to all guests, giving them happy memories to look back on for years to come.
- Fine Dining in Megève - A big part of any trip to the Alps is the food and drink. After a big day hitting the slopes or exploring the local area, there's nothing like heading back to your hotel and enjoying freshly cooked, traditional meals to warm the heart and soothe the body. At Les Fermes de Marie, guests will be able to choose from several different fine dining spots. There's 'Le restaurant traditionnel', with its classic, alpine cuisine based around local meats and cheeses, as well as 'Le restaurant Alpin', which offers classic Savoyard dishes including fondues and raclettes. The hotel also has a winter-only dining location, an outdoor dining spot, and a bar.
- Luxury Spa Services in Megève - Les Fermes de Marie has its own private spa: the Pure Altitude Spa. After being out among the frosty, snowy mountains, the body can need a little tender loving care, and that's exactly what you'll find at Pure Altitude. A hub of alpine wellness, this spa offers more than a dozen private treatment rooms, making use of soothing, natural remedies based around plant extracts and rare active ingredients to offer a range of deluxe skin and body services. The spa also features several sauna rooms, an indoor lap pool, a haircare and style studio, a relaxation room, fitness center, steam room, and more.
- Events and Weddings in Megève - Planning something special? Having a wedding in the Alps is a truly incredible experience, and one you’ll never forget, especially if you choose to celebrate it at Les Fermes de Marie. This luxury hotel has successfully helped many couples tie the knot, giving them beautiful photos and fairy tale memories to share with their friends and family. It offers all the space, comfort, dining, and elegance you need to have a very special day, and Les Fermes de Marie also hosts other private events, as well as corporate meetings and more.
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More Ideas: Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux
There's so much to see and do in France, and it's no surprise that millions of people head to 'L'Hexagone' each year to enjoy fine dining, incredible sightseeing, non-stop shopping, and all kinds of inner city and outdoor adventures. It's the kind of place where you can be skiing one day and sunbathing the next, blessed with a huge array of landscapes and opportunities, and France's big cities hold a lot of charms, in particular.
Bordeaux is a perfect example of this. Best known as the heart of one of the world's most successful and storied wine growing regions, responsible for some of the finest wines of all time, Bordeaux is a port city, sitting beside the Garonne River. It's home to one of France's most beautiful cathedrals - Saint André - as well as many historic mansions and fascinating art museums.
The Place de la Bourse and the Three Graces fountain are some of the top sights in Bordeaux, and many people visit this Gironde city to enjoy the very best of what France has to offer. If you’re looking to sample and savor the delights and delicacies of French cuisine, witness the beauty of its buildings, enjoy some fun shopping with friends and family, and really submerge yourself in the native culture, this is the place to be, and Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux is one of Bordeaux’s best hotels.
Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux - 4-Star Boutique Hotel in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an elegant, sophisticated city, and any visit to this special place deserves to be enjoyed in a fittingly elegant setting. Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux provides that setting. Rated as one of the best hotels in Bordeaux, Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux offers boutique luxuries and comforts, classy rooms, an on-site wine bar, and many other features and amenities designed to ensure that each and every guest heads home with many happy memories and flawless experiences to look back on.
- The Rooms - As a boutique hotel, Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux features cozy, intimate, well-designed living spaces for you to enjoy, offering that true 'home away from home' feeling that allows every guest to feel totally comfortable for the full duration of their stay. You'll find a vast array of rooms types, from the Elegance Room, with its 20 square meters of space and unique artistic flourishes to the 28 square meter Deluxe Jacuzzi room with its own private jacuzzi bath, and a range of luxury suites offering even more space and comforts. The Suite Margaux and Angelus Suite are ideal for couples on a romantic break, while the spacious 85 square meter Apartment is a great option for a family or small group of friends.
- The Wine Bar - Bordeaux is famous all over the world for its wine, and the vast majority of visitors to this French city spend at least a little of their time sampling the best of what the local vineyards have to offer. You can do all of that and more at the Wine Bar of Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux. Situated on the ground floor of the hotel, this cozy, relaxing space offers wine tastings, a friendly sommelier, more than a hundred wines to try, and ideal food pairings too like charcuterie platters and cheese boards. In short, if you’re heading to Bordeaux and want to taste some of the area’s best wines in an unpretentious and low key yet sophisticated setting, this is the place to be.
- Special Events and Meetings - If you're planning a special event in Bordeaux, Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux is one of the best places to host it. This gorgeous Bordeaux boutique hotel offers multiple private event spaces for social gatherings, business meetings, and more. You can rent out the wine bar, with its maximum capacity of 70 people for wine tastings and parties, or you can opt for the Saint Emilion Library, offering a more cozy and intimate space for meetings and dinners. Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux also offers the 85 square meter Apartments Pape Clément space for private events, along with the Salon Cours de Verdun and the Wine Cellar.
- The Hotel - Le Boutique Hotel Bordeaux is one of the very best options you can choose for an unforgettable stay in Gironde. It's situated in the heart of the city, offering instant access to Bordeaux's most famous monuments and best attractions. Plenty of galleries and shops can be found nearby, and no less than three of the most famous, Michelin-starred restaurants in France can be found less than 500m from the front doors, including Gordon Ramsay's "Le Pressoir d'Argent". There's also a luxury spa right on-site at the hotel, offering everything from shiatsu massage to manicures, facials, pedicures, and waxing.