France. The many cliches are so familiar: the romance of Paris, the peaceful rural beauty of Provence, the bounty of its table, the glamour of its coastline. But that doesn't even touch on the art, or architecture, or châteaux, or history, or the country's landscape. Which are all reasons to visit in their own right.
France is also known for its rather arbitrary hotel rating system, so our Gurus are here to help you find the best places to stay in France, whatever the reasons behind your visit.
Just like the song says, Paris is beautiful whatever the weather. The architecture is graceful, the art impressive, its grand boulevards and their cafe culture are atmospheric and romantic. Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysee are exciting to see but the real charm and memorable delight of a stay in Paris is usually in the details. The people of Paris are every bit as diverting as the grand architecture, whether they are in charming, shruggy, flirtatious, dismissive or garrulous mode.
Many visitors to France are looking for châteaux and grape vines, and the Loire Valley, just an hour from Paris, is one of the best places to find both. It can feel like each château you visit demonstrates an increase in extravagance and opulence - their gardens ordered and majestic, and the rows of vines create a neatness to the landscape which you can imagine The Sun King would approve of. The other thing the Loire is famed for is its produce. Wines, game, cheese and other delicacies fit for a king will grace your plate when you visit this region.
Champagne is an obvious one for wine buffs, and the lush Dordogne with its dramatic river valleys and impressive ancient cave art, is also a great region for wine and châteaux, and also food. Then there's Burgundy, another mouth-watering option for foodies ask wine-buffs. Rich food, but also a very rich history; for centuries Burgundy remained independent from the rest of France, ruled by its powerful Dukes. This rich heritage can be seen all over the area from the ruins of Cluny monastery to the numerous châteaux dotting the countryside. And then there's the wild wilderness of the Morvan National Park.
If you're looking for the pleasures of rural France, Provence entices, with its mesmerising straight, fat rows of lavender and picturesque medieval hilltop villages promising long, drowsy lunches. And plenty of wine. And plenty of sunshine. Edged by the spectacular, and glamorous, blue of the Côte d'Azur, Provence's own shades of green and terracotta have played muse for many artists, who've been beguiled by the light, which Matisse described as 'soft and tender, despite its brilliance'. And their legacy remains, distributed through the region's excellent museums.
A gorgeous hotel in a stone country house. Rooms are laid back boutique style with wooden floors, dark wood furniture and white furnishings. Some have private terraces with forest views. Superb French cuisine and a charming bar. Great value, romantic, intimate and chic.
A delightful country house B&B. Rustic rooms have exposed beams, terracotta floors and lovely bathrooms. Outdoor pool, cyprus-tree gardens and terrace. Excellent French cuisine for dinner and breakfast. Mini cinema within the cellar. Charming, peaceful and pretty.
Excellently positioned townhouse B&B in downtown Tours. Varying rooms sleep from two up to five. Ideal for groups and families, and great value.
Ennordres, Loire Valley
Pretty B&B in secluded spot. The rooms feature exposed beams, artworks and period furniture. Heated outdoor pool, garden and terrace to enjoy breakfast. Quiet, traditional and relaxing.
Charming bedrooms for great value make this a sought-after base in the Latin Quarter, with views over Notre Dame. Large attic room has best views, suitable for families. Traditional French breakfast to kick start the day of exploring. A local find full of character and antiques.
A stunning historic house made from timber in a small hamlet just in between Versailles and Paris. Beautiful landscape includes ponds, courtyards, and woodlands to explore. Luxurious rooms and suites decorated with elegance. Michelin star restaurant, top of the range spa, and romantic views.
Once an ancient hunting lodge and then an 18th century castle, this Chateau is filled with character. Offering comfortable and individually styled bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, each room has its own fireplace and rustic wooden floors. Enjoy beatiful views over the surrounding park and pond.
A fine stately home dating back to the 16th Century with 12 hectares of land, private fishing pond and an exciting history. Individually decorated bedrooms are traditionally french in style with antique sleigh beds and garden views. A charming base for exploring the Normandy countryside.
Fab location in the heart of Nantes, just a few steps from the cathedral & the station. Inside the hotel is chic and sleek, decorated in crisp simple colours and dark rich oak. Rooms have a great view of the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne or the garden. Stylish & convenient base for a city break.
A charming Art Deco hotel situated between Vannes and Auray. Smart rooms and suites have all the mod cons and private balconies with views onto lovely gardens. Excellent restaurant serves regional cuisine. Excellent value rooms and well placed for exploring the region.
Fréjus, Côte d'Azur
L'Arena hotel's rooms boast warm summer colours and true Provencal rustic styles in a comfortably modern setting. Each looks out over the beautifully landscaped gardens, or the inviting pool terrace area. Explore locally - Fréjus dates back centuries, or head to the beach a little over a mile away.
A sublime restaurant with wonderful rooms and sweeping valley views. Excellent food and shady terraces, three family rooms sleep four, all in a stunning location. A gourmet spot fit for families and romantic breaks.
A lovely hotel in the heart of the Chablis wine region. Contemporary rooms have wooden floors and large bathrooms. Gym, gardens and a terrace. Excellent Burgundian cuisine and wine in the restaurant. Great for a romantic weekend fuelled with excellent food and wine.
A charming 18th century Burgundian mansion come guesthouse close to Auxerre. Beautiful rooms and suites have white washed walls, wooden floors and boutique furnishings. A pretty flower garden, terrace and great regional dishes. Great for a quiet and authentic country weekend in Burgundy.