Movies have been shot there, their grandiose architecture has made them famous, the biggest stars from around the world have stayed there… and why not you? To drink a tea there or simply soak up the atmosphere of the place for a short visit, here is our selection of the 12 most legendary hotels in France.
The hotel du Palais, in Biarritz
This emblematic palace of the Basque coast, which overlooks the large beach of Biarritz from the avenue de l’Impératrice, was in the past the former imperial residence of Napoleon III and Eugenie de Montijo. This brick and stone building, built in 1854 in the Louis XIII style, was destroyed in a fire at the beginning of the 20th century, but rebuilt and enlarged. The original style and plan, E-shaped like Eugenie, have notably been preserved. For those who are not staying at the hotel, it is still possible to have a meal or have a tea or a drink.
The Le Corbusier hotel, in Marseille
At the heart of the Cité Radieuse, it is the only hotel in the Phocaean city to be located in a building classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With their view of the sea and / or the Frioul Islands, the rooms are designed in the world of the architect: vintage, colorful and spacious. The restaurant room where you can come for lunch or dinner is not to be outdone, with its tables by Charlotte Perriand, its Scandinavian chairs, as well as “Laroche” lamps by Corbusier or “Pipistrelle” by Gaetana Aulenti.
>>> If you want to discover in pictures the most legendary hotels in France, go to our slideshow !
Le Refuge du Montenvers, in Chamonix
Built in 1880 to accommodate the first climbers to attack the Mer de Glace, this refuge, which rises to more than 1,900 meters above sea level, has seen many travelers pass since it opened. Accessible via the Montenvers train, which takes you up to it in about 30 minutes, this quaint charm hotel has a dormitory and rooms. In the heart of the Chamonix valley, it offers a grandiose panorama of the Mer de Glace, the Drus or the Grandes Jorasses. Without staying there, you can taste the mountain cuisine of the two restaurants.
La Colombe d’Or, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
This artists’ haunt, which has seen celebrities such as Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura, Serge Reggiani or even Fernand Léger, was born at the end of the First World War under the name “Chez Robinson”, a café- bar whose terrace turns into a dance floor on weekends. Little by little, the establishment becomes an inn, the facade is built with the stones of an old castle ofAix en Provence, a fireplace is even erected, with the prints of those who participated in its construction. From now on, we can still find works by Braque, Calder and Matisse on display.
Le Negresco, in Nice
It is on the mythical French Riviera, at 37 de la Promenade des Anglais in Nice, was born the Negresco, in 1913, from the name of its designer, Henri Negrescu. Already, just before the war, the hotel attracted politicians and artists from all over the world. A reputation that does not weaken, since even today, after more than a hundred years of history, the Negresco remains a very popular resort for the international jet set.
Hotel Martinez, in Cannes
Inaugurated in 1929, in the middle of the Roaring Twenties, the Martinez hotel and its immaculate white facade overlooks the Croisette in Cannes. Fans of beautiful cars will not remain insensitive to the incessant parade of luxury cars in front of the entrance, especially during the Cannes Film Festival. Don’t hesitate to take a look inside, to discover the Art Deco inspiration that permeates the place.
The Molitor hotel, in Paris
What was first an emblematic swimming pool of the capital opened its doors the same year as the Martinez hotel in Cannes, in 1929. The swimming pool then completes an already dynamic sports complex in the 16th arrondissement, with the Parc des Princes , the Stade Jean Bouin and Roland Garros. Quickly, many ephemeral events take place outside the two basins, in a festive atmosphere. Closed in 1989, the building classified as historical monuments became a hotel in 2014, while retaining its primary role of swimming pool. Add to that, a restaurant, a bar and a rooftop open to all, as well as a spa.
The Grand Hotel Cabourg, in Normandy
Fans of Marcel Proust’s prose may know that there is a place that the writer was particularly fond of in Cabourg: the Grand Hotel, where he stayed regularly between 1907 and 1914, still in room 414, in the 4th floor. By the sea, the Belle Epoque-style building multiplies the references to the author, starting with his restaurant “Balbec”, named after the imaginary city told by Proust in In Search of Lost Time. The ideal place to come and savor a plump madeleine!
The hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, in Cap d’Antibes
Facing the Mediterranean and the Lérins Islands, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020, embodies the quintessence of the Riviera. It is here, at the extreme tip of Cape TownAntibes, which has been meeting for a century and a half the greatest names in art, as well as businessmen and political elites from all over the world. A lunch at the hotel is the opportunity to capture the beauty of this place, which F. Scott Fitzgerald took as a backdrop in his novel Tender is the night – “a large hotel with pink plaster which stands proudly on the charming shores of the Riviera” …
Le Normandy, in Deauville
Completely renovated in 2016, the Normandy hotel – Serge Gainsbourg’s favorite palace – has retained its half-timbered facade which makes its charm. It was there that Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in 1913, and that Claude Lelouch directed Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant in the film “A man and a woman”, a sequel to which bears the name. Families will appreciate sitting down at the La Belle Epoque restaurant, where you can taste typical Norman cuisine.
The Ritz, in Paris
This majestic palace on Place Vendôme, opened at the very end of the 19th century in a former private mansion, has been listed as a historical monument since 1930. Many personalities have stayed within its walls – Coco Chanel who had her apartments there, Marcel Proust or even Ernest Hemingway. Lady Di was also seen for the last time at the Ritz, before the car accident that claimed her life. Treatments, tea time and various catering options are available to clients outside the hotel… for a more than luxurious getaway in the heart of the capital.
The Nord-Pinus hotel, in Arles
True monument of the Arles city, just like its arenas or its amphitheater, the Nord-Pinus hotel has seen Jean Cocteau, Edith Piaf and Picasso pass. Today, it is between two walks during the Photo Meetings, or after a visit to the Van Gogh Foundation that we sit at the hotel bar to taste a little yellow, as Fernandel did in his time.
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