Nine French Countryside Retreats to Live Out Your Pastoral Dream Life
Chateau de Bagnols, Beaujoulais
If you know Beaujolais only as a great wine for Sangria, here’s a reason to get further acquainted. The palatial, 13th-century Chateau de Bagnols—the standard setter for luxury in town—encompasses an Espa-branded spa, a hammam, lavender gardens, a Roman pool, and an endless array of brocade silks, all surrounded by a moat and drawbridge. Rooms are equally fit for royalty, with marble baths, fine Swiss linens, and silver serving ware (even for your bedside water carafe). Use it as a launch pad for days in Lyon (just 20 miles away) or soft adventures, like hot-air ballooning high above the area’s vineyards. Rooms start at $242 a night.
Fontevraud L’Hotel, Anjou
If the vast monastic structure that houses Fontevraud’s 52 rooms looks like something out of a fairy tale, that’s because it is: the abbey, a UNESCO Heritage Site-turned-hotel, dates back to the year 1101 and is rumored to hold the burial remains of King Richard the Lionheart. But now a thoroughly modern tale is unfolding, as renowned architects Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have transformed the former monks’ quarters into light-flooded, neutral-toned rooms with expansive French doors that open onto cloistered courtyards outside. Clean, geometric lines and giant art installations add a bold dash of attitude in the arcades and public spaces—which include a breakfast area, bar, and an ambitious restaurant by Bocuse d’Or winner Thibaut Rugger. Rooms start $201 a night.
Le Bastide de Gorde, Provence
The hilltop village of Luberon may be one of Provence’s prettiest—and this 40-room estate, fresh off a $22 million renovation, is the best place to take it all in. Guests have full access to three pools, wine tastings with the property sommelier, a Pierre Gagnaire-helmed restaurant, and sprawling outdoor terraces perched above the town’s ancient-looking cobblestone buildings. And the rooms? Expect an alluring mix of country charms (ornate woodwork, clawfoot tubs) and contemporary comforts (large dressing areas, Sisley bath amenities). Reservations can be made via email.
D’Une Ile, Normandy
Tucked away in the verdant hills of Lower Normandy is this nine-room gem run by expat couple Michel Mulder and Sofie Sleumer. Once a medieval settlement, it comprises five buildings and a restaurant on 20 sprawling acres of land—all lovingly restored from near-ruins and filled up with pieces by Tom Dixon, Ilse Crawford, and their high-design contemporaries. Also a draw: the on-site restaurant, where Mulder makes use of the hyper-local bounty, from fish and seafood harvested on the Normandy coast to 'eau d'une île' beer, brewed by a local character named Bernie. Rooms, reserved via email, start at $103 a night.
La Grande Maison, Bordeaux
Less a hotel than a restaurant with rooms, this labor of love by legendary chef Joël Robuchon and wine magnate Bernard Magrez is every bit as elegant and refined as you’d expect: grand spiral staircases, silk wall coverings, and an expansive wine cellar filled with 250-plus local labels. Every element of service—be it in the dining room or in the six rooms upstairs—has been thoughtfully considered, from the Christofle cutlery to the Hermès bath amenities. And when you’re a guest of Magrez’s, the VIP treatment is no small perk. Here, wine tours can be done via helicopter or Rolls Royce, or with the company of a running coach—whichever you prefer. Rooms start at $335 a night.
Chateau de la Goujonnerie, Vendee
Unicorn taxidermy, bi-level chandeliers, and enough antiques for an entire road show: it’s all over-the-top whimsy at this grand chateaux, which was fully restored by design masterminds Les Trois Garçons. But you’ll have to pay a pretty penny to stay here—and bring along as many friends as you can. The property is for exclusive use only, and sleeps a whopping 54 people. Rates start at $4,000 a night.
Hotel Auberge de Jeu de Paume, Chantilly
A grand historic home that’s played host to generations of European royalty, this Relais & Chateaux hotel is now something of a living museum, with rooms decked out in toile de Jouy fabrics and solid oak Louis XV-style furniture. On the property’s expansive grounds: polo fields and a full-length equestrian racetrack, gardens designed by Louis XIV’s once-principal gardener, and a phenomenal restaurant by French chef Arnaud Faye, a protégé of Michel Roth and Thierry Marx. Rooms start at $318.
La Colline du Colombier, Auberge
Yes, the rooms at this auberge—three villas on stilts tucked between 100-year-old oak trees—are an architectural marvel all their own, with curved zinc roofs and terraces that jut into the countryside. But you’re here to eat. The property, a labor of love by the great French chef Michel Troisgrois, is the perfect place to sleep off a meal at the three Michelin-starred Relais & Chateaux restaurant, Maison Troisgrois. Don’t feel like driving into town? The property has its own restaurant, Le Grand Couvert, in a former stable (order the beef cheek ravioli or escargot bruschetta). Rooms start at $300 a night.
All 7,500 square feet of this colorful, French-hipster-chic mansion can be yours—or you can share it with a dozen of your closest friends for a bargain that can’t be beat. Exposed rafters, multiple working fireplaces, and outdoor daybeds draped in embroidered blankets add an element of fantasy; the private stonewalled pool is just icing on the cake. You may never want to leave, but if you do, the tiny town of Saint-Pierre-de-Mézoargues—located midway between Arles and Avignon—is right at your fingertips. Villa rental from $1084 a night.