Relais & Châteaux opens the doors to seven properties in France that bring you back to your senses through contemplation and tranquil immersion in a natural setting.
A green escapade - Les Prés d’Eugénie - Maison Guérard, Landes
You come here thinking you’re embarking on a detox retreat, but you leave with a rejuvenated body, awakened senses and a fulfilled heart. Needless to say, nature is generous here. Palm trees, kitchen gardens, water features, a honeybee garden, a rose collection and a citrus hothouse... All the bouquets are grown on-site, and the new chic bistrot L’Orangerie serves dietetic, botanical cuisine that couldn’t be more local. Chef Michel Guerard had the fountain of his dreams built just across from the conservatory, with lapping water and moss at the edges. Your day’s program is every bit as soft and comforting: yoga, Chinese medicine, workshops focusing on cocktails and herbal teas from the herb garden, and delightful cleansing treatments. The perfect way to indulge in the here and now.
A Romanesque tour - Domaine de Primard
Shall we pay a visit to the 18th century? Located 44 miles west of Paris, this most recent addition to Les Domaines de Fontenille has just opened its doors in the heart of the Norman countryside. This little castle features 40 rooms or suites, five stars, and three centuries of history. So do you prefer a boat ride or a tour of the castle? Organic Suzanne Kaufmann skincare with botanical active ingredients or a fragrant stroll through the rose garden, where hundreds of bushes bloom? With a gazebo, moats, little footbridges, an arboretum and more... The peaceful garden was designed by the famous Belgian landscaping artist Jacques Wirtz, while the vegetable patch flourishes to provide for the three-star dishes prepared by Chef Éric Fréchon to delight your tastebuds. A fairytale setting for an unforgettable stay.
At home in a hut - Château de Valmer
The irresistible countryside of Provence stretches across nearly 15 acres here, with organic vineyards as far as the eye can see and the sea spray just a few hundred feet away... This former family boarding house now offers a stay in a treehouse built 10 feet off the ground in a century-old oak. It has two bedrooms, an equipped bathroom, and a terrace with a view over the vineyard. Back on solid ground, feel free to dine at the star-rated restaurant, reserve a treatment at the spa, splash in the indoor swimming pool, or admire the sunset from the private beach facing the Îles d’Or.
Breathe in the air - Hostellerie La Cheneaudière & Spa, Bas-Rhin
An eagle’s nest in the Vosges? In addition to birdsong, this one offers a view over the forest canopy, along with 38 rooms, junior suites and suites; four swimming pools, a floatarium, five saunas and a hammam hive; “herb-and-honey” skincare with the harvest from the 21 beehives of the estate; and more. Stone, water, wood... Everywhere are natural, noble materials and views over Bruche Valley. Produce from the vegetable patch brings a special touch to the dishes served here. But to really let your heart soar, take to the air and head for one of the oversized nests that swing 16 feet off the ground. Just climb up one of the wide nets and stretch out in one of these cozy hanging cocoons, where the wind soothes your cares away.
A garden party - Saint James Paris, Paris
Among club chairs, travel souvenirs and a liberating, sustainable, fair-trade cuisine, the Saint James reinvents itself, offering a five-star verdant stopover for adventurers and stationary travelers alike. The scent of leather, the softness of velvet... On a rainy day, take refuge in the library bar (redecorated by the interior architect Laura Gonzales) or at Le Bellefeuille, a restaurant designed like a conservatory that Chef Julien Dumas will preside upon reopening. With the first rays of the sun, enjoy the enclosed garden terrace, the hydrangea copses and the pergola, entirely redesigned by the landscape artist Xavier de Chirac. A true oasis within the city.
A waterside picnic - La Côte Saint-Jacques & Spa, Burgundy
Step into the warmth of a family house, but in a five-star version. The Yonne flows along one side of the garden, cocktails are being served on the terrace, and you’ll relish a stroll through the vegetable patch where the ingredients of your next meal are thriving. The only hard part is leaving this spot; but rest assured, you’ll enjoy a walk through the forest along one of the many local paths. Or follow the riverbank on a bike to find the perfect spot. Finally, it’s time to open your wicker basket. Chef Jean-Michel Lorain and his team – recently awarded a star in the Michelin Green guide for their environmentally friendly approach – have carefully prepared your lunch for an exquisitely refined picnic. Set out the blanket and the proper glasses and tableware provided, and savor your lunch in the greenery.
Back down to earth - Baumanière Hôtel & Spa, Provence
Quick, get here while it’s still zucchini flower and asparagus season! This year, the estate has inaugurated a new vegetable patch in the midst of the apricot orchard, and its marvelous peas and fresh green beans go directly into the dishes (crafted here by the ceramist-in-residence) of L’Oustau de Baumanière and La Cabro d’Or. Strolls here are fragrant with the scent of rosemary. Here, there and everywhere, the charms of Provence abound. In the distance are Val d’Enfer, the Alpilles, olive oil mills and invigorating vineyards. At the farm, you’ll enjoy light meals, a Sisley spa, yoga sessions and bread-making workshops. Time to get back to the simple – but essential – pleasures.