Passion Points: Escape
At a Glance: Easily accessible from Paris by train or car, Les Etangs de Corot is a delightful refuge where guests can relax in country-chic accommodations, explore beautiful nature trails, feast at a gastronomic restaurant, and get pampered in a world-class Caudalie Spa.
Review: Just a 20-minute train (or cab) ride from Paris, an elegant retreat in a picturesque setting awaits. Les Etangs de Corot in Ville d’Avray is named for its historic setting, overlooking the ponds and forests that inspired many great painters and writers—notably the forefather of Impressionism, Camille Corot. Owned and operated by Alice and Jérôme Tourbier, who also run Les Source de Caudalie in Bordeaux, the 43-room hotel, which opened in 2008 combines upscale creature comforts with the charm and character of a weekend country house.
Alice Tourbier’s smart and original interior design integrates antique furniture and contemporary decorative accents throughout the hotel. In a nod to the illustrious artists who spent time in Ville d’Avray, the guestrooms feature reproductions of 19th-century French landscape paintings. Meanwhile illustrations of birds and animals by contemporary artist Walton Ford (on display in the lobby), offer a modern take of nature-inspired art. Despite the palette of rich grays and browns—from the zinc bar and buttery leather armchairs in the bar/lounge to the dark wood floors and exposed-brick walls of the Café des Artistes—the guestrooms and public areas remain airy and bright thanks to lots of large windows and glass doors. The cozy guestrooms and suites are individually decorated with family heirlooms and flea market finds (including secretary desks and brass lamps) and modern flourishes like bold Farrow & Ball patterned wallpaper and oversized mirrors. The suites feature a separate living room and rustic-chic slate bathrooms. Some guestrooms look out onto the street over hotel’s main entrance, but those on the opposite side have views of the forest and the lily pad–covered pond.
There are three in-house restaurants at Les Etangs de Corot, each offering a unique ambiance and menu. The gastronomic eatery Le Corot features large bay windows, high ceilings, chandeliers and dazzling blow-ups of the eponymous artist’s famous paintings. Garden views, wicker chairs and fresh-cut flowers give the room a sense of airy verdure, almost like a greenhouse. In a nod to the historic hunting culture of the nearby forest, the walls and mantels are decorated with faux trophy heads. And while the menu does feature game (such as roasted venison with berries, celery, and quince wine sauce) there are also plenty of lighter options like a flakey John Dory fish flavored with ginger consommé and lime.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Café des Artistes is a more casual dining option. With mismatched bistro chairs and no tablecloths, the ambiance here is more country-chic than Versailles-glam. A well-curated selection of wall decorations—from vintage farm tools to old lithographs of Versailles—make Instagram-ready subjects. Lots of natural light and tall vaulted ceilings imbue this cozy spot with freshness and cheer. The seasonal menu features hearty, refined dishes like cream of squash garnished with bacon and chestnuts, or roasted quail served with potatoes. In the summer months, a third dining option is available. Les Paillotes is a lofted covered terrace overlooking the scenic greenery and pond where guests can dine en plein air on summery fare like pea and mint gazpacho, sea bass à la plancha, and strawberries and cream.
Like the Tourbier’s property in Bordeaux (Les Source de Caudalie), Les Etangs de Corot incorporates wine into all aspects of the hotel experience. For example, the long windowed hallway connecting the reception area to the bar/lounge is lined with 2,500 empty green bottles from the family’s château, Smith Haut-Lafitte. Complimentary glasses of wine offered upon arrival (which can be enjoyed at a moment of your choosing) make guests feel right at home, and a unique tap system in the hotel’s open cave next to Café des Artistes allows diners a rare chance to sample grand crus by the glass. But perhaps the most luxurious wine-related indulgences are hotel’s signature spa treatments, which feature products derived from grape vines as well as the grapes themselves. Known for antioxidant treatments and luscious skin-care products, Caudalie Vinothérapie® was developed by Alice Tourbier’s sister, Mathilde Thomas. The original spa is part of Les Source de Caudalie and the newest outpost, at Les Etangs, features a large outdoor hot tub, a water-massage area, and treatment rooms with beautiful views of the natural surroundings.
Who Should Stay: Couples looking to escape city life for a night or two of R&R without committing to a long haul will appreciate the fresh-air atmosphere, proximity to Versailles, and the luxurious spa treatments.Indagare Loves:
- Signature Caudalie Vinothérapie® treatments like the Crushed Cabernet Scrub, Honey and Wine Wrap, and Vigneron Massage.
- Biking to Versailles! The concierge will reserve bikes for you and provide a map. It’s about a twenty-five minute ride, half through the picturesque forest and half on main roads (though there is always a designated bike lane.)
- Fur lampshades, comfy leather club chairs, and cowhide bolsters make the lounge/bar a romantic setting for a cocktail or a cup of tea.
- The spa’s very large, open-air Jacuzzi lets you enjoy the lovely scenery while benefitting from the hot water and massage jets.
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