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The Best Château Hotels in France

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For centuries, noble families of France—when they weren’t in court at Versailles—spent months at their chateaux, country homes which grew increasingly palatial. And even well after the Revolution, the country’s elite built fabulous countryside estates, usually called either their “chateaux” or “domaines.” Nowadays, many of these former homes have become museums, especially the grandest of the pre-Revolutionary castle-palaces like Chenonceau, Villandry and Chaumont. Others have opened as hotels, giving travelers a sneak peek into the fairytale lifestyle. Read on for Indagare’s picks of the best château hotels in France.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare if you are not yet a member to start planning a trip to these French chateaux hotels—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you. And don’t miss our our October 2022 Insider Journeys trip, Chateaux of Southern France, with horticultural expert Amy Kupec Larue to see the some of the region’s finest chateaux, gardens and vineyards (just in time for harvest season). Learn more here!

LOIRE CHATEAU HOTELS

Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé

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Photo by Michael Spengler courtesy Hotel Château Grand Lucé
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Photo by Adam Lynk, courtesy Hotel Château de Grand Luce
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Photo by Puxan Photography, courtesy Hotel Château Grand Lucé
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Photo by Adam Lynk, courtesy Hotel Château Grand Lucé

 

Set on the edge of a rural village, Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé has all the trappings of a quintessential French château experience. The setting, for starters, is storybook: 80 acres of grounds, surrounded by a medieval wall, and dotted with statuary—both in the manicured terraced gardens and throughout the forest trails. (The statues are exact replicas of ones found at Versailles, and were gifted to the estate’s original owner by Louis XV in the 1760s.) Next to the former stables and the orangerie, an historic fountain has been transformed into an idyllic pool. And in the 18th century château itself, the salons and individually designed guest rooms are fit for royalty, too, with damask-covered walls and gilded antique furnishings under soaring ceilings. This year, the hotel added a full-service spa with products from Maison Caulières.

Domaine de Primard

Near the border of Normandy, Domaine de Primard is Catherine Deneuve’s former home, which opened as a hotel in 2021. The château, of course, predates the Oscar-nominated actress. The 18th-century residence is a study of Classical symmetry, flanked by towering trees and gravel-pathed gardens. The transformation into a boutique five-star property saw the addition of a spa and two restaurants, and the contemporary furniture in the Domaine’s 40 rooms and suites shakes things up just enough.

Domaine de la Tortinière

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Courtesy Domaine de la Tortinière
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Courtesy Domaine de la Tortinière

 

Inside a fancifully ornate 19th-century château, Domaine de la Tortinière is a beloved family-run property located between Château de Chenonceau, Chinon wineries and Villandry gardens. Its individually designed rooms and suites vary from the traditional (toile wallpaper; antique furniture) to the eclectic (batik pillows; contemporary artwork). We love the two suites at the top of the hotel’s twin turrets, with views over the Loire Valley. Leisurely days at the Domaine can be spent ambling or cycling around its 40 acres of woodlands, boating in the Indre River, which flows through the estate, and lounging poolside or playing tennis. Kids are welcome, too, with children’s bikes, along with toys and dedicated menus. Adults, meanwhile, can enjoy exquisite French fine dining at L’Orangerie, the château’s restaurant.

BORDEAUX & CHARENTE CHATEAU HOTELS

Domaine des Etangs

The sprawling Domaine des Etangs—with an estate spanning nearly 2,500 acres—is a veritable destination in itself. Its turreted château, which dates to the 13th century, has been painstakingly restored, and given new life as a 29-room hotel. Spend the day exploring its library and salons—with an impressive art collection, from medieval portraits to Picassos—as well as venturing into the expansive grounds. Ancient forests, manicured gardens and farmland (home to 350 cows) are all at your fingertips, although the two pools, boating on the ponds and a game of tennis also demand some time. Indagare Review coming soon!

La Maison d’Estournel & La Chartreuse de Cos d’Estournel

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Photo by Gregoire Gardette courtesy La Maison d'Estournel
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Photo by Gregoire Gardette courtesy La Maison d'Estournel

 

From Michel Reybier, the owner of La Reserve Hotels, La Maison d’Estournel is a new boutique property amongst the vineyards of Saint-Estèphe. The château was once the home of early 19th-century winemaker Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, who founded the Cos d’Estournel and wanted a home close to his wildly successful wines (which were sold—at steep prices—as far away as India). Today, the Maison’s 14 contemporary-style rooms—with oak floors, velvet headboards—look out over both the Maison’s grounds and those of the adjacent Cos d’Estournel. Staying here is a decidedly laid-back, residential experience: guests can explore the château’s library, help themselves in the kitchen pantry and pick a pea pod or two in the vegetable garden. It is also possible to do a buyout at La Chartreuse de Cos d’Estournel, Reybier’s private family home inside the winery’s pagoda-topped historic château. Indagare Review coming soon!

Related: Join our October 2022 Insider Journeys trip, Chateaux of Southern France, with horticultural expert Amy Kupec Larue to see the some of the region’s finest chateaux, gardens and vineyards (just in time for harvest season). Travelers on this small group trip will stay at La Maison d’Estournel as well as another favorite countryside retreat, Les Sources de Caudalie. Learn more here

CHAMPAGNE CHATEAU HOTELS

Domaine Les Crayères

Champagne lovers seeking an opulent home base from which to explore the region’s best wineries head to Domaine Les Crayères because of its location—within walking distance to Vranken Pommery, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart—and fabulous design. Built for a marquise in 1904, the Empire-style château has just 20 rooms, each with plush antiques, and some with fireplaces and balconies overlooking the estate’s 17 acres of grounds. The public spaces are equally grand, be it in the bar-lounge with its brown leather and green plaids or the formal dining room at Michelin-starred Le Parc restaurant, where gilt-framed oil paintings are lit by chandeliers. Out on the front lawn, lawn games and mini-golf make for a laid-back afternoon activity between Champagne tastings and dinner.

Château de Courcelles

A half hour outside of Reims, in the bucolic town of Courcelles, Château de Courcelles is a 17th-century countryside escape set on 40 acres of parkland along the Vesles River. Its 20 rooms, no two the same, are filled with antiques and period-style furnishings. Most are in the main building, and look out over the grounds. Other, more spacious suites occupy the château’s historic orangerie, and come with private terraces. And in 2021, the hotel added its Marie-Louise Suite, overlooking both the orangerie and the main château, with two king bedrooms plus a living room and office (though we find it hard to imagine getting work done here!). Public spaces include a library and a boudoir, decorated in Versailles-inspired blue and white porcelain, plus oak-paneled dining salons and a tile-floored conservatory. Outside, guests can spend the days poolside, although children (and the young at heart) love to test their navigational skills in the classical French garden’s hedge maze.

NORMANDY CHATEAU HOTELS

Château La Chenevière

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Courtesy Château La Chenevière
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La Botaniste. Courtesy Château La Chenevière

 

Just outside the tiny town of Port en Bessin, Château La Chenevière is a countryside escape set in an 18th-century manor house. It’s under 20 minutes from Omaha Beach and the Normandy cemeteries, making it an ideal choice for visitors looking to explore the region’s fascinating World War II history. (Some of it took place right on property: The Germans and then the British commandeered the estate during the war, and in 1944 a member of the French Resistance cut Nazi communication lines at La Chenevière in advance of D-Day.) Yet the horrors of war feel distant at this blissful property, with 29 rooms and suites, an excellent fine dining restaurant and a pool on 30 acres of bucolic grounds.

Château d’Audrieu

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Courtesy Château d'Audrieu
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Courtesy Château d'Audrieu
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Courtesy Château d'Audrieu

 

Foodies, take note: Château d’Audrieu’s original owner—in the 10th century—was William the Conquerer’s personal chef (according to local legend). Cuisine is still a focus at this château hotel in the Calvados countryside, housed inside an 18th century manor home on the historic thousand-year-old estate. Its Le Serán restaurant, part of Relais & Chateaux, serves exquisite French gastronomic dishes. Beyond the food and folklore, Château d’Audrieu’s grounds—all 74 acres—are a dream to explore, be it by foot or two-wheeler. Among the gardens and lawns, a pool, playground and treehouse make the hotel a popular pick for families.

PROVENCE & FRENCH RIVIERA CHATEAU HOTELS

Airelles Saint-Tropez, Château de le Messardière

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Courtesy Airelles
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Courtesy Airelles
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Courtesy Airelles

 

With its pink stucco walls, mosaic tiles and four turrets: the grand, Italianate  Airelles Saint-Tropez, Château de le Messardière is a whimsical take on a Florentine palazzo. Built on the estate of a longstanding noble family in the 18th century, it transitioned from private home to hotel in 1904, making it one of the country’s longest-serving château-hotels. For decades, it has been a top destination for the St. Tropez set, and in 2021 it joined the prestigious Airelles hotel group following extensive renovations. Also new: a second outdoor pool for lap-swimming, plus a Valmont spa, where nine treatment rooms and a hammam, indoor pool, sauna, and infrared therapy are available. A favorite for families, the resort also runs popular “summer camp” programs for kids.

Château de Berne

Château de Berne is a charming Provençal retreat, with cypress trees, forested trails and one of the region’s largest vineyards surrounding the 18th-century stone manor house. It’s been expanded over the years, including in the 20th century to make room for a fabulous spa and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Still, an overwhelming sense of timelessness prevails here: limestone walls, mint-green shutters, and the chorus of birdsong from the gardens give no hint to what year we’re in. Relaxation is the goal here, with plenty of time for sunbathing by the two pools (one of which is adults-only) as well as tasting the estate’s own wines.

Château Saint-Martin

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Photo by Romain Reglade, courtesy Oetker Collection
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Photo by Jean Michel Sordello, courtesy Oetker Collection

 

With roots dating to Roman times, Château Saint-Martin has seen a remarkable upgrade over the millennia. During the 12th century, it served as a stronghold for Crusaders en route to and from Jerusalem, from its hilltop setting overlooking the distant coastline. Fast forward 900 years, and it’s home to one of Europe’s leading destination spas. The Oetker Property on 34 acres of olive trees and formal gardens overlooking the Riviera, invites visitors to indulge in a few days of pampering under the Mediterranean sun. Food, too, is a treat, with Michelin-starred fine dining as well as a more casual garden restaurant. Of course, meals are paired with wines, with a rightful emphasis on labels from the region.

Château de La Chèvre d’Or

From its impressive perch 1,300 feet above the Mediterranean in the hilltop town of Eze, this château—a medieval castle restored in the 1920s—has held watch over the village for centuries. Today, the Château de La Chèvre d’Or’s 40 accommodations take inspiration from their setting, with exposed stone walls and dark wooden beams, although the infinity pool (set amidst terraced gardens) and two-Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant are very much of the present. Some rooms are set within the original castle walls, connected by cobblestone paths. Others open directly to the pedestrian-only, winding streets of Eze itself.

PARIS & VERSAILLES CHATEAU HOTELS

Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle

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Photo by Renée Kemps, courtesy Airelles
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Photo by Renée Kemps, courtesy Airelles

 

No château in France can compete with the splendor of the Château de Versailles, one of Europe’s most over-the-top celebrations of monarchical power. And with the new Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, a privileged few can spend the night. The 14 rooms, inside a section of the palace built in 1681, are filled with period pieces and rich fabrics, and overlook the Orangerie, the pond and other wings of the massive royal home. A Valmont Spa and restaurant from Alain Ducasse complete the property. But the best perk of staying here: before- or after-hours access to Versailles without the crowds. Hotel guests go on private tours, with iconic spots like Trianon Palace, the Hall of Mirrors and the State Apartments all to themselves.

Bonus: Saint James Paris

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Photo by Melissa Biggs Bradley courtesy Indagare
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Photo by Melissa Biggs Bradley courtesy Indagare

 

The just-renovated and reopened Saint James Paris was never the country estate for nobility (it was built in the late 1800s as a boarding home for gifted university students). But thanks to its impressive grounds and distinct manor-house style, it is billed as the City of Light’s only château-hotel, giving visitors an oasis of relaxation within the 16th Arrondissement. Surrounded by its leafy park—once the world’s first hot air balloon landing field—the circa 1892 building now houses 50 guest rooms and suites, each with an eccentric but glamorous design (expect a lot of whimsical wallpapers, Chinese curios and a mix of vibrant colors). There is also a newly expanded Guerlain spa and a popular fine dining restaurant, which spills outside in summer months. This year, an additional terrace grill restaurant serves barbecued meats and vegetables—many from the hotel’s own organic farm outside of Paris. And while the city’s Palace-category hotels offer iconic architecture and buttoned-up service, Saint James brings a bit of the countryside’s relaxed vibes to its landscaped gardens.

Plus: More French Countryside Hotels We Love

This list focuses on hotels inside historic châteaux, but we also love other French countryside hotel, such as Les Sources de Cheverny and Les Sources de Caudalie, which just renovated its public spaces. See all our recommended hotels in France here.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare if you are not yet a member to start planning a trip to these French chateaux hotels—this year and beyond. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you. And don’t miss our our October 2022 Insider Journeys trip, Chateaux of Southern France, with horticultural expert Amy Kupec Larue to see the some of the region’s finest chateaux, gardens and vineyards (just in time for harvest season). Learn more here!

– Peter Schlesinger on July 7, 2022

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