Paris Country Escapes

Less than an hour from Paris, Chantilly and Versailles have long been favorite day trips for families and couples. In addition to decadent estates, picturesque gardens, and lovely walking trails, two recently opened hotels make spending the night (en famille or en amoureux) part of the experience. Here’s what you need to know when considering these country getaways.

Versailles: Les Etangs de Corot

An easy getaway from Paris, this country-chic hotel is well situated for a variety of activities—from a stroll in the landscape that inspired French writers and artists like Baudelaire and Corot to a visit to the magnificent Versailles.

Vibe

Country B&B charm meets sophisticated style

At a Glance

Easily accessible from Paris by train or car, Les Etangs de Corot, is a delightful refuge where you 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

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, their second hotel (43 rooms and suites, 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. The guestrooms and public areas remain airy and bright thanks to lots of large windows and glass doors. All are individually decorated with family heirlooms and flea market finds (worn leather club chairs, secretary desks, brass lamps) and modern flourishes like bold Farrow & Ball patterned wallpaper and oversized mirrors.

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. 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.

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 Tip

In the summer, if you are visiting Versailles, it’s worth making a reservation at Les Paillotes, the lofted covered terrace that overlooks the scenic greenery and pond. Guests can dine en plein air on summery fare like pea and mint gazpacho, sea bass à la plancha, and strawberries and cream.

Chantilly: Auberge du Jeu de Paume

Offering much more than whipped cream and lace, Chantilly is a great weekend destination for history buffs, art-lovers, equestrians, and epicures.

Vibe

Regal, privileged, pampered

At a Glance

Opened in 2012, the five-star hotel Auberge du Jeu de Paume has brought a new level of contemporary luxury to Chantilly—making it a stylish weekend getaway destination.

Review

Located across from the majestic 18th century stables originally built for Louis-Henri de Bourbon, the Auberge du Jeu de Paume plays up its historic setting by offering guests a modern-day “royal treatment.” Just twenty-minutes from Paris’s Gare du Nord, Chantilly feels a world away. The hotel’s interior design pays tribute to the Chateau’s treasures with reproductions of paintings and furniture adorning the guestrooms and pubic areas. (The concierge desk, for example, is modeled after the Duke d’Aumale’s private library.)

The guestrooms balance old-style luxury with contemporary comfort. Plush Louis XV-style armchairs and sofas are given modern flair with striped wool upholstering and contrasting throw pillows. Accents like French toile and tasseled sateen drapes offer a taste 18th-century French finery, but not at the cost of feeling like you are staying in a museum. All of the rooms are bright, airy, and comfy—equipped with flat-screen TVs, movies-on-demand, Wifi, and coffee makers. The large bathrooms feature beautiful glass mirrors custom-made in Murano, Carrera marble floors, separate tub and shower, and delectable Hermès products.

Highlights of the Auberge Jeu de Paume experience include the hotel’s spa and Michelin-starred restaurant. The spa has five treatment rooms (including one for couples), a small pool with attached Jacuzzi, a steam room and sauna, and a small fitness center. Talented chef Arnaud Faye presides over the open kitchen at Le Table du Connétable, and his gift for unexpected flavor combinations and artistic presentation have made this a destination restaurant. Like the rest of the hotel, the dining room has dramatic flair. The waiters may be dressed in tailcoats and use white gloves to set down gilded silverware, but it’s the culinary creations that steal the show.

Who Should Stay

Families will find plenty of kid-friendly activities in Chantilly such as the Horse Museum, located directly across from the Auberge du Jeu de Paume. Couples looking for a romantic getaway will be equally happy here.

Indagare Tip

The hotel is just a five-minute walk from the Chateau de Chantilly with its famed art collection and Le Notre-designed gardens.

– Mara Hoberman on August 25, 2013

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