April 2023

France: Seasonal Southern Comforts

By Mr & Mrs Smith

South of France Holidays
First holidays—like first love—are hard to forget, equally hard to beat. Mr & Mrs Smith’s childhood memories are a French haze of russet fields, humble bistros, bustling food markets, and so on. In this nostalgic mood, we’ve published our latest guidebook, a lengthy love-letter to France and its hip luxury hotels—31 to be precise. Given a year, we’d visit them all, but we restrained ourselves, settling on a seasonal southern selection, just for PageDaily.

Summer Holidays in France
Come summer, the emphasis is on the Riviera, and the Côte d’Azur’s balmy beachside playground beckons. There’s glamour by the bucket (and spade) at Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo, but there’s a quiet side too. Èze, Mougins, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the region’s medieval villages, crown the cypress-dotted hills, cobbled alleys, casual cafés, and ruined ramparts. Regally rustic Bastide Saint Mathieu in Grasse is our Riviera hotel of choice. They organize cricket and opera on the grounds, but if neither baritones nor batsmen are your speed, explore Grasse’s perfume museums; beach-hop along the coast; or try truffles from Restaurant Bruno (+33 (0)4 94 85 93 93) at Campagne Mariette, Route des Arcs.

Autumn: Perfect for Visiting the French Vineyards
When the temperature drops, head to the hills of Languedoc. By late September, the tourists have decamped, leaving just enough buzz to keep you busy. Soak up the Languedoc vineyards of the Uzège, ogle the Pont du Gard, and admire Uzès’s cultural treasures. Where to stay? When in wine country, it must be a vineyard. For a stylish Languedoc hotel: Domaine de Verchant’s revamped mansion has its own wine estate and decadent spa and is just outside Montpellier. By night, dine in the hotel’s restaurant, then head to beachside Effet Mer (+33 (0)4 67 56 02 14) for live DJ sets.

Winter: Relax in a Cozy French Retreat
When it comes to a French holiday, France does winter wonderland as well as summer seaside. Alpine bunnies wanting ski holidays in France will love the rugged Rhône-Alpes’ white-velvet slopes, and the vine-clad valleys, lakeside spa towns, and scenic drives are equally alluring. Rest your slope-sliding limbs at Les Servages d’Armelle, a chic French chalet retreat in the Haute-Savoie region. Owner Armelle will keep you coddled and content—ask nicely and she’ll also arrange dog sledding, paragliding, hot-air ballooning, and snow-shoeing.

Spring: See Your French Vacation Come to Life
Provence in spring is a perfumer’s paradise. Fruit orchards and lavender scent the air, and the landscape is a riot of color. The hoards haven’t arrived, so you can enjoy the Camargue’s marshy charms and the Roman amphitheaters of Nîmes without sharing. La Villa Gallici, one of many luxury hotels in France, is a honey-colored springtime beauty, with lush grounds and floral decor. Spend your days having treatments at the nearby Sextius Thermal Baths (+33 (0)4 42 23 81 82), buying candied fruits from Confiserie Entrecasteaux (+33 (0)4 42 27 15 02) on Rue d’Entrecasteaux, or admiring the Musée Granet’s exhibitions (+ 33 (0)4 42 52 88 32).

For more tempting hotel suggestions for holidays in France, pick up a copy of our new guidebook, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France at Mr & Mrs Smith’s online store. The book comes with six months’ free BlackSmith membership, giving you access to exclusive hotel offers, luxury-brand discounts, and travel benefits.
Buy Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Collection: France, $29.95, at mrandmrssmith.com

For continued vacation fun, head south to Costa Brava and Barcelona. Read Melissa & Michael Meyers Tour Spain & France: One Trip, Three Landscapes. Share your European travel adventures by tweeting pictures @PageDaily or posting them on the PageDaily Facebook wall!

Mr & Mrs Smith, Travel Contributing Editor

James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy are the husband-and-wife founders of Mr & Mrs Smith, the world’s leading boutique hotel collection and booking service. Founded in 2003, the collection now includes more than 650 hand-picked hotels throughout the globe, reviewed online at www.mrandmrssmith.com and in their bestselling series of coffee-table . . . Read more of their travel secrets