As when you choose the furniture to decorate your home, we think that nothing beats insider tips and first-hand experiences. This summer, Maison Flaneur’s team has decided to take you back to their home country and share with you their secret holiday spots. Today Marie shares her favourite locations and hotels in France. From le Pyla to Les Gorges du Verdon, discover the best of France from a Flâneur to another.
For a taste of picturesque French countryside, look no further than La Colombe d’Or in Provence. In 1940 the south became the “free zone” and a whole variety of thinkers and artists moved to the Cote d’Azur. During this period, the quiet family-run hotel amassed an incredible art collection of 20th-century masters like Chagall, Calder, Braque, Matisse, and Picasso. All of them were regulars and donated works in exchange for a stay or a few meals. Even the word special seems inadequate to describe this little piece of paradise. ”
Adventure down the Gorges du Verdon
The deepest gorge in France, Les Gorges du Verdon, is one of the must-see natural wonders of Provence. Follow the breathtaking circular “corniche” route around the rim of the gorge or adventure down the lower end of the gorge on a kayak or small motorboat.
In a preserved natural environment opposite the Ile d’Or, between the pine and tamarisk trees, the Hôtel Les Roches Rouges is a Fifties Modernist design dream. With its sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea, sleek aesthetic, carefully-curated cocktail list and uber-photogenic stoned-lined pool by the surf, Les Roches Rouges is the perfect place to sea and to be seen.
Explore Marseille’s architectural wonders
Brutalism is the name for a style of architecture pioneered by Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier. His ‘Unité d’Habitation’ in Marseille, is arguably the most influential Brutalist building of all time. His experiment for a new “habitat system”, has been recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and has remained a favourite with architects. Late Italian architect Gio Ponti branded it as “a true monument in the history of French construction”. It is definitely worth a visit.
Set between the oaks, elms and silver birch, two large red-coloured barns emerge from the landscape. Tucked away in the Rambouillet forest, near Paris, Le Barn lies in the heart of an estate covering more than 200 hectares where nature alone is master. Built on part of La Cense, a property that was once witness to the secret love between Henri IV and his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrées, Le Barn is both confidential yet well-connected. Somewhere to unwind, reflect, listen to the birds and whisper gently to the horses.
Only 45 minutes away from the French Capital, Le Barn is the perfect place for a French leave. Its geographical location, in the heart of the Rambouillet Forest and bordering the Chevreuse Valley, is ideal for those who like to take their time, explore the woods in search of mushrooms, walk, hike, ride or cycle – but most importantly take time.
L’Hotel du Palais (originally the Villa Eugénie) is located beside the Atlantic beach in the resort town of Biarritz. It was originally built for the Empress Eugénie around 1855 as a summer villa. It was due to the visits of the imperial couple that the village of Biarritz developed into a fashionable resort. For many years the hotel attracted the international elite, including members of the European royalty such as King Edward VII who paid several extended visits. The palace is not only an institution but also a perfect location from which to explore the region.
Learn how to surf
The southwestern corner of France is one of Europe’s top surfing hot spots. The small seaside resort of Biarritz is renowned for its foaming waves, delicious food, and great surf atmosphere. It is the perfect location to take your first surfing lessons.
Surrounded by a forest and designed by Philippe Starck, The Hotel La Coorniche offers an incredible panoramic view of the Great Dune of Pyla, the ocean and the Banc d’Arguin. Backed to the highest sand dune in Europe, the hotel is like suspended between sky and sea.
Discover Les dunes du Pyla
Discover Europe’s tallest sand dune nestled between the Atlantic Ocean, an enormous pine forest, the Arcachon Bay, a sandbank and a peninsula. Sometimes described as a “menacing sand wall” or even called a “sand monster” swallowing up “parts of France”, this unique landscape will – no doubt – take your breath away.