Flân' Club

Gabriel’s favourite holiday spots in Lebanon

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 Gabriel shares his favourite locations and hotels in Lebanon. From the Bekaa valley to the cities of Sidon and Tyre, discover the best of Lebanon outside of Beirut from one Flâneur to another.

Bekaa valley & Baalbeck temple – a travel time to Ancient Rome

Among the oldest sites of wine production in the world and home to the famous Lebanese vineyards Ksara & Kefraya. It is with no surprise that the Romans built in 150AD the Baalbek temple complex, dedicated to the Roman god of wine. Inscribed in 1984 as an UNESCO World Heritage site, it is larger and better preserved than the Parthenon in Athens.

Where to stay?

  • An eco friendly farmhouse: Al Haush. A farm turned guesthouse owned and run by the family for generations, your food will be fresh ingredients from the farm and you will bake your own jam for breakfast

Where to eat? 

  • Go to Tawlet Ammiq for one of the most spectacular views of the region
  • Go to the delicious ecolodge in Taanayel to promote sustainable eco-tourism in the region

Up: the ancient Baalbeck temple; Bottom: the Al Haush farmhouse

Anfeh: a fishermen village turned into beach clubs and restaurants

Byblos & Batroun: Make yourself at home in the world’s oldest cities

Byblos is believed to have been first occupied between 8,800 and 7,000BC and continuously inhabited since 5,000BC, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Batroun is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is today a major touristic city in Lebanon, with beach resorts, a vibrant nightlife outdoor activities and home to the Batroun International Festival hosting leading local and international artists.

Where to stay?

  • Beit Al Batroun: nestled in a little valley overlooking the Mediterranean near the town of Thoum, it is a haven of peace. Built using upcycled materials, its interior relies on an intuitive marriage of restored vintage pieces, innovative design ideas, and hand crafts – its owner Kahil is herself a mosaicist

Where to eat & drink? 

Ancient city of Byblos

Left: Chouwen river; Right: beach club in Hamat

Go for a mountain trip in the Chouf

It is one of the best-preserved districts in Lebanon, making it ideal for hikes, treks, and healthy retreats. This mountainous region is wild and isolated in some parts, and covered with small villages and terraced agricultural plots in others. Deir Al Qamar is one of the country’s most enchanting villages, while nearby Beiteddine Palace, a sumptuous 19th-century palace which used to be the Emir of Lebanon residence, is a major draw. High up in the range, Lebanon’s famous and protected cedars overlook the nation from their lofty vantage point.

Where to stay?

  • Spend a night in an Emir Residence turned into a hotel in the 70s: Mir Amin Palace
  • Have a romantic escape in the beautiful guest house Bouyouti
  • Have a health & spa retreat at Bkerzaya pottery studio turned into an eco-friendly village

Where to eat?

Breakfast at the Mir Amin Palace - an Emir residence turned into a hotel in the 70s

Left: Shallalat Al Zarqa waterfalls in Baakline; Right: view of the Bouyouti guesthouse pool

Tyre & Sidon: ancient cities home of the best Lebanese craftmanship & souks

Tyre was founded 4,000 years ago and prospered as one of the main cities of Phoenicia, an ancient Semitic civilization. It has some of the world’s largest Roman ruins and formed colonies that remain as cities today: Cadiz in Spain and Carthage in Tunisia. Today, Tyre is an emerging touristic hotspot, exuding a beach-y vibe with beach clubs, hip boutique hotels and bars. You will find groups of friends chinking glasses of arak on the beach while lucky snorkelers spot the sea turtles that swim around the ancient ruins.

Sidon is one of the oldest Phoenician cities and it was ruled in turn by Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Romans. It is now famous for its recently refurbished Souk which has kept its old charm. You’ll find homemade soap, woodworking, food & spices, clothes, and even lingerie.

Where to stay?

  • Dar Alma – one of Lebanon’s most charming boutique hotels, located in the historical souk right on the seafront. It has a nautical atmosphere, from its blue and white décor to the ocean facing restaurant and private swimming spot
  • Al Fanar guesthouse –  a lighthouse turned into a hotel in Tyre. In its bar overhanging the sea, customers drink the local beer, Almaza, and dine on fish and chips, Lebanese-style

Where to eat?

  • Saida Rest House in Sidon and its breathtaking terrace with a view of the 800-year-old Crusaders sea castle
  • Le Phénicien – located right on the harbor, it is one of Tyre’s most popular upscale seafood restaurants
  • For a unique eating experience, buy fresh fish, rent a fisherman’s flouca (fishing boat) and have a BBQ on the small rocky island, Zireh, facing the port

Top: beach in Tyre; Middle: crusaders sea castle in Sidon; Bottom left: souks in Sidon; Bottom right: souks in Tyre

And of course... Beirut's vibrant and unique nightlife... but that will be for another article!

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