5 weekend escapes in France Hotel Crillon le Brave

5 weekend escapes in France

Forget the cities and experience the great outdoors with our guide to the best weekend escapes within easy reach of the French capital.

There’s a lot more to France than just Paris. To the west the ancient châteaux complete the backdrop of mist-filled vineyards and in south dip your toes into the Mediterranean and soak up the year-round sunshine. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle here are our tip picks for weekend breaks in the French countryside.

For kids: The Grand Hotel, Cabourg

Right on the beach, the Grand Hotel in Cabourg oozes old world charm. This historic monument is best known for its sea views and star-studded guest list stretching from Marcel Proust, who used to summer there, to Hollywood royalty like Gene Tierney.

Grand Hotel CabourgPhoto courtesy of hotel

Within easy reach of the WW2 landing beaches this hotel is a stone’s throw from Deauville and just a two-hour drive from Paris. It’s best visited in spring, though the vast playground that is the beach can be fun for families whatever the weather. Rooms are theatrically decorated, romantic and spacious. Don’t miss the afternoon tea and its Proust-inspired madeleines.

For foodies: Crillon le Brave 

crillon2Photo courtesy of hotel

Under an hour from Avignon you’ll find the charming and utterly chic Crillon le Brave village and eponymous hotel. With views over the Mont Ventoux and the vineyards, rooms are set in higgledy-piggeldy houses packed with original features and decorated ‘French shabby chic’ style.

In addition to the heated pool, friendly welcome and local activities, the hotel boasts three restaurants. Try the Bistrot 40K, where all produce used comes from within a 40km radius, or dine in the 13th century stables under stone vaulted ceilings. Jérôme Blanchet’s restaurant is worth the trip alone for delights such as foie gras with tangy apricots, seabass carpaccio, herb incrusted lamb or John Dory filet with virgin olive oil and aubergine caviar. Breakfast is worth writing home about too.

For the Mediterranean...

Tiara YaktsaPhoto courtesy of hotel

A quick flight to Nice and even quicker transfer to Theoule sur Mer and one can spend the perfect weekend on the Mediterranean. Far from the crowds of St Tropez and Nice, wedged between Cannes and St Raphael, Theoule is set against the green hills of the Esterel overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean.

For a boutique hotel with tip-top service and perfect views, the Tiara Yaktsa sits along the road from Pierre Cardin’s extraordinary ‘Bubble House’. With just 21 guestrooms and suites it’s a Relais & Châteaux gem – an ideal coastal hideaway that won’t break the bank. Great views, four posters beds and gourmet restaurant L’Or Bleu all add to the treat, not to mention the spa and teeny tiny beach down the road.

For historians or hikers: Fontainebleau

Hotel Aigle NoirPhoto courtesy of Flickr/@lain G, plus très présent

Just an hour out of Paris, the picturesque town of Fontainebleau attracts its fair share of visitors thanks to its imposing chateau. First designed in 1528 by architect Gilles Le Breton, it soon got the reputation as one of the country’s finest. Visitors can admire the ballroom and Long Gallery, as well as Marie Antoinette's boudoir and Napoleon's throne room.

Another must? A walk in the pristine manicured gardens designed by Le Nôtre and a moment in the "Cour des Adieux," where Napoleon apparently bid farewell to his troops before his exile to Elba. The vast forest that surrounds Fontainebleau is also an asset, for hikers and climbers alike. To sleep in style, check into the historic Aigle Noir Hotel, a skip away from the Chateau.

For romance: Montbazon, Loire Valley

ArtignyPhoto courtesy of hotel

Three hours out of Paris the sumptuous Loire valley castles await. Take in the grandeur of the French Renaissance architecture from Chambord to Azay le Rideau, while staying in your very own Chateau in Montbazon.

Imposing and impressive, the 19th-century chateau is set in a 25-hectare park, close to Tours. With the traditional French country décor you can expect all mod cons, from flat screens to free WIFI and views over the Indre valley. Dine like royalty in the gilded dining room under the chandeliers at the Origan restaurant or take some time out in the spa, indoor pool or Turkish bath.

1 Hotel Aigle Noir
2 Chateau d’Artigny, Montbazon
3 Le Grand Hotel Cabourg
4 Hotel Crillon le Brave
5 Tiara Yaktsa