Embrace all the beauty of fall – with its morning mists, fiery foliage, and incomparable sunlight – in a wellbeing break that realigns body, mind, and soul. Here are ten options for reveling in France’s autumnal ambiance.
Savor Olivier Nasti’s new Michelin-starred tea
Le Chambard, Kaysersberg, Alsace
Warmth, coziness, and sweet delights come together at this quintessentially Alsatian property, wrapping you in comfort when you return from hiking the region’s vineyards. In the village of Kaysersberg, Olivier Nasti – a Meilleur Ouvrier de France with two Michelin stars – has given carte blanche to his pastry chef, Jordan Gasco, and head sommelier, Jean-Baptiste Klein, to concoct a luxuriously luscious afternoon tea. The pastry cart is a wonderland of sweets: the blueberry lunette pastry competes with the 100% Tahitian vanilla; the chocolate pod vies for attention with the newfangled kouglof and other exquisite teatime treasures. Enjoy them with steaming tea from among the fifty sommelier-selected varieties, or perhaps a frothy hot chocolate or local organic fruit juice.
Learn about mushrooms with Régis Marcon
Hôtel et Restaurant Régis et Jacques Marcon, Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid, Haute-Loire
Régis Marcon, an enthusiastic mycology expert, has penned a superb book published by Éditions de La Martinière with a succinct French title: Champignons (Mushrooms). He can write about them because he gathers them himself then skillfully prepares them to be served in his gourmet restaurant. As a tuned-in nature lover, he generously shares his knowledge, his picking spots, and his recipes with his guests. The season of porcinis, yellowfoots, charbonniers, and chanterelles is the perfect excuse to go to the family establishment where Régis and his son, Jacques, work in tandem.
Take to the sea with Christopher Coutanceau
Villa Grand Voile — Restaurant Christopher Coutanceau, La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime
Christopher Coutanceau, defender of oceans and endangered marine species, calls himself a fisherman-chef. Often, in the wee hours of the morning before his chef duties call, he sets sail, rod in hand, to adeptly gather shellfish. Wind and sun willing, the temptation is irresistible for a briny adventure aboard a pinnace (a small, flat-bottomed boat) for an oceanic picnic. Then return, appetite whetted anew, to enjoy the three-star dinner in the restaurant that looks out over the beach and open sea, followed by a night at the villa and a seaside breakfast. Say no more, we’re dropping anchor at La Rochelle!
Follow in the Impressionists’ footsteps in Honfleur
Hôtel Saint-Delis, Honfleur, Normandy
On the Côte Fleurie, the Seine’s left bank, Honfleur has long been a magnet for painters – Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet, John Jongkind. What better way to survey the landscapes brushed onto their canvases than this private mansion composed of three buildings spanning three centuries – 17th, 18th, and 19th – around a large garden. Here lived Henri de Saint-Delis, one of the founders of the Fauvist movement in Le Havre. The property, purchased four years ago by the family that owns Honfleur’s La Ferme Saint-Siméon, has become an elegant boutique hotel at the heart of Carré des Arts in Honfleur. All 9 rooms are equipped with shower-hammam. There is no restaurant here, but the buffet breakfast with its Norman twist – andouille de Vire sausage, teurgoule rice pudding – and the afternoon tea are to die for, should you require further reason to heed Normandy’s call.
Find well-being in the city
Saint James Paris, Paris
It has a charitable past, starting as private mansion built in 1892 by a politician’s widow, Elise Thiers, to house poor students. This superb residence – acquired several years ago by the Bertrand family and surrounded by vast grounds – was just redecorated from top to bottom in country-house chic by interior designer Laura Gonzalez. In addition to the environmentally committed cuisine from chef Julien Dumas, who grows his own herbs and tends an organic vegetable garden at Clos Nonville in Seine-et-Marne, the Saint James has just open a Guerlain spa adjoined by a 50-foot swimming pool which will be available from December. Well-being in an urban setting? Indeed! Here, you can breathe, let go, recharge, refresh – just minutes from the Place de L’Étoile and the Champs-Élysées.
A mecca of art and epicureanism is reborn
Hôtel Richer de Belleval, Montpellier, Hérault
In a renaissance rising from a desire to safeguard the architectural heritage of this 17th-century mansion, once home to King Henri IV’s botanist, the Hôtel Richer de Belleval is now an audacious, wonderous, utterly original space celebrating art in many forms, like a giant curio cabinet. Overseen by Michelin-starred chefs and brothers Jacques and Laurent Pourcel and their long-time partner, Olivier Château, the exquisite mansion features new works created in situ by five contemporary artists, each showcased in its own space, along with a hotel boasting 20 rooms and suites, a gourmet restaurant, a brasserie, and a bar.
Marvel at the colors of Provence
Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Alpes-Maritimes
At the base of the village ramparts, the entirely renovated Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre shelters 76 rooms and suites and a 2000 sq. spa in about ten bastides spread across a 20-acre property. Landscaper Jean Mus has overseen the renaissance of this land, preserving the ancient trees and planting many native Mediterranean species, which consume little water. Plan a getaway to experience the incredible light that autumn brings to Provence and explore the brand-new Fondation CAB. This foundation – in a building dating from the 1950s and since renovated by interior designer Charles Zana – has a magnificent contemporary art collection year-round, alongside themed and seasonal exhibits. Make time, too, for a trip to the celebrated Maeght Foundation, which is hosting The Giacometti: A Family of Creators through November 14. This exhibit brings together works by various members of the famed family, shedding new light on this artistic dynasty.
Hook fish with Jean Sulpice on Lake Annecy
Hôtel Restaurant Auberge du Père Bise – Jean Sulpice, Talloires, Haute-Savoie
Jean and Magali Sulpice are a husband-and-wife team that love their land and defend local culinary treasures. And their dedication pulses through the Auberge du Père Bise in Talloires on the shores of Lake Annecy, with 23 rooms decorated by Emilie Bonaventure in colors echoing the lake and mountains. The spa, with a vast swimming pool open to the outdoors, and the Exertier products, made with plants gathered in the Alps, share the same sincerity and spirit of the chef’s philosophy and locavore menu. Day after day, Florent Capretti, one of the few fishermen on the lake, delivers his nighttime catch to the Auberge – fera, arctic char, lake burbot –, which the chef is eager to share with his guests. He is equally enthusiastic about bike outings on the legendary alpine slopes and visits to one of the Beaufortain farms, where the Auberge du Père Bise sources its Beaufort cheese of quintessentially Savoyard flavor.
Try the eco-friendly brands at the Loiseau des Sens Spa
Le Relais Bernard Loiseau – Spa Loiseau des Sens, Saulieu, Burgundy
Since last spring, the three children of Dominique and Bernard Loiseau – Bérangère, Blanche, and Bastien – have taken on new responsibilities and made bold moves to carry on the traditions and values of this magnificent family property, one a French Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company). The Michelin-starred chef shines a spotlight on the specialties of the mountainous Morvan massif, particularly vegetable treasures. At the Loiseau des Sens Spa on the splendid grounds, two new brands have arrived this autumn: La Clé des Champs, featuring seasonal treatment options, and Olivier Claire, an up-and-coming company that insists on organic botanical active ingredients, like sunflower and samphire. To relax, refresh, and revive your system, try the exceptional offer called the “Séjour Loiseau des Sens” on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Improve your swing at the Hôtel du Castellet
Hôtel & Spa du Castellet, Le Castellet, Var
The Hôtel & Spa du Castellet proudly unveils its Swing Center golf academy and six-hole compact course. It provides an easy-going approach to learning or improving in this sport at any age. You can master the ball and clubs by practicing at your leisure between strolls through the 30-acre grounds. Or try a soothing break at the spa, just awarded the World Luxury Spa prize as Europe’s Best Hotel Spa. Lastly, wind down your day with the epicurean delights to be found at the chef’s three-star restaurant or the Bistro San Felice looking out over the sumptuous grounds, while trying the latest specialty of meats grilled over glowing embers.