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Oh La Vache!

France is OPEN

By: J5Travel

· Travel,Luxury

Firstly, there are 3 remaining spots left on our complimentary virtual event with one of our favorite luxury tour suppliers, Big Five.  Next Wednesday, June 16th at 6pm EST you will have the chance to join the President of Big Five, Ashish Sanghrajka, for a 1-hour presentation and Q&A, as he guides us on a journey through Ecuador and Galapagos. Big Five do the Galapagos a little differently to many as they don't feature ships or boats as much, preferring to focus on the full land possibilities.

Click the button below to register.

Secondly, if you ever wanted to ask a lot of travel questions but thought it best not to bother us because they were not specific to a trip per se, then we are going to try our very first live and in-person Open House. Clearly this is heavily biased to our local clients but if you want to fly in for the day, you are welcome! Kendall, our client care manager and Hawaii guru will be there along with yours truly, ready to answer anything travel related you can throw at us.

Date for the diary is June 23rd - 9am to 11am at Urban Grind Roasters in Mooresville. 

No need to register, just show up! We're going to try to set up under their huge map (below) which I love.

Oh La Vache! translates as Oh My Gosh, and that feels like an appropriate response to the news that just yesterday France has reopened to vaccinated US travelers. Last month, our blog on Luxury Hidden Italy proved very popular, and so now France has opened also I am going to repeat the formula.

How long before I get to do this for the UK I wonder?

Top 5 - Luxury Hidden France

At all of the properties below we are able to add exclusive Virtuoso amenities

1. Chateau Saint-Martin & Spa, Vence (above and below)

Imagine sitting in a 300-year-old olive grove and feeling the warmth of the sun. The only sounds will be from nature itself. Or, occasionally, the distant splash of laughter from the outdoor pool. Picture yourself on the terrace of one of the six private villas. The view stretches gently into the warm waters of the French Riviera. It is, quite possibly, the most peaceful and tranquil corner of France. Menus present only the finest local produce and Michelin-awarded culinary expertise.

Top tip - the concierge can arrange tickets to visit the nearby Matisse chapel, which the French master claimed was his greatest work of art.

2. Domaine des Etangs, Massignac (above and below)

Refined, relaxed, and utterly remarkable, the 29-room Domaine des Etangs is French country living at its best. The 13th-century castle, located just an hour or so NE of Bordeaux, reigns over forests, gardens, and bucolic farmland, complete with grazing cows. In the living room, family portraits hang alongside Picassos and other artworks from the owner’s collection. Dine in the locally-sourced restaurant, or enjoy a picnic in some enchanting place: by a lily-pad-filled pond or in a rustic farmhouse. There are two pools, a floating tennis court, and an art exhibition.

Top tip - Bibliophiles can while away the hours browsing the bookshelf-lined library, and curl up with a favorite tome in a cozy, velvet-covered window seat. Also, check out the miniature solar system on the ceiling.

3. Ferme Saint Simeon, Honfleur (above and below)

Sunlight playing off the grounds at Ferme Saint Siméon might remind you of an impressionist painting. And for good reason: Claude Monet and his fellow artists dreamed up the Honfleur School while drinking cider under these very apple trees. Today, this 17th-century Norman house offers 35 airy accommodations with oak parquet flooring, lush fabrics, and fine furnishings; many overlook the Seine estuary (some of them will propose steam shower and balneo bathtub after refurbishment). The Bistro La Boucane, in the "chaumière of Monet," and the gastronomic restaurant welcomes you.

Top tip - Take a painting lesson with the resident artist in the hotel’s rose gardens and sit where Monet captured the same landscape on canvas.

4. Hotel du Palais, Biarritz (above and below)

A stately mansion overlooking the ocean, Hôtel du Palais is a timeless retreat, well suited to those seeking an utterly relaxing getaway (and is equally appealing to families with young children). Enjoy the solarium and the seawater swimming pool facing the Grande Plage, while your little ones get active at the playground and pool designed just for them. Dining is not to be missed; La Rotonde celebrates the refined cuisine of Aurélien Largeau and ranks among the coast’s finest restaurants.

Top tip - Expand your horizons with the Gentleman Farmer Experience, watercross training or a cooking class with the Executive Chef of La Rotonde and a mixology class with the head bartender of Bar Napoléon III.

5.La Bouitte, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville (above and below)

Three-Michelin-starred cuisine is a family affair at La Bouitte. Father-and-son team René and Maxime Meilleur run one of France’s most revered restaurants in this cozy, chalet-style hotel, tucked away in a sleepy hamlet in the heart of Les Trois Vallées, the world’s largest ski area. The ambience is warm and convivial; 15 rustic-chic rooms balance the chunky wooden furnishings, paneled walls, and beamed ceilings with soft pastels and pleasant touches, such as stenciling and hearts cut into wood. The small spa uses extracts from local alpine plants; an outdoor whirlpool offers peak panorama views.

Top tip - Once a month, the Meilleurs team up with an exceptional winegrower for exclusive tasting dinners, which feature new dishes tailor-made for each vintage.

I love travel and I love travel planning just as much. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now the team and I are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts. 

We provide a bespoke service, imagining and creating itineraries for independent minded families and groups.

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