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France Reopens in June to International Travelers

Arguably the most romantic place in the world is back on the map for travelers this week. Here are a handful of must-sees on your next visit to the City of Lights and beyond. From historic renovations in the South of France to Champagne tasting on a luxury barge, France has never been more appealing.

Dine Next to a Rose-Lined Trellis at Le Bristol Paris Garden | Photo by Claire Cocano

Paris Garden Party Life

The Oetker Collection’s Le Bristol Paris has reopened the completely redesigned garden oasis setting at Le Jardin Français, the hotel’s terrace restaurant. Open seven days a week for lunch, afternoon tea, cocktails, and dinner, guest can sip Champagne and nibble on lobster rolls surrounded by orange trees, tulips and roses.

The famous courtyard garden was overseen by world-renowned landscape designer, Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Guided by the hotel’s commitment to the environment and sustainability, all flora is native to the Paris region and deliberately chosen to support the biodiversity of this precious Parisian oasis.

This also marks the launch of a terrace garden in the famous Le Bar du Bristol where cocktails and tapas created by Le Bristol’s triple Michelin starred Chef Eric Frechon can be found.  And, this bar will recreate the popular Bristol After Dark ambiance outdoors with rotating DJs.

If you want to take the garden party to go, you can head to the L’Epicerie, the hotel’s pop-up boutique, and buy the signature cocktails to-go in elegant bottles that are perfect for a picnic or taking back to your room.

Le Bristol Paris Garden Cocktail | Photo by Claire Cocano

The Grand Dame of the Côte d’Azur

French Riviera icon Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is unveiling a historic villa just opposite the grand entrance gates. The five-bedroom Villa Sainte-Anne also has a storied history. In 1887, the young Italian hotelier Antoine Sella purchased a Napoleon III-style mansion and turned it into the hotel. He also purchased the villa which was a private home, in 1916 before selling it in 1921.

Nearly 100 years later, the property is back under Hotel du Cap’s ownership, having undergone a two-year extensive renovation. There is now a spa with sauna, steam, Hammam and gym; and chic living and dining areas. This new edition aligns with the 150th anniversary celebration of the hotel which was also captured in a book detailing the famous architecture and guests from royals to Hollywood A-list celebrities.

St. Tropez Sizzles

La Réserve Ramatuelle in the South of France, just 15 minutes outside of St. Tropez, has undergone a renovation helmed by interior design maestro Jacques Garcia. Expect a new lobby, patio bar and La Voile restaurant. Garcia also designed La Réserve Paris and La Réserve Geneva, in addition to The Nomad in NYC and La Mamounia in Marrakech. This coastal resort is a bit of a departure from the city hotels taking inspiration from the 1950s and 1960s when Cocteau, Picasso, Roger Capron and Robert Picault all hung out on the French Riviera.

Belmond’s Afloat in France

Cruising Down the Canals

Belmond’s Afloat in France is a fleet of seven river barges that are more akin to floating villas, which offer custom itineraries along the canals, rivers and regions of Burgundy, Provence, Alsace and Champagne to name a few. Along the way, you will stop for bicycle rides, wine tastings, and hot air ballooning. Available starting August 28, a new vintage champagne tour will be available for six-night itineraries. The boats carry only 12 passengers so perfect for family and friends who will have exclusive access to the region’s leading vineyards such as Maisons Ruinart, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Krug. Did we mention there is a Jacuzzi on the deck of the boat where you can sip bubbly while the French countryside rolls by? 

La Roque-Gagea | Photo by Eric Sander

Plan Ahead with French Affaires

What a perfect name for a specialty trip planning company promoting French travel and culture. These one-of-a-kind journeys to southwest France start this fall and focus on hidden gems of the region. Yes, you will see cliffside villages, majestic fortress castles, bucolic countryside, ancient cave paintings along withfabulous food and wine but you will also learn about photography and archeology.

Founded by Elizabeth New Seitz, a PhD and former university French professor, these small group journeys are led by Seitz who offers expert-guided wine tastings in Bordeaux, eating through Corsica, photographing in southwest France, and antique shopping in Provence. To keep the spirit of France alive while at home, the company also offers virtual (and in person) French language courses, wine tastings, cooking classes, history lessons and shopping tips.

La Roque-Gageac  |  Photo by Eric Sander

The first outing of the year is a week-long Southwest France Photography Tour from September 30 through October 7, 2021, featuring celebrated French photographer Eric Sander. He will lead the small group through the Périgord region’s landscapes, gardens, and architecture offering photography instruction and coaching sessions along the way. The group will stay at Le Vieux Logis, a historic Relais & Chateaux property in the heart of the quaint village of Trémolat.

The second trip, Fall in Southwest France (October 6-15, 2021), will be a tour through the charming towns of Sarlat, Beynac, Trémolat, Rocamadour, St. Emilion and the city of Bordeaux. The itinerary includes vineyard visits and tastings, outdoor markets, chateaux and renowned gardens tours with experts, and viewing prehistoric cave art with a local archeologist.

Beyond southwest France, French Affaires is planning trips to Normandy, Burgundy and Lyon this fall, as well as a trip to Paris over the holidays. 2022 tours will include Corsica, the Basque country, the Loire Valley and Brittany.

Large image — The Marqueyssac Gardens;  Photo by Eric Sander | Small Images — Belmond’s Afloat in France

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