Gourmet hotel breaks, France
Hungry for a gourmet break? From fine-dining country-house hotels and restaurants with rooms to Michelin-star-spangled kitchens at the culinary cutting edge, we've truffle-hunted hotels and foraged the world to cherry-pick those Smith stays that go above and beyond when it comes to cuisine. Whether you want a gastronomic experience par excellence or delectable farm-to-table fare, our gourmet breaks collection has a hotel to suit your foodie taste. Bon appetit!
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This very French – et très charmant – country hotel just outside Avignon has all the vineyard views and wine-and-cheese tastings you’d expect from a Provençal stay. In Room 4, a Deluxe, the traditionally understated decor makes for a serene spot that’s ideal for breakfast in bed. The air of relaxation and tranquility extends to the inviting outdoor pool on the hotel’s terrace.
The Périgord's vine-sprinkled terroir is a no man's land for vegetarians and calorie counters: with creamy offal-filled pâtés, duck every which way and vin de pays on tap, only bons vivants need apply…
Known for ubiquitous foie gras, golden-hued goose roasted in its own fat, crusty pain, creamy chèvre, walnut wine and cake, plump strawberries and fungi worth as much as a car.
There's little Parisian-style frippery here; expect earthy andouillette sausages and confit de canard slathered in cèpes-flavoured sauces with a side of Sarladaise potatoes. Foie gras with something fruity and strawberry-strewn tarts too…
• Mediaeval pilgrim-resting-point Collognes-la-Rouge is hosting a new wave of sustenance-seekers. Ferme de Berle dishes up Limousin beef, cabécou smeared on walnut bread (studded with locally grown nuts) and comforting choucroute. Don't be squeamish, the 'veal-head' and 'pig-trotter' menus are excellent; La Grange aux Oies, close by offers a great modern menu, too.
• There's black gold in the Périgord noir: try your hand at truffle prospecting – and seek out wild saffron – in the Natural Park of Quercy. Slim pickings? Head to self-proclaimed truffe central Sorges, where Auberge de la Truffe's dishes are dappled with black-diamond shavings, and die-hard fungi fans can go follow a truffière trail and visit Musée de la Truffe.
• Home to the Truffle Festival, foie-gras fiesta Fest Oie and Les Journées du Terroir (where tastings and cookery demonstrations take place), Sarlat is the premier destination for Périgordine produce. There's a market every day too, alongside the organic night market (every Thursday from June to September) and the Truffle and Foie Gras market (Saturdays from December to February).
Stay at Château les Merles; the new-Périgord cuisine at La Bruyère Blanche – whipped up with veggies from the hotel's organic garden – is colourful and creative; Bergerac's wine and Sarlat's stonking food are nearby for top-notch guzzling, and the cookery school gives you something to do in between gorging.