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Hotels in the rest of France (not Paris)

My wife and I will be wandering by car through Champagne, Burgundy, and Provence next month. We have made hotel reservations in several towns along our route, but I was wondering if anyone knows anything about any of the choices we have made.
My wife wants French charm; I want a decent bed and bathroom. My Paris experiences so far tell me to expect that the rooms will be very small, they never look like the pictures on the websites, walls can be thin, bathrooms can be an afterthought, and the listed star levels are pretty much meaningless. I accept that. You do what research you can and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. But then, it's France, so as long as I have a bottle of wine and baguette, I won't complain too much.

Anyway if anyone has any experience with any of the following hotels, I am all ears.

Relais Saint Jean in Troyes. Hotel web site reservation is antiquated, basically just an email request. They want me to send them a CC# in an email, something I really don't want to do.

Au Grand St. Jean in Beaune (I should look up who St. Jean was, every town seems to have a hotel St. Jean)

Hotel Burrus in Vaison-la-Romaine, although they apparently have only a two spot parking lot which I am too late to reserve... An alternative might be the Bastide des Monges on the outskirts of Nyons.

Domaine De La Petite Isle in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The pictures look a lot like an American chain along the Interstate.
An alternative here could be Le Mas des Gres. More B&B-ish and a couple of km out of town, but I can deal with that.

Thanks.

Posted by
223 posts

Well, with the attitude you've displayed herein I suspect you'll get more or less exactly the hotel experience you expect. Have fun!

If you're interested, there is a considerable difference between hotels in Paris versus hotels in France outside Paris. Now, if you limit yourself to tourist destinations or American-style hotels, you may not perceive much difference. But if you venture out into French towns and villages, you may be pleasantly surprised.

I recall my first visit to the town in southern Bourgogne in which I now live. The "desk clerk" was actually the chef in the hotel's restaurant; a very good one, I've come to learn. While his little dog sniffed our shoes he handed us the key to our room and was disinterested in our credit card or ID card. After years of traveling in the U.S., where photo ID is more or less required, along with a credit card imprint, before one can go to one's room, this was an interesting situation. We gave him nothing until the next day when we checked out, when we paid for the room. Has that ever happened to you in the U.S.?

And you know what? The walls weren't paper thin. The bathroom was fine. The room was quiet. And none of that should be surprising. French people, after all, aren't that different than other humans.

Posted by
774 posts

I will agree that hotel rooms in Paris, as in the rest of Europe and older cities in the U.S., such as New York, can be small. In my experience in 3* European hotels, however, that many of them have luxurious bathrooms (or at least those that I choose do).

The star system of grading hotels in Europe is based on certain amenities, not on the quality of the hotel generally. Thus, a 3* must have an elevator, but is not required to have a bar (I think)

I use other websites, such as tripadvisor, to look at pictures of the hotels rooms that were taken by other hotel guests, especially pictures of the bathrooms.

If you don't like the web site reservations for Relais Saint Jean in Troyes, then find another hotel. Have they been responsive to your request?

Um, "Saint Jean." I hope you've heard of Joan of Arc, widely perceived in France as having saved France from the English.

I don't have specific experience with any of the hotels you're considering, but my comments may be helpful.

Posted by
7991 posts

I've spent years in France and Paris and have always stayed in nice hotels (not necessarily expensive) many times with large rooms, and always had a nice bathroom. Hotel Le Cep in Beaune is just one example. Just spent 15 days in Paris in a wonderful hotel with a large room, very high end mattress and décor and a small, but super nice bathroom with a huge shower.
What a person ends up with is usually dependent on how much research was put into it... and budget. Budget makes a difference... you usually get what you pay for.
Every hotel I've ever stayed in looks like what their website describes and their photos show. But I don't just go by websites. Back in the day, I'd cross reference with 5-10 guidebooks... now, I read reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
I just Googled Au Grands St Jean in Beaune and it wouldn't appeal to me. We're all different, and there's no right or wrong, but this hotel has no charm, rooms look like Motel 6, very close to the train station and motorway. The first line I read was "unfussy hotel..." which tells you a lot. It also boasts 100 rooms, which is a lot. I'm guessing you chose this hotel for low price. It's rated #21 out of 62 on Trip Advisor, and gets 4 out of 5 stars w/292 reviews... so it might be decent for what it is.
The key is good research, know what you're getting, then don't be disappointed when it turns out as advertised (using this hotel as an example).

Posted by
3830 posts

"St. Jean" is St. John.

My name is Jean (female), and I made all of our reservations. When we would check into the hotels, they warmly greeted my hubby with the French name, thinking he was Jean aka "John".

"Jeanne d'Arc" is Joan of Arc.

Posted by
1655 posts

If you are car touring then why are you lodging in places that are so close together rather than picking one among the last three as a base and then touring the others from there?

I do hope that you will stay in the places that look a lot like chain hotels along the interstate so that I don't have to run into you at the places that I stay at.

Posted by
430 posts

wow lots of snark in this thread.

Regarding emailing the credit card #. I also had one property request this. I told them I would call and give it over the phone.
We use wifi based Google Voice for calling outside our plan coverage. No cost. Just be sure to check the time difference.

Posted by
1321 posts

OP: you sound like my husband. He isn't fussy about hotels as long as they are clean and in a safe area. I on the other hand want that quaint French charm. So I find the hotels and if they turn out not so good, it is my fault and not his. Have your wife do some research and pick the rooms.
I read a lot of reviews on different travel sites. I don't pay too much attention to TripAdvisor rankings as they can be easily manipulated.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
7991 posts

Diane, would you be willing to share what travel site reviews you use?

Posted by
137 posts

Hi Steve-I understand your state of mind-you are being up front about what your expectations are and what you are after. Travelling in France for me has turned up nothing but good situations regarding hotels, but I generally do what the rest have done-check with TripAdvisor and a few others. I also try to go middle ground with pricing-how about Bed and Breakfasts, expecially in Provence? They are usually charming, definitely focus on your baguette and wine, and have decent beds and are within walking distance to many fine sights. Check the ones that are privately owned-I wish I could recommend some, but they escape me now. Also, cross check with their FaceBook page for updates and photos. I wish you and your wife well in your travels-I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at your choices-with a bit more checking!

Posted by
11450 posts

A) I have had several hotels want me to email cc number . I do so , but out 1/2 number in one emails dn half in another .

B) I read reviews on booking.com and Expedia , as well as TripAdvisor . I red a lot of reviews and think I get a pretty accurate read on a place . Haven't had a bad surprise yet and I have booked dozens and dozens of hotels in Europe this way

Posted by
3154 posts

Sorry to be repetitive if anyone else has mentioned star ratings; but for the OP's information, in most of the European countries we've visited, the # of stars relates to amenities. Quality has nothing to do with it. So, having an elevator, for example, puts a mediocre hotel above what might be a wonderful place with no elevator. As has been suggested, the reviews on booking.com are from bona fide guests, and, therefore, more likely to be accurate than those on TA.

Posted by
396 posts

Also note that better prices and availability are often found by booking directly on the hotel or B&B's own website than via booking.com or similar aggregator sites.