The Long Weekend
Since opening in spring 2018, Le Barn, a bucolic ranch outside of Paris, has become a favorite weekend escape for stylish Parisians looking to unwind in the countryside without traveling far. Located in the expansive Rambouillet forest—just 40 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train (plus a 15-minute taxi) outside of Paris—Le Barn is a modern family-friendly retreat that's part dude-ranch, part cozy country manor, part hipster haven. The hotel shares its property—500 bucolic acres of pastures and forest—with the world-renowned La Cense horse farm and riding center. And while horse lovers of all ages and abilities will appreciate La Cense’s enlightened equestrian philosophy and miles of scenic riding trails, many Le Barn guests prefer simply to observe the horses—whose picturesque pastures create scenic backdrops for most of the guest rooms—from the comfort of their own private balcony or patio.
Most of Le Barn’s 73 rooms are housed in two striking red-roofed buildings that have been transformed from 19th-century grain stores into country-chic accommodations. Complementing the architecture’s rustic appeal, the interior furnishings include Shaker-style wooden benches and hooks, Barbour canvas curtains and roomy plywood wardrobes. Maps and vintage photos of local attractions—like the medieval Château de Rambouillet—are pinned to cork-lined walls. The deluxe rooms are spacious, but it is well-worth upgrading to one of the hotel’s two suites, especially for families. The 600-square-foot Le Barn Suite is the largest option, but the Moulin Suite, a two-room apartment with a private terrace on the second floor of an old stone mill (also home to the hotel’s spa,) has more character and charm.
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In addition to horseback riding, Le Barn’s guests can explore the property on bicycles or on foot. The latter can be done in countryside style thanks to the complimentary Wellingtons provided at reception (the terrain can be muddy.) While there is no swimming, guests can row and fish on a small pond behind the stone mill. Typical morning activities include yoga classes by Paris’s elite Le Tigre Yoga Club, archery lessons and runs. After lunch, impromptu volleyball, croquet and pétanque (a lawn game similar to bocce) matches get guests mixing and mingling.
Fair-weather outdoor activities are Le Barn’s main allure, but there are also many appealing indoor areas in which to relax and reset. The modern spa has a steam room, sauna, two massage rooms and two wood-fired, Nordic-style hot tubs. The cabin-like lobby lounge, which centers around a large ceramic stove, is the perfect place to settle in with a good book and something from the small but well-stocked bar, which provides drinks and snacks all day long. Proper meals, meanwhile, are served at the glass-enclosed La Serre (greenhouse), whose limited menu features traditional French fare made with local products, many grown in Le Barn’s own garden. On weekends, La Serre’s convivial dining room is filled with Parisian day-trippers who come to lunch and laze away the afternoon on the sunny terrace. But to enjoy the full Le Barn experience—days that begin with sparkling dewy pastures and culminate with glittering star-filled skies—you’ll want to book a room.
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