Hotel Watch

Meet the Palaces de France

Paris is home to 12 “palace hotels,” but they are not the only ones. There are 19 other such hotels—officially, “Palaces de France”;—in France and St. Barth’s. John Cantrell reports.

Indagare is pleased to announce that we are part of the French government’s effort to help tell the stories behind some of the country’s most magical hotels—the best of Paris, and beyond. In September we joined Atout France, the French Tourism Development Agency, in a partnership aimed at celebrating 31 of France’s most exquisite and exemplary hotels, recognizing their contributions to travel and culture and sharing what makes each one special both inside and outside the industry.

Many of the Palaces de France will require little introduction for Indagare travelers. Year after year, Paris remains the number one destination for us, and its palace properties are often among the first hotels we suggest when planning their trips. For many guests, Paris is an ultimate pleasure, and part of that pleasure is staying at an ultimate hotel, such as the George V, Le Bristol, the Crillon or the Plaza Athénée. There are, however, Palaces de France that are not in Paris—the majority of them, in fact, including the Château de la Messardière in St.-Tropez, the Royal Evian in Évian-les-Bains, and La Bastide de Gordes, in Gordes. Nor are all Palaces de France hotels set in historic buildings—some are relatively new enterprises in relatively new structures, such as K2 in Courchevel (opened in 2011), and its neighbor, L’Apogée (2013). But no matter their age or location—on the Riviera, in the Alps, in the southwest or even outside the mainland (Cheval Blanc in St. Barth’s is a Palaces de France hotel, even amidst its French Caribbean setting!)—all 31 properties are similar in one key aspect. Each offers hospitality to a degree that exceeds the five-star level, a rating that, in 2023, Atout France has given to 31 other luxury properties. Palaces properties are their own “super class” of five-star French hotels—or, as Caroline Leboucher, the CEO of Atout France likes to say,“they transcend the traditional star-rating system.”

As part of our partnership, Indagare will be producing a multiyear video series focusing on each of the Palaces de France properties. Stay tuned for more stories online and in print sharing some of the considerations that go into awarding the designation (there are more than 300 criteria). Since 1868 haute couture has been regulated by France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system. We’re proud to be chosen by Atout France, which has overseen the classification of all French hotels since 2010, to help in safeguarding another of France’s greatest luxury offerings to the world: the Palaces de France.


Contact Indagare or your trip designer to start planning your trip to France. Our team can match you with the accommodations and activities that are right for you and provide information on transportation options and more.


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