Domaine de Primard
Route départementale 16 Guainville lesdomainesdefontenille.com
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At a Glance
Near the border of Normandy, in the Eure-et-Loir department, this 18th-century former residence (and longtime home of actress Catherine Deneuve) is now one of France’s most serene rural escapes.
- The gorgeous grounds, including the semi-wild rose gardens, with 250 rose bushes amidst towering trees
- The overwhelming sense of relaxation, all within an hour and a half from Paris
- The excellent cuisine, both in the relaxed bistro and the fine dining restaurant
Domaine de Primard Review
Catherine Deneuve spent years transforming an 18th-century estate into her own bucolic home, restoring its original château and working with an expert gardener to create a riverside oasis in the hamlet of Gauinville, in Eure-et-Loire. When she wanted to sell her beloved retreat, she turned to the owners of Domaine de Fontenille, a soulful estate-hotel in the South of France. And since opening to guests in 2021, it quickly became a new favorite weekend getaway for Parisians.
It’s easy to see why. Only an hour and a half away from the city, Domaine de Primard makes for an easy escape. And what an escape it is. Birdsong fills the estate’s 100 acres, which comprise forests of rare trees and a rose garden with hundreds of varieties—some of which climb up the trees to soaring heights. The grounds, originally designed by Jacques Wirtz (the 20th century landscape architect behind the Tuileries’ Carrousel gardens) were one of Deneuve’s passion projects, and the hotel continues to employ her master gardener.
Inside the main château and several outbuildings (including refitted farmhouses and a barn), there are now 40 light-filled rooms and suites with custom Pierre Fey fabrics. There is also a spa and a large outdoor swimming pool. Two restaurants (an all-day bistro plus a fine-dining, dinner-only eatery) serve excellent cuisine using fresh, local produce (including from the domaine’s own gardens.
Many guests take a day trip to Giverny, under a half hour away. But the main point of staying at Domaine de Primard—to me at least—was to relax and slow down. Reading under one of the rose-wrapped trees; enjoying a long, leisurely lunch al fresco and lounging by the pool…in short, recharging in blissful peace before returning to the bustle of Paris.
Who Should Stay
Travelers to France seeking a relaxed countryside getaway within easy reach of Paris and Giverny.