Destination Guide


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Located along the river Garonne, which is much wider than the Seine, Bordeaux is a beautiful French city in the southwestern region of the country. Long called the “Sleeping Beauty” of France and the world capital of wine, it is has been restored in the last decade (its Port of Moon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), making it ripe for exploration and an ideal base from which to see the region.


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InterContinental Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa

Bordeaux's grande dame hotel is located right across from the dramatic Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux(both were designed by 18th-century architect Victor Louis) in a prized location in the city's historic center. Five buildings were merged to form the present-day hotel, which makes for a unique layout in many of the rooms. There are 130 guest rooms and suites, the best of which have views towards the Grand Théâtre.

Jacques Garcia, the fabled French designer behind Paris' sultry Hotel Costes and romantic L'Hotel, found his more classical voice at this property. There are still details of the boudoir style that made him famous – wallpaper that looks like draped velvet; dramatic fabric-clad headboards; silky curtains – but overall, the interiors are beautiful and very comfortable. There are seven room categories, all with their own design and color schemes, but the most important request is a view (several rooms face courtyards), and older travelers should ask to be close to the elevators to avoid walking up and down the stairs that connect the five buildings.

Families traveling with children should book one of the Junior Suites that were launched in 2014 in a partnership with Bonpoint and feature amenities for kids from the acclaimed French company. The Grand Hotel does a fabulous job advising families on child-friendly activities in the wine country, like an afternoon at a nearby chateau that also creates innovative, non-alcoholic "tastings" for children.

The multi-level Bains de Lea spa is a haven of serenity with a gorgeous indoor pool with a view and a hushed ambience that immediately inspires relaxation. The rooftop restaurant is only accessible to spa goers during the day. More bustling is the al fresco terrace of Le Bordeaux restaurant, which overlooks the Place de la Comédie. During lunchtime when a good mix of locals and visitors dine on the well-focused menu (for something very local, try the small "pots" of foie gras, pâté or rillettes). At night, the rooftop transforms into Night Plage, a lounge and bar for cocktails with a view.

Exterior View : Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux, France

Les Sources de Caudalie

A 30-minute drive from the city of Bordeaux, Les Sources de Caudalie is the domain of the Cathiard family, who have turned a serene plot of vineyard in the Graves region into a country estate that looks straight out of an art house French film. Small walkways meander through gardens, vegetable patches and past gurgling fountains, and wooden benches scattered throughout invite frequent rests to take in the beautiful panoramas.

The idyllic spa resort is framed by the vineyards of the family's Château Smith Haut-Lafitte, and centers around a stately manor building that fronts a serene lake (with two resident swans, bien-sûr). The 62 rooms are housed in freestanding clusters of buildings spread around the property. All are unique to their setting: there's the Pigeonnier, the former dovecote that houses just as single duplex suite; La Bastide des Grands Crus has wine-themes rooms; and the cute Fishermen's Village cottages, perched on stilts, front the rolling vineyards. It sounds like this might veer into the territory of kitsch, and in the hands of a lesser interior designer it may have, but Alice Tourbier-Cathiard has the stylish authority to pull it all off. In fact, all of the interiors – rooms and common spaces – showcase such an abundance of flair that you wish you could ask her to transform your bedroom back home.

No two rooms are alike, and all feature their own unique details — a wallpaper covered in a spray of colorful birds; birdcages transformed into light fixtures; antique furniture and vibrant fabrics. In 2014, twelve new suites were unveiled and these feature a more modern design scheme. The contemporary interiors lose some of the county-chic ambience of the other rooms, but these new suites are spacious, with sitting rooms, and are a comfortable choice for families. Some of them come with large terraces and all are in close proximity to the stunning new indoor pool, housed in a soaring wood-beamed construction with large picture windows, and the new Rouge bistro, a more casual dining option.

The property is not so large that being based in a room in one of the outlying houses is a draw-back, but if you want to be close to the spa, it's best to request rooms in the Bastide des Grans Crus or in the Comptoir des Indes. And who would not want to be close to the spa? Multi-level, hushed and beautifully designed, it is the true draw of this property. Twenty treatment rooms on three levels offer the full gamut of Caudalie's famous Vinothérapie, a grape/wine-based spa program developed by Alice's sister, Mathilde Thomas-Cathiard.

Wine lovers, meanwhile, will be thrilled by the proximity to the acclaimed Château Smith Haut-Lafitte, which holds the much-coveted Grand Cru classification and that can be visited by guests (and non-guests). Les Sources also offers fabulous wine tastings in a clubby room on the top floor of its manor house with 360-degree views of the vineyards, which, incidentally, are dotted with pieces of contemporary art, as the Cathiards are fervent collectors.

At the end of a day, there's the choice of three restaurants, ranging from the charming Rouge, a casual spot with a tapas-style sharing menu to the one-Michelin-starred gastronomic temple La Grande Vigne, though the favorite might be La Table du Lavoir, housed in a soaring dining room whose rustic wooden ceiling beams were reclaimed from the Lafite-Rothschild vineyard.

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