From snails to scallops Saint-Jacques: the Château les Oliviers de Salettes is an ‘absolute delight’Photo: PR IMAGE
Château les Oliviers de Salettes, Drôme
This turreted country house used to be part of a larger castle surrounded by vineyards. Today the site is used for parks and lavender fields. The 13 double rooms and nine suites all have beautiful rural views over one of France’s most unsung regions. The bedrooms are simply decorated with traditional furniture, stone walls and wooden beams – and Lavandin, the hotel’s restaurant, is an absolute delight and showcases the terroir of the region. Seasonal three-course menus (€65) include snails and scallops Saint-Jacques, perfectly prepared shellfish beurre blanc, or local poultry, and Chantilly meringues.
Double from €99 B&B; sawdays.co.uk
Domaine de la Tortinière, Loire Valley
Poached chicken and pot-au-feu predominate in French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung’s film The Taste of Things, starring Juliette Binoche, which hits theaters this month. The film was shot in a castle deep in the dreamy Loire Valley and a similar gastronomic idyll can be found at Domaine de la Tortinière, a romantic castle hotel with pepperpot towers set in beautiful parkland. Just a 10-minute drive from Tours, this family-run Relais du Silence features eight traditionally decorated rooms and an excellent restaurant. It is the place for local duck with saffron, côte d’agneau, delicious Loire cheeses and pear soufflé. Gourmet menus start from €63, or opt for lighter bistro or vegetarian choices.
Doubles from €136 B&B; tortiniere.com
Auberge de Chassignolles, Haut-Loire
Another gem from the Loire reminiscent of the culinary drama of Tran Anh Hung: Auberge de Chassignolles has a dreamy view over forests and fields towards Le Mont-Dore. This village restaurant with rooms from the 1930s is much loved by locals and the nine bedrooms (including two family rooms) are comfortable, unpretentious and simply furnished. Organic trout and lentils from Auvergne Puy, wild mushrooms or poulet with ratatouille are often on the great value four-course menu (€38). Breakfast includes homemade crusty bread, jam and local butter.
Double from €55 B&B; sawdays.co.uk
Le Pont de l’Orme, Provence
Located at the foot of Mont Ventoux, this charming blue-shuttered auberge has five airy bedrooms with views of the park or Mont Ventoux itself, in addition to a swimming pool, wine bar and restaurant serving Provencal cuisine. In fine weather, dinner is taken on the wisteria-clad terrace, with seasonal menus from €36 offering excellent value for money, offering a range of dishes from velouté de champignons and oeuf parfait and lard to fish of the day . Follow with local cheeses and excellent puds, including pistachio fondant or nougat glaze.
Double from €150 B&B; pontdelorme.com
Hôtel les Orangeries, Vienne
This charming 15-bedroom Poitou hotel with green shutters prides itself on its organic features: an extensive vegetable garden, links with small producers and quality local farm produce all characterize its seasonal, low-mileage cuisine. Dinners take place in the 18th-century wood-beamed Great Room, dominated by a huge fire. A three-course meal (€38.50) might include local trout gravadlax, followed by foie gras cooked in leaves from the hotel’s fig tree, followed by pink veal from the village farm or cod fillet, then local cheeses or perhaps an apple-pear Chantilly to follow with pear brandy. Then enjoy a walk or cycle through the Vienne and Gartempe valleys or simply relax in the beautiful garden.
Double from €85 B&B; sawdays.co.uk
Maison Doucet, Charolles
Relais & Chateaux properties are renowned for their beauty and are often expensive, but this elegant riverside country house in Burgundy’s rural southern sector is an absolute bargain. Fifteen modern bedrooms and villas are only half the fun here. Maison Doucet’s gastronomic restaurant with outdoor terrace is the real attraction: Michelin-starred chef Frédéric Doucet prepares creative regional dishes (three courses, €65) with ingredients from his extensive vegetable garden. Enjoy starters such as asparagus with candied eggs and hearty main courses such as Charolais “oxtail” gnocchi with black truffle and mustard stock, accompanied by dazzling Burgundian wines. The Bistrot du Quai has three-course menus for €35.
Double from £90, room only; relaischateaux.com.
Hostellerie des Clos, Chablis
Wine lovers will love this charming vine-draped hostelry in the old Clos des Hospices de Chablis in Burgundy. In addition to 26 simply furnished bedrooms, this auberge is famous for its gourmet restaurant Les Clos, where chef Guillaume Collet serves Burgundian classics at reasonable prices (main courses from €19). Look out for snails with garlic croutons or roasted scallops with slow-braised leeks. A word of caution: the wine list includes more than 400 Chablis, but the in-house sommelier is on hand to assist.
Double from €110 B&B; chablis-hotel.com
Le Mas des Gres, Provence
Le Mas des Gres is the perfect stay for antique hunters. It’s relaxed, homely and a short distance from the famous markets of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It is also within easy reach of the beautiful villages of the Luberon. The main courses (from €18) range from local trout to tarte fine à la tomate et au pistou, fried zucchini flowers, eggplant ravioli or piece du boucher et frites. Being located in the heart of melon and peach country, the breakfasts are particularly delicious.
Double from € 128 B&B; masdesgres.com
La Bergerie Bearn, Basque Country
This cozy 18th-century bergerie offers fantastic views over the rolling Basque countryside towards the Pyrenees – and if you’re about to embark on the long-distance trek to Santiago de Compostela, there’s no better place to refuel. La Bergerie has four simply furnished bedrooms, including a beautiful wood-clad shepherd’s hut. Expect Bayonne ham, hearty garbure meat and vegetable soup (a medieval cassoulet) and deeply traditional dishes such as hare, wild boar and venison – all for a reasonable €38 per person.
Double from € 122 B&B; labergeriebearn.com
La Cour de Remi, Hauts de France
A short drive across the Channel will take you to this beautiful, off-the-beaten-track 10-bedroom inn in the Hauts de France. Family-run, it’s a haven of homely comfort: expect simple rooms with exposed brick walls and wooden beams and a restaurant serving ‘simple, ultra-gourmet food’, much of it locally sourced and sourced. In addition to crusty home-made bread and organic wines, there is a three-course menu for €38 with starters such as brandade crémeuse de morue or crème de potimarron, and main courses such as jarret de veau braisé or poitrine de cochon caramelisée with a gratin of Comté and lard.
Double from €115 room only; lacourderemi.com