The French invented vaudeville, opéra-bouffe – comic operetta – and somewhere down the line decided that snails were a delicacy. As such, there are some marvellously off-kilter options when looking for an overnight stay. So, if you prefer your holidays with a touch of wacky, here are some of the best options of where to stay in France.
Moulin de la Jarousse
Moulin de la Jarousse features spherical pods hanging from trees in a forest south of Limoges. Each of the four pods, which are described as the ultimate love nest, has a different exterior. If you fancy a little more convention, Moulin de la Jarousse also does eye-catching cabins, all with private spas. When it comes to activities, hiking, fishing and canoeing are all options and the resort will even loan you a metal detector to go treasure hunting.
Logis Hôtel Demeure de la Vignole
The Loire Valley is one of the most visually appealing slices of France, not least because of the architecture which seems to blend into the landscape itself. Demure de la Vignole is one such example of this: a Tuscan mansion with a 12th-century troglodytic (cave-like) underbelly where the rooms and pool are located. The upper reaches of the building house a second pool, bar, restaurant, terrace and garden.
This wondrous resort consists of yurts, huts, chalets, treehouses, converted carriages and one house which is inside a giant wooden snail. If you get bored wandering around the site gawping at all the quirkiness, there’s also a pool, a zip line, archery, horse riding and a mini theme park. The resort is just south of Poitiers.
The Blue Tiger Treehouse
The Haut Languedoc National Park with its hiking routes, lakes, rapids, waterfalls and wonderful bird life is a must-see for anyone visiting France. The African-style Blue Tiger Treehouse looks out over all of this. The lodge, which sleeps up to six, has African-influenced bedrooms, furniture and crockery and a pool where you can cool off after the day’s activities.
BelRepayre Airstream & Retro
Staying in a gleaming silver Airstream trailer might seem like something you’d do in California rather than France. But, this campsite, owned by a husband and wife team, manages to get away with the odd juxtaposition of American metalwork and the Ariège countryside. There are 12 caravans in total, ranging from 1940s to 1980s models, and each interior is awash with psychedelic chic. The site also has wooden hot tubs and it backs onto a plethora of hiking routes if you fancy stretching your legs.
The Auvergne is a sublime stretch of mountains and dormant volcanoes in the Massive Central, which isn’t an area favoured by tourists so provides plenty of opportunity to get away from it all. As the name suggests, the Auvergne Naturelle offers just that. This collection of yurts overlooks a deep valley and offers fire pits, a rustic barn with self-catering facilities, a charcoal BBQ and outdoor activities such as bushcraft and donkey trekking.
Hôtel Cap Pirate
You’re in for a swashbuckling time at this wacky and luxurious pirate-themed hotel located next to Cap d’Agde, one of France’s most beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Along with its ship-like exterior, the suites look as if they were taken from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Some of the grander suites feature private jacuzzis, fully-equipped kitchens and gardens. There’s a restaurant and library and guests receive free access to an action-packed waterpark.
Off Paris Seine
Soak up some seriously dreamy views at OFF Paris. This floating hotel boasts a prime position on the banks of the Seine around 15 minutes’ walk from Notre Dame Cathedral. There’s a bar and dipping pool (and its golden inflatable swan) and fabulous views from just about every part of the boat. Minimalist rooms have generous windows which allow natural light to flood in; natural wood flooring and panelling creates a warm ambience.
Situated in the beautiful Provençal countryside, you’d never know you were a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Marseille. The fanciful bubbles, made from recyclable material, come with their own shower, parking, star chart and telescope for night viewing. Catering and a masseuse are available. It’s perfect for a romantic holiday getaway.
La Cabane du Perche
If you like seclusion and getting back to nature but still want creature comforts, you’ve come to the right spot. Located in the Normandy countryside, La Cabane du Perche offers two cabins. The little one comes with a hot tub and can sleep four people; the bigger one has its own terrace and sleeps two. Both are kitted out with the latest mod cons.
Provence Senses Romantic Retreat
This is glamping with a difference. Inside your tent, you’ll have a lovely double bed with private facilities. Outside, there are acres of nature to wander about in. The tent is in the grounds of the owner’s olive mill near Arles in Provence, and has a private outdoor bath and hammock from which to contemplate the world. Breakfast is delivered via tractor each morning.
Le Wagon des Estives
This converted 1950s lorry trailer, in the middle of the Auvergne, used to house farm animals but has been stylishly restored to include a shower, hot tub, compost toilet and hammock. It’s heated, so you can stay all year round. On a sunny day, you can soak up some rays on the terrace or explore the serene surroundings.
Château des Milandes
Situated high in the trees surrounding a château, this treehouse resembles a magical castle in the air. The owner spent many years making treehouses all over France and this lodge in the Dordogne countryside is a standout example with its chic, rustic interior. It has two bedrooms, a Nordic hot tub and comes with access to a pool.
In the Bordeaux region of France, you can live like a hobbit in your very own house. Sleeping two, it comes with a queen-size bed and a small kitchen in an adjoining room. It also has a skydome so you can gaze at the stars at night. Best of all, it has a little hot tub in an adjacent room.
Alex Ledsom contributed additional reporting to this article.
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