A trip to France wouldn’t be complete without at least a little time in the French countryside, so on my recent visit to Europe in the Spring I did just that: checked myself and my boyfriend in to a French countryside escape.
We were travelling from Italy onwards to France, so wanted to stay somewhere between the two cities of Milan and Paris. I had read so much online about Annecy being one of the prettiest towns in France, so began to look in to accommodation there and within the region.
As it turned out we stumbled across a delightful Château a further two hour drive from Annecy, but still on the way to Paris and only a 45 minute drive from Lyon, where we could onwards catch the high speed train to Paris.
A French Château
With suitcases in tow, we checked ourselves in to Château de Bagnols in the small town of Bagnols, a 45 minute drive from Lyon and far enough away from anything to feel a world away from reality. The Château has been beautifully restored to retain all of its former glory, with rooms so authentic that you would be forgiven for believing you have stepped on the set of a Game of Thrones episode.
The gardens were magnificent and a true delight of the hotel, beautifully manicured in symmetry and with plenty of cherry blossoms in full bloom. The hedges were typical of a French Château and small enough in size to wander around for an afternoon stroll, followed by a glass of bubbles on one of the outdoor tables overlooking the gardens and countryside in the background.
Visit Château de Bagnols for current room rates.
The French Countryside Experience
The village of Bagnols itself is so small that we were only able to find one business, a small pizzeria that stopped serving at 7:00pm in the evening and a church that looked as if it could fit only a few people inside. The village locals we encountered consisted of only one elderly couple, who enthusiastically greeted us in French as we strolled through the handful of houses near to the hotel.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway for two in the French countryside, then this is about as authentic as you will get. Having previously searched for a similar experience a couple of years ago when visiting Beaune, not too far from Bagnols, I realised that I had picked a much bigger town that anticipated. Thus if you’re looking to “go off the grid” for a few days, this is where to do so!
It simply wouldn’t be a trip to France without indulging a little.. (okay, a lot!)
During our stay we planned to eat locally, though with the only shop in town closing at 7:00pm precisely, we wound up eating at the hotel restaurant that evening. The meal was pricey but delicious and a great re-introduction to French cuisine.
Breakfast the following morning consisted of pastries, pastries and more pastries, which gave us our first chance to delight in the coffee + croissants ritual the French so love and do so well!