A Romantic Hideaway Near Paris: Les Etangs de Corot

In a tranquil suburb near Paris lies a country oasis where an 18th-century master artist painted some of his most memorable landscapes. Inspired by the French painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Les Etangs de Corot is a hidden gem in the sleepy, leaf lined village of Ville-d’Avray, located 15 minutes from central Paris and walking distance to Versailles.

Arriving at the hotel, we found the façade to be quite unassuming and institutional; one would never know the beauty behind it. Upon entering, the modest lobby overlooked a two story, lushly planted garden with a fountain.

Newly appointed manager Bruno Lopez gave us an extended tour of the hotel, grounds and spa before lunch at one of the property's three restaurants. Lopez worked at the sister five-star hotel owned by the Tourbier family outside of Bordeaux, who also own a neighboring vineyard. When we asked who their clientele was, he explained that more than 50 percent of their customers come from Paris in order to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without traveling too far. In a way this was a relief to hear, as the hotel is still under the radar to foreign visitors.

To enhance the prominence of the family vineyard, the public areas are lined with an impressive wall of 2,500 bottles of wine, which also shut out the sound from the street.

The 43 individually designed rooms are decorated with aged, leather club chairs and couches, old travel trunks and Country French antiques. The walls are covered with subtle floral and striped Farrow and Ball wallpaper in tones of gray, taupe and navy blue. In a special commission, a quirky and colorful Junior suite was re-designed by the fashion design house of Paul and Joe with wallpaper using a Japanese fish pattern and kitschy, oversized wooden dolls.

It was an unusually warm day and the multi-level gardens and grounds of the hotel were bursting with spring blooms and buds. On a second story terrace, we had a clear view of Corot’s home, a romantic vision of blue shutters, chimney tops and white curtains.

A big draw for the hotel is the Caudalie Spa, as the international brand is known for its superior skin care and facial products. The centerpiece is an oversized indoor/outdoor hot tub, connected to the seven treatment rooms (including a VIP double room for couples), hammam, and fitness room. Adding cachet from the heritage of the family’s vineyard, spa treatments include a Crushed Cabernet Scrub, a Honey and Wine Wrap, and a Winemaker Massage.

Lunch was on the terrace of the hotel’s casual bistro, Café des Artistes, overlooking a bucolic pond and pleasant greenery. A starter of house-made foie gras with a pear and apple sauce was deliciously satisfying; succulent sea scallops were served on a bed of wilted greens with a splash of lime, and apple crumble with vanilla ice cream was a delightful finish. Le Corot, a formal Michelin star restaurant only open for dinner and Sunday lunch, serves the haute cuisine of chef Remi Chambard. Les Paillote, the fun outdoor bar on a wooden terrace with thatched roofs, hearkens back to the 19th century when painters, poets and musicians used to frequent the village. The desired elixir then was Absinthe, and it has been reintroduced into imaginative cocktails now being served. Light food and snacks are also served, and make sure you book ahead of time for their popular weekend brunch.

Transfers can easily be arranged from Paris or from airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and there is a parking garage on the premises.

55 rue de Versailles, 92410
Ville-d’Auvray, France
Tel. +33 (0) 1 41 15 37 00

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