Just Back: Domaine de Primard, A Luxury Retreat Close to Paris

Domaine de Primard, just an hour from Paris by train in lower Normandy, is a great, relaxing getaway for a night or two. The five-star hotel and resort just opened in June and has 40 rooms, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a spa, and three restaurants, plus other on-site activities all set on a 100-acre property in the French countryside.

We took the train from the Gare Saint Lazare station and arrived at the Bueil station, where we were met on the platform by a representative from the hotel. A Mercedes van took us to the hotel gates, which was five minutes away. After that, we were given a tour of the grounds and various buildings and told the history of the hotel, an 18th-century chateau formerly owned by French actress Catherine Deneuve, before arriving at the main building.

Romaine Iglesias, the reception manager ([email protected]) was kind enough to show us around the main house and the reception rooms on the ground floor, which include a bar, two small salon rooms with club chairs and tables, one which is the "Mushroom Room," featuring whimsical mushroom wall sculptures (a personal passion of one of the owners), and the main living room decorated with contemporary velvet couches and a fireplace. A daily, complimentary tea service is offered, which includes pastries, cakes, coffee and soft drinks starting at 4 p.m.

Our Deluxe Room, No. 6, on the second floor of Maison sur l’Eure, the main building, was 325 square feet but felt bigger because of the tall ceilings, and it had views facing the river and the gardens. There’s a queen-size bed and wood plank floors, and the spacious bathroom has a free-standing tub, heated towel rack, a separate shower room with a rainwater head, and organic toiletries by Susanne Kaufmann, a luxury brand spa brand from Austria. Other amenities include air-conditioning, terry cloth robes, turndown service at night, a minibar with complimentary bottled water, and flat-screen television with international and English channels.

Domaine de Primard

Two of the three restaurants in the hotel and the breakfast room are in separate buildings a short walk from Maison sur l’Eure on a path lined with hedges. Since it was still warm, we had lunch al fresco at the more informal bistro, Octave, on a lawn with green iron tables and chairs and white canvas umbrellas for shade beside an apple and cherry orchard. We enjoyed a whole artichoke hollowed out and stuffed with green beans and roasted hazelnuts dressed in vinaigrette for a starter, followed by baked chicken with gravy, mushrooms and baby potatoes, and dessert was warm, roasted Mirabelle plums accompanied by house-made vanilla ice cream. The specialty of the menu at Octave is roasted meats and if you dine indoors, there’s an oversized fireplace where guests can view the poultry, meats and vegetables cooking in the rotisserie.

The haute cuisine restaurant, Eglatine, specializes in prix-fixe menus with a three-course lunch menu, four-courses at dinner and a special tasting menu of two starters, two main courses, and two desserts. Food is mostly sourced directly from the region with delicacies such as caviar, suckling pig, blue lobster and wild duck. At La Table d’Hote, located in the original kitchen space in the Maison sur l’Eure building, guests can be treated to a private dinner (the family table holds up to 12 people) with seasonal ingredients cooked by the executive chef on a La Cornue stove enclosed in the massive stone fireplace. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

The executive chef at Octave and Eglantine is Yann Meinsel, and the head chef is Eric Frechon who previously was at L’Epicure restaurant at Le Bristol in Paris, which was awarded three-Michelin stars.

At the Susanne Kaufmann Spa, you can relax with a massage by master masseuse Gilles Szafirko, was voted the best hands of 2017 from the Label Spas of France during the French Massage Championship. Other spa treatments include deep tissue, Senso-Shiatsu and head massages, lavender and rosemary scented wraps, reflexology, body scrubs, and their signature treatment, a customized facial combining facial massage with selected skin care products.

Domaine de Primard

At Domaine de Primard, guests can be as relaxed or as active as they like. You can stroll the grounds and visit the vegetable and herb garden, sit by the river on a comfy chair and enjoy a drink or snack, or watch the flock of geese and ducks gather on the front lawn. Other activities available at the hotel include horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking on the lake, fishing, and hiking in a nearby forest.

The main attraction near Domaine de Primard, just 20 minutes away, is the Monet house and iconic gardens in the village of Giverny. Chateau d’Anet is a 16th-century, Renaissance-style chateau with formal gardens, which was built for the mistress of King Henri II, Diane de Poitiers, also nearby. The Robert Hersant golf course is close to the hotel and the concierge can make a reservation.

We had a coffee with the general manager of the hotel, Julien Hosspied, ([email protected]), who shared with us that the main goal of the hotel is for guests to feel as if they were visiting a country house and to provide a relaxed atmosphere.

Visit www.lesdomainesdefontenille.com.

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