Undiscovered France

Continued (page 2 of 3)

Centuries collide at this six-room townhouse in the heart of Bordeaux, where the mod interiors are a delightful surprise. (Doubles from $167. 33-05-56-440-045; lamaisonbord-eaux.com)

(For more info, call 33/05-57-552-828 or visit saint-emilion-tourisme.com.)


Why We Love It

It&'s Haute, Haute, Haute

The crème de la crème of French ski resorts, Courchevel is in the French Alps, near the Swiss border. It's built in five levels, all named after their metric elevation, from the lowest (and lowest-priced), 1100, to the highest and most exclusive, 1850. Gondolas link it all, and a lift ticket from Courchevel allows access to the entire Trois Vallees region—the world's largest interconnected ski area.

How to Enjoy It

Be Daredevils

Skiing and snowboarding are big here, but there are plenty of other diversions, too. Perfect your triple lutz at the skating rink at 1850, or hit the 1.3-mile toboggan route from 1850 to 1550 (it's lit up at night, too). Strap on crampons to climb Plan du Vah, the world's highest artificial frozen waterfall, or defy gravity by kite-skiing (with a colorful kite attached, you loop across and down the slopes).

Spot Celebs, Euro-style

Start with dinner at La Saulire. Owner Jacques Trauchessec knows everyone, as evidenced by the photos on the walls (Formula One's Flavio Briatore here, Olympian Alberto Tomba there, and Johnny Hallyday, a.k.a. the French Elvis, almost everywhere). Superglitzy (and superpricey) club Les Caves at 1850 stays open until dawn, while the scene is more relaxed at Glacier Bar, in 1550.

Play Dr. Zhivago

Everyone loves a Bolshevik at the Russian Party, held on Friday nights at Le Bergerie at 1850. Tables are topped by fur throws, faux ushankas (big furry hats), and bottles of chilled vodka. Plenty of caviar and blinis, countless toasts of "Na zdrovia!" and rowdy Russian folk songs make for an unforgettable night. (Or so we think…you may not remember a thing after all that vodka!)

Where to Unwind

Hotel de Charme Les Airelles

The top hotel at 1850, this 52-room, seven-suite chalet charms with luxe Alpine decor, an incredible restaurant, and ski-in/ski-out access. (Doubles from $850. 800-745-8883; lhw.com)

(For info, call 33-04-79-08-14-44 or see courchevel.com.)


Why We Love It

It's Two for the Price of One

Stretched along the Atlantic coast like a nap-happy cat, Brittany evokes both the Ancient Mariner and Old MacDonald: a dramatic coastline and an enchanted inland home to forests filled with legends, and a patchwork of wheat fields and apple orchards.

How to Enjoy It

Bid Adieu to Your Diet

The Breton coast is famed for seafood—towering platters of langoustines, lobsters, and oysters washed down with local cider. Also on the menu: salted butter (spread on almost anything), galettes (rich buckwheat pancakes stuffed with virtually anything), and a straight-to-the-thighs caramelized tart called Kouig Aman.

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