Family-Run Hotels in Europe: Eugénie-les-Bains, France

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Try a white mud bath treatment at the Ferme Thermale spa.

Gourmet Getaway

Les Prés d'Eugénie in Eugénie-les-Bains, France.

Taking in the greenery.
An elegant double room with a view of the gardens.

By Larry Olmsted
At this hotel and spa in southwest France, 45 guest rooms are tucked into historic buildings, including a restored eighteenth-century convent, amid 20 acres of flower- and herb-filled gardens. Guests come to bathe in its famed hot springs, but also enjoy 21 spa treatment rooms, classes at the new cookery school, strolls through the orangery and vineyard – even the serenity of two beach lodges on the Atlantic, 75 minutes away.
Family Tree
In 1972, Michel Guérard was a famed two-Michelin-starred chef in Paris, celebrated as one of the fathers of nouvelle cuisine, which featured simpler, lighter versions of haute cuisine classics. There he met his future wife, Christine, who had reopened Les Prés with her father in 1966. Inspired by the property’s history, she painstakingly renovated the buildings, decorating them with items from her family’s collection of antiques, paintings, and rugs, and set out to draw travelers to this idyllic corner of France.
After Guérard relocated to Les Prés, he realized guests were coming for health reasons – so he created cuisine minceur, or spa cuisine, which cemented his already legendary culinary status. At Les Prés, Guérard has held the highest-possible Michelin ranking – three stars – for 37 straight years. Today, he and his wife work alongside their daughters, Adeline and Éléonore, and Éléonore’s husband.
Don’t Miss
Obviously, a meal at the venerable Michel Guérard. “Our Virtuoso guests can visit our three-star kitchen during dinner service guided by the chef himself,” says Adeline.
Personal Touch
After sampling Les Prés’ slimming menu, head to Ferme Thermale spa for another tempting recipe from chef Guérard: a white mud bath treatment he created using local clay, mixed precisely to provide a weightless, Dead Sea-like float.

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Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, May 2014.