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.
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.
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.
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.
More Family-Run Hotels:
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, May 2014.
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