Les Etangs de Corot

I’d been wanting to go to Les Etangs de Corot for ages. A romantic hideaway just outside Paris, its picture perfect setting on a pond (which is more of a lake to be fair and it sounds better too) had me dreaming of lazy, sultry weekends away and afternoon-long picnics…

As it happens, the lure of the Caudalie spa was strong enough to pull me in for an overnight stay on a girl’s mini-break, even if the weather wasn’t picnic ready. Time for some me/us time away from the family in the wonderfully quaint French countryside just a stone’s throw away from Versailles where the impressionists used to paint. Indeed, landscape artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, after which the ponds are named, was a big name in Impressionism. Perhaps that’s why the setting seems oddly familiar?

I lucked out with my pretty room, its white lattice wooden balcony wrapping around, and the perfect lake views. Immediately transported to a fairy-tale land, I pondered that this calm and sereneness should be packaged…

The décor is a hint of Provencal, definitely French chic, sometimes shabby sometimes smart. Old world prints and maps adorn the hotel walls as well as exotic Audubon style bird prints that I take an immediate liking to. My room (25) is dark and cosy thanks to navy wallpaper with jaunty bird and floral print. As soon as I arrive I’m eyeing the ‘Louis-style’ rattan headed King-sized bed – all that space all to myself. What a treat!

The floor-to-ceiling windows are lovely and I’m tempted to go and sit out on my balcony with a book, despite a distinctly nippy temperature out there. Might be wiser to head into the grey marble bathroom and have a warm soak? But, before I have time for more dithering, it’s time to meet the girl gang and head for the Caudalie spa.

Who knew that Caudalie, of Vinotherapy fame, with its chateau in Bordeaux had its own little outpost here in the Parisian suburbs – importing a little country spa feeling to the city? After a de-stressing back massage we all head to the Jacuzzi where we spend much too long gossiping and catching up in the bubbles. Time flies because we’re having fun and we make a smooth transition from wet bikinis to evening attire. Smooth-ish.

The hotel is home to a Michelin star dining room: “Le Corot”, decorated with hunting trophies and large-scale Corot reproductions, but there’s also to a more laid back bistro style eatery, the “Café des Artistes.”

Set in the vaulted cellars, the red brick walls set a more jovial tone but the food is still the star. Each plate is paired with wines by the glass, kept in perfect condition by the Oenomatic system – which looks rather intriguing but, I’m told, keeps the wine in perfect condition and, most interestingly, on tap! Naturally there is an affinity with wine here due to the Caudalie connection, so the selection is extensive and of fine quality. Old vintages of Bordeaux, red and white Burgundies, but also young products from the Loire all awaiting to be tasted…

Dinner consisted of superb Crabmeat, Méréville watercress and grapefruit followed by a poultry« ballotine » or parcel, Albufera sauce and apple and shallots pulp. Dreamy! The crumble is pretty good too, not to mention the huge chocolate brownie – ideal to share with a girlfriend or two.

I imagine this would be a very different experience as a romantic getaway, so I promise myself I will definitely be back when the sun starts to shine. I’d like to go for a leisurely lunch in the pretty ‘Les Paillotes’ that look so cosy, all wooden logs and straw ‘toppings’ sitting by the lake. I may even be tempted to make a little time to take a bike ride (free at the hotel desk) in the forest of Fausses-Reposes or around the ponds of Ville-d’Avray to get a little fresh air and see the scenery the impressionists grew so fond of. I’m still obsessing over that perfect romantic countryside mini-break away from the hustle and bustle of Paris: a place for soft focus selfies, straw boaters, overflowing picnic hampers and lazy afternoons in the shade. A lovely break from the daily grind -just the thing we all need, every now and then…

Les Etangs de Corot, 55 rue de Versailles – 92410 Ville-d’Avray, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 41 15 37 00reservations@etangs-corot.com

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