If Paris, abundant in history, rich in architecture, and bedecked with natural beauty, is the embodiment of urban luxury, I’ve found its rural equivalent: La Bouitte, a lovingly constructed hotel, restaurant, and spa in the hamlet of Saint Marcel (pop. 350), at the eastern reaches of the French Alps.
At the center of this family-owned, mountainside retreat is a gastronomic gem: a Michelin 3 star restaurant run by father and son, Maxime and René Meilleur. Their vision embraces the region’s humble Savoyard past—small alpine farms, noble cheeses, locally grown herbs and meat—while celebrating modern methods.
I tasted pear and hazelnut tea cake maison that was impeccably moist and wonderfully crumbly, and confiture de mirabelle that transported me to a fragrant plum orchard on a sunny day. I found these familiar fruit flavors exotic—delicate and concentrated, refined in ways I’d never experienced.
While the restaurant causes much of the buzz at La Bouitte, the recently expanded hotel is also a treat. Spacious, light-filled rooms feature stone fireplaces, lush fabrics based on traditional designs, beautifully restored antiques, hand-carved wooden headboards and doors, and deep porcelain bathtubs with breathtaking mountain views.
The town is a skier’s paradise in winter, and a hiker’s heaven in the other seasons. But the serenity and comfort of the hotel’s 15 rooms makes cocooning another wonderful option.
Like the rest of the property, the spa at La Bouitte looks to nature for inspiration. Treatments are made from alpine wildflowers, one of the saunas is outfitted like a marmot’s den, and the outdoor jacuzzi pays homage to a big sky.
After 3 days of hiking nearby valleys and passes, I indulged one of the spa’s signature treatments: Le Bain de Marie, a luxurious, deep tub soak infused with milk and honey. Soothing aromas filled the air as water pulsed through a dozen jets, relaxing my knotted muscles, and refreshing my skin.
As restorative as it is sophisticated, and just 5 hours from Paris by train, La Bouitte took my breath away—and then restored it.