[EUGENIE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE] —  I had the best intensions… this is from a stay I had in the summer of 2015.

Looking to break up my random drive across France, I decided to sneak in to the famed Les Prés d’Eugénie hotel for a taste of what made Michel Guérard world famous — one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Cuisine who changed French cooking forever. Chef and his wife Christine built this magical spa hotel in the country as a destination for his 3 Michelin star restaurant. We’re talking 3 stars for 30+ years!

I’m a food icon idiot, I just like to eat. But I learned about Les Prés d’Eugénie when I was staying at Le Chateau de Riell, their sweet little sister hotel in French Catalonia. (Here’s a link to my post about that cool hotel.). When checking out, not knowing where I was going next I asked “What about this Prés d’Eugénie place?” “Ohhh, mon dieu, C’est magnifique. Mais c’est trois étoiles!” I put it on my List. Def.

So when I was in the neighborhood I remembered the “mon dieu” and booked at the last minute, but could only get in one night. Damn.

Unfortunately, after a delightful few days on the Bassin d Arcachon — France’s Oyster Capital — I was zigzagging through the country roads of Gascony and my stomach started arguing with me. Not the hungry-good kind of yelling, more like the movie alien-must-get-out-of-this-body kind of angry. Musta been a bad oyster. Double damn.

I had to emergency stop four times on the drive — it was cool out but I was not. I was boiling, dripping with sweat. When I arrived, I couldn’t have felt worse.

To make matters worse, somehow the Chateau de Riell had alerted the hotel about my IG posts from the other hotel, so when I pulled up they treated me like I was a celebrity. “We knew you’d be coming” said the impeccable GM Emmanuel.

“Please allow me to personally show you around the grounds. Oh, and Chef Michel would also like to sit with you at dinner”   (MOI !?!? Hahaha… shhhhhh, don’t tell them about the real me…)

Les Pres d'Eugenie entrance
Such a shame I had food poisoning from the night before I arrived here. The Oyster’s Revenge. The grounds of this place are the finest I’ve ever seen. And I’ve covered a lot of grounds. Acres and acres of magic green carpet. Every square metre, perfectly coiffed.

Oh my god, the gardens of this place, like a fairytale palace. Acres of bloomin’ glory. Flowers of every type, every hair of grass combed perfectly in place. I had reservations at 8. With The Legend himself. GULP!

Unfortunately, as soon as I got to my room I collapsed on the floor in a cold sweat, cursing the oyster that got me. I laid on the ground until dark, a lone light coming from the bathroom. Finally, it killed me to pick up the phone and cancel my dinner reservation with Chef Michel. Alas, because the hotel was booked, I had to leave the next day.

Les Pres d'Eugenie statue closeup

About Chef Michel Guérard

“I cook the way a bird sings”, says Chef Michel Guérard’

Not only was Michel Guérard on the avant guard of the old guard on Nouvelle Cuisine, was on the vanguard cooking healthy French food, starting way back in the 70s.

He invented Cuisine Minceur, “slimming cooking”, and reinvented Nouvelle Cuisine to be better tasting and less filling. Smart way to convince people to drive 500 miles from Paris to a spa in the country. And it has worked fantastically since ’74. Now people come from 5,000 miles away. 

With the hotel, spa, and a bunch of cookbooks on eating healthy, he’s a legend. When we finally met, I thought I was meeting his Sous. He looks 30 years younger than he actually is, so this stuff works.

This place is so world famous that all you have to do is type in “les pres d’ ” on Google and it’s right at the top.

As one of the highest rated hotels in the world, it’s spendy; I could only afford to stay there one night — well, actually they were booked solid but for one night. But once I experienced the place, I would have gladly added more nights if I could have. Worth every euro.

It’s just a dream. I can’t wait to come back, spend more time and really enjoy every single square metre.

The Hotel at Les Prés d’Eugénie

I’m tellin’ ya, the amount of gorgeous detail per square metre of this place is just something to behold. Every niche and corner turns into a wondrous surprise, with not just some paint and a pretty picture, but deep deep layering of subtle detail and textures that brings out the character of the architecture. And always, aways white flowers.

Not campy decadent Rococo stuff, with garish colors and gold leaf like you see at some Old School places, but delicate, simple and neutral colors everywhere. And just the right amount of right. And light.

Les Pres d'Eugenie LouLou's Lounge Bar
Les Pres d'Eugenie sitting room

The Grounds of Les Prés d’Eugénie

The hotel is really most famous for its nationally renown spa and treatments. What better way to head out to the country than an incredible meal and a day in the spa?

Les Pres d'Eugenie thermes
Of course, the main purpose of the hotel is the nationally renown spa. They have all sorts of curative waters and treatments going on .
Les Pres d'Eugenie La Ferme building
There is an outbuilding called La Ferme, home to the more casual restaurant. Wait until you see how “casual” it is….
When you stay at a glorious spa hotel built around a destination Michelin 3 star restaurant in the countryside of France, this is what their daytime “casual” restaurant looks like.
Les Pres d'Eugenie teaching kitchen
Would you look at this kitchen??!? He set up an Institute on an the grounds and created a professional cooking school here where professional chefs can come for weeks and learn his secrets. You can take classes from the hotel too.

The Rooms at Les Prés d’Eugénie

Les Pres d'Eugenie convent
There are sumptuous rooms in the drop-dead looking main building, then there are scrumptious little out buildings like this spread across the property, tucked into their own green little heavens.

Spend some time looking at every square inch of this pic to appreciate that some little army of beret-ed Edward Scissorhands quietly passes by here all day long to make sure that everything is just so.
Les Pres d'Eugenie room view
Of the short time I was here, this was what I saw the most.
The view from my window. Must admit, if you’re going to be sick as a dog in your room, you can’t beat this marvelous view.
It was like staying in a technicolor terrarium, even on a rainy day.
Les Pres d'Eugenie room terrace
There are different buildings with different character and style of rooms (you can see them on their website) but I would highly recommend one of the outbuildings, like The Convent.

Last visited June 2015

Here’s a post of cool things to do in Dordogne, not far from here. Check out these other writeup about Les Pres d’Eugenie. A great article in the Wall Street Journal. A profile in FOUR magazine. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper. A great profile in Forbes magazine. And in the UK’s Conde Nast Traveller.

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