For an unforgettable stay of historical grandeur and contemporary French chic look no further than Hotel de la Villeon, a restored merchant’s townhouse in the heart of the Rhône valley.
The Hotel de la Villeon, an hour south of Lyon, is the perfect base to explore one of France’s finest wine regions, as well as the ideal start point for the new 90km vélo route, La Dolce Via – perfect for adventuring families.
Hotel de la Villeon – Tournon sur-Rhône
The Hotel de la Villeon stands tall amongst the cluster of ancient buildings making up the old town of historical Tournon Sur-Rhône.
Surrounded by vineyards, Tournon Sur-Rhône, is a gastronomers dream. Bursting with fine local produce, countless wineries, and even a chocolate museum, it’s a fabulous destination to taste La France.
Tournon Sur-Rhône is also a mere five minute drive to the start point of our latest adventure – catching the Ardèche steam train up the hills of Lamastre to begin our first family bike packing adventure.
This 18th century former merchant townhouse was the perfect place for us to bed down for a good night’s sleep before saddling up for the next few days. Lovingly restored, this luxury boutique hotel is a true gem and a stay here definitely added a touch of class to our cycling adventure.
The hotel, with it’s vast ceilings, ornate glass chandeliers, charming wooden shutters, has a timeless simple beauty. Incredibly, Hotel de la Villeon is also one of a only a handful of hotels across the country to be awarded the status of ‘Hotel Particulier‘ and is officially classed as a historical monument of France. Impressive.
If you’re looking for a unique stay steeped in history with a touch of elegance and luxury, the beautiful Hotel de la Villeon will not disappoint.
This grand building is entered from the street through a huge heavy wooden door. Upon entering the cool, stone interior, an immediate sense of calm & tranquility descends on us – even the kids! It’s easy to imagine the secrets this house has carried from centuries ago. Seemingly non consequential from the street, this magnificent mansion reveals itself to be much larger than at first glance.
The hotel has been painstakingly restored with a blend of modern contemporary and regard for classic timelessness. The ground floor features a cave (wine cellar) with a vast vaulted room for wine tasting.
Staff man the hotel with impeccable service and we were greeted immediately as if we were guests of the merchant himself rather than mere hotel guests.
If French isn’t your forte, don’t worry the staff are fluent in English and whisked us away to our rooms with friendly smiles and relaxed efficiency.
The winding stone staircase leads to 16 rooms (12 rooms and 4 suites) – all beautiful designed. We were shown to a suite on the third floor via the elevator.
With cool stone floor tiles, our suite was tucked under the eaves, lovely and spacious with minimal clean lines, beautiful furniture and gorgeous bed linen.
A row of tiny oval windows, with cozy shutters, overlook the terracotta roofs of the old town and adding to the atmosphere of 18th century France, we were thrilled to hear the nearby church bells ring loudly nearby.
Don’t worry the bells don’t ring between 11pm – 7am, so your night won’t be disturbed.
Our ensuite bathroom was modern with a powerful rainforest shower, fluffy white bathrobes and high quality toiletries.
We loved the gorgeous armchairs in our suite, along with the books to curl up and have a moment’s peace.
The girls were delighted to occupy a twin bedroom next door, which was similarly decorated in simple, clean lines with beautiful contemporary furniture.
Their ensuite bathroom was also had rainforest shower with posh, Molten Brown toiletries.
The girls immediately scoffed the cute heart shaped, oatmeal biscuits which had been left for us as a welcome treat and switched on the flat screen TV to browse the many channels.
Then itching to explore, they set off to discover one of the best draws of this opulent, historic hotel – their secret garden!
The secret garden of Hotel de la Villeon is incredibly played down. Backing onto a hill, the hotel’s gardens, much like the interior of this old merchant’s house, keeps going up and up and up.
A stone courtyard with tables and chairs (you can have breakfast al fresco here in the summer months) gives access to a concealed garden.
Crumbling stone steps with ancient gnarled trees lead up to several terraced levels, with countless charming garden features.
My girls tore around delighted to discover the garden inch by inch. Enchanting features reveal themselves around every corner – carved stone lions spouting water, an ancient well sucked dry and ramshackle ornaments.
The garden is relaxed and lazy, thankfully not meticulously groomed and anti-children. It’s the perfect space for kids to tear around in.
A climb to the top of Hotel de la Villeon’s garden is even rewarded by a fabulous view of Tournon Sur-Rhône, the ancient church and the surrounding hillside vineyards.
On the first floor a grand drawing room, with marble fireplace and gilded chandeliers is beautiful – the perfect place to relish your surroundings and relax for quite time.
With a beautiful backgammon table (can I take it home please??) chess boards and well chosen books, this room was definitely our favourite.
It was here we pored over our maps for the next day’s cycling adventure, before we headed into the unknown and countless hours in the saddle! We needn’t have worried – the Dolce Via is such a a gentle, pleasant trail along a converted railway track, it really is the perfect starter track for families wanting to try their first multi-day biking break.
Overlooking the courtyard, still on the first floor, the cozy hotel bar, Bar Le Gabriel has been built around an ancient natural spring. The cave featuring this natural source, once having provided water for the merchant’s family and servants, is lit spectacularly. Our girls were mesmerised.
This snug bar of Hotel de la Villeon is perfect for tasting the local wine (the hotel’s wine list is extensive!) and to sample the hotel’s snacking menu which features an array of delicious local produce – ham platters, delicious heart warming soups (we had spicy Moroccan whilst the girls wolfed down Cream Carrot Velvet).
Breakfast is served in grand dining room with beautifully set tables laid with pristine white table cloths and silverware.
Breakfast is continental buffet style featuring delicious produce sourced locally. Choose from vast platters of various cheeses and hams, French pastries, yogurts and juices.
The local orange juice was exquisite – the best orange juice we have EVER tasted! We ate like kings at a banquet. This feast set us up for our day of cycling ahead.
Verdict: a stay at Hôtel de la Villeon
We throughly enjoyed our stay in the grand mansion of Hôtel de la Villeon. A stay here is simply unique. We can’t imagine any other hotel in or around the area being able to provide an experience on the same level with it’s historical charm and elegant interior.
Whether you’re a gourmet lover wanting to sample the region’s finest wines and local gastronomy, a couple looking for a romantic break (tip: book the suite with the balcony), or a family like ourselves, discovering the little known cycle route, La Dolce Via, we would highly recommend a stay at the beautiful Hôtel de la Villeon.
Getting there and away
The Hôtel de la Villeon is in the centre of Tournon Sur-Rhône, a town an hour south of Lyon. We would recommend hiring a rental car if you are flying into Lyon.
Hôtel de la Villeon is located in the old town of Tournon Sur-Rhône and as such has no private parking for guests, however there is a large, free, public car park on the river front, a mere 5 minutes away from the hotel.
It is possible to stop outside the hotel to drop luggage off before parking. We felt totally safe leaving our car in the public car park, however there is also an underground carpark nearby if you prefer to be more secure.
DO LISTEN to the specific instructions of the hotel to NOT follow satnav directions to the hotel. The old town has a number of one way streets which a satnav does not comprehend. Hôtel de la Villeon will send you separate directions to follow.
More information – Hôtel de la Villeon
Rates start at €95 for a double room to €330 for a suite, excluding breakfast.
Breakfast is 20€/person/day – free for children under 7 years old
“Express Breakfast” formula is 10€/person (hot beverage + 1 pastry + 1 juice)