Find your own French charm with a stay somewhere beyond just your standard hotel. From floating villages to former castles, these stays will give your trip that little extra je ne sais quoi.

Float away in a cabin on a lake: Village Flottant de Pressac

Photo courtesy of Village Flottant de Pressac

Step outside of the city and into the French countryside, where vineyards and villages aren't the only views on offer. At a Natura 2000 site—designated by the EU as protected land to conserve the breeding and resting grounds of rare and threatened species—sit back and take in the furred and feathered French residents.

At the Village Flottant de Pressac, choose between 22 floating huts, five elevated stilt lodges, and eight safari tents surrounding the pond in this wildlife preserve. Enjoy fishing and hiking in the area, as well as the Village's swimming pool and Nordic bath. Each floating hut includes a private boat to get to and from your residence, fish, or simply paddle around and ponder. Its location makes it an excellent unconventional stop in between Dordogne and the Loire Valley.

Region: Vienne
Nearby cities: Poitiers, Limoges, Dordogne, La Rochelle
Closest major airports: Poitiers (40 miles/64 km), Limoges (42 miles/68 km), Bordeaux (133 miles/214 km)

Live a medieval castle fantasy: Chateau de Thorens

Photo courtesy of Chateau de Thorens

French landscapes often feel like a fairy tale, with castles dotting the countryside and mountains alongside picturesque villages. Now that most of the days of royalty are past, many of these dramatic former residences have been converted into elaborate lodgings.

Find your fairy tale at the medieval Chateau de Thorens. This Alpine castle started life as a fort commissioned by Count Gérold of Geneva in 1060 to watch the Usillon valley and control the ancient Roman road between Thônes and Geneva. It made its way down through various royal hands, including the Sales dynasty, as a private property until 1960, when its doors were opened for public tours, and is now open to guests who wish to stay in one of its five plush apartments and suites.

Want to channel your inner earl? Combine a stay with this trip through eastern France.

Region: French Alps
Nearby cities: Thorens-Glières, Annecy, Geneva, Chamonix
Nearby attractions: Chamonix, Mont Blanc
Closest major airports: Annecy (11 miles/18 km), Geneva-Cointrin (28 miles/45 km), Chambéry (59 km)

Drift into the Seine: Off Paris Seine

Photo courtesy of Off Paris Seine

Paris is rife with distinctive stays, with themed hotels of every stripe and size along its arrondissements. But why choose between the Left and Right Bank when you can simply stay on the river Seine itself?

The Off Paris Seine hotel floats near Austerlitz Station, allowing guests to take in views both of sidewalk Parisian life and barges slowly making their way down the river from its 54 rooms and four suites. And while you won't want to take a dip into the river itself, smaller boat cruises to the Eiffel Tower and a plunge pool will put you in touch with the aquatic vibes.

Want to take a float? Combine a stay with one of our favorite Paris itineraries.

Region: Île-de-France
Nearby city: Paris
Nearby attractions: Notre-Dame de Paris, Sacré-Cœur, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe
Closest major airports: Orly (11 miles/18 km), Charles de Gaulle (33 miles/53 km)

Say a little prayer in a former church: Sozo Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Sozo Hotel

Some of France's most-visited monuments are religiously affiliated—just think of the call of the bells of Notre Dame, spires of Chartres Cathedral, or island silhouette of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel. Why not find your spiritual side by staying in a former church?

The Sozo Hotel blends tradition with global influence (the name Sozo comes from the Japanese word for creation or imagination) inside a church originally built in 1883. The choir area is now the lobby, under a vaulted ceiling more than 50 feet (15 m) high. The 24 rooms and common areas include original stained glass and exposed stone. Feel yourself ascend beyond the physical in the wellness center, which includes a sauna, steam room, ice room, and sensory shower.

Region: Pays de la Loire
Nearby cities: Nantes
Nearby attractions: Jardin des Plantes, Château des Ducs de Bretagne, Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul Cathedral, Passage Pommeraye, Machines de l’Île, Loire river
Closest major airport: Nantes Atlantique (8 miles/13 km)

Toast your travels inside a modified wine barrel: Coup 2 Foudres

Photo courtesy of Coup 2 Foudres

It's not a trip to France without a glass of wine (or several). Regions like Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Loire and Rhône Valleys have been cultivated for centuries, earning the country's wines international acclaim and setting global standards for quality (as you may have been able to guess by their names).

Many of these regions are dotted with lovely chateaux and vineyard stays. But if you want to feel like you're really getting up close with the process, why not stay inside the barrel itself? At Coup 2 Foudres in the St. Emilion region, that's exactly what you can do. The large vats are usually used for the aging of wine, but these have been designed specifically for more solid stays by master barrel-maker Seguin Moreau. There are just two vats available for stays, each with their own theme: one "Metal Glam" and the other "Lovely Cosy."

Want to include the barrels in your France trip? Combine a stay with this luxury food and wine itinerary.

Region: Gironde
Nearby cities: Bordeaux, Bergerac
Nearby attractions: Wine estates
Closest major airport: Bordeaux (40 miles/64 km)

Planning a trip to France?

Find more advice about how to make the most of your time in France here

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.