Villas Foch, Elegant Ambassador For Historic Bordeaux

by Sean Hillen

Opened just over a year ago, Villas Foch, is an elegant 19th century stone building located in the Golden Triangle of Bordeaux, one of the city’s most upmarket neighborhoods within a ten-minute walk of the city’s downtown area.

Photos by Columbia Hillen

Featuring 20 rooms, including eight suites, a wine bar, and an atrium looking onto an inner courtyard with trees, it stands a few meters from the Place des Quinconces with its ornate, 54-meter-tall Monument aux Girondins and fountain decorated with bronze horses and troops with a statue on top representing the spirit of liberty.

Named after Ferdinand Foch who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War, this luxury property, managed by the friendly Médéric Demelle, who also happens to be a fine actor, comprises two historic villas joined seamlessly together. Inside, it’s a chessboard of gleaming marble throughout the ground floor reception area and a mixture of old bare stone walls, cornices and modern decor with mouldings and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, including a 1925 medical dictionary and collection of works by Ernest Hemingway, Molière and Balzac. A monumental staircase, a modern chandelier and moldings characterise this 5-star hotel.

Médéric Demelle, manager.

Demelle described Villas Foch as “an Anglo-Saxon concept that is somewhere between a guest house and a luxury hotel, the first such boutique hotel in Bordeaux.”

The smell of fresh lilies, a comfortable leather sofa and glasses of cool water made our arrival at the hotel from Bordeaux train station after arriving on the TGV from Paris, a most relaxing and welcoming one. Peruvian lilies on the breakfast tables added to the pleasant overall ambience.

Sitting down in the spacious reception area felt like being in the vortex of classic, ancient and contemporary styles. The building’s design is the work of well-know Bordeaux architect, Joseph-Adolphe Thiac, who also designed the city’s cathedral and its Palais des Justice.

Our room, 307, one of 20 at this charming boutique property, or hôtel particulier as it is known in France, was an ‘interior’ one facing a set of ochre-colored rooftops. A suite rather than a room, it featured a living-room with a gray cloth sofa, large wall TV, a writing desk and a coffee table and armchair. Beyond it was a bathroom, with separate toilet, with built-in bath and shower. Toiletries were Hermes. Our high-ceilinged bedroom was equally spacious with a Queen-size bed, a second wall TV, bedside tables and  hanging reading lights. A large window with wooden shutters permitted lots of natural light to flood the room, as it did in the living room too.

So sensitive is Médéric to client comfort, there are three different choices of pillow – fluffy, memory foam and feather. And two types of pillow cases –  silk and linen.

Delicious samples of Bordeaux’s most traditional pastry ‘canelé’ awaited us on a small table in our room.

In the basement of Villas Foch is a gym under a vaulted stone arch and beside it a sauna and swimming pool.

Its bar, aptly named Le Ferdinand, presents a quiet ambience and street views with seating alfresco.  The menu contains 26 different cocktails, some originals named after friends of the bartender such as Le Emma, Le Marc, Le Patrick and Le Margot.

One evening I chose a 1932 French concoction entitled  ‘Vieux Carré’ (Old Square) first made by Walter Bergeron, a bartender at New Orleans’ Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone. It featured Cognac, rye whiskey, red Martini, Benedictine, and angostura and Peychaud bitters. My companion chose Le Elisabeth, created by resident mixologist Melvine Meunier when he worked in London to celebrate the Jubilee of deceased British Queen Elizabeth. It comprises gin, black cherry jam, white tea, Timur berries cordial, lime juice and egg-white.

Due to efficient use of physical space, breakfast selection at Villas Foch seems on first glance to be limited but in actual fact it is impressively diverse. Consider, for example, eight different kinds of jams including a combination of rhubarb with tonka beans, eleven different bowls of dried fruit, nuts and seeds as well as fresh fruits including bananas, strawberries, blackberries, apricots, melons, blueberries and passion fruit. Not to mention the staples of scrambled eggs, salmon, cheeses, cooked tomatoes, spinach and various breads, including banana with chocolate, and of course, the iconic croissant.

Comfortable rooms, attractive décor and convenience to the tourism highlights of Bordeaux make Villas Foch a destination worth serious consideration.

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