April | Travel
Loire Valley Lodges, France
Each lodge was designed by a different artist, and each is as beautiful as the nextSusan Ward Davies
If you have spent lockdown cooped up in an urban flat with just parks for greenery, you are no doubt longing to soak up some serious nature. In the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Loire Valley, with its fairy-tale chateaux, is an arty eco hideaway set in 300 hectares of forest. Loire Valley Lodges is the passion project of Parisian Anne Caroline Frey, who believes so much in the healing power of trees that she had 18 treehouse lodges built, each with massive windows for maximum exposure to the therapeutic sights and sounds of the woods. Sensitively constructed from the native Douglas fir, oak and chestnut trees, the lodges are perched on four-metre stilts to create a nest-like retreat.
There are no TVs or WiFi, and just a walkie-talkie for room service, but you’ll find hotel amenities like the reception, bar, restaurant, plus a library devoted to books on art and trees, all in the original farmhouse. Each lodge was designed by a different artist (Frey spent 10 years in the contemporary art scene in Paris), including one dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg, with a turntable, speakers and a stack of vinyl, and another to the 1960s, complete with a vintage ‘egg’ chair and portrait of Mick Jagger.
The art continues in the grounds with sculptures and installations: a huge ‘Lost Dog’, a multi-coloured cow and a (slightly triggering) giant ant. When you’re not admiring these, you can try forest bathing, book a massage with tree-essence oil, swim in the pool, or just listen to birdsong on your terrace with a chilled glass of Sancerre.
Lodges from €270 a night, B&B, loirevalleylodges.com. Get there on Eurostar to Tours via Paris, from around £74 return from London, Eurostar.com