The Dordogne is peppered with beautiful villages – many of which are among les plus beaux villages de France (the most beautiful villages of France), an independent association of 156 villages across the country. Though I saw more picturesque towns, villages and hamlets on my trip than I can begin to count, Monpazier was undoubtedly one of my favourites. Arriving at the town in late afternoon, the buildings were bathed in a warm, golden light, and my hotel, the Edward 1er, was a most attractive and welcoming prospect.
The exterior of the hotel, seen from the street and from the swimming pool
Monpazier is a small bastide town, typical of many found in the region, with streets fanning out from a central square in easy-to-navigate grids. The hotel gets its name from the English king, who founded the town in 1284, and is situated just a few minutes’ walk from the central square. It’s a gorgeous, graceful building – I had anticipated that it would feel a bit stuffy and formal, but it was far from it; I was immediately struck by how welcoming and homely the hotel was, and this was an impression that was only furthered during my stay.
My room was on the second floor, tucked under the eaves, with shuttered windows that opened onto a view of the surrounding houses. The rooms are all decorated in what I would call rustic French chic – but without looking like over-styled bedrooms from an interiors magazine. I was unfortunately only there for one night, but I can imagine that the rooms make a fabulous retreat at the end of a day of exploring the beautiful surrounding countryside. Only the rooms on the second floor have air-conditioning, so if this is important to you, it’s wise to book one of those. I was also shown the Suite Edward 1er, which has a small seating area in one of the building’s “towers” and would make a really romantic choice for a honeymoon.
A swimming pool is always a bonus – but especially in this part of France if you’re travelling during the hotter months – and the pool here, tucked to the side of the hotel, was a really welcome sight on a hot day. In the morning, I took my breakfast by the side of the pool, which was really lovely, and I can see that it would be really tempting to spend your day relaxing by the pool with a good book.
One of the highlights of staying at Edward 1er is that it’s home to the town’s best restaurant, Restaurant Eléonore, where I had one of the most memorable meals of my trip, sitting outside on the terrace, as swallows sang and swooped overhead and the sky gradually darkened into night. (It only would’ve been better if I hadn’t been alone.) The restaurant offers really elegant seasonal food, with an emphasis on local produce – so expect regional specialities like foie gras and magret de canard (duck breast) – and was utterly delicious. You can choose how many courses you have, and at €30 for three courses and €40 for five, it’s really remarkable value. In addition, the owners also run another restaurant in town, Bistrot 2, which also looked like a great place to eat.
As is so often the case with small hotels, it was the staff that made the place – specifically the owners, Arjan and Marije, who are very much involved front-of-house and really take the time to meet their guests (but without being intrusive or in-your-face, thankfully). I was especially delighted to find out that the pair had actually found the hotel on their own honeymoon, which makes this even more of a great honeymoon option in my book, and their love for the property, and the pride they take in it, really shines through.
Monpazier itself is a sight in its own right, though there’s not a huge amount to do – it’s charms lie in exploring the sunny streets, enjoying the countryside views and stopping for a refreshing drink (or two) on the main square. Though it does get busy with tour groups during the day, there’s only two hotels in town, so once they go home you have the town pretty much to yourself, which is perfect. The hotel would also make a great base for exploring the surrounding area – you’re close to other bastide towns like Monflanquin and Domme, plus numerous chateaux, larger towns like Bergerac and Sarlat, and the prehistoric sites near Les Eyzies, all of which are perfectly achievable as day trips. This is also a fabulous area for walking and cycling, or alternatively you can hire the hotel’s little Citroën 2CV during your stay, which would be the perfect (and most romantic) way to explore.
I loved my stay at the Hotel Edward 1er and would not hesitate to recommend it as a honeymoon hotel, not least if you’re looking for somewhere that combines a great position with fabulous food. It’s worth pointing out that they offer a number of packages, such as the “Grand Amour“, which includes a candlelit dinner, a picnic basket, breakfast and four nights in the Edward 1er suite, which would be especially worth considering for a honeymoon stay.
In a nutshell:
I loved: The warm welcome, romantic rooms, and the absolutely delicious food were particular highlights.
We weren’t so keen on: The bathroom felt a little old-fashioned, but this wasn’t much of an issue.
Ideal if you want: An intimate hotel in a picture-perfect Dordogne town with gourmet credentials.
Need to know:
Hotel Edward 1er, Monpazier, France
Rates: From €68 a night.
Nearest airport: Bergerac (45min drive)
The Honeymoon Project was a guest of Hotel Edward 1er, with dinner and breakfast included, but this review is entirely reflective of my own, unbiased opinions.