Most secret: Officine, Lyon, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes
In the heart of the Presqu'île district, the Officine cocktail bar on the rooftop of the recently renovated Grand Hôtel-Dieu is a well-kept secret. It’s perched 17 meters above the majestic, vaulted rooms and stained-glass windows of this legendary hotel, renowned for well-being (a Cinq Mondes Spa has just opened), shopping and gastronomy. Heritage lovers will adore the cocktail bar with a large terrace. Nestled above the restaurant Le Grand Réfectoire, directly in front of the central dome of this monumental building which is also home to the 5* InterContinental hotel, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cosy atmosphere on a historic perch. And at night it’s even more special when reached via the wide halls of the hotel, its courtyards, and beautifully lit gardens.
Most friendly: NŪ in Lille, Northern France
The first and largest rooftop bar and restaurant in the capital city of the Hauts-de-France region opened in 2021 at the top of Swam, a contemporary style complex which includes shops, offices and leisure activities. Opposite the Euralille shopping center, between the city’s two train stations, it’s at Swam that you’ll discover the impressive Nū (pronounced ‘nou’) with breath-taking views over Lille’s skyline and Matisse Park. Enjoy the generous cuisine of chef Maxime Schelstraete – a taste of the good life. Make the most of the Lille3000 cultural season (a fabulous Lille-wide art festival held every three years with art in the street, museums, galleries, public buildings and even shops) or simply revel and relax as you enjoy the famous northern hospitality…
Most refined: Tout Paris in Paris
Is seventh heaven at the top of the iconic Samaritaine building? Yes, definitely! Discover one of the most Parisian department stores, recently given a complete makeover after being closed for 15 years. This temple of chic-shopping is encased in an elegant glass façade, and it’s here that the Cheval Blanc hotel collection has chosen a sparkling setting for its first urban venture of four restaurants and bars. On the 7th floor, the Tout-Paris brasserie has an extraordinary 650m² terrace with a charming, shaded garden providing cinematic views over the river Seine and the city’s most beautiful monuments. Gaze over Pont Neuf and the rooftops of Paris, from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower via Notre-Dame and the colonnade of the Louvre. Paris, laid before you, basks in the soft autumn light...
Most intimate: La Terrasse du Fesch in Ajaccio, Corsica
In September, after the tourists leave, is a great time to enjoy the many charms of Corsica, its crystal-clear waters, and enchanting coves. Enhance your visit and enjoy panoramic views over the beautiful Gulf of Ajaccio with a stop on the new terrace of the Hotel Fesch&Spa. On a bustling pedestrian street in the historic center, just two minutes from the famous Fesch Museum (a must-see with its sublime collection of Italian paintings), you can’t help but be moved by the sight of the Mediterranean seen from this rooftop paradise. From breakfast through to dinner under the stars, the views of Corsica from above create memories that you’ll cherish forever…
Most cinematic: Belle Plage in Cannes, Côte d'Azur
Gently waving palm trees, the iridescent blue of the Mediterranean sea, and in the background the outline of the lovely Lérins islands, Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Honorat in the bay of Cannes, make the view from the spectacular high-altitude bar in the hotel Belle Plage an absolute winner. Situated on the 8th floor of the 5* hotel, this is the latest addition to many elegant offerings in Cannes. Floating between sky and sea on the Côte d'Azur, this rooftop cocktail bar is the perfect place to enjoy the last of the summer sun – it’s as pretty as a film set…
Most relaxed: the Roof Top du Lez in Montpellier, Occitanie
It’s an Indian Summer in Montpellier as usual… Just a stone's throw from the Mediterranean, enjoy the best of both worlds combining beach time and city walks through the alleys of the Ecusson – the historic city centre – which wind around the legendary Place de la Comédie. But there’s even more to this lovely city… Along the banks of the river Lez, where the Lez Market and its gourmet food halls, food trucks, second-hand dealers and petanque courts charm visitors, the festive Roof Top du Lez is THE trendy meeting place. With three dining areas and 1200m² of outdoor terraces decorated in exuberant style, the Toi, Toit mon Toit, on the top floor, feels like a giant treehouse. And in this lush green setting, sipping a delicious ice-cold cocktail as you take in the 360° panorama as far as the mountain of Pic Saint-Loup, you’ll experience a true ‘wow’ moment.
Most arty: Epoxy in Rouen, Normandy
This is such a great place to meet up and discover art in Rouen. A stone's throw from the Place du Vieux Marché, Epoxy mixes genres – it’s an art gallery (where all the art displayed is for sale), a showroom with flashy walls, lounge bar and comedy club (held twice a month). Over several floors, in between displays of street-art and cosy spaces, amateurs, connoisseurs, and collectors meet in an effervescent and creative atmosphere. Admire the artworks created on site, plus exclusive exhibitions. There are conferences, evening events, stand-up comedy, and DJ sets... Epoxy pushes the boat out in inspiring creativity and creating a friendly atmosphere. Chat over a drink in the large lounge bar or head to the rooftop Art club to buy one of the works on display.
Most starred: L’Astronome in Mulhouse, Alsace (Grand-Est)
In Mulhouse, Alsace, the National Automobile Museum - Schlumpf Collection, housed in a former textile mill transformed into a display centre for more than 400 exceptional cars (the most beautiful collection in the world) celebrates its 40th anniversary with an exhibition called ‘Iconic Mechanics’ which runs until November 6, 2022. And while you’re there, get to know the capital of the Haut-Rhin department. Discover its famous street-art and its first rooftop venue, L'Astronome (the Astronomer), a restaurant-bar with its landscaped terrace of 300m² on the 3rd floor of an emblematic building in downtown Mulhouse. The new gourmet addition offers Italian bistronomy in the heart of the city overlooking the Saint-Étienne temple and the Tour de l’Europe. L’Astronome takes its name from the nearby Lambert column, erected in memory of the Mulhouse-born mathematician and astronomer Johann Heinrich Lambert.
Most new wave: L'Olatua in Biarritz, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Autumn is the most beautiful season to discover the Basque Country. In Espelette, strings of bright red peppers festoon the facades of houses, while on the coast lie the refreshing waters of the Atlantic ocean. In Biarritz, take your time while climbing the 248 steps of the famous lighthouse to spot the surfers, or watch the waves that crash on the legendary Rock of the Virgin. At sunset, the rooftop of L’Olotua Biarritz is the perfect place to be. Facing the Ocean, overlooking the Atalaye gardens, the views of the cliffs, the flamboyant Villa Belza and the Grande Plage are stunning, not to mention the generous tapas adapted to the style of the Basque country.
Most central: the rooftop restaurant-bar L'Incontournable in Bourges, Centre-Val de Loire
Fall in love with the Printemps de Bourges, an unmissable festival of contemporary music which takes place every April. Discover the beautiful capital of Berry, its medieval district, Saint-Etienne cathedral and sumptuous Palais Jacques Cœur. And in autumn, when the vineyards surrounding Sancerre, just a cork’s pop away, blaze gold and red, enjoy the city’s charms. See Bourges from above to truly appreciate the city’s layout - there’s nowhere better than rooftop of L'Incontournable restaurant-bar with its inviting soft sofas, creative floral displays, and inspirational menu. It’s perfect for relaxing as you watch the sun set over the historic centre of Bourges…
Most panoramic: Le 360 bar in Macon, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Take a stroll amongst the golden-leaved vineyards of Mâconnais and Beaujolais. Or discover the traboules (historic passages), courtyards, ancient houses, and mansions of Mâcon, the southernmost town of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. In the ultra-historic centre, you can’t miss the Hotel & Spa Panorama 360 housed in the monumental former Hôtel des Postes (post office building). Head to the sky-high rooftop to discover the glass domed Le 360 bar with two large terraces from where, as the name suggests, you will have breath-taking views over the city, the Roche de Solutré, the river Saône and its colourful quays, and even Mont Blanc on a clear day!
Most theatrical: La Réserve in Angers, Pays de la Loire
You don’t really need another reason to linger in historic Angers. It’s regularly at the top of the list of best cities in France where life is good. But one of the reasons is to enjoy the sweetness of autumn at La Réserve. Perched on the top of the Le Quai cultural venue, the brasserie is ideal for a relaxing break. Take the panoramic elevator to the 5th floor to enjoy the most beautiful views of the Maine, a tributary of the river Loire, the magnificent Saint-Maurice Cathedral and the castle of King René, an incredibly impressive monument with 17 two-tone towers formed from slate and tufa (the local limestone). You’re sure to love the creative seasonal cuisine served in this little piece of cloud 9!
Most oceanic: Sainte-Barbe Hotel & Spa, in Le Conquet, Brittany
In Le Conquet, close to the city of Brest, in Finistère, the Sainte-Barbe is a renowned hotel. This long-abandoned jewel on the unspoiled and wild coast of Iroise has now reopened after an incredible renovation. It puts you in mind of a large contemporary ship, all glass and concrete, suspended on the side of a rock above the ocean, a spectacular figurehead. Set on a promontory, overlooking the islands of Molène and Ouessant, the 4* Le Sainte-Barbe Hotel & Spa Le Conquet – M Gallery has breath-taking views from 34 rooms – all of which have picture windows and French doors - and its restaurant La Corniche. Cast away the stresses of everyday life and breathe in the sea air on the roof top terrace. When the sun sets in the west it’s like a little bit of paradise as you watch the luminous ballet of boats twinkling in the bay…