Highway hotels, France

This item appears on page 32 of the March 2011 issue.
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My wife, Vera, and I stayed at the Etap Hotel Valence centre (65 Av. du Tricastin, 26000 Valence, France; phone +33 892680673), Oct. 7, 2010.

It is located beside the highway (A7 l’Autoroute du Soleil) as it follows the Rhône south. Through windows with blackout curtains to block the light, you can see the river traffic as well as the highway, but you can’t hear anything due to airport-hotel-style, soundproofed double windows.

Cheap at €48 (near $66) for two, it was clean, with free WiFi. Breakfast was available for €6 or €8, but, with a bakery a few blocks away, we didn’t buy it.

This Etap is closer to town than most hotels of this type, and you can walk to what amounts to a pedestrian mall in Valence that has excellent restaurants.

Over the last 10 to 15 years in France, there have grown up chains of hotels that are oriented not toward towns but the highway. Instead of local information and amenities, they offer security and sameness.

Found clustered around offramps and cloverleafs, they have minimal guest services and are automated as much as possible. Frequently, the guest interacts only with a machine that accepts a credit card and dispenses a code for the room, the parking lot and the entrance gate that is locked at night.

In the following continuum of chain hotels, I would place Etap in the middle: Formule 1 (toilet down the hall); Première Classe (toilet in the room); Etap (slightly more hotel-like), and Ibis or Campanile (has an associated restaurant).

All of these, since they cater to salespeople, truckers and others who need Internet access for business, generally have WiFi available.

HENRY M. POLLOCK

Boston, MA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My wife, Vera, and I stayed at the Etap Hotel Valence centre (65 Av. du Tricastin, 26000 Valence, France; phone +33 892680673), Oct. 7, 2010.

It is located beside the highway (A7 l’Autoroute du Soleil) as it follows the Rhône south. Through windows with blackout curtains to block the light, you can see the river traffic as well as the highway, but you can’t hear anything due to airport-hotel-style, soundproofed double windows.

Cheap at €48 (near $66) for two, it was clean, with free WiFi. Breakfast was available for €6 or €8, but, with a bakery a few blocks away, we didn’t buy it.

This Etap is closer to town than most hotels of this type, and you can walk to what amounts to a pedestrian mall in Valence that has excellent restaurants.

Over the last 10 to 15 years in France, there have grown up chains of hotels that are oriented not toward towns but the highway. Instead of local information and amenities, they offer security and sameness.

Found clustered around offramps and cloverleafs, they have minimal guest services and are automated as much as possible. Frequently, the guest interacts only with a machine that accepts a credit card and dispenses a code for the room, the parking lot and the entrance gate that is locked at night.

In the following continuum of chain hotels, I would place Etap in the middle: Formule 1 (toilet down the hall); Première Classe (toilet in the room); Etap (slightly more hotel-like), and Ibis or Campanile (has an associated restaurant).

All of these, since they cater to salespeople, truckers and others who need Internet access for business, generally have WiFi available.

HENRY M. POLLOCK

Boston, MA