Back in the early 1700s, patrons would arrive at the Hotel Griffon d’Or on Tuesday nights in time for market.
They would leave their horses in the hotel’s lower floor and spend the night, perhaps dining nearby or visiting – why not – the bordello across the street.
Next morning they would sell their animals and goods at the market 300 meters away and then head home again, coins jingling.
Today the Griffon d’Or (pronounced Gryffindor, as in the Harry Potter series) is a funky mixture of fantasy and rustic that works. The fantasy, of course, refers to the mythical animal which is the hotel’s namesake.
My room was a cheerful yellow and white offset with grey, not your usual modern hotel décor.
“I wanted each room to be different and I wanted guests to feel at home. I didn’t want a standardized feeling and I love to touch materials,” said Aurélie André, a furniture upholsterer and half of the husband and wife team that runs this little hotel.
“We have many return guests who stop here for the night on their way to the Mediterranean or to the Alps to ski. They come from all over, and many of them are from northern Europe.”
She and her husband François added a billiard room and a jacuzzi, unusual for a hotel in this small provincial capital of Eastern France.
The bordello by the way still exists across the street, only now it’s a trendy little Restaurant called Au Petit St Pierre, and yes, it is still a bit racy.
Things you should know
- The Griffon d’Or is located in Bourg-en-Bresse, a cozy provincial capital is home to the delightful Royal Monastery of Brou.
- While you’re here don’t forget to try the poulet de Bresse, the best chicken in France (and possibly the world).
- Bourg-en-Bresse is an easy 30 minutes from Lyon on the RhonExpress, which leaves every 15 minutes.