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Stay in Style at the Metro Hotel in Petaluma

The Metro Hotel in Petaluma offers French Boutique style.

I just returned from one of my favorite places in the world: France. OK, actually, that’s not entirely true. Technically I just got back from a visit to the Metro Hotel in Petaluma. But in my mind, I just got back from an afternoon of sipping Pastis and listening to accordion music somewhere in Provence.

Even if the Pastis — and the plane ride — were only imaginary, giddy I still am. And you should be too, because the Metro Hotel will give you a chance to spend a few nights in la belle France right here in Sonoma County.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sounds a little gimmicky. Maybe she did have that drink, after all.”

But here’s the thing: it’s not gimmicky. It’s perfect.

The boutique hotel’s French owner has filled the place with a huge variety of French antiques that are more whimsical than musty, that somehow make you nostalgic for the 1950s Parisian childhood you never had.

She’s brightened the whole property simply by bringing window shutters and planter boxes inside and vintage Orangina signs outside. She’s managed to make the tri-color flag and the ’80s French pop songs that both float over the café dining room seem perfectly placed in this town that’s about as all-American as a young Ron Howard in a ’58 Chevy.

While hanging out at the individual-drip-coffee station in the on-site café, I start chatting with a woman from Sonora who comes to Petaluma several times a year just to stay at the Metro Hotel.

This time she’s brought her daughter, her granddaughter, and her great-grand daughter, and all four generations are cozied up in a sunny, two-room suite with a claw foot tub and fluffy white beds and a lot of sunshine. They’re debating going downtown today for a craft festival — or is it a chocolate festival? They can never keep track here — and smiling ear to ear and telling me this is their favorite place in California.

At the moment, I’d be hard-pressed to argue.

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