A Delightful French Experience in La Crosse, Wisconsin


Photo credit:  Hotel Scoop

Photo credit: Hotel Scoop

The last few weeks have been insane at work and I’ve been feeling burned out. This past Friday, I decided to take half the day off to get out of work early and spend it with my husband, because I feel like I had barely seen him the past few months.  Imagine my surprise when he told me we were staying in Lacrosse overnight and that his mom was sitting the stepkids. 

 We love going to La Crosse because they have great restaurants, antique stores, books stores and many other things to do around town. But he surprised me with a stay at a fairly new hotel called The Charmant, and oh wow— what a beautiful hotel! Build in a former chocolate factory, the hotel is an ode to French modern style. It pays homage to the past of this now historic building by using elements of the building in various ways, as well as displaying items that used to be in the factory. The building used to house the Joseph B. Funke Candy Company, which was founded in 1898 and was in business for 35 years. It all comes together beautifully to give the guests an experience that is part French charm with modern sleekness... and it works.  

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly staff and two pieces of the most delicious salted caramel chocolate I have tried in a long time. There is an entire case of chocolates as homage to past of the building, and this same past as a chocolate factory reverberates throughout the hotel by displaying items from the factory in a multilevel glass display case (which you immediately see when you come in) and in the rooms, as framed art.

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The hotel has a wonderful restaurant that seems out of the pages of a Restoration Hardware magazine. The food is French cuisine in style which they have mastered indeed. When we arrived for dinner, the place was in full swing, so we requested to be seated at the counter where we could see the action in the kitchen and it was fantastic! The chef and staff were busy at work but were also friendly. I felt like I was watching a movie, and was thrilled when the chef delivered our dinner— steak for my husband and a delicious (and beautiful) bouillabaisse in a saffron broth for me. He spoke with us for a little bit about food and out travels, ad he was gracious enough to share with me the cookware he uses. Thank you, Chef! As we left, as I did throughout out dinner, I kept glancing at their wine walk-in cave. Oh my, and I spotted a bottle of 2012 (sigh…).

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After dinner we went to our room, and I am still in love with it. As soon as I walked in I turned to my husband and told him “I want to move in”. The room was so charming! A tufted leather bed anchored the room in a combination of old and new, that was so welcoming and cozy in a very stylish way. I especially liked the corner desk against exposed brick. On the wall a collection of old photos and chocolate candy mementoes, continued to remind the guest of this building’s past.

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This old and new French flair theme continues throughout the hotel, and nowhere did I find it more displayed than at The Parlour— a lovely little coffee shop that made you feel like you stepped in a patisserie in the middle of Paris. The croissant I had was baked to chewy crustiness perfection, and the cinnamon roll my husband had was one of the nest he ever had, according to him. And the coffee— wow!

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We ended up having to leave the next morning because of an impending snow storm, but I left feeling like I had spent a weekend in Paris— refreshed and ready to face the week ahead. This was such a charming surprise by my husband and it show me something I already knew— nobody knows me like he does… well, maybe my mom :)