Day 1 – September 4th, Sunday
Upon arrival you’ll taxi to our hotel. We’ll meet up in the afternoon at our elegant left bank Hotel Le Recamier, named after another Merveilleuse*, Juliette Recamier, one of the most beautiful women who survived Revolutionary Paris. We will have a welcome glass of champagne here in their lovely garden and meet our guide, Susan Taylor-Leduc.
This evening we will dine at the celebrated old-world bistro, the Fontaine de Mars on classic French food prepared perfectly. This is where President Barack Obama took his wife Michele back in 2009 on the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
*A Merveilleuse was a member of a fashionable aristocratic subculture in Paris after the Revolutionary terror. Joséphine became one of the trendsetting Merveilleuse with Juliette Recamier and Fortuné Hameln whose home we will visit on Wednesday.
Day 2 – September 5th, Monday
Central Paris & the Palais Royal
Today we have a chance to explore the Hôtel de la Marine, with its magnificent views and expertly restored eighteenth-century interiors. As we overlook the Place de la Concorde, we will discuss the French Revolution, peering over the site of the guillotine where Marie-Antoinette was executed in 1793. Joséphine would have visited here because the building was the storehouse for all French furniture and she would have selected furniture to redecorate all her residences in turn creating the Empire Style.
Lunch today will be at the café Laperouse at the Hotel de la Marine the quintessential ladies who lunch type of place.
After our tour we will stroll down the Rue de Rivoli, built by Napoleon as part of his city planning projects. We will pass through the Tuileries gardens, where Napoleon and Josephine lived in a former chateau which is now destroyed.
We will tour the Palais Royal and Les Passages, which were the precursors to modern day malls. Joséphine was familiar with these gardens and shops. Les passages are covered passageways built in the late 18th century to house restaurants and shops so “the” ladies of the day wouldn’t get rained on or be dirtied by mud from the carriages rumbling through Paris.
Free Time this afternoon for further exploration or relaxation.
Tonight we’ll meet up at hotel and walk over to enjoy dinner at Le Recamier, a place that specializes in soufflés.
Day 3 – September 6th, Tuesday
Today we’ll enjoy an all-day visit to Malmaison, Joséphine’s treasured country house and gardens. Decorated in the antique style, between 1800 and 1802. Malmaison was the seat of the French government, a place where Napoleon liked to gather his ministers. Great political decisions were taken within these walls. After crossing the first vestibule in the shape of a tent, you are plunged into the heart of Joséphine’s daily life including her dining room, salon and bedchambers.
We will discover her penchant for collection and then explore the gardens where she collected rare birds and plants. Fascinated by botany, Joséphine cultivated exotic plants alongside her important collection of roses. The discovery of the rose garden and its some 150 varieties of flowers represents a true olfactory journey!
These gardens inspired the botanical artist Pierre Redouté who recorded some 250 roses from her collection.
After our visit will enjoy lunch in the town of Rueil Malmaison at Sapristi. Then our day will close with a chocolate tasting recalling Josephine’s own sweet tooth.
After some unstructured time back in Paris, we’ll have a change of pace and dine at the Italian resto, Le Cherche Midi a short walk from our hotel. They’ve been around since 1978 and the antipasti and homemade pasta transports you to Italy!
Day 4 – September 7th, Wednesday
MEET Les Merveilleuses
This morning will start with a relaxing lie-in or an exploration of your neighborhood on your own. Free time in Paris is essential!
Starting out in late morning we’ll visit the Louvre where we’ll discover Imperial Art from Joséphine’s time including historical paintings dedicated to Napoleon as well as portraits of Joséphine and her friend Madame Juliette Recamier (the namesake of your hotel).
Lunch after the Louvre will be at the glorious Michelin starred Grand Vefour where Josephine and Napoleon dined often. It’s considered the oldest restaurant in Paris.
In late afternoon we’ll venture over to the Hotel Bourrienne, a recently restored townhouse and a fine example of interior decor from this period, and one of the only places to see this. The Hotel Bourrienne was the residence of Fortunée Hamelin (1776-1851) daughter of the rich plantation family from St Domingue (today the Dominican Republic) who befriended Josephine in the 1790s. The interior decoration, in the style of the Directory/Consulate period and has been preserved and beautifully restored.
At this delightful palace, we’ll enjoy a private apéro-dînatoire as we toast to our good fortune. An apéro-dînatoire is a French cocktail hour with delicious hors-d’oevres.
Day 5 – September 8th Thursday
Napoleon, Josephine & Marie-Louise at Versailles
Napoleon and Josephine did not live at the chateau, but Napoleon dreamed about it. When he divorced Josephine he turned to the Grand Trianon, partially decorated by Josephine, to have his own country house. This day tour begins with a trip out to Versailles to discover it in an altogether new way. We’ll enjoy a special look at the Apartments designed to celebrate Napoleon and Josephine at the chateau.
Then we’ll train to Grand and Petit Trianon starting with a light lunch at Angelinas.
In the afternoon we will visit the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and Hameau, commissioned by Marie-Antoinette, but refurbished for Napoleon’s second wife, Marie-Louise who lived there from 1810-1815. Napoléon’s Hameau has been recently restored to period when Marie-Louise was in residence.
After a big day, we’ll return to Paris for dinner on your own and a night of rest and relaxation.
Day 6 – September 9th Friday
The Left Bank: Being Josephine in the 21st Century
This morning we will take a walking tour to left bank, with a stop at the Officine de Buly, a cosmetic shop dating back to 1803 when Joséphine set the fashion for cosmetics, beauty and style for her entire generation.
We will meet for Lunch at Le Café Bonaparte in the center of Saint Germain des Près.
After lunch we will give you some free time for last minute shopping on the ever-chic Left Bank .
We will end our Joséphine-infused adventure tonight on the Seine with a cruise and a delightful dinner orchestrated by the one and only Alain Ducasse, a world-famous chef, on his specially designed, electronically powered, cruise boat. This enviable location allows us to enjoy views of the sparkling Eiffel tower as we celebrate our week-long exploration into a forgotten Paris. We’ll toast to our discoveries and the lasting friendships made.
Day 7 – September 10th, Saturday
Today, our trip comes to an end. but first we must have a hearty breakfast together. May this be just the first of many trips to Paris and la Belle France.
“America is my country, but Paris is my home”, Gertrude Stein.
- GG2P reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability, as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
- Vegetarians & Vegans - Not to worry – you will be well fed in all restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.
Trip Cost: 6,000 Euro*
- * All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. (Everyone gets their own fabulous room)! If you’re traveling with a friend/relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy and a reduction in cost.
- * Unless stated otherwise, all our trips are priced in the home currency of the trip’s location. However, as a convenience to our US-based customers, we will invoice you in the equivalent USD calculated at the exchange rate at the time of invoice.
- Interest-free, monthly payment plans are available. Please inquire.
- Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals and some wine with dinner
- All guides
- All wine and chocolate tastings mentioned
- Lodging at 4* hotels
- Museum or other entry fees
- A special party at the Hotel Bourrienne
- All transport in Paris and to surrounding towns we’ll be visiting
What’s Not Included?
- Roundtrip international airfare
- Any personal souvenirs or purchases
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
- Travel insurance and trip medical coverage (required)
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