A pioneering celebrity and fashionista, Marie-Antoinette created her own style that, despite her tragic fate, still influences the French art de vivre. Join us as we discover Marie-Antoinette’s France and walk in her footsteps through 18th century Paris and Versailles.
On this historic adventure Marie-Antoinette will come alive for you. From our hotel in the fashionable Marais we’ll discover restaurants, cafés and shops fit for a queen. We’ll visit museums specializing in art from the Age of Enlightenment and unique collections of furniture, porcelains and jewelry that reveal the luxuries so essential to life at court and in the city. We’ll visit breathtakingly beautiful gardens (Marie-Antoinette’s favorite flower was the rose). And of course, no Marie-Antoinette trip would be complete without a visit to Versailles.
We’ll stay in pure luxury in a palace of our own at Versailles for 2 glorious nights. We’ll tour the public apartments at the chateau and then retreat to her private, exquisitely furnished getaway at the Petit Trianon. We’ll visit the gardens she designed, including her faux village, or Hameau, where she enjoyed the pleasures of motherhood and entertained her closest friends, dashing admirers and a secret lover. Our trip will conclude with a fireworks display dedicated to the queen!
Don’t worry, along the way we’ll be indulging in some of the queen’s favorite pastimes: pastry-tasting, and perfume making plus we’ll be dining at some spectacular restaurants in Paris and Versailles ranging from bistro to Michelin star plus a champagne tasting, of course! This is your moment to be French queen… seize it!
Your Trip Leader
Leading you in the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette, will be the scholar, educator and nationally-certified tour guide, Susan Taylor-Leduc, PhD. Susan has been teaching art history in Paris for over 25 years, and is a specialist of the gardens at Versailles. Her book, Marie-Antoinette’s Legacy: The Politics of French Garden Patronage and Picturesque Design, 1775-1867 is forthcoming with Amsterdam University Press. Suffice to say, she knows more about Paris, it’s gardens and Marie-Antoinette than anyone you’ll ever meet. But most importantly, she’s an absolute delight to be with! You will love your time with her.
Arrive into Paris at your leisure and check into the Hotel de Jobo – our fun and beautiful hotel in the heart of the Marais district. (If you’d like to arrive in Paris a day or two earlier to get over your jet lag or just do some exploring on your own, let us know and we can secure your room at the hotel a day or two earlier).
This evening, in the courtyard of the hotel, we’ll meet up to enjoy some champagne, get to know one another and learn a bit about Marie-Antoinette. After our champagne, we will enjoy a stroll through the Marais and a lovely dinner at one of our favorite local bistros, Le Temps des Cerises.
After breakfast, we’ll begin our day in the Marais with a visit to the Musée Cognacq-Jay. Ernest Cognacq, founder of the world-famous Samaritaine department store, and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, were art lovers. They particularly a loved of the art of the Age of Enlightenment. Throughout their lives, they gathered more than 1,200 European works, all reflecting the taste in vogue in the 18th century. The museum is now housed in the extraordinary Hôtel Donon, a sixteenth-century townhouse in the heart of the Marais.
We’ll have lunch at the Breizh Café, a lovely, elevated creperie.
After lunch, we’ll have a very special visit to the perfumerie, Buly. Buly was founded in 1803, at a time when there were no fewer than 139 perfumers located in Paris, and according to the city’s Préfecture, the toiletries trade was the second largest employer in the Paris! Buly is a veritable bastion against the disappearance of France’s beauty heritage, inspired by the excellence and virtues of the past while committing to the best of the present.
Then we’ll visit to the chocolatier Jacques Genin, world famous for his chocolates and pâtes de fruits. We’ll have a special opportunity to venture into his lab, where Jacques’ daughter Jade, will lead us for a tasting.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to rest, shop or explore.
For dinner, we’ll will walk through the beautiful Place des Vosges to Chez Janou
This morning, we’ll visit the gardens of Paris. First stop will be the stunning Bagatelle Gardens which were constructed in 64 days after a wager between Marie-Antoinette and her brother-in-law. We’ll be joined by a private expert guide for the gardens – she does the flowers for the American Embassy and is a rose judge at Bagatelle. Lucky for us we’ll be visiting during rose season!
We’ll stop for lunch at the lovely, Le Camondo
After lunch, we’ll take a short tour of the Parc Monceau, a garden built by Marie-Antoinette’s cousin, before exploring the elegant Nissim de Camando Museum with its exceptional collection of eighteenth-century furniture and decorative arts
We’ll have earned some free time to relax at the end of the day. In my opinion, there may be no better way to spend a few hours than in a French cafe with a coffee and a Pastis, watching the fashionable Parisians go by.
For dinner tonight, we’ll enjoy a hearty and satisfying meal at a true delight of a restaurant near our hotel, Robert et Louise specializing in steak.
We will visit the Hôtel de la Marine, with its magnificent views and beautifully restored eighteenth-century interiors. As we overlook the Place de la Concorde, the site of the guillotine where Marie-Antoinette was executed in 1793, our discussion about the French Revolution will come to life!
We’ll enjoy lunch at the Le Café Lapérouse in the Hotel de la Marine.
After lunch, we can break up into two groups, the shoppers (true to Marie-Antoinette’s heart) will visit the grand magasins (department stores) of Printemps and Galeries Laffayette and the historians will go with Susan to visit the Chapelle Expiatoire which is dedicated to Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI.
Tonight you’ll have a well-earned night off. Enjoy dinner at one of the many cafe’s and restaurants in the Marais, or stroll over to the left bank.
This morning, we’ll leave for Versailles. It’s a short 1-hour drive so we plan to arrive around 10am. The Palace of Versailles is one of the greatest achievements in French 17th and 18th century art. Louis XIII’s old hunting pavilion was transformed and extended by his son, Louis XIV, when he installed the Court and government there in 1682. A succession of kings continued to embellish the Palace up until the French Revolution. If you’ve never been before, it’s one of the most majestic, awe-inspiring palaces you’ll ever see.
Susan, our expert on Marie-Antoinette and Versailles, will lead us through the public rooms of the king and queen, and we’ll have a special visit to the private apartments of the queen. (You know who!)
We’ll have lunch at Angelinas on the grounds of Versailles before checking in to our luxurious Trianon Palace Hotel, where we will have some free time to relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds.
This afternoon we truly will feel like queens – we’re going to dress up in costumes the ladies in Marie-Antoinette’s court would wear, and then take tea and pastries. Our photographer will be on hand to document the entire spectacle! Your instagram accounts will never be the same!
This evening, we’ll meet for dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Le Veranda
Today we discover the gardens of Versailles. The gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French formal garden style perfected here by André Le Nôtre. You’ll never complain about tending to your backyard garden again!
We will have a light lunch at the Flottille in the gardens.
After lunch, will visit the Petit Trianon, an elegant neo-classical building that the queen redecorated as her private residence. She was so intent to have a ‘private’ retreat she even built moving mirrored walls to prevent the curious from looking inside! We then stroll through her private English garden gardens to the Hameau, her pretend village where they once performed comic operas.
We’ll return to the hotel to rest and relax and enjoy the beautiful spa (one spa treatment is included). Queens need to be pampered!
This final evening will feature an extraordinary dinner at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in the Versailles palace.
After a sumptuous and leisurely breakfast, we will check-out and depart back to Paris. Arrangements can be made to get you to the airport or your hotel. You may want to fly home first class – coach will be too much of a letdown for a queen 🙂
Trip Cost: 5,200 Euro*
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