Are you a Paris Virgin? Join us on the ultimate first-timer’s trip to the City of Light where you and a small group of like-minded women will conquer the city like the iconic ingenues of yesteryear. Do Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace, Anne Hathaway or French icon Catherine Deneuve bring to mind the Paris you’d like to explore? Perhaps you want to live like Emily in Paris. Look no further – this is the trip for you! We’ll visit the must-see historic sights while weaving in culture, shopping, food and wine (of course!). We’ll end our week with a visit to the awe-inspiring gardens at Giverny, what Claude Monet said was his greatest work.
Check into your 4-star hotel, the lovely Relais St. Germain right in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près (6th Arrondissement). Our luxury hotel is located within walking distance from the very center of Paris. The Saint-Germain area was for hundreds of years its own little village and it still feels like it. Our hotel is in the epicenter of this arrondissement, near the Odeon, the famous French theatre and close walking distance to the Luxembourg gardens.
We’ll meet in the hotel’s lobby around 4pm for tea and introductions and then we’ll head out for a leisurely stroll through Saint Germain area so you can get to know your neighborhood.
In the late afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel to freshen up. Perhaps on the way back, we can stop in at the famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company.
Back at the hotel, you may even want to take short nap to ward off jet-lag. Or, if you feel energized, we can direct you to some of the best shopping areas nearby or you can relax at a cafe and watch Paris go by. At this time of year, it stays light until after 9pm, so we can extend our day a bit.
We’ll reconvene in the lobby of our hotel around 7pm for some welcome champagne before heading out to embark on a sunset dinner cruise on Ducasse sur Seine, Alain Ducasse’s spectacular river boat restaurant along the Seine. La pièce de la resistance is seeing the City of Light illuminate before your very eyes!
After a little sleep-in (kick that jet-lag to the curb!) and breakfast at the hotel, we’ll take the Metro to the Eiffel Tower. There, we’ll meet up with Krystal Kenny, photographer extraordinaire, for a personalized and group photo shoot! Imagine having professional photos to commemorate your first trip to Paris!
After our photo shoot, we’ll enjoy a quick trip up to the top of the Tower with our skip-the-line tickets. What first-trip to Paris would be complete without a ride to the top of La Tour Eiffel for a birds-eye-view of the city?! Suitable inspired, we’ll stroll over to lunch at La Fontaine de Mars, one of our favorite restaurants in Paris.
We’ll walk off our lunch with a stroll to Esplanade des Invalides where we’ll marvel at the extraordinary Hôtel National des Invalides. FYI, It’s not a hotel at all. It was built in the 17th century by Louis XIV for those who had served the royal army. Containing a hospice, barracks, convent, hospital and factory, the Hôtel was a veritable city. It’s now a military museum and houses Napoleon’s tomb.
We’ll continue our walk to the extraordinary Musée d’Orsay, one of the world’s most enticing fine art museums. Its permanent collection houses hundreds of breathtaking original works from masters of early modern and Impressionist art. We’ll focus on the Impressionists with a guided tour to see masterpieces from Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh and Auguste Rodin.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to rest, people-watch from a cafe, or do a little shopping around St. Germain des Pres.
Dinner tonight will be at La Cuisine de Phillipe, a classic bistro serving traditional French cuisine and specializing in soufflés.
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll taxi over to the right bank to the Marais, one of Paris’ most delightful area. We’ll start with a visit to one of Paris’ many outdoor food markets, Marche Baudoyer, to see how Parisien’s have done their shopping for centuries. You’ll marvel at the variety and presentation of the produce, cheese, meat and fish, and almost anything else you can imagine. (Most Paris apartments are small, and have small refrigerators, so a daily visit to a local market is not uncommon).
We’ll continue on to The Carnavalet Museum. Opened in 1880, it’s the oldest City of Paris museum. For over 140 years, the continuously enriched museum collections have told the story of Paris, from prehistory to the present and its been recently revamped, so the museum sparkles.
We’ll have lunch at one of the best crêperies in Paris, the Breizh Cafe. Not only will you find extraordinary crepes at Breizh, they’re committed to the development of organic, local and sustainable agriculture from their home region of Brittany.
This afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore the beautiful Marais, home to some of the best shops in Paris. Wander down Rue des Rosiers, stop in at Buly for some perfume, sit for a cafe and a Pastis in Place Ste-Catherine, and stroll through the Place des Vosges. Make your way back to the hotel via taxi or Uber, both of which are plentiful.
Tonight, we’ll have a lovely dinner, one that’s sure to be a highlight of the trip at Le Bon Saint Pourçain
This morning, we’ll pay a visit to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, about a hour’s drive outside Paris. Monet claimed that his legendary garden, that he originally planted and tended, was his greatest masterpiece. His home is a museum which stands still in time – with artwork and artifacts he collected during his lifetime. His passion for beauty is evident all around you. The house in which the artist and his family lived notably contains his studio-sitting room and his exceptional collection of Japanese prints.
After a leisurely exploration of the house and gardens, we’ll stroll over to the historic Ancien Hotel de Baudy for lunch. Hotel de Baudy was open in Monet’s day – can you imagine him sitting at the table next to you?
We’ll return to Paris for an optional visit a jewel box of a museum, l’Orangerie, just on the edge of the Tuilleries gardens. L’Orangerie designed and built special rooms just to exhibit Monet’s famous “Water Lilies”. They are so extraordinary. You be the judge: which is better, the gardens themselves or the paintings!
Suitably inspired, we’ll stroll over to the famous Ladurée for tea and their world famous macarons.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax and explore. Perhaps enjoy some quiet time in the Tuileries Gardens reading, writing postcards, or perhaps updating your travel journal.
After a big day, dinner is on your own. Order room service or pop outside and convene at one of the nearby cafés.
This morning we’ll ride the Metro up to Montmartre early before the crowds arrive. This lovely village was among the last of the bordering villages to become part of Paris proper. Montmartre has been home to expat writers, painters and artisans of all kinds. We’ll see where they lived and worked.
We’ll have time to wander around Place du Tertre where the painters and artisans set up their easels and we’ll lunch at a charming bistro with a view.
This afternoon, we’ll conquer the Louvre, the largest and perhaps most famous museum in the world. Our private guide will help us navigate our way through the maze of hundreds of thousands of pieces of art spanning several thousand years of history and culture. We’ll come away with a better appreciation and understanding of the some of the most distinguished pieces of art in the world.
We’ll take a break from French food tonight and journey to Morocco at Le Méchoui du Prince.
We’ll start our last morning embarking on a foodie tour of our favorite spots in St. Germain des Pres. You'll taste some of the best cheese, pâté, charcuterie, and produce to create the perfect picnic which we’ll enjoy in the magnificent Luxembourg Gardens. Beloved by residents and students on the Left Bank, the 25-acre garden is an early example of the French formal garden and includes an orangery and orchard. Queen Marie de Medici commissioned the gardens introducing the latest innovations from Italy, including fountains and a grotto that can still be seen today
After lunch, we’ll be met in the park by garden expert Amy Kupec Larue who will regale us with the history of the Luxembourg Gardens, and other unique insights.
This afternoon is yours to do some last minute shopping, or see any sites we haven’t yet visited. You can’t see all of Paris in a week … you’ll just have to come back again!
Our final repas tonight will be at Claudine’s favorite wine bar in Paris, the convivial L’Avant Comptoir de la Terre.
Unless you’re joining us for the trip extension to Versailles, it's sadly time to head home, . 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.
But if you're joining us for the Trip Extension to Versailles, more adventure awaits!
Isn’t it time to embrace your inner princess?! Our add-on day will be spent in Versailles, just a short 1-hour drive from Paris. 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.
We’ll enjoy a guided tour by a true expert of the main public rooms of the chateau which started as a royal hunting lodge but was transformed into the opulent palace and primary residence of the Louis the XIV, known as the Sun King. His descendant (great, great grandson) Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette also lived primarily at Versailles, making considerable changes in the building and gardens.
We’ll lunch at La Brasserie de la Girandole restaurant located within the famed gardens. After lunch, we’ll have time to wander in the gardens and visit the Trianon palaces, as well as Marie Antoinette’s charming hamlet.
We’ll also visit the recently renovated and newly re-opened Queen’s chambers. These rooms have been intricately refurbished to look as they did when Marie Antoinette lived in the chateau.
To fully pamper our inner princesses, we’ve arranged time for spa treatments (1hr each) at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palace, steps outside the Chateau. This is the perfect time to relax and de-stress with a full body massage or facial.
Post spa visit, our private driver (gilded coach, anyone?) will return us to our hotel in Paris. Dinner is on your own, or with your newly made friends at a café or bistro of your choice, suggestions will be given.
The lovely 4 star Relais St. Germain is situated right in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près (6th Arrondissement). The luxury hotel is located within walking distance from the very center of Paris. It exudes a refined French charm and yet feels like it’s in its own little, charming village.
Your host for this trip is Claudine Hemingway. Claudine has had Paris in her blood for generations. As a descendant of the great author Ernest Hemingway, the love of Paris has always been there. Claudine is a French arts and cultural historian who loves to dig deeper and share the history of Paris and the people that shaped it through daily stories, live and virtual tours, and a weekly podcast.
Museum or other entry fees
All in-town transport except transfers to and from the airport.
All meals unless noted plus 2 glasses of wine with dinner
Everything stated in itinerary
All tastings and tours
Round-trip airfare to France
Expenses of a personal nature – telephone calls, laundry, souvenirs, etc.
Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
Travel insurance – both trip cancellation and medical insurance are required