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 fireworks display dedicated to the queen! This is your moment to be a French queen … seize it!
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
Welcome to Paris and the beautiful Marais
Arrive in Paris and hop in a taxi/Uber to our fun and beautiful hotel in the heart of the Marais district - the Hotel de Jobo. Taxis are easy at the Paris airports, but if you'd prefer a private car, we can arrange that for you (at your cost).
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 the classic Grande Brasserie.
Dinner and Champagne
Paris, Art & Perfume
After breakfast, we'll begin our day in the Marais with a stroll through the magnificent Place des Vosges and 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 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 Camille, a lovely, elevated bistro parisien.
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.
The rest of the afternoon is yours to rest, shop or explore.
For dinner, we'll will stroll to the lovely Dessance, a modern restaurant housed in a seventeenth century mansion in the Marais. Even if you're not a vegetarian, their vegetarian tasting menu is worth a try!
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 designs the flower arrangements 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 Camondo 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.
You'll have to work for your dinner tonight - we'll visit some local markets and purveyors and then enjoy a hands-on cooking class creating a traditional 4 course French meal.
Cooking Class with Dinner
Paris - Chapels, Crypts and Historic Buildings
After breakfast, we’ll visit the Chapelle Expiatoire. Called perhaps “the most remarkable monument in Paris” by Chateaubriand, La Chapelle Expiatoire is one of those hidden gems that blends history, art, and architecture and offers a quiet oasis not far from the bustle and hustle of the Grands Boulevards. The chapel is dedicated to Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI and was constructed at the exact point where they were buried after their execution by guillotine in 1793.
We’ll enjoy lunch at the Le Café Lapérouse in the Hotel de la Marine.
After, we’ll 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!
Tonight, you’ll have a well-earned night off. Enjoy dinner at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the Marais or stroll over to the left bank.
This morning, we'll leave for Versailles, 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. 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.
We'll have lunch at Ore, one of Alain Ducasse's restaurants on the grounds of Versailles.
After lunch, we'll have a special visit to the private apartments of the queen (You know who!) 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'll also visit the fantastic water show.
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, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.
Au Revior Versailles
After a sumptuous and leisurely breakfast, we'll 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 :)
The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, JoBo to those in the know, is a boutique 24 room hotel is Paris' Marais district. JoBo is an intimate and delightful escape after a long journey, a day of strolling, visiting museums, and fabulous shopping to be found in this multi-faceted part of old Paris.
The Trianon Palace is a 5-star hotel featuring majestic neoclassical architecture and opulent décor. With stunning views over Parc de Versailles and the hotel’s gardens, the Trianon is fit for a queen!
Meet your Host
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, specializing on Marie-Antoinette and the gardens at Versailles. But most importantly, she's an absolute delight to be with! You will love your time with her.
Her influence lasts to this day.
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.
All meals (unless otherwise specified) with wine at dinner
Fabulous hotels fit for a queen
Museum and other entry fees, including Marie-Antoinette's private chambers
Spa entry at the Trianon Palace Hotel, and "Secret of the Queen" treatment
All transportation in Paris and to/from Versailles (except airport transfers)
Roundtrip airfare to France, taxi to and from the airport
Any additional spa treatments desired beyond what is included
Any personal souvenirs or purchases
Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Susan was charming and wonderful ... absolutely made the trip. Her historical knowledge and insights were invaluable ... made the past come alive and what we were viewing meaningful. She welcomed all questions and handled all logistics expertly. You have a jewel in Susan! Janet W., Mahwah NJ, USA
The highlights for me were seeing Marie Antoinette’s private apartment, some awesome restaurants and becoming acquainted with the other women on the tour. Karen B., Portland OR, USA
You are going to want to fly into the Charles De Gaulle Airport
The trip officially starts on the afternoon of September 4th, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to France, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
The temperatures in Paris in September are comfortable with low of 55°F and and high up to 71°F. You can expect about 3 to 8 days of rain in Paris during the month of September.
Susan Taylor-Leduc will be 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, specializing on Marie-Antoinette and the gardens at Versailles. But most importantly, she's an absolute delight to be with! You will love your time with her.
France· September 4 - 10 2023· 6 nights