Day 1 – September 4, Sunday
We’ll meet at the 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 Fontaine de Mars on classic French bistro food. This is where President Barack Obama took his wife Michele back in 2009 on the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Day 2 – September 5, Monday
Central Paris + A Fête
Our adventure begins in the center of Paris at the Place de la Concorde, with a visit to the Hotel Talleyrand, the former US embassy and one-time home to the Marquis de Talleyrand one of the famous diplomats who served Louis XVI, Napoleon and Louis XVIII. Some of the most famous treaties of Napoleon’s triumph and fall from power were signed in this sumptuous home with magnificent views to the Place de la Concorde, one of the most beautiful and legendary squares in Paris.
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, now destroyed.
We will enjoy a casual lunch at the Palais Royal. After lunch we will tour the Palais Royal and Les Passages.
In the 1790s Josephine and her wealthy and fashionable friends, Juliette Recamier and Fortunée Hameln, shopped at the Palais Royal and the recently constructed covered passages. We will follow in their footsteps, stopping to discover Napoleon’s project for the stock exchange (Palais Brongniart), one of the first neoclassical buildings in Paris.
Then, we will be treated to a special event at the Hotel Bourrienne, the recently restored townhouse, one of the only examples of interior decoration from this period.
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. She commissioned the famous architect Pierre Joseph Bélanger to decorate her house from 1792 until 1801. Heavily in debt, she was forced to sell it in 1801 to Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, a former companion of Napoleon’s at the Military Academy of Brienne and his secretary. The interior decoration, in the style of the Directory/Consulate period, has been preserved and stunningly restored.
At this delightful palace, we’ll enjoy an apéro-dînatoire as we toast to our good fortune. *An apéro-dînatoire is a French-way of saying cocktail hour with delicious appetizers.
After our special fête at the Hotel Bourrienne, for those who are still hungry your guide can recommend some restaurants or bistros nearby. (not included)
Day 3 – September 6, Tuesday
Today we’ll have 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, where she died in 1814.
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 and a nice ending to your imperial visit!
These gardens inspired the botanical artist Pierre Redouté who recorded some of the 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 will dine at a restaurant named for Joséphine, a gourmet delight.
Day 4 – September 7th, Wednesday
Napoleon transformed Fontainebleau, built by Francois I during the Renaissance, into an Imperial residence. Napoleon established a throne room and delivered his capitulation address in 1815 from the monumental stairway.
We will visit the Musée Napoleon and the Throne Room. We will also see Marie-Antoinette’s Turkish bedroom, which inspired Joséphine. Finally, we will look at Empress Eugénie’s Chinese collections in her private rooms. Eugénie, who reigned from 1853 until 1870 was married to Joséphine’s grandson, Napoleon III.
We have so much to see in Fontainebleau that we need our leisurely lunch at one star restaurant l’Axel, where Kunihisa Goto, the young Japanese chef works closely with the seasons to offer a magnificent new take on French gastronomy.
After our magnificent lunch, we’ll return to discover the Napoleonic collections at Fontainebleau.
Upon our return to Paris, we will have some down time before a light dinner & wine tasting in the neighborhood just a short walk from the hotel.
Day 5 – September 8h Thursday
The French Empire
Today we’ll discover Imperial art at the Louvre, including the historical paintings dedicated to Napoleon and portraits of Joséphine and her friend Madame Juliette Recamier. From Louvre, we will head over to the left bank to lunch at Le Florimond.
We then will pay a visit to Invalides, the military museum where we will learn about the Napoleonic conquests and the Emperor’s development of an Imperial style. We conclude with a visit to his tomb at the Invalides Chapel.
We will have some free time for shopping on the illustrious Left Bank before returning to the hotel to dine at the restaurant also named the Le Recamier, yet not located in our hotel. This divine little place a close walk away is dedicated to the art of soufflés, this light and delicious meal will introduce us to both savory and sweet varieties of soufflés and after you’ll walk on air home to bed.
Day 6 – September 9th Friday
The Right Bank
Today will be dedicated to Imperial Luxury at the Musée Carnavalet where we can see furniture, period rooms, portraits and jewelry from the era. Recently reopened the Museum of the City of Paris has a vast collection of period rooms and portraits from the early nineteenth century. Their collection of French Revolutionary objects is unique in all the world.
Today we will lunch on the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris at the delightful café Carette, which has superb salads and sandwiches as well as some of best pastries in Paris
This afternoon we’ll be able to go to the Officine de Buly, a cosmetic shop dating back to1803 when Joséphine set the fashion for cosmetics, beauty and style for her entire generation.
Of course, we must allow you some free time to shop in the Marais.
We will end out our Joséphine-infused adventure 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 our lasting friendships made.
Day 7 – September 10th, Saturday
GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
NOTE -> Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.