Empress Joséphine’s Paris

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  • September 04 – 10, 2022
  • France
  • France
  • September 04 – 10, 2022
  • 07 days / 06 nights
  • 7 – 12 guests

Overview

By walking in her footsteps, art and garden lovers will discover how Empress Joséphine became one of the most powerful women in France, her love affair and marriage with Napoleon, and her spectacular repudiation and retreat to her private estate at Malmaison.

Highlights:

  • Explore Joséphine’s country house & gardens at Malmaison
  • Have an aperitif at the recently restored residence of Joséphine’s good friend and fellow Merveilleuses, Fortunée Hameln at the Hotel Bourrienne
  • Shop like Joséphine would have in the Paris of today and yesterday
  • Visit historic Fontainebleau, a renaissance château that became an Imperial residence
  • Be awed by La Tour Eiffel sparking as you sip bubbly and dine at a world-class restaurant
  • Stay at the only hotel in Paris that looks out over the church of St. Sulpice
  • Indulge in French gourmet food as well as charming bistros
  • Savor chocolate and wine tastings

Joséphine Beauharnais’ captivating life story, from her youth in the Caribbean to her reign as Empress of France, appeals to women of every generation. An adolescent bride, her family arranged her marriage to the Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais and sent her to Paris at age 16.

Joséphine suffered her husband’s philandering until she secured a legal separation. Imprisoned during the French Revolution, then widowed, Joséphine, a single mother of two, became a trendsetting Merveilleuses, one of the most fashionable women in Paris in the 1790’s. After a whirlwind romance with the ambitious General Napoleon Bonaparte, they married in 1796. When Napoleon declared the French Empire three years later, Josephine was at his side. They reigned together from 1800 until 1809, when Napoleon repudiated the love of his life, who, at age 40, could not provide an heir. She lived just another four years, dowager Empress, cultivating her gardens and pursuing her penchant for art collecting.

Susan Taylor-LeDuc will be your guide and host for this historic adventure in Paris & Malmaison. She is a garden historian that specializes as well in the history of many of the famous women of Paris such as Marie Antoinette, Joséphine, Empress Eugénie and Marie de Medici among others. Susan, an American, has lived in Paris for many years and is intimately familiar with the ways of the French. She will be your guide during this luxury tour for women, not only in all things historic and sensory but in capturing that Joie de Vivre that the French understand so well. Our aim is to bring some of that sense of the true joy of life back home to incorporate into our own lives.

Itinerary

Day 1 – September 4, Sunday

Arrival Day

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

Meet Malmaison

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

Fabulous Fontainebleau

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

Departure Day

Trip Notes:

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.

Trip Cost

Trip Cost: 4,995 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.

What’s Included?

  • Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals and wine with dinner
  • All guides
  • All wine and chocolate tastings mentioned
  • All lodging at 4* hotels
  • Museum or other entry fees
  • A special party just for us at 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 (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).

I’m interested, so what do I do next?

If you have questions, press the Inquire Now button above, and complete the form. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’d like to come, press the Reserve Now button above. You will be prompted to complete a form with your pertinent details, put down a refundable $250 deposit, and . schedule a time to speak with a GG2P representative. We like to speak with everyone before they embark on their first trip with Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond. This allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. These are intimate, small group trips; a quick yet personal conversation allows you to get to know how our trips work and make sure it’s right for you. If it’s not, we’ll immediately refund your $250 deposit.

If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for a non-refundable deposit, usually 35% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 place-holder deposit, if you already paid it) and your place is reserved. At this point, you’re committed to the trip, so we recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance to protect you in case your plans change unexpectedly. The balance will be due approximately 2 months before the trip.

Our cancellation policy is here.

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