Day 1 – July 20, Wednesday
Arrive in The City of Light!
Check into your 4-star hotel, the lovely Hôtel Rècamier 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. It exudes a refined French charm and yet feels like it’s in its own little, charming village. That’s, in fact, what Saint-Germain-des-Près was for hundreds of years. It’s the only hotel which faces the square of St. Sulpice and its beautiful fountains.
As most flights arrive early in the morning, we’ll arrange for your bags to be kept at the hotel before check-in later in the day. We can meet in the hotel’s cozy lobby for introductions and then we’ll head out for a leisurely stroll through Saint Germain, with lunch in a Parisian favorite La Rose de France.
Then we’ll kick-off our week of discovering Paris together with a tour of Saint Chapelle. Dating back to 1248, Saint Chapelle is the jewel box of Paris churches and cathedrals, with over 1113 stain glass windows. Located just a few steps from Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle was the private chapel of France’s earliest kings and queens.
In the late afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel to freshen up and unpack. You may even want to take short nap to ward off jet-lag. At this time of year, it stays light out until after 9pm, so we can extend our day a bit.
We’ll reconvene in the lobby of our hotel to head out at twilight to embark on a relaxing sunset dinner cruise along the Seine. La pièce de la resistance is seeing the City of Light illuminate before your very eyes!
Day 2 – July 21, Thursday
Food and Culture
After a little sleep-in (kick that jetlag to the curb!) and breakfast at the hotel, we’ll harken our inner Hemingway and join our guide for the ultimate food tour of Paris – a veritable “Movable Feast”. Walking from Saint-Germain-des-prés across the river to the Marais district, we’ll stop at some of the best patisseries, boulangeries (bakeries), and fromageries (cheese shops) in Paris as well as a picture perfect gourmet coffee shop along the way. We’ll visit one of the oldest food markets in Paris and sample enough great bites to act as lunch. This tour is more than just about food – it’s also about French culture, the art de vivre and the way that food is sourced, prepared and above all enjoyed!
This afternoon, we’ll conquer two of the top museums in the city. First we’ll visit the Louvre, the largest 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. Following a little break for coffee or a glass of wine (and a chance to rest our feet), we’ll continue on to the Musee d’Orsay. Here, we’ll continue our chronological tour of art highlighting the Impressionist and early Modern periods.
Dinner tonight will be at La Cuisine de Phillipe, a classic bistro serving traditional French cuisine and specializing in soufflés. You’ll feel like a true Parisienne amongst the boisterous sound of happy people engaged in conversation over a meal, breathing in the aromas, tasting classic French dishes and feeling the excitement of being transported to an earlier time!
Day 3 – July 22, Friday
Versailles, home of the Sun-King and Marie Antoinette
Today is all about royalty – perhaps it’s time to embrace your inner princess?! Our day will be spent in Versailles. First, we’ll 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.
Then, we’ll enjoy a guided tour 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.
To fully pamper our inner princesses, we’ve arranged time for spa treatments (1hr each) at the Waldorf-Astoria Trianon Palance, steps outside the Chateau. This is the perfect time to relax and de-stress with a full body massage or facial.
Post spa visit, we’ll enjoy a lovely dinner al fresco at the Terrace de Bar Galerie. Our private driver (gilded coach, anyone?) will return us to our hotel in Paris after dinner.
Day 4 – July 23, Saturday
Art & Leisure + Shopping
This morning we’ll head to Montmartre early before the crowds arrive. Our guide will explain the significance of this lovely village that was among the last of the bordering villages to become part of Paris proper. Montmartre was home to expat writers, painters and artisans of all kinds. We’ll see where they lived and worked. Enjoy the cobbled lanes that crisscross around the “mont” or mountain and climb the stairs to visit the gleaming white basilica of Sacre Coeur. 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. We’ll ride the Metro back to the center of Paris and exit at Place de la Concorde.
This afternoon, enjoy some quiet time in the Tuileries Gardens reading, writing postcards, or perhaps updating your travel journal. There will be an optional visit to a small museum called l’Orangerie just on the edge of the park which is home to some of Monet’s famous “Water Lilies”. The Water Lilies are so extraordinary, L’Orangerie designed and built special rooms just to exhibit them. We’ll have a chance to visit and then see them in real life at Giverny later in the week.
To round out the afternoon, we think you’ll enjoy an excursion to the newly reopened Samaritaine department store. For many years the beloved Samaritaine was THE place to shop in Paris, and now after a long absence, it is again. After extensive renovation it is completely new and re-imagined. This is your chance to find the perfect outfit or try makeup on at one of the counters or simply marvel at the architecture and sheer beauty of the building and its contents. Or if you prefer you can shop on your own in the nearby boutiques in St. Germain.
Tonight’s dinner is on your own, there are hundreds of cute restaurants within an extremely short walking distance of your hotel. Suggestions will be given.
Day 5 – July 24, Sunday
Strike a Pose and Explore the Countryside
Imagine having professional photos to commemorate your first trip to Paris! This morning we’ll meet up with Krystal Kenny, photographer extraordinaire, at a location near the Eiffel Tower – always early for the best light!
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 for a birds-eye-view of the city?!
This afternoon, we’ll check out of our hotel our private driver will take us out of the city to our hotel particulier (French country manor) retreat. Our drive will take us close to the Normandy region. We’ll stay our last two nights at the charming Hotel La Musardiére just steps from Claude Monet’s home at Giverny.
Dinner tonight will be at a local wine bar near our hotel.
Day 6 – July 25, Monday
La Vie en Rose
This morning, we’ll pay a visit to Monet’s Giverny. Claude 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.
For lunch we’ll visit the historic Ancien Hotel de Baudy, which was open in his day. Can you imagine him sitting at the table next to you?
This afternoon we’ll have an optional water color painting class with a local artist, or you can spend a couple hours biking around country lanes and exploring the village of Vernon.
We’ll wrap up our week with a fabulous send-off dinner where we’ll share the precious memories we’ve made during the week, as well as new friendships created. Our final repas will be in the hotel’s dining room, being catered to by a thoughtful and talented chef.
Day 7 – July 26, Tuesday
À Bientôt Paris!
Sadly, it’s time to head home, our private driver will get everyone back to a central place in Paris, from where you can depart, 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.