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Marie Antoinette-Inspired Paris Itinerary

Among a history marked by kings and generals, few women have made their mark on French history quite like Marie Antoinette. Born in Vienna, Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI with luxury and infamy to follow closely behind. Although she died in the 18th century, you can still follow in her footsteps in Paris today. If you’re curious about French Revolution history and French royalty, we’ve curated our best Marie Antoinette-inspired Paris itinerary. 


Marie Antoinette-Inspired Paris Itinerary

Who was Marie Antoinette?

Jean-Baptiste Isabey via Wikimedia Commons

Although she played a major role in French history, Marie Antoinette wasn’t French. She was born to the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa in Austria, per Versailles. And by age 15, she was already married off to Louis XVI with the goal of improving Franco-Austrian relations. 

Marie Antoinette only lived to the age of 37, but these several decades proved to be eventful. She was rumored to have an affair with a Swedish diplomat; she had a gambling problem. She gave birth to four children, with two of them dying at a young age. In 1789, the French people stormed the Bastille, and three years later, monarchy was abolished, per History.com. And in 1793, she was sent to the guillotine at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, only a few months after her husband. In such a short time, Marie Antoinette made a name for herself.

Let Them Eat Cake (Or Not)

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Although Marie Antoinette most likely never said “let them eat cake,” the public sentiment wasn’t far off. One major scandal that marked her time as queen was the Diamond Necklace Affair during the mid 1780s. 

This said necklace wasn’t just any type of jewelry; it had almost 650 diamonds and weighed nearly 2,800 carats, according to Versailles. A shady countess duped a cardinal into acting as a middle man to buy this expensive necklace supposedly on behalf of Marie Antoinette. Although she was known for her fashion tastes and luxury goods, Marie Antoinette had declined to purchase this necklace years prior for its outrageous price tag. The countess was found out and punished, but the queen’s reputation of excess still suffered. She even earned herself the nickname Madame Deficit, according to Biography.

Even more, Marie Antoinette didn’t fit too well into French royal life. “She found it difficult to adapt to French customs and when she became queen,” according to the Palace of Versailles. “She committed more and more blunders, often unwittingly, which gradually alienated public opinion, helping to tarnish her image in a most disastrous way.”

For better or for worse, Marie Antoinette left her mark on French history. There’s much to be discovered in Paris regarding her legacy. We’ve rounded up our favorite places to craft the ideal Marie Antoinette-inspired itinerary.

Take a VIP Visit of the Palace of Versailles

Versailles and its gardens, France

Turn back the clock to the era of Marie Antoinette with a private visit of her not-so humble abode, the Palace of Versailles. This isn’t just any palace: its grounds cover nearly 2000 acres and welcome 15 million guests annually, per Explore France. With French Side Travel, you can personalize your VIP guided visit by catering the tour to your interests. Whether you’d like to explore the palace or the king’s apartments, Marie Antoinette’s hamlet or her private quarters, the choice is yours.

Nosh on a Luxury Picnic in a Parisian Park

Bask in the beauty of the Jardin des Tuileries, which dates back to the 1500s, or the Jardin du Palais Royal over a gourmet picnic. We’ll take care of the logistics. Simply show up and your array of pastries, savory goods and champagne will be waiting for you. Admire the regal buildings lining these parks.

Stroll Château de Fontainebleau

Photo by Stefan K on Unsplash

South of Paris lies the majestic Château de Fontainebleau, boasting more than 800 years of history. With French Side Travel, you can discover this castle’s elegance with an exclusive after-hours visit. Learn about Marie-Antoinette’s mark on this castle, to where she and Louis XIV escaped. Your guide will share the ins and outs of this opulent castle. Finish the magical evening with a gourmet meal or cocktail.

Discover the Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle 

stained glass windows in sainte-chapelle-paris

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Conciergerie used to serve as a prison, where Marie Antoinette did time. During your private guided tour, you’ll discover where Marie Antoinette was held in isolation before going on trial for treason and misuse of national funds, per La Conciergerie. Take a quick walk to the nearby Sainte Chapelle, which was used as a flour warehouse during the Revolution, per Centre des Monuments Nationaux. Bask in the beauty of its colorful stained glass windows.

Where to Stay in France

Hôtel de Crillon in Paris
Indulge in a stay fit for a queen at the Hôtel de Crillon. This elegant five-star hotel boasts 78 rooms and dozens of suites, including designs from Karl Lagerfeld. Treat yourself to a romantic dinner at l’Écrin, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. This hotel overlooks the Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette faced the guillotine hundreds of years ago.

Courtesy of Hotel Negresco

Hotel Negresco in Nice
Located in the sunny town of Nice, Hotel Negresco entices with its 102 rooms and 26 suites spanning five centuries of history. This hotel also offers a Marie Antoinette signature suite. From your opulently decorated suite, savor the Mediterranean Sea views and private terrace. Unwind at its recently opened N Le Spa with a revitalizing body scrub or soothing massage.


Feeling enchanted by this Marie Antoinette-inspired Paris itinerary? We get you. You might enjoy: A Historical and Cultural Escape to Paris or The Best of Paris in a Week. Need some help planning your trip?

Love in Every Corner: Top Five Romantic Hotels in France

Discover the most romantic hotels in France with the expertise of French Side Travel. From Paris to Provence and everything in between. Embark on a journey through the enchanting landscapes and iconic cities of France, where timeless romance meets unparalleled luxury. Our curated selection of hotels and unique experiences invite you to indulge in a romantic escape. Let these exquisite destinations set the stage for an unforgettable stay in the land of love.


Paris

Château des Fleurs

Within a stone’s throw of the Arc de Triomphe, Château des Fleurs stands as a beacon of intimate luxury. This enchanting haven pays homage to the refined merriment of 19th-century Parisian celebrations and the joie de vivre of the Belle Époque. What sets this romantic retreat apart is its unrivaled proximity to the famed Champs Elysées. As you step inside, the red accents and curated decor create an ambiance of romance, providing an idyllic backdrop for your stay in Paris. Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of Château des Fleurs, where every moment is a celebration of love and luxury.

Courtesy of Château des Fleurs

Private Seine River Cruise

Enhance your romantic escapade in Paris by reserving an exclusive private Seine River Cruise. Picture yourselves gliding along the Seine at sunset, passing by iconic landmarks as the city gradually illuminates. This tailor-made cruise down the world-renowned Seine River promises a uniquely intimate experience. Seated in the plush leather banquette, surrounded by tinted windows to ensure your privacy, you’ll embark on a journey through the heart of Paris. The cruise encompasses the historical center, featuring landmarks like Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower. A bottle of champagne accompanies this enchanting voyage, transforming your evening into an unforgettable and magical moment. Allow French Side Travel to add an extra layer of romance to your stay at Château des Fleurs.


Champagne

Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa

Amidst the picturesque vineyards of Champillon, the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa stands as a testament to refined romance. This luxurious haven offers an enchanting retreat for couples seeking an idyllic escape. Surrounded by rolling vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, the hotel boasts a stunning location that captures the essence of the Champagne region. The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa harmoniously blends charm with elegance, providing an intimate setting for a truly romantic experience. Don’t miss the chance to unwind and pamper yourselves at the hotel’s amazing spa, enhancing your romantic escape.

Courtesy of Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa

Candlelit Dinner in a Vineyard

Experience the romance of a private candlelit dinner amidst the vineyards of Champagne. This unique and intimate encounter, curated by French Side Travel, offers a rare opportunity to indulge in the beauty of the French countryside. As the sun sets, casting a warm glow over the rolling vineyards, embark on a culinary journey like no other. Begin with an introduction to the vineyards, savoring the aroma of the terroir and the gentle rustle of grapevines in the evening breeze. Your private chef will then craft a four-course culinary masterpiece, perfectly complemented by selected champagnes. This dinner promises to be an intimate feast for the senses, creating cherished memories of your time together in Champagne.


Normandy

La Ferme Saint Siméon

Perched above Honfleur, Ferme Saint Siméon stands as a testament to timeless romance. This 17th-century inn, a cherished retreat for the masters of impressionism, offers a panoramic view of the Seine estuary. The charm of this unique hotel lies not only in its scenic location but also in its carefully decorated accommodations spread across three distinct buildings. The 34 rooms and suites exude history and beauty, featuring traditional paneling, oak flooring, and noble materials. Each room, equipped with modern amenities, provides a comfortable haven for guests. Ferme Saint Siméon beckons couples to explore the picturesque town of Honfleur. A stay at this charming retreat promises an intimate escape, inviting guests to discover the beauty of Normandy from this enchanting vantage point.

Courtesy of Ferme Saint Siméon

Day Trip to Fécamp & Étretat

Make your way to the picturesque towns of Fécamp and Étretat, nestled along the stunning Alabaster Coast. These idyllic destinations offer a perfect blend of cultural charm and natural beauty. In Fécamp, the historic harbor and the renowned Palais Bénédictine, home to the production of their famous liquor, stand as a testament to the town’s rich heritage. Palais Bénédictine is a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, providing a captivating journey into history and the art of liquor-making. Meanwhile, Étretat, with its famous arches and towering cliffs, boasts awe-inspiring scenery that has been immortalized in numerous paintings. A private guided driving tour ensures an immersive experience, allowing you to explore these coastal gems, making your romantic escape to Ferme Saint Siméon truly unforgettable.


Provence

Domaine de Fontenille

In the heart of the Luberon, Domaine de Fontenille stands as a celebration of romantic French charm. Surrounded by organic vineyards and cypress trees, this 4-star haven offers a unique blend of modern luxury and classic elegance. The 19 rooms and suites provide enchanting views of the with several boasting private terraces. While only a short drive from Aix-en-Provence, the estate transports guests to the true essence of Provençal countryside living. Domaine de Fontenille is not just a hotel; it’s a celebration where romance flourishes amidst lavender fields and rolling vineyards. The estate invites couples to immerse themselves in the vibrant local markets, saunter through fragrant gardens, and soak up the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. In this captivating setting, create timeless memories that linger like the sweet scent of lavender.

Courtesy of Domaine de Fontenille

Private Guided Tour of the Luberon Villages

Enhance your stay at Domaine de Fontenille with a full-day driving tour exploring the renowned villages of the Luberon. Nestled within the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park, a UNESCO-listed reserve, this off-the-beaten-path area boasts limestone mountains, rolling hills, and captivating villages that encapsulate the essence of Provence. Your day begins with Gordes, a hilltop village resembling a postcard with its dramatic setting and vibrant town square. Continue your journey to Roussillon, known for its striking ochre cliffs and unique village built from these vibrant pigments. Conclude the day in Lourmarin, a charming village with tree-lined streets, a Renaissance castle, and a delightful atmosphere. After a day of discovery, your driver will seamlessly return you to the comfort of Domaine de Fontenille, adding a touch of cultural richness to your romantic escape.


French Riviera

Chèvre d’Or

In the captivating village of Èze, La Chèvre d’Or stands as a romantic haven, offering an intimate escape amid the picturesque landscapes of the French Riviera. This luxurious gem boasts an array of individually designed rooms and suites, each exuding a unique charm. Guests are invited to savor exceptional cuisine at the hotel’s prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant, where panoramic views of the Mediterranean provide a breathtaking backdrop to every meal. The terraced gardens, adorned with vibrant flowers, create an enchanting ambiance for quiet moments. With its harmonious blend of natural beauty and sophisticated elegance, La Chèvre d’Or beckons couples to indulge in the serenity and sophistication of the Côte d’Azur.

Courtesy of La Chèvre d’Or

Discover the Splendor of Monaco & Menton

Immerse yourself in a day of romantic exploration with a private full-day driving tour of Monaco and Menton from La Chèvre d’Or. Your driver will whisk you away in a luxury vehicle, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience. In Monaco, a realm of sophistication, explore iconic landmarks such as the grand Casino de Monte-Carlo, the historic Monaco-Ville, and the captivating Prince’s Palace, evoking the timeless romance of Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier III. After a leisurely lunch, traverse the picturesque coastline to Menton, where the scent of lemon trees and vibrant gardens fills the air. Stroll along the Promenade du Soleil, immersing yourself in the colorful facades against the Mediterranean backdrop. This tour curated by French Side Travel promises a day of refined romance and memories to cherish.


French Side Travel – Where your love story meets the magic of France.

From the iconic allure of Paris to the tranquil vineyards of Champagne, the coastal charm of Normandy, the lavender-scented realms of Provence, and the sophisticated ambiance of the French Riviera. French Side Travel stands as your trusted expert, seamlessly weaving dreams into tailor-made vacations. As you embark on this journey, let our expertise curate moments where the romance of each location intertwines with your love story.


Ready to make your dream vacation a reality? Contact our experts to tailor an unforgettable experience, ensuring every moment resonates with the magic of your love. Let French Side Travel be your guide to a romantic escape like no other. Check out: Incredible Wine Trip to Champagne, Romantic Getaway to Monaco & the Riviera, and Cultural and Culinary Stay in Provence.

Best Museums in France (Other than the Louvre)

From its rich gastronomy to its breathtaking landscapes, it’s no shock that France is one of the most visited countries in the world. Another big draw to France is also its vibrant museum selection. France’s capital is home to the Louvre, which is the most visited museum across the globe, according to Museums.eu. But the rest of France has much to offer in terms of art, culture and history. We certainly do recommend a visit to the Louvre, but beyond this classic, we wanted to share some of the best museums in all of France as well as exclusive experiences that we offer in these places.


Best Museums in France (Other than the Louvre)

Museum Culture in France

France is home to more than 1200 museums, according to the Ministry of Culture. The first French museums were opened in Paris and other big cities near the end of the 1700s. And since then, museums have become a hallmark of French heritage. Whether you’re interested in art or history, oceanography or wine, there’s a museum for you.

You can visit most museums year round, but there are several special days for the museum network each year. Since 2005, la Nuit Européenne des Musées, or the European Night of Museums, often takes place in May. On this Saturday evening, various museums offer free entrance and remain open past typical closing hours. Among the thousands of participating museums across Europe have included the Musée d’Orsay, the Château de Versailles and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.

France also participates in the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, or European Heritage Days. This annual weekend in September often includes free entrance to museums across the country. Many museums across France also offer free entrance on the first Sunday of each month. 

With more than one thousand museums, it can be hard to choose. But we’re sharing some of the best museums in France (other than the Louvre, of course!).

Musée d’Orsay in Paris

orsay museum paris

The Louvre gets ample screen time, as it should. But oftentimes, first-time visitors to Paris overlook other gems such as the Musée d’Orsay. This famed art museum sits on the Seine River and is home to a large collection of Impressionist art. In this museum also located along the Seine, you can see Claude Monet’s water lilies and Edgar Degas’ famed dancer statue.

Château de Chantilly near Paris

Credit: Unsplash

Just a short drive from Paris, the Château de Chantilly dates back to the Middle Ages. Today you can visit the majestic castle with its vast collection of antique paintings, private suites and the reception rooms of the princes of Bourbon-Condé. The Château de Chantilly also has its own stables, built for the prince Louis-Henri de Bourbon in the early 1700s.

Private Visit of the Horse Museum

Delve into the history and culture of horses over the centuries. With a private visit either before or after hours, you’ll discover the history, training and racing culture of horses. French Side Travel may also secure an after-hours private horse show at the Grand Stables.

Private Château Visit

Start your day with a helicopter ride from Paris. Your bird’s eye view will allow you to soak up the beautiful garden views of the Château de Chantilly before even stepping foot on land. Get the entire castle to yourself and a museum curator who will share the castle’s secrets.

Mucem in Marseille

marseilles-waterfront-view-mucum-musuem-fort

While in Provence, be sure to visit the Mucem, or the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. From traditional fashion to coffee cultivation, collections vary depending on when you visit the museum. After you’ve brushed up on Mediterranean culture, head across the suspended bridge to enjoy the rooftop gardens overlooking the sea. You can wander Fort St. Jean and even dine at the Mucem’s restaurant Le Môle Passedat with Michelin-starred chef Gerald Passedat.

Cosquer in Marseille 

Credit: Kleber Rossillon & Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

You know Napoleon, you know Marie Antoinette. But what happened in France thousands of years ago, even long before Julius Caesar conquered Gaul in the 50s B.C.? Now underwater, a prehistoric cave was discovered in 1985 in Marseille, and the recently opened Cosquer Museum has created a replica for guests to admire.

Carrières des Lumières in les Baux-de-Provence

culture-art-history-tours-france

The quaint village of les Baux-de-Provence is home to the Carrières de Lumières art center. Here you can stroll through its “From Vermeer to Van Gogh,” a digital, immersive exhibition celebrating Dutch artists. The art center also proposes exhibitions on Mondrian and Tin Tin.

Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence

Located in the posh town of Aix-en-Provence, Hôtel de Caumont used to be a private residence but was repurposed into an art center in 2015. You can stroll its regal rooms and wander through its temporary exhibitions. Be sure to enjoy the center’s film on Paul Cézanne, an artist born in Aix. Treat yourself to tea time in its manicured gardens.

Private guided visit to Hôtel de Caumont

Whether you’d like the museum all to yourself before opening or after closing, French Side Travel can make that happen. Meet an art lecturer who will give you the inside scoop on this former private mansion followed by a breakfast or cocktail hour in one of its salons.

Camp des Milles near Aix-en-Provence

Although less glamorous than other museum subjects, World War II played a major role in French history. Located outside of Aix-en-Provence sits the Camp des Milles, a former World War II internment camp.

During the war, this former tile factory became a holding spot for different groups. Before Nazi occupation in France, the internment camp was for “enemy subjects,” according to the camp’s site. From July 1940 to July 1942, Camp des Milles was used for transit and as a detention center for those deemed “undesirable.” And from August to September 1942, around 10,000 people were interned here — of which 2,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz from the Camp des Milles

Today you can visit the Camp des Milles and learn about the history of this internment site as well as the brave people who resisted against the Nazis and who fought to protect those targeted.

Cité du Vin in Bordeaux

Credit: Unsplash

Red, rosé or white, wine can be found on menus across the globe. But long before your glass is poured, this libation has endured various climates, aging processes and beyond. And the Cité du Vin in Bordeaux seeks to address to many facets of wine from grape varieties to geography, climate to packaging. After brushing up on winemaking, you can even finish off your visit to the Cité du Vin with a complimentary glass of wine.

Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux

Credit: GFreihalter via Wikimedia Commons

Claiming the title of the city’s oldest public museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts houses an array of European art with artists such as Rodin, Delacroix and Matisse.

Private guided visit at the Musée des Beaux-Arts

Perhaps you’d like to admire the works of artists such as Rubens and Picasso in exclusivity. With French Side Travel, you can secure a private after-hours visit at this museum to admire these world-renowned pieces with a guide. 

Oceanographic Museum in Monaco

Nice | French Side Travel | Monaco | monaco Oceanographic museum

Monaco offers much to be explored on land: palace, gardens, churches. But Monaco also boasts access to the Mediterranean Sea, which has even more to be discovered below water. More than a century ago, Prince Albert I commissioned the creation of the Oceanographic Museum, which celebrates the elaborate underwater ecosystem of the Mediterranean. If you’ve ever wanted to see a zebra shark or a fluorescent coral up close, you’re in luck. 

Private tour of the Oceanographic Museum

After the museum closes to the public, you can have private access to the museum, thanks to French Side Travel. Grab your flashlight as you discover the riches of Mediterranean flora and fauna with your guide by night.

Where to Stay in France

Yndō Hotel in Bordeaux
Make the most of your time in Bordeaux with a luxurious stay at this five-star hotel. Yndo Hotel was once a private mansion, and its cush velvet upholstery and chandeliers continue the ambiance. Choose from its 12 rooms, perhaps one of its Crazy Rooms marked by a “touch of eccentricity.” Sip on a cup of tea in its courtyard and nosh on its restaurant’s local dishes only available to hotel guests.

Courtesy of Villa Saint Ange

Villa Saint Ange in Aix-en-Provence
Once an 18th century villa, this five-star hotel now welcomes guests in its posh rooms in the heart of Provence. After a day of exploring Aix, spend the evening dining at its tastefully decorated restaurant Âma Terra. Unwind with a spa treatment or massage at Villa Saint Ange’s facilities. Dive into its outdoor pool or simply soak up the Provençal sun from a lounge chair.


Ready to book your trip to visit one of these best museums in France other than the Louvre? We’re here to help. You might enjoy: A Historical and Cultural Escape to Paris or A Journey Through History, Art, and Nature in Charming France. Need some help planning your trip?

Elevate Your Game: Best Hotels for Golfing in France

Elevate your golfing experience in France with our expert-selected hotels, where sophistication meets the fairway for an unforgettable stay. No need to wonder where to golf in France, we have done the work for you. Unveil a collection of exquisite accommodations nestled amid scenic landscapes, providing avid golfers with world-class courses and lavish amenities.


Versailles

Airelles Le Grand Contrôle

Courtesy of the Palace of Versailles

Nestled next to the historic Versailles Palace, Airelles Le Grand Contrôle stands as a beacon of refinement and elegance. This luxurious hotel boasts a regal ambiance and access to some of the finest golf courses in the region. For an unforgettable experience, guests can indulge in a round at the prestigious Le Golf National and Le Golf de Saint Germain. Both courses offer immaculately manicured courses that challenge and captivate golf aficionados.

Le Golf National

A golfing haven boasting two full courses and a nine-hole gem, Albatros stands out as the hero among them. It was a host of the French Open and the second course in Europe to showcase a Ryder Cup. Its 2018 edition witnessed a historic victory spearheaded by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. The anticipation builds as the Olympic Games are scheduled to grace Le Golf National in 2024, solidifying its spot on every golfer’s must-visit list.

Courtesy of Golf National

Golf de Saint Germain

Designed in collaboration with Harry Colt, the Golf de Saint Germain emerges as a stunning course nestled within the enchanting forest of Saint Germain, just west of Paris. Having played host to the prestigious French Open on nine occasions, this course has witnessed remarkable moments, including Sandy Lyle’s triumph in 1981 and Seve Ballesteros’ extraordinary feat in 1985, where he set a course record with a remarkable score of 62. Immerse yourself in the rich history and captivating beauty of Golf de Saint Germain, an iconic destination where the legacy of golf’s finest moments continues to unfold.


Brittany

Domaine de la Bretesche

Courtesy of Domaine de la Bretesche

Discover the pinnacle of golfing excellence at Domaine de la Bretesche. Set against breathtaking landscapes, this premier hotel and golf resort combines luxury hospitality with world-class golfing facilities. The Domaine de la Bretesche features elegant rooms and suites, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay. Immerse yourself in the charm of Brittany while enjoying top-notch amenities, including gourmet dining and a spa retreat. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a leisure seeker, Domaine de la Bretesche stands out as an ideal golfing getaway in France.

Golf de la Bretesche

Courtesy of Golf de la Bretesche

Golf de la Bretesche is a floral paradise. Each hole is uniquely adorned by hydrangeas, roses, azaleas, or rhododendrons. The 18 holes, comprising 4 par 3s, 10 par 4s, and 4 par 5s, offer a diverse range of challenges. Pay attention at the enchanting green n°9, where the castle of La Bretesche is magically reflected in its pond. It’s worth noting that, the 18-hole golf course, expertly designed by renowned architect Henry Cotton, offers both a challenging and picturesque experience for golf enthusiasts


Seignosse

70 Hectares… et l’Océan

Courtesy of 70 Hectares… et l’Océan

For those who seek a coastal golfing escapade, 70 Hectares et l’Océan in Seignosse emerges as an idyllic retreat. This exclusive destination offers a harmonious fusion of oceanic serenity and expansive green landscapes spanning 70 hectares, hence the name. The golf course, set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, provides an exhilarating challenge for golfers of all levels. The hotel itself exudes a laid-back luxury, ensuring a tranquil retreat after a day on the links.

Golf de Seignosse

Courtesy of Golf de Seignosse

Golf de Seignosse stands as a captivating masterpiece on the southwestern coast of France. This premier golf course, renowned for its scenic beauty and challenging layout, immerses golf enthusiasts in a harmonious blend of nature and sport. Designed by the legendary American architect Robert von Hagge, the course winds through lush pine forests and sandy dunes. With its strategic bunkers, undulating fairways, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Golf de Seignosse promises an unforgettable golfing experience. Whether you are a seasoned player seeking a challenging round or a leisure golfer looking to soak in the coastal charm, this course offers a perfect blend of captivating landscapes and golfing excellence.


Provence

Domaine de Manville

Courtesy of Domaine de Manville

Nestled in the heart of the Alpilles Natural Park in Provence, Domaine de Manville is a luxurious haven that blends historic charm with modern elegance. This five-star hotel, set within a meticulously restored 18th-century farmhouse, offers discerning guests a tranquil retreat. Boasting spacious rooms and suites adorned with stylish furnishings, the hotel provides a sophisticated ambiance for relaxation. Guests can indulge at the on-site restaurant L’Aupiho*, or simply bask in the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape. With its commitment to excellence, Domaine de Manville ensures an unforgettable and indulgent escape in the heart of Provence.

Golf de Manville

Courtesy of Golf de Manville

Golf de Manville presents a golfing paradise amidst the enchanting landscapes of Provence. This 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Thierry Sprecher and Anne-Laure Ricci, offers a perfect blend of challenge and beauty. Surrounded by olive trees and featuring strategically placed hazards, the course provides an exhilarating experience for golfers of all levels. The meticulously manicured fairways and greens complement the picturesque setting, creating a harmonious balance between sport and scenery. Whether you are a seasoned golfer or a casual player, Golf de Manville promises an immersive golfing experience, where each swing is accompanied by breathtaking views of the Alpilles.


French Riviera

Terre Blanche Hôtel & Spa Golf Resort

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

Situated in the heart of the French Riviera, Terre Blanche Hotel Spa & Golf Resort offers an unparalleled blend of sophistication and sporting excellence. Boasting two championship golf courses, designed by golf legend Dave Thomas, the resort provides an exclusive golfing experience. Guests can bask in the Mediterranean sun as they navigate the challenging fairways, and later, unwind in the lavish surroundings of the hotel, indulging in world-class spa treatments and gourmet dining.

Le Château

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

This 18-hole championship course offers a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience amidst the stunning Provençal countryside. With its undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, Le Château Golf Course provides a test of skill for golfers of all levels. Impeccably maintained and seamlessly integrated into the natural terrain, this course stands as a testament to the perfect marriage of sport and scenic beauty.

Le Riou

Courtesy of Terre Blanche

The resort’s second 18-hole championship course complements the landscape with its meandering fairways and strategic water features. Le Riou offers a golfing challenge set against the backdrop of the picturesque Provençal hills, inviting players to navigate through well-manicured greens and enjoy the panoramic views. With its thoughtful design and commitment to excellence, Le Riou Golf Course ensures a memorable and rewarding golfing experience within the refined ambiance of Terre Blanche.

Effortless Travel for Unforgettable Experiences

Embark on a stress-free vacation with French Side Travel, where luxury extends beyond your hotel suite. Our exclusive service includes a private driver-guide seamlessly integrated into your itinerary, ensuring effortless travel from your accommodation to various activities and back. Envision being chauffeured in a luxurious vehicle, ready to explore the finest destinations in France. Whether you’re indulging in sightseeing, enjoying exquisite dinners, or partaking in other planned activities, your dedicated driver ensures a smooth and comfortable experience. Allow yourself to unwind as you’re effortlessly transported back to your accommodation, creating cherished memories of your French getaway.


Ready to tee off your dream golf vacation? We know where to golf in France. Our experts stand ready to tailor-make your journey, ensuring every swing is accompanied by unparalleled luxury and breathtaking landscapes. Contact us today to unlock the doors to a world where your golfing aspirations align with French hospitality. Let us craft the perfect golfing escape for you!

The Many Lives of the Louvre

Mona Lisa, Venus di Milo, Liberty Leading the People. The Louvre is home to thousands of precious art pieces, and books and guides abound on all the treasures to be found inside the museum. But the history of the Louvre building itself is arguably as fascinating as the many canvases and statues it stores. Today, the Louvre is one of the most famous art museums in the world, but these buildings didn’t always serve this purpose. The history of this iconic museum has seen and survived multiple wars and républiques. Here’s a brief history of the Louvre with its different eras and how best to enjoy a visit today.


The Many Lives of the Louvre

The Louvre Today

In 2022, the Louvre welcomed an average of 25,000 daily visitors, per Statista. For your visit to the Louvre, be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you have lots of ground to cover. “It would take you around 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the museum if you took 30 seconds to see each and every piece,” according to an article in Condé Nast Traveler.

The First Eras

Credit: Unsplash

We need to turn the clock back nearly a millennium to understand the origins of the Louvre. In 1190, it was originally built as a fortress under Philippe Auguste, according to the Louvre. In 1364, it became a royal residence. Over the years, the Louvre has evolved. “Almost every subsequent French monarch extended the Louvre and its grounds, and major additions were made by Louis XIII and Louis XIV in the 17th century,” according to History.com

The Museum Era

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After wearing several hats, the Louvre eventually found its enduring purpose. In 1793, it was inaugurated as the Musée Central des Arts, according to a Louvre press release. In 1803, Napoleon so humbly changed the name to Musée Napoléon, according to his eponymous foundation. It was later changed to the Louvre, but you can still find mentions of Napoleon throughout the museum. 

World War II Era

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Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt. When studying World War II history at school, we learn about important names from this period, including these leaders. But one name you probably haven’t heard of — yet one who played an important role — is Jacques Jaujard. 

In summer 1940, the Germans began their occupation of Paris. But Jacques Jaujard, director of the Louvre, was already one step ahead. In 1939, in order to protect the masterpieces from the Nazis, Jaujard started the evacuation process of the Louvre to hiding places all across France, according to The Collector. “Between August and December 1939, two hundred trucks carried the treasures of the Louvre… nearly 1,900 boxes; 3,690 paintings, thousands of statues, antiquities and other priceless masterpieces,” writes Guillaume Deprez in the article. “Each truck had to be accompanied by a curator.”

It’s thanks to Monsieur Jaujard that we can appreciate the genius of da Vinci in the Mona Lisa. He, along with many others, coordinated the hiding of many pieces of artwork across France, even castles. Near the end of the war, the Nazi army started burning a castle, and the Venus di Milo and the Victory of Samothrace were on the other side of the flames, writes Deprez. At gunpoint, a curator named Gérald Van der Kamp begged the officers, and eventually the fire was put out. And since then, these masterpieces have returned home to the Louvre for millions to see today. Under the care and direction of Jaujard, not one piece of artwork was damaged or missing, according to Deprez’s article.

The Pyramid Era

When one thinks of the Louvre, its glass pyramid often comes to mind. But this iconic pyramid is a relatively recent addition as it wasn’t completed until 1989. During François Mitterand’s presidency, he appointed Emile Biasini to manage the construction project of the Louvre. Recruited by Biasini, Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei is the genius behind the elegant glass pyramids, which made him the first foreign architect to work on the Louvre, per Architectuul


From royals to war times, the history of the Louvre is an emblem of French heritage. Visiting the Louvre is an absolute must for your trip to Paris, and we’re sharing some of our favorite experiences at this museum.

Visit the Louvre with an Art Historian 

As you’ve read, you could spend entire days exploring the Louvre and not see it all. With a premium private tour, you can see the Louvre with an art historian as your guide. You’ll even have access to museum shortcuts and direct access to important pieces. Your guide will show you the most famed pieces of the museum and share its many tales, including the burglary of the Mona Lisa in the early 1900s. Your guide will tailor your exclusive visit to your likings; whether it’s Egyptian artifacts or Dutch paintings, the choice is yours. This exclusive visit includes a welcome in front of the glass pyramid by the museum department head as well as no queuing. 

After-Hours Private Guided Visit 

Not into crowds? We don’t blame you. With an after-hours visit, you’ll explore the treasures of the Louvre with room to spare. On this guided visit, you’ll have privileged access to the Louvre’s permanent collections.

Private Louvre Scavenger Hunt 

This world-renowned museum isn’t just for adults. With French Side Travel, children can delve into the world of art with a special treasure hunt. With their booklet, they’ll set out to discover the many gems of the museum and will be rewarded with a surprise gift at the conclusion of their scavenger hunt.

Where to Stay in Paris

Le Roch Hotel & Spa
This five-star boutique hotel not only offers 37 luxurious rooms but also close proximity to the Louvre. Retreat from the speed of the city in the hotel’s inner courtyard and treat yourself to a trip to its hammam. A stay in Le Roch also means access to its in-house restaurant, Maison 28, where you can feast on French classics. And best of all, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump from one of the best museums in the world. 

Courtesy of Hotel de la Place du Louvre

Hotel de la Place du Louvre
A day at the Louvre may just not suffice. Perhaps you crave proximity to and views of the Louvre; if that’s the case, the Hotel de la Place du Louvre has your name on it. This four-star hotel offers views of the museum as well as a history of its own. The building dates back to the 17th century and sits in a neighborhood frequented by names such as Victor Hugo and Balzac. Hotel de la Place du Louvre welcomes guests in its 20 rooms marked by chic decor and exquisite views.


Although it has thousands of pieces of artwork to explore, the history of the Louvre is also worth discovering, too. And we’re here to help. You might enjoy: A Historical and Cultural Escape to Paris or The Best of Paris in a Week. Need some help planning your trip?

Epic France Bucket List: By Air, Land and Sea

From strolling the historic halls of the Louvre to marveling at its Renaissance castles, France offers endless dreamy experiences. But perhaps you’re craving even more adventure for your trip to France than the typical tourist experiences. If you’re pining for the most luxurious activities for your trip to France, look no further. From hot-air balloon to helicopter rides, we’re sharing our epic France bucket list – by air, land and sea.


Epic France Bucket List: By Air, Land and Sea

France Bucket List Experiences by Air

Sure, wandering French village cobblestone streets is enchanting, but the views from up high aren’t too bad either. Here are some of our favorite bucket-list experiences for those who’d like to see France from the air.

Take a Hot-Air Balloon Ride Over Champagne

Nope, it’s not just for the movies. With French Side Travel, you can enjoy the hot-air balloon ride of a lifetime over the wine region of Champagne. Float above the idyllic vineyards and see France from a perspective most never have. Our pilot will pop open some champagne for you as you bask in the beauty of this region. You’ll even have the opportunity to prepare the canvas or even fire up the balloon if you so choose. This bucket list hot-air balloon ride will allow you to indulge in a special moment as a couple, family or friends. 

Explore Corsica by Helicopter

Start your journey by hopping aboard the Ecureuil AS350 B3 helicopter and prepare for a takeoff fit for postcards. You’ll begin your private ride at Porto-Vecchio and then glide over Massif de Bavella. Peel your eyes for the summit and the Trou de la Bombe, a well-known rock formation. Your pilot will guide you to the turquoise waters of the Bay of Fautéa and swing by Bonifacio, a Mediterranean city perched on rock. Your private helicopter ride can be a deep dive of Corsica’s sea views, mountain views or both. No matter which route you choose, your helicopter ride will enchant you with Corsica’s rugged nature.

Fly through France with a Former Military Pilot

wine harvest in a champagne vineyard

See the region of Champagne at low altitude from the perspective of former fighter pilots, who have embarked upon Rafale and Mirage jets. Start your aerobatic aircraft experience with a safety check and mission briefing. 

France Bucket List Experiences by Land

France’s various geographies intrigue you, and you’re searching for unique experiences to be had across the country. We’ve rounded up some of our top France bucket-list experiences by land.

Wander the Forests of Chambord

a fall getaway to the loire valley

Escape from the hustle of metropolitan France into the forests of Chambord in central France. French Side Travel will secure an exclusive visit where you’ll observe and hear the stags — all from a watchtower. This experience is best enjoyed between September and October in order to hear the stags’ bellows to attract mates and mark their territory.

Paint with Wine in a French Vineyard

Wine isn’t only for drinking; it’s also for painting! In this epic France bucket list experience, you’ll explore your inner artist with a paintbrush and wine-based paint. This domain offers an art center where you can find inspiration from the domain’s rolling vineyards.

Ski Courchevel’s Slopes in Exclusivity

Ever wondered what happens after a ski station closes for the day? At Courchevel, you can have exclusive access to the slopes with French Side Travel. You’ll start your evening enjoying a glass of wine during golden hour. Then as dusk sets in, you’ll get equipped for a night skiing adventure. Your ski headlight will be provided and allow you to admire the town’s lights from a privileged spot. 

Dine in a French Château

Treat yourself to a splendid meal at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte in exclusivity. Dating back to the 1600s, this French castle and its gardens could have been pulled right out of a storybook. The same group of designers who created these gardens were later hired by Louis XIV to create the gardens of Versailles. Enjoy your meal fit for kings and queens in the castle all to yourself.

France Bucket List Experiences by Sea

From its Sunday morning markets to its snow-capped Alps, France offers endless nooks and crannies to explore by foot. But its water access is just as idyllic and promises unforgettable moments. Here are some of our favorite France bucket-list experiences by sea: 

Set Sail for Porquerolles

This idyllic island off the coast of Hyères is car-free and the perfect place to explore by foot or bike. But the journey there is an enchanting moment in and of itself. You’ll board a boat and see the Mediterranean from a new perspective. Your first stop will be at a wild cove where you’ll enjoy a French breakfast. Take a dip in the crystal blue waters or admire the underwater creatures by snorkeling. Later you’ll sail to an exclusive winery, which you can explore by e-bike or 4×4. You’ll have your choice for lunch: a gourmet picnic aboard in a deserted cove or in a restaurant in Port Cros.

Cruise the Calanques

overlooking the port pin calanque boats on tourquise water

Along the coast of Marseille and Cassis sits the multiple calanques, awe-inspiring rock formations that meet the sea. It’s possible to hike through the calanques, but if you’re looking for a luxurious experience on the Mediterranean, taking a private boat ride is the ideal choice. Head out at peak of day to take a swim in one of its creeks or opt for sunset departure for an apéro aboard.

Where to Stay in France

Courtesy of Four Seasons

Relais de Chambord
A mere four minutes from the Château de Chambord, this hotel is at the heels of royalty. With 16th century roots, this four-star hotel offers 55 unique rooms, including a boat suite. After a day of castle exploration, you can dine at one of the hotel’s restaurants. We’re certain that you’ll be tempted by its herb-crusted venison at Le Grand Saint-Michel or a café gourmand at Les Armes du Château.

Les Bords de Mer
A stay at this hotel is a bucket list experience in and of itself! Located at the feet of the Mediterranean Sea and on Marseille’s corniche, or its boulevard lining the sea, Les Bords de Mer promises a luxurious escape. Once a waterside villa in the 1930s, this retreat has been reimagined as a contemporary 4-Star boutique hotel. All of its 19 rooms boast sea views, and light pours in through its massive windows. 


Thinking about one of these France bucket list experiences? We’re ready to help you organize the trip of your dreams. You might enjoy: An Incredible Wine Trip to the Champagne Region or Luxury Escape to the Loire Valley. Need some help planning your trip?

Our Guide to the Principality of Monaco

From its captivating history to its opulent charm, Monaco beckons with a blend of luxury, culture, and mystique. Uncover the Grimaldi legacy, explore the exclusive resort life, and follow in the footsteps of icons like Grace Kelly. Whether you seek a yacht adventure, a cultural journey, or simply a taste of sophistication, this principality awaits your visit. Plan your escape today with our guide to the Principality of Monaco.


Our Guide to the Principality of Monaco

Unraveling the Allure of the Principality

Monaco does not disappoint. Only 30 minutes from Nice, nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the French Riviera, you will find Monaco. This destination that exudes elegance, charm, and an air of mystery. Known for its stunning coastline, star-studded affairs, and vibrant culture. If you desire to dive deep into the storied past of this highly contested city-state, see and be seen in the playground of the rich and famous, or simply searching an unforgettable escape, make your way to the Principality of Monaco.

Monaco Explained

Naturally, when thinking about Monaco many questions come to mind. Why is Monaco so small? Who are the Grimaldi’s? Soon you will be asking yourself, When can I visit? Monaco is only 520 acres, just to put into perspective, it fits inside New York’s Central Park (843 acres). While the Principality of Monaco has changed hands numerous times, the Grimaldi Family has remained at the helm since 1297. This is when Francesco Grimaldi seized control of the Rock of Monaco. According to the Ancient Greeks, Monaco may have a more mythical origin story as it is proclaimed that on Hercules’ journey back to Greece after his tenth labor, he built the Rock of Monaco.

Eventually with the opening of the renowned Casino de Monte-Carlo by the Société de Bains de Mer de Monaco in 1863 and the arrival of railway travel in 1868, Monaco established itself as a destination for distinguished travelers on the Côte d’Azur. From this point forward, the tourism infrastructure has continued to evolve. Rather than arriving by train, you can arrive in style with a Private Helicopter Transfer from the airport. This allows you to skip the traffic and take in panoramic views of the dazzling coast.

Helicopter to Monaco
Credit: Blade

History of Monaco

Evidently, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Principality of Monaco. Beyond the exclusive resort for international jet-setters, there’s a fascinating story. Uncover the history of the nation founded by the Grimaldi’s that went from a perched village to a prosperous country hosting the world’s billionaires. Until 1848, the towns of Menton & Roquebrune were also a part of Monaco, so we recommend continuing down the coast for a visit.

Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco

Follow in the footsteps of Grace Kelly who gave up her career as an actress in Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier III. Her legacy can be seen at the Monaco Cathedral and the filming locations from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief’ in which she starred. For those truly enamored by the Monégasque Royal Family, opt for an exclusive, private visit to the Prince’s Palace after hours.

Your Stay in Monaco

Upon arriving to Monaco, make your way to the hotel of your choice: Hôtel de Paris, Hôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo Bay, or Monte Carlo Beach. These properties represent the finest of Monégasque hospitality with impeccable service, exquisite interiors, and exclusive access to the principality.

During your time on “The Rock” take up the favored pastimes of shopping and yachting. Spend the afternoon with a personal stylist who will assist you in curating your wardrobe in the numerous boutiques found in Monaco. From luxury ready to wear & leather goods from houses such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, to fine jewellery and watches from Boucheron, Cartier, and Chopard. What better way to see Monaco than aboard a yacht? Make your way to the port and embark on a journey to take in the sunshine, sea, and stunning views.

Where to Stay in and near Monaco

Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

Internationally renowned 5-star luxury hotel, enchants visitors with its iconic status and recent 2019 transformation, offering exquisite suites like the Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III suites. From the Louis XV-Alain Ducasse restaurant to the rooftop pool of the Wellness Sky Club, this Monaco gem provides an unparalleled experience.

Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo

This Belle Epoque palace and 5-star hotel is located in sparkling Monte-Carlo by its renowned casino. The Gustave Eiffel-designed glass dome, architectural details, and ornate decoration make this one of Monaco’s most romantic spots. The 277 rooms and suite feature Louis XV-style furnishings. The rooms with terraces offer views on the glistening sea.

Monte-Carlo Beach

This 5-star gem built in the 1930s, invites guests to indulge in the Dolce Vita. With a stunning seafront, terracotta façade, and stunning frescoes, the hotel offers the epitome of luxury. Highlights include the exclusive Diamond Suite, a cabana service by the water, an Olympic swimming pool, a spa, and an organic Michelin-star restaurant set in an exceptional natural site.

Monte-Carlo Bay

The sophisticated 4-star Hotel & Resort, redefines the legendary destination with its relaxed ambiance. Situated on its own picturesque peninsula east of Larvotto, the resort offers breathtaking views of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Featuring a grand private residence entrance, solarium, terraces, and gardens by Jean Mus, this chic Garden of Eden promises a unique experience.


If you’re still asking yourself, “When can I visit?” speak with one of our experts who will curate your perfect stay.

Be inspired by one of our sample itineraries: Cultural Discovery of Monaco, Unforgettable Trip to Monaco, & Family Trip to Monaco.

The Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes

Do French people really do that? Whether it’s wearing berets or eating escargots, French stereotypes abound. Some of these assumptions have more merit than others. One classic “Frenchism” is their love for crêpes. And truth be told, crêpes are widely eaten in France. Nearly four out of every five French people enjoy sweet crêpes, per Statista. We’re sharing all about French crêpes: the different types; their history; and la Chandeleur, a holiday known for its crêpe consumption.


The Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes

The Origins of Crêpes

North, south, east, west: no matter where you travel in France, you’ll be able to find crêpes. But these French “pancakes” originated in the region of Brittany. The crêpe or galette can be traced back to the 1200s during the time of the Crusades, per Crêpes Recette. But long before then, cultures had been eating pancake- or crêpe-like concoctions. 

The recipe is simple: some flour, eggs and milk. Restaurants or vendors may have a special crêpe-making machine, but you can also make them in a frying pan on the stove. Our rule of thumb is: the more butter, the better!

Sweet Crêpes vs. Savory Galettes

Credit: Unsplash

Not all crêpes are made the same. There are two main categories of crêpes: sucré (sweet) and salé (savory). The first type is traditionally made with wheat flour, the second with buckwheat (or sarrasin) flour. The latter is often referred to as a galette, instead of a crêpe. Typical toppings for crêpes sucrées include: Nutella, chocolate sauce, caramel, sugar, lemon and many more. Restaurant menus for galettes vary, but you’ll most likely see the complète, with ham, cheese and an over-easy egg. But just like sandwiches, chefs use their creativity on what they include in crêpes.

Some restaurants even offer a formule, or meal deal, where you nosh on a savory galette and then a sweet crêpe for dessert. You can find them at a sit-down restaurant or take it to go and eat it while walking.

French Crêpes and la Chandeleur

Crêpes are eaten year round in France, but there’s one day in France that’s particularly known for crêpes. February 2 marks la Chandeleur, or Candlemas. This holiday celebrates the day that Mary and Joseph presented baby Jesus at the temple. At the temple, a man named Simeon gave Jesus a blessing, saying that he was “a light for revelation” in the gospel of Luke. That’s why Chandeleur or Candlemas celebrates this light with candles, per Geo.

“The celebration is said to date to Roman times and Pope Gelasius I, who had pancakes distributed to pilgrims arriving in Rome for the festival,” according to an article in The Connexion. “Chandeleur symbolized the end of winter and the return of the sun and lighter spring days. Crêpes, with their round shape and yellow, golden color were seen to embody the return of the sun.” 

How to Enjoy French Crêpes in France

Finding a sweet crêpe or savory galette during your trip to France won’t be difficult. Whether it’s a street vendor or a restaurant serving up crêpes, you will have your pick. But perhaps the technique and art of French crêpe-making intrigue you. We have several delicious crêpe-making experiences that are sure to make you drool.

Private Crêpes-Making Class in Paris

Credit: Unsplash

In between your stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, spend an afternoon with a French chef as you perfect your crêpe technique. Whether it’s creamy chantilly or salted caramel, you’re sure to find a crêpe that suits your fancy. Try your hand at the famed crêpe Suzette, a sweet dessert with orange and flambéed. And the icing on the cake: you’ll enjoy this cooking class in an elegant Parisian suite. Bon appétit !

Private Crêpes-Making Class in Brittany

Credit: Unsplash

Vanilla whipped cream, buckwheat crumble and roasted fruit… need we say more? During this private cooking class, you’ll try your hand at crêpes bretonnes, or crêpes from Brittany. Your chef will provide an array of seasonal products as you get to work in the kitchen. 

Where to Stay in Paris and Brittany

Courtesy of Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel George V
Located in the posh 8th arrondissement in Paris, Four Season Hotel George V promises a luxurious escape — and only a short walk to the Champs-Elysées. Admire the rooms’ style inspired by Louis XVI – think chandeliers, thoughtful decor and Eiffel Tower views. Explore the the charming neighborhood or enjoy a night “in” at one of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Treat yourself to a visit to the spa, perhaps with an individualized Haute Couture treatment.

Les Maisons de Bricourt
This luxury collection of villas near Saint Malo jumped right out a fairytale. Perhaps you fancy a stay in its Château Richeux in one of its 11 rooms or two apartments facing the bay of Mont Saint Michel. Or maybe you’d like to indulge in a stay in its boutique hotel, Les Rimains. This foliage-covered stone building feels more like a home than a hotel. You can wander the hotel garden’s pathway to the bay. And if you’re deeply longing for tranquility, enjoy a stay at one of its Seafront Lodges. Each morning, you’ll wake up to freshly baked French bread, fruit and milk products on your doorstep


It’s one thing to read about French crêpes, but it’s another to taste or make them yourselves. Looking to discover the best of French gastronomy? You might enjoy: A Culinary Experience in Paris or Lyon Wines & Culinary Delights. Need some help planning your trip?

4 Local Specialities from Provence

Whether it’s strolling down the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence or hiking through Marseille’s calanques, southern France offers much to do. The region of Provence is a treasure chest for stunning hikes, village strolls and important monuments. But much of Provence’s charm stems from enjoying its local specialities. From its fragrant lavender fields to tranquil olive groves, the region of Provence offers delights for all five senses. From lavender to wine, we’re rounding up several of the best local specialities from Provence and how you can make sure they’re authentic.


4 Local Specialities from Provence

What does AOP mean?

AOP: Three letters make all the difference when it comes to determining the authenticity of a product. When a product is marked AOP, it means that the producers belong to a certain geographic region and have followed the designated steps of the trade, per the Ministry of Economy

So many French products are tied to the land, climate and tradition of where they’re grown or produced. And the heart of the AOP label is to respect tradition and authenticity. The AOP label is recognized across the European Union. In essence, this label tells consumers that this is a legitimate product. 

For example, not just anyone can make a beverage and call it champagne. Legally, the product can only be called champagne when it has been harvested and produced in the Champagne region of France. When a product is labeled as AOP, it is registered and subject to being audited to make sure its quality and authenticity are top-notch.

What is the Difference Between AOP and AOC?

fromagerie, cheeseshop in franc

You might also see the letters AOC, which are also a mark of authenticity at the French national level and not yet across the European Union. The next step in the process is to seek the AOP label in order to be recognized across the E.U., according to the Ministry of Economy. AOP stands for “Appellation d’Origine Protégée,” and AOC stands for “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.” In short, the letters AOP and AOC are special labels that denote authenticity. As you stroll French markets or grocery stores, keep your eyes peeled for these labels.

Here are several local specialities from Provence with the AOP label and how you can incorporate them into your trip to France:

Lavender

The region of Provence is particularly known for its lavender fields. Our team is ready to help you plan your trip to explore these enchanting lavender fields. If you’d like to see the purple fields in bloom, it’s best to visit during the summer as harvest time is in August. France produces 131 tons of lavender essential oil annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Lavender essential oil and lavender essence from the Haute-Provence department has received the AOP label.

Olive Oil

Hugging the Mediterranean Sea, Provence is also sprinkled with olive groves, which yield a variety of products. One of the most used is olive oil. Olive oil from the Haute-Provence department and from Aix-en-Provence have achieved AOP status. Black olives from les Baux-de-Provence have also received the AOP label. Whether with cooking or in a tapenade, be sure to indulge in this local speciality during your trip to Provence.

Truffle

Truffles are “edible spores that grow on an underground fungus in the family Tuberaceae,” per All Recipes. They were originally hunted by pigs but are now usually located with the help of dogs’ sense of smell. Truffles boast the AOC label, according to Ma Région Sud. Around 60% of French truffle production takes place in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

Wine

It’s no secret that France is known for its wine. And the region of Provence is no different. AOP labels abound for wines produced in Provence: Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cassis, Coteaux Varois en Provence, Luberon, and many more. This region is rich in wine varieties, especially rosé wines. If you’re looking to enjoy the best local specialities in Provence, its wine will not disappoint.

Looking to experience the best of local specialities in Provence? We’re sharing some of our favorite experiences to enjoy lavender, olive oil, truffle and wine.

Winery Visit and Tasting at the Château de Berne

Courtesy of Château de Berne

If you’re a wine connoisseur looking to taste the best of Provençal wine, look no further. The Château de Berne carries the AOP Côtes de Provence wine, and best of all: it’s nestled in the heart of dreamy southern France. During your private visit, you’ll stroll the rolling vineyards with your guide and learn about the terroir and the domain’s history dating back to 1750. After you’ve brushed up on French oenology, you’ll sip on a sampling of six different wines as well as taste local olive oil. You’ll learn about the complex winemaking process and then be able to enjoy the fruit of the vine, too. Santé !

Tasting in a Provençal Country House

At Mas de la Dame, making wine and olive oil is a family affair. This domain has been producing these local products for four generations. Mas de la Dame is just a stone’s throw away from the idyllic les Baux-de-Provence, which was named as one of France’s most beautiful villages. Indulge yourself in the craftsmanship of this domain with a private tasting of three wines along with tapenade and olive oil.

Private Tour on Olive Oil and its Products in Marseille

Olive oil isn’t just used for cooking or pairing with bread. It also plays an important role in soap making, particularly for le savon de Marseille. Learn about the traditional soap-making process in a factory in Marseille. After your tour, you’ll stamp three bars of soaps to take home. Later you’ll enjoy a gourmet dinner Restaurant Gerarh in the bustling Cours Julien neighborhood. The chef will serve up the best of local cuisine paired with an impressive wine selection. 

Truffle Hunting and Tasting Tour

This luxury product isn’t easy to grow, and the market reflects it. Black truffles can be sold anywhere between $300 and $800 per pound, according to Martha Stewart. Spend the afternoon at a truffle plantation as you learn about the complicated growth process, including dogs who sniff them out. Surrounded by olive groves and bee hives, you’ll be immersed in the heart of the Provençal countryside as you discover the riches of this region. Not all truffles are the same; you’ll learn to distinguish between an authentic Provençal tuber melanosporum and its Chinese counterparts. From truffle ice cream to truffle oil, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy this Provençal treat. During your private tour, you’ll nosh on these truffle products and sip on champagne.  

Plants Distillery Visit in the Luberon Valley

luberon mountains villages senanque abbey near gordes

Nestled in Provence, the Luberon Valley is a must-see destination for its beautiful views and exceptional wines. On your private visit of the Bastide, you’ll wander among its lavender, olive trees and truffle oaks. Your exclusive visit to this aromatic plantation will include time with the farmer who will share all about the extraction and distillery process. Inhale the fragrances of thyme, rosemary and lavender, which will be transformed into essential oils. Your private tour will also include essential oils and floral water to live the experience to the full.

Where to Stay in Provence

Baumanière
Venture into the idyllic Provençal countryside with a stay at Baumanière. This five-star hotel is nestled in Les Baux-de-Provence, a village named one of the most beautiful in France. Its 53 rooms have been tastefully and uniquely decorated and feature pieces from nearby villages such as Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. A stay at the Baumanière would be incomplete without a reservation at L’Oustau de Baumanière. With a decorated history since 1945, this restaurant boasts three Michelin stars and is led by Chef Glenn Viel. You’ll also have your choice at their wine selection, with some wines aged 150 years. If you’re interested in the science and culture of wine, you can even take an oenology class complete with a cellar visit and wine tastings, bien sûr. Wind down at the property’s spa with their Escape to Provence massage with its notes of lavender and olive or perhaps their Haiwaiian-inspired Lomi-Lomi massage.

La Bastide de Marie in Ménerbes
Located in the charming village of Ménerbes, this boutique hotel will have you falling for the Luberon Valley. This cozy property only has a handful of rooms to ensure intimacy during your stay. Its white stone walls and vineyard views make the perfect setting to discover Provence. Take a dip in its pool or treat yourself to its lavender treatments at the spa. 


Do these local specialities from Provence have you drooling for a trip to southern France? We totally get it. You might enjoy: A Weekend in Wonderful Provence or Art, Culture and History trip to Provence. Need some help planning your trip?

Uncovering Roman History in Provence

From Marie Antoinette to Napoleon Bonaparte, you may have brushed up on French history. Perhaps you’ve watched Les Misérables and even celebrated Bastille Day. But what happened in France long before Louis XIV ruled, before the Enlightenment took place or before the Eiffel Tower was built? The country we know as France today has been inhabited for thousands of years. And the country is still filled with relics from these ancient periods, particularly from the Roman era. In the region of Provence, many Roman ruins can still be explored. We’re uncovering Roman history in Provence and sharing the best sites you can still visit today.


Uncovering Roman History in Provence

Ancient France

Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The first farmers were believed to have arrived in present-day France around 5000 B.C., according to Archéologie Aérienne. It’s clear that the land, leaders and peoples have changed vastly over the past thousands of years. But one period that remains influential is the Roman era. The Roman Empire controlled the land where France stands today, but at that time, it was called Gaul. Under the reign of Julius Caesar, the Romans conquered Gaul during the years 58 and 51 B.C., per World History Encyclopedia.

“Never before had such a frenzy of construction taken place — cities were first, at the initiative of Augustus in 27 BCE, because for Rome, urbanization was the very symbol of civilization,” according to Archéologie Aérienne. And the fruit of the Roman Empire in Gaul can still be seen today in France.

Looking to uncover the best of Roman history in Provence? Here are some of our favorite experiences for history buffs:

Private Cultural Luxury Tour of Roman Provence

It’s one thing to read about Roman history in a textbook; it’s another thing to have a personal guide take you to the ruins. You’ll start in Nîmes. At first glance, this town may seem like any modernized French town. But upon closer look, you’ll discover the rich Roman history hidden here. Nîmes was founded by a Celtic tribe in the 6th century B.C., and Roman influence truly took root in the first century B.C., according to Nîmes Tourisme. Your guide will show you the Magne Tower with sweeping views of the town. As you climb up the 140 stairs, you can imagine what life was like thousands of years ago. Later you’ll wander the impressive Jardins de la Fontaine, which have been recognized as one of Europe’s first public gardens. Be sure to stop and poke around the Roman ruin, the Temple of Diane.

As you wander Nîmes, you might forget you’re even in France as its Roman characteristics still shine today. Your guide will lead you to the Maison Carrée, one of the best preserved temples from the former Roman Empire, according to UNESCO. Many have heard of the Colosseum in Italy, but Nîmes has a similar-looking amphitheater, which was built just 20 years after its Italian lookalike. Gladiators used to fight with an audience of 24,000 spectators in this very arena, per Arènes Nîmes.

After you’ve wandered Nîmes’ Roman ruins, your guide will drive you to the nearby Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct built during the reigns of Nero and Claudius. Built around 50 A.D., this aqueduct provided water for hundreds of years. 

Private Visit and Wine Tasting at Mas des Tourelles

Courtesy of Mas des Tourelles

From smartphones to smart cars, the world is constantly innovating. But some things don’t change across the centuries, even millennia. One of those things is wine, which played an important role in Roman culture. Tucked in the Roman province of Beaucaire, this domain will transport you back to another era in its reconstruction of a Roman winery. Not only will you taste the domain’s wine crafted with ancient techniques, but you’ll also enjoy a workshop on how it’s made. As you sip on wine and nosh on tapenade, you’ll watch a film about the Roman grape harvest. 

After Hours Palais des Papes Visit

When imagining the history of the Roman Catholic church, we often think of, well, Rome and the Vatican. But from 1309 to 1377, the popes left Rome for a southern French town, per Britannica. Avignon became the papal residence for this period, and you can still visit the Palais des Papes today. This impressive 14th century palace has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. French Side Travel will secure an exclusive, after-hours visit for your group to explore at your own pace. 

Glanum Archeological Site 

Long before the Romans arrived, the Celto-Ligurian Salyens people built this ancient city just a stone’s throw away from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence starting in 6th century B.C. During the Roman Empire’s reign of Gaul, Glanum was developed, but around 270 A.D., the settlement was destroyed and abandoned, according to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. It wasn’t until 1921 that archeologists rediscovered this former oppidum. French Side Travel will organize a private after-hours visit for your group. You’ll get to explore the temples, buildings and its underground fountain.

From the French Revolutions and the French Resistance, there’s much to be explored in modern history in France. But these events only scratch the surface. Roman history plays a large part in France’s ancient history, and we’d be delighted to help you plan your trip to see these spots.

Where to Stay in Provence

Hotel La Mirande in Avignon
Step into another era at Hotel La Mirande, a 5-star hotel fit for a queen and king. Its 26 rooms are tastefully decorated with cotton prints and each has their own name. Explore the hotel’s intimate garden, which is home to a wide array of plants and herbs picked by its chefs. The hotel also has its own cooking school where guests can book sessions to learn alongside decorated chefs. Try your hand at the pavlova pastry or perhaps sauteed squid. We’d be happy to book you a table at La Mirande’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Nosh on Chef Florent Pietravalle’s latest creations from black pear to meat paired with a rye-bread crust. Not only is this hotel rich with its cuisine but also its history.  In the 1300s, the popes came to dine in the oldest room of this hotel.

Hotel Imperator in Nîmes
This five-star boutique hotel in Nîmes is the perfect spot to rest your head after exploring Roman ruins in Provence. Delight yourself in one of its chic 54 rooms or 7 private houses. At the hotel’s restaurant l’Impé, you can savor dishes with local ingredients. Later, you can head to Bar Hemingway for some libations. Don’t just take our word for it; names such as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso even stayed here.


Does this uncovering of Roman history in Provence make you want to delve even deeper into French culture? You might enjoy: Art, Culture and History trip to the French Riviera or Art, Culture and History trip to Provence. Need some help planning your trip?

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