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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?

Best Van Gogh Activities in France

They say home is where the heart is, but sometimes it’s somewhere far away that tugs at our heart strings. France has long attracted tourists, artists and intellectuals over the centuries with one notable resident being Vincent Van Gogh. Born in the Netherlands, this renowned painter spent considerable time in France during his career. We don’t blame Van Gogh for being inspired by France’s magnificent landscapes, idyllic villages and rich culture. For those enchanted by this post-Impressionist painter’s work, we’ve compiled our best Van Gogh activities in France. 


Best Van Gogh Activities in France

Van Gogh’s Time in France

Van Gogh lived in many places during his short life: England, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Vincent Van Gogh’s brother Theo worked as an art dealer in Paris and introduced him to the work of Claude Monet among others, according to the Van Gogh Museum

He lived in Paris for several years before he decided to move to Arles in southern France. In a letter to his brother Theo, he wrote, “It seems to me almost impossible to be able to work in Paris, unless you have a refuge in which to recover and regain your peace of mind and self-composure. Without that, you’d be bound to get utterly numbed.”

And in that vein, he headed down to sunny Provence.

Although Van Gogh’s life was punctuated by instability and mental illness, it didn’t ultimately hinder his ability to paint and draw. Van Gogh created 180 paintings during his time in Arles, according to the Van Gogh Museum. It was here that he would so infamously cut off his ear. Later, he spent a year in a mental hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where he created around 150 paintings, including arguably his most famous piece Starry Night.

Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about this Post-Impressionist painter’s life and legacy. We’ve rounded up our best Van Gogh activities for your trip to France.

Take a Tour of Van Gogh’s Arles and the Alpilles

Spend the day on a private guided tour through Van Gogh’s stomping ground in Provence. You’ll start in Les Baux-de-Provence, which has been labeled as one of France’s most beautiful villages. This quaint village will enchant you with its narrow pathways and views over the Provençal hills. Les Baux-de-Provence is also 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.

Later, our guide will take you to Saint-Remy-de-Provence and its Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastery, where he spent a year and created dozens of pieces of art.

You’ll explore the village of Eygalières as well as Arles, where Van Gogh created many of his masterpieces. Your private tour will be adapted to your wishes, which means you can spend as little or as much time in each spot as you’d like.

Hone Your Painting Skills in Montmartre

Perhaps seeing all this impressive artwork has you itching to create, too. In the artsy neighborhood of Montmartre, you can take a privileged painting class with local artist Edwidge. Whether you’re a beginner or have the next Starry Night up your sleeve, this class will be the place to let your creativity take the stage. You’ll be able to hone your techniques all while being in the heart of a neighborhood teeming with inspiration. 

Take a Day Trip to Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise

Photo by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

Van Gogh wandered about France during his life, but he finished his days in Auvers-sur-Oise. Our guide will take you to this quaint village, about an hour north of Paris, where he created many pieces. He spent the final two months of his life in this town before taking his own life in 1890. You’ll also visit the cemetery where he was buried by his brother. You’ll also be able to visit nearby Giverny to see Claude Monet’s house and gardens.

Enjoy a Family-Friendly Scavenger Hunt at the Musée d’Orsay

orsay museum paris

Located along the Seine River in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay promises endless artistic treasures to its visitors. The museum also offers a host of Van Gogh’s works, including a self-portrait and his famous bedroom painting. While the adults admire the trove of art, the younger ones will enjoy a scavenger hunt in the museum. This private tour is well-tailored to families and will have all ages raving about Van Gogh.

Stroll through Arles

Explore the town of Arles through the eyes of a local. Our private guide will take you to the important spots in Arles as you trace Van Gogh’s footsteps. You’ll visit the Arles Amphitheatre, a Roman theater that dates back to the first century A.D. Your guide will dish all about Van Gogh’s time spent in this town and show you the old Hôtel Dieu hospital, where he stayed after cutting off his ear.

Where to Stay in France

Villa Gallici 
Opt for a luxurious, intimate escape with a stay at Villa Gallici, located in the heart of Provence. No matter your needs or wishes, a stay in one of this boutique hotel’s 23 rooms will be a dream come true. From balconies with garden views to its Baroque-style beds, these rooms are fit for royalty. Lie out on one of its cushy lounge chairs poolside. During your visit, be sure to visit the villa’s exquisite wine cellar with hundreds of choices. Indulge in a unique dining experience with both French and Italian flavors. You can also relax with a gastronomic lunch and spa package for two with your choice of a body or facial treatment along with time in the sauna, jacuzzi, and cryo cabin. Or perhaps you’re in dire need of a recharge but solo; Villa Gallici also offers lunch and spa packages for one.

Photo courtesy of Monsieur Aristide

Monsieur Aristide
Nestled in the heart of Montmartre, this 4-star boutique hotel offers character and luxury for your stay in Paris. The tastefully decorated 25 rooms are furnished with treasures found at flea markets. Nosh on the seasonal menu of Monsieur Aristide’s restaurant. Indulge in some respite from the city buzz in the hotel’s garden.

Château des Alpilles
Step into a postcard at this five-star hotel located in Saint Rémy de Provence. This 19th century manor-turned-hotel boasts 21 rooms and suites and will charm you with its elegant accents. Enjoy a sophisticated meal at the Château des Alpilles’ restaurant or savor your dish poolside during the summer. Unwind in the hotel’s hammam or play a round of the Provençal game of pétanque.


Feeling tempted by one of these Van Gogh activities in France? Contact us to start planning your trip today. Take a look at some of our history-inspired tours: A Journey Through History, Art, and Nature in Charming France and An Unforgettable Fashion and Art Trip to the City of Light. Need some help planning your trip?

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