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?
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)
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
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
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
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.
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?