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July 15, 2011

A Family Tour of Paris, Versailles & the Loire Valley in France

A wonderful way to experience France is with a private tour of the highlights of Paris, Versailles and the Loire Valley. These regions are great for families, sophisticated travelers, wine enthusiasts and culture lovers.

private France toursWe love Paris. It’s perfect as a stand-alone destination or as the gateway to other parts of France. The Eiffel Tower looks especially attractive when seen from a balcony at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, truly one of the world’s greatest hotels.

The George V is also a great family hotel, offering interactive and behind-the-scenes experiences such as learning to make French pastries. Children can enjoy learning to make almond pastry topped with raspberries.

Kids will also enjoy quirky activities such as a private behind-the-scenes tour of the George V, including even the laundry room!

The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysees in Paris is a remarkable building that showcases a number of cultural attractions. We always recommend a visit for travelers interested in history or design.

It was built for the Universal Exposition of 1900 using abundant iron and glass.

Exterior decoration on the Grand Palais.

Many different types of events take place in the Grand Palais, such as contemporary art exhibitions.

Riding the private elevator up the Eiffel Tower is a fun way to reach the acclaimed Jules Verne restaurant on the Second Floor, 410 feet (125 m) above the ground. If you are interested in a great meal with panoramic views over Paris, we will arrange reservations for lunch or dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant.

We take travelers interested in shopping to small boutiques around Paris, as well as noted department stores such as the famed Galeries Lafayette.

Another one of our favorite hotels in Paris is Hotel Le Bristol. We love the antiques and artwork seen throughout the hotel, including this original portrait of Marie-Antoinette.

The hotel has views over the Paris rooftops.

A day excursion or overnight trip to Versailles—the palace and the town—is highly recommended.

While at the Palace of Versailles, we take interested travelers to Marie-Antoinette’s personal palace, Petit Trianon, and her mock Norman village, Hameau de la Reine (the Queen’s Hamlet), two of her favorite places to escape from the confines of the royal court.

The hamlet has its own vegetable gardens and livestock.

We arrange for our travelers to tour the Hall of Mirrors…

…and other magnificent rooms at the Palace of Versailles.

The Apotheosis of Hercules is a famous Baroque painting by Francois Lemoyne that decorates the ceiling of the Hercules Salon.

The town of Versailles is has interesting historic architecture and dozens of upscale antique shops. Our private touring includes visits to beautiful neighborhoods, antiques districts…

…and the local market.

Another stop on our insider tours of Versailles is Le Potager de Roi (the King’s Vegetable Garden), a working farm filled with heritage crops that was first planted in the 17th century for King Louis XIV.

The bookstore at the Potager de Roi is a good place to stock up on hard-to-find titles in French and English.

The luxurious Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace hotel is great for an overnight (or longer) stay or a meal in the Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

This is the elegant lobby at the Trianon Palace Hotel.

Our private touring in the Loire Valley features visits to the most beautiful and important chateaux. The Chateau de Chambord was built as a royal hunting lodge in the 16th century, and its rooftop is believed to be based on a city skyline. It’s a renowned example of French Renaissance architecture.

Leonardo da Vinci once lived in the Loire Valley, and it is widely believed that he designed parts of Chambord, including this double-helix staircase, an architectural feat.

Leonardo spent his final years at Chateau du Clos Luce in Amboise in the Loire Valley. Children love learning about the visionary machines he designed, including an early version of a helicopter. Exhibitions inside Clos Luce reveal more of Leonardo’s inventions.

Another favorite chateau in the Loire Valley is the beautiful Chateau de Chenonceau, which sits on arches above the Cher River.

This is a view of the main gallery that spans the river.

Beautiful gardens are everywhere in the Loire Valley.

A grapefruit and avocado salad with fresh herbs from the garden is the type of memorable meal travelers can look forward to in the Loire Valley.

Chateau de Villandry is renowned for its incredible gardens. They’re among the most impressive we’ve ever seen.

In addition to the ornamental garden, there’s the famous potager or kitchen garden.

Our preferred hotel in the Loire Valley is Les Hauts de Loire, a Relais & Chateaux property set in a historic hunting lodge

These are just a few of our favorite places and experiences in Paris, Versailles and the Loire Valley. Contact an Artisans of Leisure France travel specialist, who can customize a private France tour according to your interests.

Destinations:  Europe, France

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