Excursions Just Outside Paris
Tours can be arrranged for families, couples, individuals as well as larger groups up to 25 people.
Gift certificates can also be arranged as a special present for someone ; they will receive a voucher and then we will work together to create a memorable tour. My professional fees are for your group, not per person. They do not include your travel costs, refreshments or any admission fees.
Most Frequently Booked Tours
Monet's Last Muse : Giverny
This tour is the opportunity to discover the home and garden where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. It was here that he drew inspiration for his work, culminating in the increasingly abstract giant views of water lilies that dominated his later years. In addition to his home, we will visit the two parts of the garden : the Clos Normand near the house and the Water Garden accessed by an underground passageway. The Clos Normand is a cottage garden radiating from the Grand Allée with straight paths and rectangular beds filled to profusion with different scents and colors. Annuals, perennials, roses, ornamental shrubs and trees that will astonish amateur and veterans alike. The second garden was purchased in 1893 and has a completely different ambiance. It is known as the Water Garden with its famous Japanese bridge surrounded by weeping willows and draped in wisteria. You will feel as if you have stepped into one of Monet’s paintings where azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, asters and grasses surround the sinuous pond slashed with…water lilies.
The Home and Garden of Chateaubriand & the Chatenay Arboretum
The famous French author, François-René de Chateaubriand, lived in the Vallée des Loups in Chatenay-Malabry, and wrote some of his most important works here from 1807-1817. The charm of this romantic abode has remained intact. The house with its authentic décor, furniture, paintings and caryatids opens out onto the delightful park which was mostly planted by Chateaubriand himself. Catalpas, Greek sycamores, tulip trees, Lebanese cedars and American magnolias were planted in memory of his various travels and invite you on a botanical trip around the world. Across the road from this park is the Chatenay-Malabry Arboretum. It was initially a landscaped garden created in the 17th century by the Knight of Bignon. Subsequently it was sold to Charles de Gassicourt, Napoleon’s pharmacist, who added many rare plants. Later it was purchased by the famous horticulturist Gastave Croux, who enriched it further and used it as a showcase for his neighboring nursery. The arboretum has a romantic setting with a pond, bridges, kiosks, follies and fountains, an orchard, as well as the national collection of morning glories, beautiful hydrangeas and the flamboyant fall garden.
A short drive from Paris lays the magnificent Palace and Gardens of Versailles, a true masterpiece of harmony between architecture and the landscape and the home of the French Court for over 120 years. I will explain the many wonders and stories behind this famous garden, its owners, and the landscape architects who created it. There are lots to see with over 1000 acres of gardens and groves to explore, from the formal gardens closest to the Château to mention Marie Antoinette's recently restored 'rustic' Hamlet and farmyard. King Louis the 14th was also a gourmet and gourmand; he gave the considerable task of creating a Royal Potager on some very inhospitable marshlands near the Palace. This garden is still producing and selling vegetables today and serving as an outdoor laboratory affiliated with the prestigious Versailles Horticultural School.
Collection of Half & Full Day Excursions
The Val de Marne Rose Garden
Before retiring from his career at the luxury department store, Le Bon Marché, Jules Gravereaux bought a parcel of land just south of Paris in 1892. He began collecting, studying, and creating roses as a hobby. Over the next twenty years & sparing no expense, he made the first rose garden of international renown. By 1910, he held an exhaustive collection of all the roses genus' known forms with over 8000 species and varieties. Today there are over 3000 varieties divided into 13 collections displayed in beds and garlands alongside trelliswork and statues, retracing this amazing flower's evolution. At the turn of the 20th century, Mr. Gravereaux also played an intricate role in creating the Bagatelle rose garden, the President's rose collection at the Elysée Palace, and the restoration of the Malmaison rose garden at Josephine Bonaparte's estate.
Château de Champs sur Marne
Would you like to discover a beautiful 18th-century chateau filled with furnishings from France's finest cabinet makers and sumptuous rococo and Chinoiserie decors? Just east of Paris, this small town boasts an overlooked architectural jewel that is crowd-free. Despite the French Revolution and changing hands many times, it has been restored to its former glory, serving as a reception site for foreign heads of State before being opened to the public. The original grounds were designed by a disciple of André LeNôtre, Claude Desgots, and stretched over 1,500 acres, sloping gracefully down towards the Marne River. The garden layout was modified by Henri Duchêne at the turn of the 20th century, combining several classical elements such as the boxwood parterres, fountains, and statuary with several romantic accents, including a charming Orangerie and floral potager.
Jebulon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Archipathist, CC BY-SA 4.0 < via Wikimedia Commons
Jebulon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh & Auvers sur Oise
While this picturesque village's notoriety is due in part to Vincent van Gogh and the 70 plus works he completed here in the last few months of his life, other illustrious painters have also been drawn to this valley. They include Corot, Daumier, Berte Morisot, Cezanne and Charles Daubigny, whose atelier can be visited. Our walking tour will include the many locations immortalized by van Gogh including the Notre Dame church, the auberge where he lived, and the cemetery where he and his brother Theo are buried. The 17th-century Château d'Auvers is perched just above the town and offers a splendid view over the Oise valley. Their art collection showcases many artists who painted here and a multimedia show that retraces the Impressionist movement. The gardens surrounding the castle reflect the Italian Renaissance style with three terraces, an Orangerie, and a very rare 17th doomed grotto completely decorated with shells along with a landscaped English park. There is also a charming Absinthe museum in town, which wonderfully recreates the Belle Epoque ambiance while offering many insights into this beverage's social and cultural role.
Château de Courances
The peaceful park surrounding the Louis XIII style château at Courances is one of France's most beautiful formal gardens. Your first view of the estate is highlighted by the symmetrical canals and an immense avenue of sycamore trees that were planted in 1782. During the 16th century, a Renaissance water garden was laid out here, taking complete advantage of the 14 natural springs on site. Following the French Revolution, an irregular English-style park was designed only to be supplanted by a classical restoration done by Henri and Achille Duchêne at the beginning of the 20th century. Contrasting with all this, on the edge of the property is a small Japanese garden created just before WWI by Berthe de Ganay, assisted by Kathleen Lloyd Jones, a disciple of Gertrude Jekyll. It is also possible to visit one of the furnished floors of the chateau on weekend afternoons.
Château de Vaux le Vicomte
In the mid-17th century, Nicolas Fouquet commissioned three of the finest artists of his time to design, decorate and embellish his estate. Over a 20 year period, the architect Le Vau, the painter Le Brun and the landscape architect Le Nôtre will create a masterpiece that enraged the King and inspired the Château de Versailles' creation. Having been painstakingly restored, Vaux le Vicomte is one of the rare occasions to witness the advent of the Baroque decorative style. The garden is perfectly niched into a green framework of trees and still exemplifies today the classical design principles known worldwide as the 'Jardin à la Française.' On Saturday evenings during the summer months, the castle and garden are illuminated with 2,000 candles, culminating in a magical firework display.