There’s always been ample opportunities for luxury travellers seeking authentic and unusual experiences in France– but 2020 is shaping up to be a peak year for high-end getaways in the country. If you’e looking for more than the usual luxury fare and are more interested in “experiential travel”- touching the heart of French culture and traditions, keep reading. We’ve got plenty of ideas for an unforgettable and and totally bespoke experience. Whether you dream of attending mysterious winemakers’ rituals in Burgundy, embarking on a high-end river cruise on the Loire or Rhine, hunting for truffles in Provence or surveying the latest styles during Fashion Week in Paris, we’ve got plenty of inspiration for you this year. Once you’re ready to, get in touch with us so we can start crafting the experiential luxury getaway of your fantasies.
Luxury Travel to France in 2020: Unique Things to Do
..Experiential Adventures for Every Season
January-March: Attend a Provence “Truffle Mass” or Burgundy Wine Ritual
Start the year out on a luxurious and culturally intriguing note by attending the famous “truffle mass” in Richerenches, France. Scheduled for January 19th in 2020, this intriguing and extravagant ritual sees the medieval village nestled in Provence celebrate the noble black truffle in all its glory.
The “mass” honors the place of this “black gold” in the cultural and culinary life of the area, as well as the patron saint of the truffle, St. Antoine. The spectacle is colourful, dramatic and memorable: Members of the Confrérerie (Brotherhood) of the Knights of the Black Diamond don distinctive robes and proceeding over a colourful ritual outside the centuries-old church. This is a ritual that brings together the whole village.
Can’t make the mass in Richerenches this year? Not to fret. There are so many other ways to enjoy truffle season in France, which generally falls from the early winter through the beginning of March. Additional “masses” and festivals are held in Sarlat, Sorges and other areas around France, and you can also enjoy vibrant truffle markets, purchase some precious specimens to take home, or partake in truffle hunts and gourmet French cooking classes. If this isn’t experiential luxury travel at its best, we don’t know what is.
Interested in building your bespoke trip to France around the joys of the black diamond, perhaps alongside other gourmet specialities such as French caviar?
Embarking on a private foodie tour with us will ensure your experience is nothing short of remarkable.
Also in January: The Saint-Vincent Tournante Wine Festival in Burgundy
If you wish to start the year off by tasting some of France’s most prestigious wines and experiencing another dramatic local ritual, consider attending this year’s Saint-Vincent Tournante Wine Festival in Burgundy. Taking place in the prestigious winemaking town of Gevrey-Chambertin between January 25th-26th this year, the festival kicks off with a procession from the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an order established in 1934. Their mission? To support and promote the development of this region’s fantastic, distinctive wines.
Enjoy tastings of excellent crus, private visits to prestigious cellars, live music and theatre, and plenty of other lively cultural events at this essential annual event in Burgundy.
March: See Dramatic Spring Tides at Mont St-Michel & Take a Calvados Tour of Normandy
Most tourists visit the dramatic medieval Abbey and Bay of Mont St-Michel in the late spring or summer, when temperatures tend to be warmer and visitors’ season is at full-hilt. But if you want to see the centuries-old, fortified Abbey and site of outstanding natural beauty at its most dramatic, a March trip is something we recommend.
Why? The strongest and most captivating spring tides come in March, when Mont St Michel is turned into a veritable island and the sea level rises above 14 meters! Watching the tides dramatically recede and rush in over the course of just a few hours is a true wonder. Stay onsite for some truly romantic and unforgettable views over the bay, and to appreciate the subtle but dramatic changes in light cast over sea and sand.
Read related: The Most Luxurious Things to Do in Normandy
Speaking of romance, the area is one of the most spectacular places in France to propose marriage to someone you love, or to celebrate a special French honeymoon or anniversary. Imagine proposing at the summit of the Abbey as you watch birds wheeling overhead, dramatic tides surrounding the whole fortified structure. You can also pop the question from the sky, as you take a private flight or ULM over the Bay.
Culinary Adventures: Take a Calvados Tour of Normandy
March is also an excellent time of year to take a private tour of Normandy that includes tastings of Calvados, the region’s delicious, apple-based liqueur that can be enjoyed on its own, as an ingredient in culinary specialities (savoury or sweet)- and even as a beauty treatment!
March marks the annual Calvados Cocktail Trophies in Caen, which awards the finest examples of drinks made with the sweet, tangy liqueur. Embark on a private tasting tour with us of some of the finest and most-exclusive Calvados producers in the region, and visit some of Normandy’ s most-stunning architectural sites at the same time. Incidentally, March is also Normandy Architecture Month, making this time of year an ideal and vibrant time to explore local heritage and history.
Learn more about our private tours of Normandy here, and start planning an early spring getaway that melds luxury and relaxation with architecture, nature, history and fine cuisine.
April-Early May: Head to Paris for Design Fairs & a Major Luxe Opening
While no one needs an “excuse” to sojourn in Paris during the mythical month of April, it can be helpful to have an exciting annual event or two to aim for. One of the un-missable events of the year is the Foire de Paris, an eclectic, sprawling design show that highlights cutting-edge trends in interior design and architecture, decorative objects, leisure, beauty, fashion, wine and gastronomy. Anyone interested in keeping their finger on the pulse of any of these sectors will adore the energy and stimulation offered by this fair. Go for inspiration, tastings, or to search for the perfect new design elements for your new home. In 2020, the Foire de Paris runs from April 30th through May 11th.
While you’re in town, you’ll also benefit from the heady beauty of springtime in the French capital: take long strolls around some of the city’s most elegant parks and gardens; stay in style at the Georges V or the Bristol, and take in everything Paris has to offer as it emerges from the winter– exhibits at the Grand Palais, operas or dance performances, and new restaurant openings are all highlights at this time of year.
Read related: The Top Luxury Palace Hotels in Paris
Also expected this April or May is the much-anticipated re-opening of the iconic Parisian department store La Samaritaine.
Closed in 2005 due to safety issues and business woes, the iconic Art-Deco department store was snapped up by luxury-goods group LVMH and has undergone extensive renovations. The historic site will re-open this year as a true high-end destination, with a department store and retail areas, several gastronomic restaurants and a Cheval Blanc Palace Hotel complete with spa. Why not book a stay there, and experience Paris in the springtime through a completely new and luxurious vantage point?
May: See Sublime Spring Blooms Amid Gorgeous Historic Sites
In May, spring reaches its peak, with gorgeous spring blooms bursting onto the scene and filling France’s most beautiful gardens. Our suggestion? Beeline to the Loire Valley to experience the lush floral event known as the International Garden Festival. Held each year at the Domaine du Chaumont-sur-Loire, the festival draws international landscape artists and botanists to create some of the world’s most breathtaking– and artistically ambitious– floral displays. Hybrid varieties, floral sculptures, and fantastic thematic displays await curious visitors.
Read related: 20+ Ways to Make Your Spring Trip to France Idyllic
Of course, if you can’t make it in May, not to worry: the festival extends through the late summer, allowing you to enjoy the ephemeral gardens for a good six months out of the year. And of course, this would be the perfect opportunity to explore all the Loire Valley has to offer on a bespoke private tour: otherworldly, dramatic castles, fantastic local wines, and a wild river system that attracts nature lovers from all corners of the globe for birdwatching and romantic boat cruises.
See Brittany’s Spring Glory Amid Celtic Cairns & Ruins
Another way to take advantage of the full May bloom is to embark on a private tour of Brittany. The blustering coastal landscapes are rich in natural beauty, with wildflowers and grasses bursting into life and harbouring dozens of species of birds and other fauna. Those who are seeking both luxury and wild nature will be drawn to the Celtic region for warming May hikes with cool sea breezes, making for a romantic, rugged ambience.
Of course, amid the wildflowers and sea-beaten cliffsides, picturesque details and historic sites abound. Not only camera-ready lighthouses and romantic Bréton castles await: you can also tour the areas rich with Celtic history, where monumental monolithic sites offer a gateway to civilizations that date to pre-Christian France.
In places like the Morbihan Bay, megalithic sites such as the Table de Marchand in Locmariaquer are more than mere stone ruins: they are awe-inspiring, touching traces of a grand Celtic civilisation; they have much to teach about the daily lives and rituals of the peoples who once inhabited Brittany. Burial chambers, intricate, beautifully patterned stone carvings, and massive shards from the largest existing megalith all await at the famous site, and there are many others in the region to visit.
May-June: Enjoy Front-Row Seats at Prestigious Sporting Events
May and June are also ideal times of year for visiting France when you’re interested in prestigious sporting competitions. Get a courtside or front-row seat to some of the country’s most sought-after matches, and enjoy a little suspense as you watch your favourite team or professional athletes go for the gold.
May: The Grand Prix de Monaco Races
Whether you’re a die-hard Formula One fan or simply want to experience the glamour and excitement of the world’s most-exciting high-speed car races, a trip to Monaco this May may be just the ticket. Enjoy the adrenaline and action from choice seats at the Grand Prix this year, which is taking place from Thursday 21 May through Sunday 24 May in 2020.
Of course, your getaway to Monaco can also include a variety of other luxurious activities and experiences, from private dinners on your own yacht to bespoke shopping tours and exclusive soirées in some of the principality’s most-sought-after venues. Just let us know what interests you the most, and we’ll put together an excursion that perfectly matches your vision.
Late May to June: The French Open at Roland Garros
Are you interested in seeing global tennis stars compete for top spots on the famous red clay courts at Roland-Garros? This is one of the prestigious events of the year in the French capital, with celebrities, European royals and politicians regularly spotted in the coveted courtside seats each May and June.
Watch as legends such as Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams and Roger Federer perform in some of the world’s most exciting and energetic tennis matches, literally drawing gasps and loud applause from the crowds. It’s certainly eons more exciting to attend the matches in person.
You can follow the match with an extraordinary dinner at restaurants such as the nearby Pré Catalan, a 3-starred Michelin table that serves some truly innovative and beautifully presented French cuisine, all in an opulent and historic setting. Or why not pair your day at the clay courts with an indulgent self-pampering session at a high-end spa in Paris? Whatever your preferences, we’ll make sure your stay is nothing short of extraordinary.
June: Head to Bordeaux for The Annual Wine Festival, Culinary Tours
While the autumn is an ideal time to enjoy festivals and harvest tastings in regions including Burgundy and Alsace-– ones we strongly recommend– early summer marks an annual event in Bordeaux that should be on any wine lover’s calendar.
Falling each year in mid to late June, the Bordeaux Wine Festival is a highly popular event, attracting both amateurs and connoisseurs for four days of tastings, live music and other cultural events. For more discerning attendees, plenty of exclusive tastings and soirées offer opportunities to taste some of the best vintages from surrounding wineries: the Weekend des Grands Crus, for example, is an event attended by prestigious sommeliers, investors and tastemakers from around the world. Invitation-only soirees aboard tall ships or at sumptuous local chateaux offer other ways to enjoy this unique event.
Take a Private Wine Tasting Tour of the Bordeaux Region
If an early summer excursion to the region sounds like the perfect opportunity to taste some exceptional grands crus and learn in more depth about the area’s best wineries, consider a private tour of Bordeaux with us. From the Médoc to the charming medieval town of St-Emilion and its prized surrounding wineries, we’ll show you the very finest the region has to offer when you embark on a tour with us. Private tastings with top vintners and sommeliers, winemaking workshops and high gastronomic experiences can all be a part of your adventure– just let us know what interests you most and we’ll craft your ideal bespoke itinerary.
Culinary Tours Around Bordeaux : Gastronomic Discoveries Await
Of course, if wine isn’t your speed or you’d like to complement wine tours with an exploration of the region’s many gourmet attractions, our private culinary tours are an ideal way to experience the very best of the historic Aquitaine region. From top-rate French caviar to superb local cheeses, foie gras and patés, and distinctive, elegant patisseries, find out why the region is considered such a gastronomic center in the country– and the world. We can also arrange for unforgettable lunches or dinners at the finest tables in Aquitaine, including those that are winning fresh accolades in 2020 for their high-end cuisine.
July & August: See Provence Lavender in Full Bloom
The midsummer dream we suggest you pursue? Go on a hunt for “blue gold” in the rolling hills of the Luberon, near Avignon. July and August are prime season for seeing fragrant, gorgeous lavender fields in full bloom in France, often punctuated with the bright yellows of proud, tall sunflowers reaching toward the light.
Tour by Bike or 2CV Vintage Car
One idyllic way to experience the joy and beauty of summer lavender in Provence is to take a guided cycling tour through the fields, passing by iconic, centuries-old structures such as the Abbaye de Sénanque. You can also opt for a private excursion in a 2CV Citroen: you can even leave the top down to allow the delicious, heady scent of blue gold to reach your senses, as wind blows through your hair.
Visit Distilleries, Lavender Museums & More
As part of your Provencal adventure, you can also push the experiential aspect even further: meet lavender distillers and producers to learn more about the ancestral tradition of harvesting and processing the aromatic flower for traditional products. Visit a lavender museum, create your own bespoke scent to bring home or offer as a gift. In the evening, taste regional specialities made with the delicate blossom at some of Provence’s most prestigious tables. In short, there are so many ways to enjoy the region and its summery riches…
September-October: Exclusive Couture at Paris Fashion Week
The late summer and early fall are excellent times to visit Paris: there’s an undeniable energy in the air as tourist season draws to a close and new creation fills the air. This includes the world of haute couture, of course: every fall, Paris Fashion week draws the most discerning style-conscious travellers to the French capital for seats at exclusive runway shows and a look at the latest trends in high fashion from top designers.
In 2020, Fashion Week runs from 28 September through 6 October. We can help you build your excursion to the French capital around these days, potentially arranging for you to gain access to the VIP runway shows as well as the exciting “off” events, from fashion auctions to high-end cocktails and exclusive soirées in elegant settings. If you want to be part of the stylish action, in short, we can help you make that happen.
And if your dates don’t fall during Fall Fashion Week, not to despair: the world of couture stages other events throughout the year, including Spring fashion shows and Men’s Fashion Week in June.
Take a VIP Shopping Tour of the Capital
If you’re interested in experiencing Fashion week as part of an exclusive tour to Paris that includes concierge-level guidance, you’ve come to the right place. Why not embark on a private shopping tour of the capital?
This might include VIP experiences such as private fittings with coveted designers, consultations with luxury Paris perfumers to craft your own signature scent, appointments with the city’s most-exclusive jewellers, special runway shows and much more. Whatever your style desires may be, it’s time to fulfill them this year…
October: Take an Autumnal Luxury River Cruise
River cruises haven’t always been a drawcard for luxury travellers, but in recent years all that has changed. Unlike ocean cruiseliners, which often only allow for sightseeing and cultural experiences when you head back to shore for the day, river cruises are by nature highly experiential.
They take you right through vibrant cities and quaint towns, allowing you to disembark for experiences such as wine tastings and dinners at remote gastronomic inns, authentic interactions with locals and artisans, strolls or cycle trips through villages and picturesque vineyards. In short, they plunge you right into the heart of local culture.
Read related: Why to Take a Luxury Boat Cruise in France?
Whether you wish to join a larger luxury river cruise or hire a private vessel equipped with your own chef and captain, October is a marvellous time to embark on a culture-filled boat tour on one of France’s fantastic rivers: the Rhone, the Rhine, the Seine or the Loire being only a few.
Perhaps you wish to see the vineyards of Alsace in flaming autumn colors, stopping at the region’s many unique wineries to taste a good glass of Gewurtztraminer or Sylvaner. Or navigate the gentle currents of the wild Loire to witness wild birds in flight on a sunset cruise, medieval castles gleaming far in the distance. Even a short day trip from Paris on the banks of the Marne River can be truly idyllic: stop to see where Impressionist painters from Corot to Monet found local inspiration, and stop for a glass at one of the traditional guinguettes (musical riverside cafes) that line the banks.
Whatever your dream river cruise looks like, we’ll work with you to make it come to life– perfectly melding luxury with authentic cultural encounters.
November to December: Indulge in Wintery French Luxury
Last but certainly not least, the beginning of the winter season in France is an ideal moment for end-of-the year reflection, self-pampering, holiday cheer and– of course– powder-fuelled adrenaline on some of the world’s most-coveted slopes.
In November and December, take to the slopes in the Alps or the Pyrenees mountains for some of the finest skiing opportunities in the world. Not sure which high-end resort best suits your style and wishes? See our complete guide to the best luxury ski resorts in the French Alps for a bit of inspiration. Courchevel and Chamomix aren’t for everyone, after all. Sometimes a more laid-back and private experience is preferable.
To ease tired muscles and indulge in some serious self-care, beeline to these rustic yet ultra-luxurious Alpine spas following a day of skiing. Even experiential travelers after something locally specific will love spots such as the iconic Fermes de Marie, where treatments are formulated using authentic plants and botanicals grown in the Alps. Not to mention that this sort of idyllic backdrop– warm woody chalets, pure snow and bright, starry skies– is a perfect and contemplative way to close out the year.
Festive Holiday Getaways to Paris, Provence, Alsace…
If the idea of a luxury break to France for the Christmas or winter holiday period appeals to you, we will design an unforgettable bespoke itinerary for you and your loved ones that brings all the magic of the season to life. From Paris to Strasbourg, Colmar and Avignon, Christmas markets in France offer an enchanting backdrop for holiday shopping and exploring.
This would be another perfect occasion for a bespoke shopping tour in Paris, led by a private concierge. Why not stay at the Ritz hotel and find a unique and extravagant gift for your loved one/s, exploring the many high-luxury Paris jewelers situated around the Place Vendome?
The opulent square is beautifully lit with holiday lights for the festive season, making a shopping excursion there both inspiring and memorable. Meanwhile, the nearby Rue Saint-Honoré is clustered with couture boutiques, design shops and high-end chocolatiers.
Extraordinary Holiday Tables & Celebrations
Dreaming of the perfect holiday table in France? Sip mulled wine, taste delicious local specialties from Provence or Alsace, and stay in sumptuous surroundings, enjoying gastronomic holiday meals imagined by some of the country’s top chefs– or even take a bespoke gourmet tasting tour. We especially recommend enjoying some of France’s finest oysters on the shell, served with a superb white and other seasonal fare. And of course, truffles are also in season at this time of year. Can you think of a better way to experience the shared joy and bounty of the season?
Finally, why not fete the very last day of the year in Paris or elsewhere in France? We’ll help ensure you steer clear of rowdy crowds and celebrate the New Year with prestige and elegance.
Interested in Luxury Experiential Travel? Book a Bespoke Getaway Now
Persuaded that a high-end getaway to France this year is in the cards for you? If so, contact us. We’ll show you how luxury travel to France can bring together exclusive activities and authentic encounters.