There’s always been ample opportunities for luxury travellers seeking the unusual and the authentic in France– but 2019 is shaping up to be a peak year for high-end adventures. If the trend known as “experiential travel” is your cup of tea, keep reading: we have plenty of carefully chosen ideas that will help make your getaway to France this year simply extraordinary. 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 make it a living reality, get in touch with us so we can start crafting the experiential luxury getaway of your fantasies.
Luxury Travel to France in 2019: 20+ 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 21st in 2019, 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. Members of the Confrérerie (Brotherhood) of the Knights of the Black Diamond donning distinctive robes and proceeding over a colourful ritual outside the centuries-old church: one that brings together the whole village.
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 cooking classes. If this isn’t experiential luxury French 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 experiences? 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 ritual, consider attending this year’s Saint-Vincent Tournante Wine Festival in Burgundy. Taking place in the humble town of Vézelay between January 27th-29th 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, visits to prestigious cellars, live music and theatre, and plenty of other lively cultural events at this essential annual event in Burgundy.
April-Early May: Head to Paris for an International Design & Lifestyle Fair
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 2019, the Foire de Paris runs from April 27th through May 8th.
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
May: See Sublime Spring Blooms Amid Gorgeous Castles
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.
June: Head to Bordeaux for The Annual Wine Festival
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.
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 2019, Fashion Week runs in September and October, but also earlier in the year for haute couture runways, men’s shows and more. We can help you build your French excursion around one of these events, choosing the one that best fits your schedule and interests.
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 perfumers to craft your own signature scent, special runway shows and much more. Whatever your style desires, 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 at high altitudes.
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 to mention winter style, if that’s your speed. 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 Christmas-Time 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. Sip mulled wine, taste delicious local specialties from Provence or Alsace, and stay in sumptuous surroundings, enjoying gastronomic holiday meals imagined by some of France’s top chefs. 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.
Book an Experiential Luxury Adventure in France
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.