At the Pleasure of Marie-Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte.
Queen Marie-Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte were exceptional garden patrons. Picturesque Voyages Founder and Tour Guide Susan Taylor-Leduc, an art historian whose scholarly career has been dedicated to the queen and empress, designed these tours to share her knowledge of their fascinating careers and unpredictable destinies.
Then & Now: Each tour begins with an iBook presentation of images selected from historical archives, providing a comparative context for viewing Paris today. After the tour, you can add your own photos to create a personal souvenir of your Picturesque Voyage.
Picturesque Voyages Tours Adhere to Recommended Health and Safety Guidelines
- Masks can be provided upon request.
- Tours are limited to 6 people. Family groups may be larger.
- All garden and walking tours maintain social distancing standards.
Custom tours are our specialty. Contact us to plan a personalized itinerary for a most memorable, life-long learning experience.
Marie-Antoinette at Versailles
4-5 hour Tour: Petit Trianon and Gardens (450€ 1-6 persons, entrance fee not included, private transportation recommended)
A special Marie-Antoinette tour entirely dedicated to the queen’s gardens at Versailles. Our tour begins at the Petit Trianon, where we see how the queen redecorated her villa, developed her English garden, and created her own village and private hamlet. We come to understand how the queen’s gardens became the most enchanting and misunderstood sites in French history.
Please note, there is limited access to the interiors of the Hameau and reservations must be booked at least three months in advance at an additional fee. Please let us know us if you would like to include a visit to the interiors as part of your tour so we can arrange the reservation.
Josephine Bonaparte at Malmaison
4-Hour Garden and Museum Tour (450€ 1-6 persons, entrance fee not included, private transportation recommended)
Located 12 kilometers outside Paris, Le Malmaison was purchased by Empress Josephine, who transformed the grounds into a flourishing English-style garden. The house museum provides a glimpse into the private life of Napoleon and Josephine, whose passionate love affair, marriage, and divorce captivated contemporaries. Josephine found solace and amusement at Malmaison, where she dedicated herself to her garden and natural history (she raised black swans and kangaroos on the estate) and passionately pursued floriculture. Over 2,000 plants were acclimated to France for the first time at Malmaison, including purple magnolia, tree peony, hibiscus, camellias, and dahlias. Josephine also collected more than 250 varieties of roses. Some of these varieties continue to bloom in the gardens.
Bagatelle: A Wager with the Queen
3-Hour Garden Tour (350€ 1-6 persons, entrance fee not included, public transportation available, private transportation recommended)
The gardens at Bagatelle were born from a gambling wager: the Comte d’Artois bet his sister-in-law, Queen Marie-Antoinette, that he could build a pleasure pavilion and gardens in less than three months. Hiring over 800 masons, builders, and gardeners, he won the bet, offering a surprise party to the queen. She discovered the sumptuous pavilion and gardens ironically inscribed with the motto “small, but suitable.” The gardens include formal parterres and an extensive English-style garden. They were expanded in the 20th century by Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, who planted an extensive rose garden.
One of the four botanic gardens of the city of Paris, Bagatelle has an exceptional collection of trees and flowers. Rare irises and roses bloom in late May and June.