Art historian Olivier Bernier invites you to return with him to the country where he was raised. In his words…

William Christie, an old friend and the celebrated leader of Les Arts Florissants, and Eleanor of Aquitaine are two names we seldom see together on the same page, but on this trip, their paths will cross. Beginning with Les Arts Florissants’ Spring Festival in the little-visited province of Vendée, just south of Brittany, we continue to the Abbey of Fontevraud, where Eleanor is buried in what was once a part of her realm. From there we go to Saumur, on the Loire and we end in Versailles.

This trip is distinctive for its many highlights: great music in historic settings, William Christie’s amazing gardens, and an 11th-century church; an equestrian demonstration by the famous Cadre Noir of Saumur; a private dinner at a ducal château; then visits to Chartres Cathedral and the private apartments of Louis XV at Versailles, which will be open exclusively for us.

As usual in France, the pleasures of gastronomy will be many and varied. There will be great seafood in the coastal area around Nantes, the famous Loire wines and a spectacular farewell lunch at the newest Ducasse restaurant, Ore in Versailles.

A Connoisseur’s France with Olivier Bernier
Art, Music and Gardens

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Wednesday, April 4: Departure from the U.S. to Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

Thursday, April 5: Arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport. Board a flight to Nantes and transfer by coach to Les Sables d’Olonne and the Hotel and Spa Cote Ouest. Relax before our welcome dinner with remarks by Olivier Bernier.

Friday, April 6: A morning at leisure to enjoy the spa, or a stroll along the beach. Lunch at leisure. The afternoon will be spent in and around the small village of Thiré, home of William Christie, attending one or more of the several short concerts. During this visit, and on the following day, a variety of concerts will be offered. Dinner of regional specialties at the restaurant LouLou Cote Sauvage, overlooking the ocean.

Saturday, April 7: This morning, we will discover the medieval town of Clisson, at the border of Brittany, which has a romantic ruined castle perched on the river and is also called the Italian City, as many of its buildings have a Tuscan architectural aspect. A choice of concerts, each in a historic setting. Dinner at Restaurant Le Quai des Saveurs, on the port.

Sunday, April 8: A highlight today will be a visit to William Christie’s extraordinary and highly inventive gardens. We will attend the farewell concert in the beautiful cathedral of Lucon. Dinner will be at the restaurant Cayola in Chateau-d’Olonne.

Monday, April 9: We drive to La Roche sur Yon and visit a well preserved 11th century church. Then continue to Cholet, one of the Vendèe’s important towns with its excellent textile museum. Lunch will be at the château Colbert in Maulévrier. The château was built in the 17th century for a nephew of Colbert, Louis XIV’s great finance minister. After lunch, we stop for a stroll through a very pretty garden in route to Fontevraud for the exceptional experience of staying at a hotel in the Abbey itself.

Tuesday, April 10: This morning Olivier will guide us to the Abbey and Eleanor’s tomb. A highlight will be lunch at the gastronomic restaurant Le Gambetta in Saumur. A visit to the medieval château will be followed by a cruise on the Loire in a small chartered barge ending in a wine tasting. Dinner is at leisure.

Wednesday, April 11: The focus of our morning is an equestrian performance of the famed Cadre Noir. Lunch and the afternoon will be at leisure. This evening a private dinner is arranged at a ducal château.

Thursday, April 12: We drive through the beautiful countryside to Chartres. Lunch at Le Grand Monarque hotel’s Michelin-star Restaurant Le Georges, and a visit to the famous cathedral, we leave for St.-Germain-en-Laye, where we will spend two nights at Cazaudehore La Forestiere.

Friday, April 13: Spend a special day in Versailles where a private visit to Louis XV’s and Louis XVI’s private apartments is arranged. Our farewell lunch will be at Ore, the new Ducasse restaurant in the Pavillon Dufour at Versailles.

Saturday, April 14: Transfer by coach to Charles de Gaulle airport for return flights.

Trip Price: $8,475 per person, $1,200 single supplement

Please note: concert schedules and itinerary subject to change.

For priority reservations, please write a check in the amount of $2,500 (per person and non-refundable), payable to: Indagare Travel.

Kindly mail this check to:

Indagare Travel
950 Third Avenue
16th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Attention: Cameron MacMillan


Trip Inclusions:

o Lectures and on-site commentary by Olivier Bernier

o 9 nights hotel accommodations as per the itinerary

o Meals: Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (with wine) as noted

o Concert tickets, Loire barge cruise, all entrances

o Private receptions and hospitality

o Airport/hotel group flight transfers

o Local taxes and gratuities


Not Included:

o International and Domestic Flights

o Meals not specified

o Alcoholic beverages other than those included in the meals

o Personal items and expenses

o Airport transfers other than those included in the itinerary

o Trip insurance (highly recommended – please let us know if you would like to see quotes)

Copyright  2017 – Opening Doors & Indagare Travel