One cannot think of Paris without thinking of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, or the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. One of Paris’ most treasured experiences is actually not in Paris at all. It is Versailles and lies a short distance away in miles but light-years away in the regal remnants of a time when France dominated the world in culture and power.
Versailles is arguably the most opulent palace in the world and even today, the town surrounding this royal abode is home to the privileged few and not the masses as you’ll find in Paris. There’s no better way to experience Versailles than touring in an iconic vintage motor car from Cartis and taking in all of the experiences this regal respite has to offer.
Versailles is one of those places that has no rival. There is no Versailles of the Middleeast or the Versailles of the Americas. It is singular in its opulence and place in history. It began from lesser origins as a simple hunting lodge built by Louis XIII in 1623 before it became the seat of power for Kings Louis XIV, XV, and XVI and the capital of France. Today it is one of the most treasured tourists attractions in the world, annually welcoming 15 million tourists, who visit the palace along with the gardens, lake, and park grounds that spread over its royal 2000 acres.
Surrounding the central palace estate is a sophisticated town far removed from the manic pace of Paris. There, leisurely lunches, high culture, and a refined way of life are the norm. The locals are a mix of international bon vivants who are quick to distinguish that they are not from Paris- they are from Versailles- and seem to focus their daily efforts on the art of living well.
Cartis Classic Car Holidays for Versailles and Beyond
An ideal way to take in all that Versailles has to offer is to drive along its cobblestone roads while taking in the baroque exteriors of the opulent buildings, monuments, and gardens. Later you’ll want to drive through the French countryside while breathing in the fresh aristocratic air. Forget about your everyday mid-sized rental car from Avis, this type of journey needs something special where the car is so much more than mere transportation, it is an integral part of the experience. Cartis offers this luxury travel experience made even more indulgent with a clutch of classic and iconic cars from the 1950s and 60s.
Every car enthusiast has dreamed of a drive along a winding road in the countryside with the top down in a vintage sports car. Cartis offers this as part of a carefree luxury holiday with carefully crafted getaways around France. And these aren’t just any luxury cars, these are the finest sports cars and sedans in mint condition; many with a unique connection to film stars of the 50s and 60s.
The Austin Healy 100/6 is sure to turn heads as it purrs through France’s bucolic countryside and its medieval villages. In fact, this 1954 classic sports car won several road races in Europe and years later was captured in photos with Bridgett Bardot in St. Tropez. Other iconic sports cars from the golden era of Hollywood including Marilyn Monroe’s 1956 Ford Thunderbird, a replica of James Dean’s Porsche 356, Ralph Lauren’s 1961 Morgan, or the prestigious James Bond worthy 1961 Jaguar MK2 sedan.
As wonderful as this treasure trove of automobiles may be, they are created for more than just turning the heads of envious onlookers. They are made for driving and Cartis has put together a number of personally tested driving experiences with their exotic motorcars as the centerpiece. Trips include drives in the Chevreuse Valley past centuries-old castles, mystical forests, and beautiful medieval villages to the Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey and the splendid town of Rambouillet. These unforgettable car-centric holidays include themed getaways for lovers of the food and wine or the arts such as a scenic getaway to see floral rich landscapes that influenced France’s most heralded Impressionists painter, Claude Monet, while en route to Giverny.
What makes these carefree holidays so special is that everything is prearranged and taken care of making them 100% worry-free. The five-star hotels, fine dining experiences, and all of the guest’s special requests are handled in advance so there are no hassles along the way. Cartis even has its own custom-made GPS self-guided audio application with driving instructions as well as suggestions for stopping points along the way. The cars are meticulously maintained as well so there is no worry about any issues in that regard as well.
Dining in Versailles – Carmen’s Restaurant and Salon
The holidays arranged by Cartis include the best of everything from what to do, where you stay, and where you dine. The finest culinary experiences are essential for this type of opulent journey including creating special gastronomic memories. One such culinary offering is an afternoon lunch or dinner in Versailles at Carmen’s Restaurant and Salon. This quaint restaurant provides the quintessential French dining experience in an elegant setting of 26 tables with stiff white tablecloths in a relaxing ambiance of minimalist décor. Guests include groups of friends and locals as well romantic couples out for a special evening.
The chef and owner is Patrick Eyroi, an exceptionally talented and passionate culinary visionary, who creates memorable dishes from the finest local produce available. His culinary prowess is evident in each dish as he creates haute French cuisine from scratch using fresh, raw products that are purchased each day from regional and local markets. This is a must destination for the gourmand visiting Versailles and the opportunity to dine on his innovative dishes that change with the seasons. Menu items include his Scottish salmon with pink berries and espelette peppers as the entrée or the Atlantic cod with scallops and sweet potato. Beyond delicious, each dish is unforgettable.
Les Demoiselles à Versailles – Accommodations in Versailles
Versailles offers a number of accommodations where guests can feel like royalty. Les Demoiselles à Versailles offers a lovely high-end vacation rental a stone’s throw from the Palace of Versailles. From the rooftop two-bedroom apartment, guests are just across the street from the Royal Chapel and the Royal Opera. The well-appointed pied-à-terre is designed with the finest touches including oak herringbone parquet floors, decorative antique fireplaces, a large living room, and an open floorplan kitchen and, bathroom awash with Porcelanosa surfaces.
Beyond the accommodation, Les Demoiselles à Versailles is a company that shares its passion for Versailles and the art of living with their guests. From special themed holidays and bespoke VIP services, Les Demoiselles à Versailles creates unforgettable holidays. In addition to their luxurious respite in the heart of Versailles, the company offers managed villas and mansions with the highest level of architecture, style, and amenities in Paris, Cognac, South of France, Basque, Corsica, and other tony locations throughout France.
Royal Accommodations – Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle
For those who dream of living in the Versailles Palace, that wish is granted in Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle which is literally located within the palace grounds. This royal abode was built in 1681 as the home of the financial advisor of Louis XV and was his residence until the French Revolution provided him with a change of address. Fast forward to today and it is a 14-room uber-luxe boutique hotel that has hosted Europe’s political and cultural elite, from ambassadors to heads of state as well as a sprinkling of A-list celebrities.
The hotel has been meticulously restored to its former elegance with each room more gorgeous than the next adorned with bright floral interiors, ornate marble fireplaces, priceless paintings and antiques from the original home, and countless other special touches. Yet the hotel is also equipped for the modern traveler with the most up-to-date amenities and features. As if that wasn’t enough, the catering of its worldly guests doesn’t end there as each guest has their own dedicated butler.
In addition to their regal drawing rooms and common areas, the hotel offers a top-notch spa and stunning barouche-designed 50-foot swimming pool. The culinary offerings are fit for a king as well with haute dining experience courtesy of Alain Ducasse, the owner of 20 Michelin stars. Le Grand Control is managed by Airelles who offers some of the finest hotels in France in Saint-Tropez and Courchevel among other destinations.
The offering of majestic privileges does not end there. Guests staying at Le Grand Control are factually staying in the palace grounds with access to exclusive after-hours private guided tours of The Hall of Mirrors, the Orangery, and more. And forget those long walks, each guest has privileges of their own golf cart as well as access to boats for time out on the nearby Lake of the Swiss Guard.
Any well-traveled connoisseur has been to Paris on multiple occasions. On your next trip to this part of the world, a stay in Versailles will create new memories to be cherished long after the luggage has been unpacked at home. Adding a Cartis classic car experience to your trip to Versailles, or other iconic destinations in France, will make it a holiday of a lifetime.