French Heritage Society celebrates its 30th Anniversary by following in the footsteps of King Louis XIV through the southwest of France, from the city of Toulouse to the town of Saint Jean de Luz on the Atlantic coast where he travelled to meet, and then marry, his fiancée, Marie-Thérèse, Infante of Spain. On this journey, the King was accompanied by his faithful Company of Musketeers led by d'Artagnan along with the entire Royal Court.
We leave Paris for a day in the region of Toulouse. Princesse Marie-Sol de La Tour d'Auvergne, President Emeritus of French Heritage Society, welcomes us at her late husband's family château, the Château de Saint Paulet, for the inaugural lunch of our illustrious journey. In the evening, we are welcomed as honored guests at the beautiful Château de Saint Géry by Monsieur and Madame Jacques Bisseuil for an official candlelight dinner with regional officials and business leaders.
We enter the country from where the King's Musketeers hail with a morning drive to the city of Auch, the capital of the Gers region. We are received by city officials and are taken to the sumptuous cathedral for an exceptional private visit of the archbishop's treasures.
We attend the official Grant Award Ceremony on the Monumental Staircase of the city that has been newly restored with the help of French Heritage Society. Following the official ceremony, we leave Auch and drive to the nearby Château de Terraube where we are received for lunch by the Marquis and Marquise de Terraube.
By mid-afternoon, we drive to our hotel Les Prés d'Eugénie at Eugénie-les-Bains. In the evening, we have the rare pleasure of enjoying a gastronomic diner by three-star chef Michel Guérard in the main dining room of Les Prés d'Eugénie reserved exclusively for us. The chef will honor us with his presence for dinner.
Flight from Paris to Gascony in the morning. Arriving at Auch, we meet with The Royals Group on the main square of the city and attend the official Grant Award Ceremony on the Monumental Staircase. Following the ceremony, we have the honor of being received by the Prefect of the Region for an official luncheon in the historic salons of the Prefecture.
In the afternoon, we are shown around the city by the local officials, and we discover the treasures of the cathedral presented by the archbishop. We leave Auch to drive to our hotel La Bastide Gasconne at Barbotan-les-Thermes. In the evening, we have the pleasure of enjoying a gastronomic diner by three-star chef Michel Guérard in the main dining room of La Bastide Gasconne once again graciously reserved just for us.
In every long journey, there is a break in the progression of the procession to give the travellers some rest. The third day of our journey will give us time to appreciate the typical douceur de vivre of the Gers region.
We are welcomed by Madame Floriane de Ferron at the Château du Busca-Maniban for a visit followed by lunch and an armagnac tasting. An armagnac producer, Madame de Ferron will be pleased to lead a tasting of her esteemed product. For dinner, we are welcomed by Marquis and Marquise de Verthamon at their elegant Château d'Amou, one of the finest examples of classical 17th-century architecture in the region.
We are received for lunch at the armagnac producing Domaine d'Esperance by the owner, the Comtesse Claire de Montesquiou-Fezensac and at the Château de Poudenas by Comte and Comtesse de Nadaillac. For dinner, Baron and Baronne de La Croix de Ravignan receive us at the Château de Ravignan, another armagnac producing domain.
In the morning, we leave the Gers region and proceed to the Basque Country, along the Atlantic Coast to reach, like Louis XIV, the final destination of our journey: Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The Royal Wedding of King Louis XIV and Marie-Thérèse of Spain took place here in August 1660.
We meet at the celebrated Church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and are welcomed by the parish abbot for a private visit. In the church, we learn about of the Royal Wedding and experience the atmosphere of the ceremony while enjoying typical Basque songs, performed for us by a local choir.
We separate into small groups for luncheons in private villas around Saint-Jean-de-Luz where we are received by distinguished hosts from the region.
Leaving our hosts, we reunite to check-in at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz, built by Emperor Napoleon III for his wife Eugénie with a breathtaking view of the ocean and the jagged coastline along which the city developed.
In the evening, the Marquis d'Arcangues personally receives us at the Château d'Arcangues for the Farewell Dinner of our journey in the southwest of France: The Royal Bride's Dinner.
The Royals and The Ambassadors awake in the splendour of the Hôtel du Palais, and we enjoy a private brunch in the delightful dining room of the hotel looking over the ocean before retunring to Paris by plane.
The Ministers Program Begins
In the morning, we visit the Hermès Museum followed by lunch in Hermès' private dining room welcomed by members of the family.
In the afternoon we meet with the Royals and Ambassadors and, in small groups, visit private collections, townhouses, ateliers and other Parisian secrets unseen by the public.
In the evening, we are received for private dinners in elegant homes across Paris. In small groups, we have the pleasure of being welcomed to the homes of our Parisian friends and discovering beautiful interiors as well as the intimate art de recevoir in the capital.
In the late morning, we have the privilege of a private reception at the impressive City Hall of Paris. We visit the superb Salons of the Hôtel de Ville de Paris and enjoy lunch in the splendid Salle des Fêtes, the largest and most ornate room there, the replica of the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles. In this magnificent setting, we will be seated around twenty exceptional tables set by emblematic names of the Art de Vivre à la Française.
Enjoy some leisure time in the afternoon in order to relax and prepare for the Gala Dinner.
We culminate our 30th Anniversary celebration with a spectacular Gala Dinner and Dance at the legendary Royal Château de Fontainebleau. Transformed for the evening's festivities, the soul of the château will return to life as a royal home for welcoming, entertaining and utterly deguilding its guests. Horse-drawn carriages take us to the foot of perhaps the most famous staircase in all of France, the distinctive horse-shoe shaped masterpiece which forms an elegant pedestal in carved stone.
Once inside, the President of Fontainebleau, Monsieur Jean-François Hebert, escorts The Royals and King's Circle guests on a personal tour while the Ambassadors, Ministers and Noblemen visit the sovereign's Grands Appartements and the Galerie François 1er to discover the Château de Fontainebleau at its most festive.
We all enjoy cocktails in the superb Salle des Colonnes and will be dazzled by the astonishing setting of our Gala Dinner in the Galerie des Cerfs. Eric Frechon, three-star Michelin chef of Hôtel Le Bristol, will outdo himself with culinary creations to be served on plates specially designed by Bernardaud in honor of French Heritage society's 30th Anniversary. Dazzling fireworks reminiscent of the château's finest festivities will illuminate this unforgettable soirée which will conclude with jubliant dancing.
There is no finer way to experience this château, not as a monument, but as a home – monumental, indeed, but also filled with warmth, light and shared rejoicing in the company of French and American friends.
This extraordinary Gala will be one of those exceptional gatherings that affirm and celebrate the gift of Enduring Friendship. The motto so succinctly proclaimed by our historical campanions, the Kings' Musketeers, "All for One, and One for All" goes to the essence of French Heritage Society : thirty years of shared purpose, enduring firendship, and as always, unforgettable memories.
French Heritage Society is proud to commemorate its 30th Anniversary of preserving the French architectural heritage by celebrating France’s historic Gascony region in October 2012. Inspired by the theme of The Three Musketeers by the 19th-century French writer Alexandre Dumas, French Heritage Society will offer magnificent tours to Toulouse, Auch and Biarritz.
These trips will be of the finest quality for which French Heritage Society is renowned, offering a very private, elite behind-the-scenes appreciation of the heart of this unique region and its myriad cultural riches.
You will discover Gascony’s true “douceur de vivre” for which it is adored, its historic architecture and its renowned gastronomy. A succulent gourmet dinner in the refined setting of Les Prés d’Eugénie specially prepared by 3-star chef Michel Gérard will combine the best of the region’s local products and masterful culinary talent.
We return to Paris to join other American and French guests to culminate our 30th Anniversary celebrations with a spectacular Gala Dinner and Ball at the legendary royal Château de Fontainebleau just south of the city. An exquisite menu is being specially crafted for the occasion by 3-star Michelin chef Eric Frechon.
The evening will conclude with a flourish of jubilant dancing and a glittering fireworks display reminiscent of the château’s finest festivities.