des Arts de Vivre
The Art of Luxury Travel
Experience Art & History

Art & History
for all

Art and History tours
in France

As you walk down the street, you marvel at a hôtel particulier, side by side with a Hausmannian building and, a little further down, an Art Deco treasure.  Paris is beautiful.  As your Académie des Arts de Vivre (AAV) local guide explains the history, you begin to understand the true wealth of this breathtaking city.

Paris is like a present.  An enchanting box, beautifully wrapped.  The real gift, however, is on the inside, in Paris’ history, art, and culture, accessible only for those who take time to see past the trappings.

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A photo of one of our Paris expert guides

I have been working as a guide in Paris for 31 years, and therefore for more than 70 different travel agencies. Marie-Thérèse de Willermin struck me as not only the embodiment of courtesy, but as one of the most thorough, precise, God-is-in-the-details persons I have ever met. Eric is, in every respect, the worthy son of his mother. All I will add is : I wish that everybody, in every industry, would work like AAV does.

J-M T. Expert Guide

Experience Art & History
in France

AAV’s founder, an art historian, has carefully crafted unique tours and excursions which will help you experience France’s rich art and history firsthand.  You will be accompanied by historians and art experts who will give you an unparalleled understanding of the period in question.


Napoleon’s Paris
A very exclusive moment—take a private tour of Paris with one of Napoleon’s descendants, who will show you the monuments the great ruler left in the city and share excerpts of private documents written by the emperor.


Make a stained glass window in Chartres
The stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral are held to be one of the best-preserved and most complete set of medieval stained glass in the world.  What better place to take a private class to learn how to make your own stained glass window?


Fabulous French art at Chantilly
The Chateau of Chantilly has a first class collection of French paintings, second only to the Louvre.  AAV will arrange for you to meet the curator and tour this exquisite art collection with him.  A rare opportunity!


In the footsteps of Claude Monet
One of AAV art experts will take you on a private tour of Monet’s birthplace, his home and workshop in Giverny, museums where you can view his art, as well as places he painted frequently:  the Impressionists Island, Bougival, Gare Saint Lazare, and Rouen Cathedral, among others.


Take an inside look at the glassmaking process at the Baccarat Manufacture, one of the world’s most well-known and finest producers of crystal. Since the 18th century, Baccarat crystal has been used by the world’s royal families, aristocrats and celebrities and at the greatest tables.

Discover Art & History

How the Napoleons transformed Paris
See the traces that Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon II and Napoleon III left on Paris:  the Colonnades, the Vendôme Column, the two triumphal arches, and the Triumphal Way for military parades.  During your private tour with an expert local guide, you will learn about the history, architecture, art and city planning under these emperors. For more on Paris.

the place de l'étoile in Paris with the Arc de Triomphe

Normandy and WWII
Relive the World War II invasion of Normandy at legendary sites:  the American cemetery at Colleville, the Pointe du Hoc, Omaha and Utah Beaches, and Port Winston, the artificial harbor created by British forces, among others.  Your local expert will take you through the Allies’ plan for D-Day and explain all that was at stake.

German bunker on the French coast of Normandy

In the footsteps of the great modern masters
Discover the many artists inspired by the Riviera:  Picasso, Renoir, Chagall, Matisse, and Cézanne, among others.  A chauffeur will pick you up for a day trip to visit the workshops, villages and collections of these artists, as well as the celebrated Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence.

A Van Gogh painted in the south of France - Wheat field with cypresses

Chateaux de la Loire
Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Chambord.  Legendary names.  When you visit these Renaissance chateaux, your local guide will transform into a storyteller, sharing with you the stories behind the buildings and how that affected their architecture… and their beauty.  Your day trip will include other magical chateaux nearby.
For more on the Loire Valley.

The chateau of Chambord in the Loire Valley
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Art & History
sample itineraries

Art & History experience in Paris and Normandy – 8 days

  • Accommodation for 8 nights in luxury hotels in Paris and Normandy
  • Private driver in luxury vehicle throughout your stay
  • 3 full-days of experiences in Paris with a specialised private art historian guide
  • 3 full-days of experiences in Normandy with a specialised private art historian guide
  • 2 full-days at leisure
  • Our AAV Concierge will be available to help you organize your free time with private tours, restaurant reservations, spa treatments, and whatever else you wish to ensure you have a memorable time

Art & History experience in Paris – 4 days

  • Accommodation for 4 nights in luxury hotels in Paris
  • Private driver in luxury vehicle throughout your stay
  • 2 full-days and 2 half-days of experiences in Paris with a specialised private art historian guide
  • 2 half-days at leisure
  • Our AAV Concierge will be available to help you organize your free time with private tours, restaurant reservations, spa treatments, and whatever else you wish to ensure you have a memorable time

Discover the richness of
Art and History with AAV

Art and history have been closely intertwined in France, ever since the Paleolithic period when cavemen painted aurochs on the walls of the caves in Lascaux.  After William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, attacked England in 1066, the celebrated Battle of Hastings was recounted in the Bayeux Tapestry, 70 meters of embroidery in an almost comic-book style.
When Napoleon became emperor in 1804, his coronation became the subject of a monumental painting by David, the most famous painter of the  


time. The “Bal du moulin de la Galette”, painted by Renoir in 1876, depicts a typical Sunday afternoon in Montmartre at the time.  And the French playwriter and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol shows us the real France of the 1930s.
France’s history is dense, layer building upon layer, and can be daunting for international travellers.  Learning French history through its art, however, is delightful, especially with AAV’s guides who are experts at storytelling.  As they describe the work of art to you, they will make history come alive.

your trip

If you wish to schedule a time to speak about the trip you have in mind, please click on the “Tailor my trip” button and fill in our form. We will get back to you very shortly after reception of your request.

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