The stunning gardens of Sussex & Ile de France
Come tromp through flower-filled French and English fields and gardens with our very own experts and connoisseurs during this once-in-a-lifetime tour!
Tuesday May 14th arrive Paris
Optional spa visits for a jet-lag massage are available for booking.
Meet at Hotel Josephine’s bar for drinks at 7pm
8pm Dinner Josephine Chez Dummonet a classic traditional French Bistro. Their specialty is a Grand Marnier Souffle. Oh la la!
Wednesday May 15
After our breakfast of croissants & café creme at our respective hotels, we’ll take part in a floral workshop by a well-known French wedding & event florist where we’ll learn French floral tying techniques as well as new design trends.
Then we’ll head out to lunch on a little island in the Bois de Bologne that we reach by boat.
After our lunch we’ll tour the stunning Bagatelle gardens with a Rosarian expert and the head florist for the American Ambassador in France.
During the tour we’ll have the honor to visit the petite Chateau Bagatelle, normally not open to the public that was built during Marie Antoinette’s time by Louis XVI’s brother as a pleasure palace for parties. The chateau was visited frequently by the Queen.
Time for rest and relaxation back at your hotel.
Dinner tonight will be at a typical French wine bar, which is at once raucously fun and educational. Tonight we’ll learn about natural wine and why you can drink more of it and avoid a hangover!
Thursday May 16
This morning we’ll head out to Giverny to enjoy a private tour and revel in Monet’s glorious flower and water gardens in all of their late spring splendor.
Lunch at an historic restaurant in Giverny Village serving bistro-style French food. Weather permitting we’ll sit outside in the restaurant’s lovely garden seen above.
This afternoon back in Paris we’ll walk the left bank and the Marais to visit some our most favorite and talented florists in the City of Light taking time to meet briefly with a few to inspect their techniques and styles.
Stop for afternoon tea and at Hemingways’s favorite haunt which lies around the corner from one of his first apartments, the setting for ‘A Moveable Feast’.
Head back to your hotel for rest and relaxation.
For dinner tonight we’ll head up into the hills of Montmartre to feast on an exquisite Modern French meal created by one of the city’s more innovative chefs.
After our repas, we’ll take a short stroll where we’ll stop at a special spot to sip our digestif as we watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle.
Friday May 17
Wake up and check out of our respective hotels. Train to Ashford, UK on the Eurostar. Enjoy a light picnic on the train.
Arrive mid-day to Hastings & Rye, check into our hotels.
4pm Arrive to Fairlight Hall after checking-in to our hotels. At Fairlight we’ll be treated to a proper English cream tea in their gardens followed by a garden tour with the head gardener. We’ll get a sneak peek at the Fairlight charity garden plant sale which occurs the next morning and receives visitors of 10,000 plus from all over England.
5:30 Cocktail demonstration and workshop in the conservatory by yours truly, (Doni Belau founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris and author of Paris Cocktails) on how to use florals in your cocktail concoctions.
7pm Dinner at Fairlight served with true English style in the Victorian Neo-Gothic Mansion. After digestifs, head back to your hotel for a well deserved rest!
Saturday May 18
In the morning we’ll travel to a much beloved garden, Great Dixter, which is famous for its meadows and its modern take on English Gardening. The half timbered house here dates back nearly 500 years. Prepare for your mind to be blown! We’ll take a tour with head gardener Fergus Garrett at 11am.
Then we’ll take part in a private tour of the historic house leaving time to spend in their lovely gift shop before departing.
Around lunch-time we’ll head over to Sissinghurst where we’ll enjoy lunch on the grounds with a picnic or in their tea room depending on weather.
This afternoon we’ll tour the magnificent Sissinghurst probably the most famous garden in the UK plus we’ll visit the gatehouse and writing room of the late Vita-Sackville West, the English writer, resident and designer with her late husband Lord Harold Nicholsen.
Later this afternoon after being inspired by stunning and exceptional gardens we’ll head over to Rye for a bit of shopping or back to your hotel for rest and relaxation.
Meet in Rye this evening for a typical English pub meal at what is one of the nicest pubs in England dating back to the 15th century.
Sunday May 19th
Full English Breakfast at your hotel or cottage
This morning we’ll tour Wakehurst Place with its 500 acres of gardens, lawns and fields as well as their world famous Millennium Seed Bank. This exceptional garden is managed by the seminal Kew Garden Trust.
This afternoon we’ll stop at Grayvtye Manor where we’ll delight our tastebuds with a spectacular Michelin star lunch followed by a leisurely tour.
There will be ample time for rest and relaxation back at your hotel.Tonight we’ll have the classic English Fish and Chips meal seaside in Hastings.
Monday May 20th
We’ll awake today and around 10 we’ll have a morning demonstration at the Fairlight garden focusing on sowing seeds and spring garden prep.
Lunch at the farm store Great Park Farm Nursery in Battle. We’ll leave time for those who wish to tour the historic Battle Museum.
The town of Battle was the setting for the Battle of Hastings in 1066 where the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed in the famous fight pictured in the Bayeux tapestry.
For those who wish we’ll visit Alex McArthurs eponymous Antiques Shop at the 14th century monastery in Rye pictured above. This glorious shop has been profiled in the Financial Times.
This afternoon we’ll visit a local sparkling wine grower and have a rosé, a blanc de blanc and blanc de noirs wine tasting.
Tonight enjoy a special last dinner together which shall remain a secret…..some things are better left as a surprise!
Tuesday May 21st
Depart for London and a flight back home or stay a bit longer in the UK and attend the Chelsea Flower Show which begins today.
** Itinerary is subject to change slightly based on weather or availability.