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Shady Ladies of Paris

An unforgettable experience.  5 days/4 nights Tour of Paris.

Let Shady Ladies Tours introduce you to the Shady Ladies of Paris—the courtesans and royal mistresses that ruled over the great city’s history and art, from Madame de Pompadour to the (real!) Lady of the Camellias.  Discover them with Professor Andrew Lear, world renowned scholar of sexuality and art, and founder of our company.

Dates:  July 25-29

Introduction

More than any other city in the world, Paris has a rich history of seductive women who rose to the top. From royal mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, to courtesans like the (real!) Lady of the Camellias, the Shady Ladies of Paris reigned over the so-called demi-monde, a glittering section of high society that—even if it had to glitter in the shade—was often the true center of power. Let Shady Ladies Tours introduce you to this intriguing side of Paris, from the Renaissance to the Belle Epoque. You will be guided by Professor Andrew Lear, world-renowned scholar of sexuality and art, and founder of our company. We’ll see famous sights (such as the Orsay Museum) from a whole new angle; we’ll discover hidden gems that reveal the lives of some of history’s most fascinating women; and we’ll dine in restaurants fit for a queen. Topped with an excursion to France’s most fascinating castle, as well as a charming visit to a perfume museum, this tour gives you Paris the way Madame de Pompadour herself would want you to see it. Discover the City of Light for the first time, or see it again from an entirely new perspective. Whether you make it a fun long weekend with friends, or as part of a longer trip to France, Shady Ladies of Paris will create memories to last a lifetime.


Paris Tour Highlights 

  •  Stay in a hotel where the Prince of Wales kept his love nest
  •  Eat in a restaurant famous for its private rooms, where gentlemen entertained their mistresses
  •  Take the ‘Shady Ladies’ tour of the Orsay Museum
  •  Visit the Castle of the Women, Chenonceau
  •  Plus lesser known sights, such as the fascinating new Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the tomb of the Lady of the Camellias
  •  Time to shop and explore Paris on your own

Hotel Accommodations

The Edouard VII is the only hotel right on the Avenue de l’Opéra. It is a modern boutique hotel set in a historic location, and just the right one for Shady Ladies Tours: it is in the building where Edward VII, as Prince of Wales, kept his Paris love nest.

Our tour begins at our hotel—where Queen Victoria’s ne’er-do- well son the Prince of Wales kept his love nest—right across from the Opéra, the center of high society in the 19th century. Meet Professor Lear and our Paris guide, and set off for a walking tour around Montmartre. This area, still famous for the Moulin Rouge, was the great neighborhood for courtesans and artists during the Impressionist revolution. We will see a host of sights and visit three: the Musée de la vie romantique, a hidden gem with momentos of the very racy set that gathered around lovers George Sand and Frédéric Chopin; the Monmartre cemetery, site of the grand tomb of Alphonsine Plessis, Paris’ most glorious courtesan (memorialized by her lover Alexandre Dumas as the Lady of the Camellias, by Verdi as La Traviata, and by Greta Garbo’s performance in Camille); and a chic new hotel in a renovated 1905 bordello, where we will end our tour with a drink at the harem-themed bar! We then proceed to our welcome dinner, at one of Paris’ most fascinating restaurants, a favorite of authors like Zola and Maupassant. Before settling in for our gourmet meal, we’ll visit the private rooms upstairs, where 19th -century gentlemen entertained their courtesan mistresses, who scratched their diamonds on the mirrors to see if they were real. You can still see the scratch marks today…

This morning we experience yet another of the tour’s highlights, Professor Lear’s Shady Ladies tour of the Musée D’Orsay. We’ll see how close the world of art was to the demi-monde, from Clesinger’s so-called “Women Bitten by a Serpent” to Cézanne’s self-mocking “New Olympia.” After our tour, we relax over lunch at the museum’s beautiful Beaux Arts dining room before setting off for one of Paris’ lesser known museums, the Arts Décoratifs, where we will see their special courtesan collection (including the bed of Valtesse de la Bigne, which those who have taken Professor Lear’s New York tours know of). We end our afternoon with a visit to Paris’ premiere perfume museum, where you learn about both the technique of making perfume and the history of beautiful perfume containers. The evening is free for you to explore Paris’ culinary scene on your own, but ask us for advice!

Today we take an excursion to the famously beautiful Loire Valley, where France’s kings built the world’s most spectacular castles. Our goal is Chenonceau, the best-preserved and most interesting of the valley’s castles. Known as “the castle of the women,” Chenonceau boasts a history involving Henri II’s mistress (and unofficial co-regent) Diane de Poitiers, his jealous wife Catherine de Médicis, her scandalous daughter and daughter-in-law, Queen Margot and Mary, Queen of Scots, among many others. During our visit, we have a lunch of local specialties (including the castle estate’s own wines) in its splendid Orangerie. At the end of the day, we return to Paris for another free evening.

This morning starts with another kind of palace: the mansion of La Païva, one of the most famous courtesans of Belle Epoque Paris. Born Esther Lachmann, to a Jewish family in Russia, she ended her days with two aristocratic titles and on the way built this spectacular jewel-box, famous in Paris for its yellow marble spiral staircase. The house—now the only remaining private mansion on the Champs Elysées—is today one of Paris’ most elegant private clubs, but we have arranged an exclusive visit for our tour. Then we’re off to Paris’ newest museum, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.  Set in the famously lavish Avenue Marcel studio, the museum offers rotating displays of the maître’s most famous collections. This afternoon we leave you free for your own explorations: amazing museums, shopping, patisseries, Paris has it all. Finally, in the evening we gather for a farewell dinner at one of the great boulevard cafés that were the center of 19th century Paris’ exciting nightlife.

Our tour concludes with breakfast today, but we are happy to help you with the rest of your travel plans. Please let us know about your return flight, especially if it is today, so we can help with your arrangements.

$500 Paris Tour Deposit
This tour is 5 days/4 nights long.  It start on the afternoon of Wednesday July 25 and ends on the morning of Sunday July 29. Full price for this tour is $2750 (double occupancy); the single supplement is $700.

To reserve your tour, please begin by emailing shadyladiestours@gmail.com or calling 646-201-4848 to confirm that space is still available. Assuming there is adequate space for you, please download the reservation form. After filling it out, please email a scanned copy to us, or send it to us by mail.

To reserve, you can pay the $500 deposit by clicking on the payment tab below. Alternatively, we can hold a place or places for you for one week if you would prefer to pay your deposit by check.
**Note that we offer a $200 discount for bookings before

April 30.**

The balance of the tour price is due May 25. To pay the balance and single supplement if applicable, please call 646-201-4848.

Please contact us at shadyladiestours@gmail.com or 646-201-4848 with any questions about the payment process or the tour.

Please pay tour deposit by clicking on the BOOK NOW button below.

$500 Paris Tour Deposit
This tour is 5 days/4 nights long.  It start on the afternoon of Wednesday July 25 and ends on the morning of Sunday July 29. Full price for this tour is $2750 (double occupancy); the single supplement is $700.

To reserve your tour, please begin by emailing shadyladiestours@gmail.com or calling 646-201-4848 to confirm that space is still available. Assuming there is adequate space for you, please download the reservation form. After filling it out, please email a scanned copy to us, or send it to us by mail.

To reserve, you can pay the $500 deposit by clicking on the payment tab below. Alternatively, we can hold a place or places for you for one week if you would prefer to pay your deposit by check.
**Note that we offer a $200 discount for bookings before April 30.**

The balance of the tour price is due May 25. To pay the balance and single supplement if applicable, please call 646-201-4848.

Please contact us at shadyladiestours@gmail.com or 646-201-4848 with any questions about the payment process or the tour.

Please pay tour deposit by clicking on the BOOK NOW button below.



What an amazing Paris Tour! It was so well curated, and I felt like we got to see the best of Paris and even saw a gorgeous castle in the Loire Valley!!!! Food was excellent, hotel was excellent. Professor Lear was so wonderful, he is knowledgeable and so personable, he was so much fun! My mom and I felt really taken care of, we learned so much culture and history (the fun kind lol), and it was simply amazing. Words can not describe how much fun we had. We saw Paris through 19th century eyes thanks to our wonderful guide, Prof Lear. The other tour guides were excellent as well, Davide and Veronique, and the tour at the Opera Garnier was spectacular. It put us in King Edward VII’s racy Paris, we stayed in his former building, and had dinner at a famous restaurant from 1776, saw a former bordello and got a private tour of a courtesan’s mansion on the Champs Elysees, got a private tour of the Orsay Museum, all without waiting in line—and all things we could not have arranged on our own, so it’s quite exclusive and very VIP. We felt scandalous, lol! Don’t hesitate, this was one of the best ways to see the very best of Paris Art and History.

-KittyKatNYC75



The Shady Ladies of Paris was fun and fabulous! It allowed me to get inside and up close to places and events I otherwise could not have. The tour was entertaining, the accommodations were swanky, the food was decadent, the group size was perfect, and the pace was just right – plenty to see and do with just enough down time in between. Professor Lear and the local guides were all extremely knowledgeable, happy to answer questions, and kept the information flowing. Highly recommend!

-Theresa

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