Paris has long been one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Travelers are drawn to the picturesque streets, architecture, food, shopping, and innumerable historic sights and museums—the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Pompidou Center among the bunch. This attraction to the City of Lights means crowds all around, long lines to enter sites, and jockeying for tables at top restaurants and to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisamost of all.
But there’s a way to find more exclusivity—for the right price, of course. There are a handful of people who hold the keys to open up a side of Paris that the masses don’t have access to or even know about in the first place.
The following experiences are among the most over-the-top that these gatekeepers offer. Book one or live them all. It’s only a matter of money.
After-Hours at the Louvre
Family Twist is a travel company that specializes in the most creative and unexpected experiences that you can imagine—think treasure hunts at historic sites, private concerts inside museums by top performers and more. The big standout is a tourist-free night at the Louvre—one of the world’s most visited museums, with unobstructed views of masterpieces such as the Venus in MiloEugene Delacroix’s
Liberty Leading the Peopleand the museum’s most famous work, the Mona Lisa. Family Twist plans several surprises during the visit such as a mini violin concert and an opera aria. Pricing depends on the customization of the experience.
Overnight Stay at the Dior Flagship Store
Hanging your hat for a night at Dior’s flagship boutique may just be the ultimate fashion fantasy played out in real life. Located on Avenue Montaigne and designed by the renowned architect Peter Marino, the more than 100,000-square-foot space features an opulent suite, gardens, a restaurant, galleries, and more. This is the chance to have it all for yourself.
Arranged by the tour company Sacrebleu Paris, the evening unfolds exactly how you want: that could mean starting with a bottle of vintage champagne in the suite before moving onto dinner—at the restaurant Monsieur Dior, or in another spot that grabs your eye. A band plays while you eat and continues to entertain while you shop through the night, a dedicated sales staff tending to you throughout. Retreat to bed or not. Either way, the following morning means a caviar themed breakfast and a before-hours tour of Dior’s galleries filled with famous fashions from the house’s past. Pricing starts at US$35,000 for two people.
Overnight Stay at the Palace of Versailles
Le Grande Controle is an intimate 18th century property on the grounds of Versailles. Most recently, it’s been converted into a 13-room jewel box of a hotel, Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Controle, that’s decorated in the gilded style synonymous with Louis XVI. Rent it out for the night, and you’ll live his life.
This lavish escape includes privately guided tours of Versailles when it’s closed to the public—you’ll even see Louis XIV and Queen Marie Antoinette’s apartments. The day is filled with picnics, boating and bike rides throughout the grounds while the evening is an extravaganza complete with a pomp and theatrics five-course dinner prepared by the decorated Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse. But the highlight of the buyout may be the opportunity you have to explore Versailles’ gardens at night without anyone else around you. Pricing from US$100,000 for up to 30 people. Tours can be booked through Andrew Steinberg at Modern Travel.
Dinner at Plaza Athenee With Celebrity Chef Jean Imbert
The Plaza Athenee, with its can’t miss red rose façade, is among Paris’ most legendary and in-demand hotels. Jean Imbert is the forward-thinking star chef who is behind two of its restaurants: the Michelin-starred Jean Imbert du Plaza Athenee and the buzzy Le Relais Plaza. He’ll personally create and cook dinner for you designed around your tastes and favorite ingredients, but he’ll also be your dining partner in his kitchen at the property so that you and anyone else in your group can share the meal he’s prepared. It’s a night that begins and ends with pours of rare champagnes and wines in the subterranean wine cellar that stores upwards of 35,000 bottles.
A Private Tour of Queen Marie Antoinette’s Jewels
Art and jewelry insider Anne Muraro has behind the scenes access to some of the city’s most exclusive high jewelry houses and artists workshops. Visiting the oldest jeweler in France, established in 1613 and still owned by the same family, may trump them all.
Tucked away on Rue de la Paix, this maison has subterranean archives that are closed to the public and home to a spectacular collection of jewels that formerly belonged to royalty including Queen Marie Antoinette. One of the several pieces to admire is a brooch that Napoleon Bonaparte III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, proudly donned. The grand finale is a champagne tete-a-tete with the 15th-generation family members who keep the house’s craftsmanship alive. Pricing from US$700.