Royal Insider orchestrates gorgeous trips for discerning individual travelers and groups who want to savor the life-enriching experiences of being inside the cultures they visit, while knowing that their travels help to sustain and nourish those cultures.
We're considered one of the best companies of our kind in the world by people whose job it is to know.
Our mission has two sides: to afford our guests authentic, participatory experiences of the local culture and people; and to channel tourism resources to nurture that which is truly authentic in the culture.
We accomplish this by arranging for our guests to be hosted by the people who actually drive the culture.
It's an innovation that's been noticed.
We impeccably orchestrate every detail from arrival to departure (hotel, transport, restaurants, Royal Insider outings, etc.), yet leave you time to explore on your own ... so you're set free to revel in the wonder of it all.
We confess that we're not cheap. But travel with us and you'll learn what some of the world's most discerning travelers already know: the extraordinary value of Royal Insider experiences.
Champagne and Burgundy: two of the mythic food and wine regions of the world. And celebrity chef Susan Spicer of the fabled Bayona Restaurant in New Orleans is leading a group of no more than 16 guests there to live out a foodie's wildest dream. From Michelin- starred chefs to the owners of distinguished wine domaines, you'll be welcomed behind the scenes to dine, drink and visit with the prominent locals whose strivings sound out the heartbeat of the culture every day."
From her renowned Bayona Restaurant nestled in a créole cottage in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Susan Spicer has risen from one of Food & Wine's 1989 Best New Chefs to the James Beard 1993 Best Chef in the Southeast to features in every major culinary publication in America and numerous national television appearances, most recently on Bravo's popular series, Top Chef."
Along the way, she has earned not only the admiration, but the genuine affection of her colleagues in the rarefied ranks of celebrity chefs."
She is widely regarded as one of the cooking luminaries of New Orleans, and of the nation, as well. The New York Times
Susan's cuisine is a true journey around the world, blending soulful ingredients into exciting and original recipes. Daniel Boulud
A New Orleans treasure, and one of the most talented chefs at work in America today. Suzanne Goin"
With Lyons as our arrival point, we plunge in for a glorious taste of the rich life of the Beaujolais. From there, we set off for our once-in-a-lifetime, insider's experience of the Côte d'Or in the heart of Burgundy. Then it's off to the legendary Champagne region to savor the local culture with the help of some prominent insiders, there. The main body of our trip ends with transfers to Paris for departure ... or for an optional add-on stay with more insider experiences in store."
Your driver and luxury sedan will meet you at the Lyon airport for the pleasant ride to the village of Bagnols in the Beaujolais (which actually straddles Burgundy to the north and Rhône-Alpes to the south). There, you'll be welcomed into one of the most exquisite château hotels in France, the Château de Bagnols. Dating from the 13th century, the chateau features impressive towers, the original dry moat, honey-coloured stone known as pierres dorées and a dramatic entrance across a drawbridge."
Discovered by Lady Hamlyn in 1987 in a derelict state, she painstakingly restored the château with much energy and vision, to its former glory, revealing Renaissance wall and ceiling paintings created during the château's finest period when nearby Lyon was one of Europe's great Renaissance cities."
The restoration of the rooms has revealed the most remarkable Renaissance and 18th century wall and ceiling frescoes. The rooms, all with private bathrooms, many of which are located in the towers and therefore circular with arrow slit windows, have been furnished with exceptional care, using soft velvets and shimmering silks and complemented by rare and beautiful antiques. They also possess the very latest telecommunications systems."
After arrival and before our pre-dinner welcome event, it's time to relax and recover from our journey in the exquisite surroundings of the Château de Bagnols."
Matthieu Fontaine joined Château de Bagnols in March 2003 as the Executive Chef of its gastronomic restaurant, the Salles des Gardes (Michelin 1-star). His refined cuisine is diverse and balanced and always in search of perfection—an authentic regional cuisine, inspired by the treasures from local markets, which vary from season to season. At our welcome event, Matthieu will share with us the finest seasonal delicacies of the region and demonstrate how he uses them to create pure culinary joy."
...And for dinner, Matthieu is creating a masterpiece of gastronomic inspiration just for us that, weather-permitting, will be served in the garden of the Château."
Clive Coates, MW (Master of Wine) is one of the world's leading wine experts and author of several books that are widely considered the classic works on their respective subjects. His latest book, THE WINES OF BURGUNDY, was published in 2008. Like many wine authorities, Clive is a knowledgeable gastronome, as well, and he will be our host for a day outing to explore the food and wine from the Beaujolais through southern Burgundy up to Beaune in the Côte d'Or—a trip right through Clive's neighborhood!"
Through Clive's knowing eyes, we'll experience the culture of the region by way of its food & wine. In Brouilly, we'll be welcomed inside an intriguing winery to visit with the owner and sample some of the Beaujolais' finest. Later, up in the Maconnais, another of the region's best winemakers will reveal the subtle glories of the famed Pouilly-Fuissé."
Mid-day is the time for the sights, smells and tastes of southern Burgundy's wonderful foodie culture. After a stop to collect an artisanal delicacy or two, we'll be welcomed inside the beautiful home of one of Clive's friends to savor lunch the way the locals do it."
After saying goodbye to Clive, we'll head to the perfect, charming hamlet of la Bussière-sur-Ouche (on the river Ouche) to check into the gorgeous Abbaye de la Bussière—our home for the next four nights. Set in 15 acres of beautiful parkland, the Abbaye’s origins are deeply rooted in the Cistercian Order’s long tradition of humility, peace and hospitality."
Transformed into a world-class hotel in 2005, l'Abbaye de la Bussière retains the serenity and architectural grace of this ancient abbey, tastefully blended with luxurious appointments, discreet but completely modern technology and warm, attentive personal service."
Each of l'Abbaye's 16 rooms and suites welcomes you home with embracing comfort, flawless taste, modern amenities and stunning views of the surrounding parkland."
The extraordinary level of personal hospitality at l'Abbaye de la Bussière can be felt in frequent encounters with the delightful owners, Clive and Tanith Cummings (and their equally charming children)."
The village of Gevrey-Chambertin produces some of Burgundy's most luscious and intense wines. And one of the area's outstanding vintners will welcome us into his winery home, tonight."
There, after a cellar tasting of the domaine's wines, we'll flow freely between beautiful, rustic kitchen and dining room visiting with our brilliant local home chef as she prepares an authentic Burgundian harvest feast just for us, just like she prepares for the friends who all pitch in to harvest the grapes in the fall."
Next morning, after breakfast at l'Abbaye and perhaps a stroll around the grounds..."
...we'll visit the goats! At a quaint, countryside chevrerie, that is, where we'll experience the cheesemaking process from start to finish... Then sample these superb, artisanal cheeses right at their source."
Vosne-Romanée. The name of this village, alone, leaves a wine connoisseur slightly breathless in awe. To a true lover of wine, the surrounding vineyards are hallowed ground; their names among the most revered in the oenological world: La Tâche, La Romanée, Romanée-Conti."
Here, one of Vosne-Romanée's most distinguished vintners will welcome us into his family home and cellars. After a tasting of his legendary wines, Chef Susan will practice her culinary artistry alongside local gastronome and wine expert, Russell Hone. As we visit with our host, we'll keep an eye on our chefs while they prepare lunch ... and those who'd like to can even lend a hand!"
In France, amazing food can sometimes await behind a quaint façade. To enter this family-run auberge in a tiny village up the hill from Nuits-Saint-Georges is to step into the innermost heart of Burgundy. Tonight, we'll dine on superb, classic preparations of dishes that nourish the local soul every day."
This morning it's off to the market! ...with one of the most beloved chefs in the beautiful town of Beaune as our host. Fabienne Escoffier is the acclaimed chef of Ma Cuisine, the favorite restaurant of wine producers and wine lovers, alike, and winner of the 2005 nationwide Grand Prix de la Presse du Vin en Restauration (Restaurants and Wine Press Award). Fabienne will lead us to her favorite purveyors of local delicacies as we gather provisions for this evening's dinner."
With its cobblestone streets and Burgundian tile roofs, the ancient, walled town of Beaune is considered by many to be the heart of Burgundy."
What better way to experience the insider's Beaune than with some prominent locals to host us. With no more than 4 of us to a host, we'll set off in different directions to explore behind-the-scenes. After each sub-group stops for lunch (on its own) at its own choice of local favorite spots, we'll gather together again at a historic private home, where we'll be welcomed inside by the owners for a visit."
'A Becky Wasserman Selection.' These words on a bottle of Burgundy are an unmistakable signal of quality. Her company is the finest exporter of small domaine Burgundies, representing such stellar producers as Comte Liger-Belair. Husband Russell Hone is also a top wine expert, and tonight, Becky and Russell will welcome us into their home, a gorgeous stone farmhouse in a small village outside of Beaune, for an evening that starts out with a horizontal tasting of beautiful Burgundies from every major area."
Then, working with this morning's market harvest of artisanal ingredients, our celebrity Chef Susan will go toque-to-toque with Beaune's beloved Chef Fabienne in a (warm & friendly) chef showdown, putting their own creative signatures on some classic Burgundian preparations."
Occupied by the same family since its beginnings as a fortress around 1200 AD, the Château de Commarin has evolved over the centuries. Each age has brought its imprint, while respecting the contributions of previous generations. Today, the Château presides over its tiny hamlet in the Burgundian hills in stately, elegant repose—the fittingly grand manor of a family descended from the first line of the Dukes of Burgundy."
Today, we'll be received on a hosted visit of the Château and its surrounding parkland to gain an insider's glimpse of this rareified way of life—its daily rhythms and its joys, its privileges and its challenges."
Hot air balloons are amazing. Just the sight of them rising lifts your spirits up into the sky. After lunch in a charming café nearby, we'll do more than watch them rising ... we'll take off into the skies!"
Floating serenely along, we'll breathe in the sweep of this idyllic landscape dotted with ancient chateaux, villages and hamlets."
This evening, we'll say farewell to l'Abbaye de la Bussière in grand, Michelin-starred style with a gastronomic feast created for us by the chef. Before dinner, we'll be hosted by chef and by owners Clive and Tanith Cummings for a taste of local delicacies and wines."
As we leave Burgundy and enter the Champagne region, our first stop is the medieval town of Troyes. A brief stroll through the atmospheric old town center leads us to..."
...Troyes' beautiful, bustling and gloriously aromatic covered market, where Chef Susan will lead us on a hunt for super-fresh provisions to prepare a lunch of some local favorites."
Then it's off to a special private setting in Troyes, where Chef Susan will work her magic, again, this time with artisanal ingredients from the Champagne region."
After lunch, we have the honor of being received personally by world-champion chocolatier Pascal Caffet in his chocolate factory/ headquarters on the outskirts of town. Hosting us for an insider's look at his fascinating operation, the renowned master of chocolate will then demonstrate, just for us, the creation of a chocolate sculpture like those for which he has received so many awards."
Our home in Champagne is the exquisite Château Les Crayères, which rests in the verdant embrace of its own private park, yet is only minutes away from the center of Reims and its famous cathedral."
Decorated with refined care and attention to detail in the purest French classical style, the 20 spacious rooms and suites in the Château Les Crayères offer exceptional luxury, comfort, peace and intimacy. Here, traditional tastes passed down from the French nobility hum in perfect harmony with all the conveniences of modern technology."
For the culminating two nights of our trip, we'll rest in the warm, embracing elegance of the renowned Château Les Crayères."
Tonight, we'll be welcomed into the heart of Champagne by one of the region's distinguished winemakers, who has graciously agreed to host us in his home for an authentic Champenois dinner ... with gorgeous Champagnes, of course!"
Today, we'll be hosted by a local slow-foodie on an outing to explore the agricultural and oenological riches of the region. Slow Food is an international movement to promote the benefits of local, artisan-grown foods prepared in harmony with the indigenous culture. Our host will help us to understand the status of the movement in the Champagne region as we visit one of those artisanal producers & feast on a lunch of the purest locally-grown foods prepared à la Champenoise."
After lunch, we'll be received by one of the region's top grower-producers—also a slow food proponent—to revel in the effervescent charms of his domaine's Champagne."
And there's no more fitting way to celebrate the culmination of our week-long adventure than a grand, Champagne tasting dinner at Château Les Crayères. The evening begins with a presentation and tasting of personally-produced, terroir-driven grower Champagnes."
After which we will be guests and audience to one of the rising star chefs in all of France, Philippe Mille, as he unveils, course by course, a masterpiece of contemporary French cuisine of the same virtuosity that earned him the bronze medal in the enormously prestigious global competition, the Bocuse d'Or."
One last breakfast at the Château, and we'll say our goodbyes.
Farewell to Burgundy & Champagne! "
Chauffeured sedans will transport each individual guest party to Paris, either to the airport of their choice or to our hotel for an optional post-itinerary stay."
Please see Inclusions & Booking for details, booking policies & precise pricing based on room selections."