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Featuring the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp

8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)

5 nights in Paris, 1 night in Chantilly
5 days of racing at Longchamp, Chantilly, Saint-Cloud, and Fontainebleau
Training area visit in Chantilly
Special sightseeing in Paris, Chantilly, and Fontainebleau


Day 1
Mon  Sept 26
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from Paris or elsewhere.
Day 2
Tue  Sept 27
Arrive in Paris. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our accommodation in nearby Chantilly. We're spending the first night in Chantilly for a couple of reasons: racing is scheduled for tomorrow and we'd be coming out anyway, and overnighting will give us a chance to more fully experience the town. And Charles de Gaulle airport is halfway between Chantilly and central Paris, so we save some drive time both today and tomorrow.

The remainder of your arrival day is free for adjustment and your own activities, however we'll be organizing an excursion in the afternoon to the very worthwhile Museum of the Horse in centre-ville Chantilly, where we'll be accompanied by a private guide. We do recommend keeping active if it's your first day over from the U.S.

We'll also be arranging a no-host dinner at a local bistro popular with horse people, and we'll be making it an early night.

THE DOLCE: Our resting place in Chantilly is the Dolce Hotel, a modern property with several restaurants, an indoor and outdoor pool, a golf course, and extensive grounds. See for more details on the hotel. A buffet breakfast is included in the morning.

Day 3
Wed  Sept 28
Training on Les Aigles, Chantilly Up early and out for a visit to the gallops. Chantilly is the primary racehorse training area in France, fulfilling much the same function as Newmarket in England or The Curragh in Ireland. About a hundred trainers are headquartered here, working with a horse population of close to 3,000. Covering nearly a thousand acres, the training center has grass, sand, and artificial gallops in open areas and woods.

We'll see the entire area and visit the yards of two trainers that use different parts of it, and have brunch with one of them.

Mid-day we'll be back at the hotel. We've arranged for a late checkout, so there will be time for a fresh-up and a change of clothes if desired. We'll head over to the racecourse about 1PM.

Chantilly is certainly one of the world's most extraordinarily situated racetracks. Providing the backdrop for the course are the famous Grandes Ecuries (Grand Stables), built by the Prince de Conde for his horses in the 1700's, and currently housing the Horse Museum we visited yesterday. Behind the stretch turn is the Chateau. Sometimes, when the field is sweeping the far turn, it's hard to keep your eye on the horses.

Races were first held here in 1834, and it's the venue for the French Derby and Oaks in June. Today's card will be a modest one, but the atmosphere of the course will be sufficient reward. We'll have the equivalent to member's enclosure credentials, entitling us to most of the best parts of the grounds and viewing areas.

Following the races we'll continue on to central Paris and the Raphael Hotel. After check-in and weather permitting, we'll reconvene in the pleasant rooftop bar for a welcome-to-Paris cocktail hour. We'll also make a group dinner booking, open to those interested on a no-host basis.

The Rooftop Bar at the RaphaelTHE RAPHAEL: The Raphael has been our regular home in Paris since 2004. More than any of the other top city hotels, it has avoided the glass-and-marble international style and retained its ambiance of traditional Parisian luxury. The rooms are large, there is a fine restaurant, a cozy "English" bar, and a delightful rooftop garden which we can hope the weather will have permitted to remain open. The location is also excellent: out of the main tourist areas, but close to the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, the cafes of the Champs Elysees, and the good shopping on Avenue Victor Hugo. A buffet breakfast is included each morning of our stay. Please see for more on the hotel.

Day 4
Thur  Sept 29
The French fixture list does us a favor this year, scheduling racing at nearby Fontainebleau and giving us an excuse to spend a day exploring the famous Chateau and Forest and also get in a couple of hours with the horses. We'll leave the hotel around 9AM and be there in about an hour.

FontainebleauThe monarchs of France have long been drawn to Fontainebleau, going at least as far back as Louis VII in the 1100s. The vast forest and its hunting was the initial magnet, and down the years virtually every French king a reported 34 of them -- has spent time here. Many added to, or in some cases demolished and started afresh with, the royal lodging and Napoleon Bonaparte accurately referred to Fontainebleau as La Maison des Siecles (The House of Centuries). The present structure and gardens trace their beginnings to Francois I in the early 16th century. We'll have a good look inside and around it with our own private guide.

The 62,000-acre forest, now property of the national government, has an amazingly varied topography within its boundaries and is very popular with French tourists, particularly with weekend day-trippers from Paris. We'll do most of our viewing of it from the bus.

Bucolic Fontainebleau RacecourseWe won't forget the racing, although with the day's full schedule and the lack of any major events we'll make our visit to the course a relatively short one. Tucked deep into the forest, Fontainebleau is a racecourse of rural tranquility and true beauty.

Also in the area is the village of Barbizon, home of the associated "school" of realist painters such as Rousseau and Millet, and later in the 19th century an international community of writers. We'll have at least a brief stop, and maybe a longer one depending on how the day goes and how ready everyone is to get back to Paris.

Day 5
Fri  Sept 30
Here's a morning for a sleep-in or an otherwise lazy start to the day. We're going racing in the afternoon, but for those of you less than totally committed to the sport, this could be a day you might want to convert to being completely on your own. You can meet up with us later for the evening activities.

Paddock at Saint-CloudNot to discourage you from another day at the track. They're running today at Saint-Cloud, just across the Seine in the city's northern outskirts. This is Paris' second most important flat course after Longchamp and it hosts a number of big races throughout the year, including the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June and two major Group 1s for 2-year-olds in November. Today's card won't include any major racing, but if it tracks with recent years there should be at least a listed race or two and a couple of conditions/allowance-type races for 2-year-olds. Pretty Saint-Cloud has its own special atmosphere and a day of racing here is always pleasant. We'll have access to the comfortable Owners' Bar.

This evening, a special treat: we're invited for cocktails to a private residence in the historic and beautiful Place des Vosges in the Marais district of the city. This is a nice opportunity to be inside a Parisian home, and our hostess is a very gracious one. Afterwards we'll repair downstairs to the square itself for a no-host dinner.

Day 6
Sat  Oct 1
Arc Weekend begins at majestic Longchamp Racecourse, certainly one of the world's most beautiful urban racecourses. There's no question where you are when you're here the Eiffel Tower is prominent in the background, rising up above the surrounding trees of the Bois de Boulogne at about the place the ten-furlong pole should be.

Coming back a winner at LongchampWe'll be going to Longchamp today and tomorrow (leaving the hotel today at about 1PM), and if you went to Saint-Cloud yesterday and want a break from racing, you could take this day for your independent enjoyment of Paris. The advantage of attending today is that you'll be able to get a sense of Longchamp without the masses that will be here tomorrow for the Arc itself. It's a good day to learn your way around.

Both today and tomorrow we'll have a block of well-located reserved seats with excellent viewing of the racing, plus access to the best parts of the grounds.

The specific races carded on "Arc Saturday" vary from year to year, and the 2011 scheduling is not 100% finalized yet. Currently slated are four Group 2s the Chaudenay, Royallieu, Dollar, and Daniel Wildenstein for various age groups and at distances ranging from a mile to almost two miles. Some years one or two of the weekend's seven Group 1 events are moved to the Saturday, and that could still happen this season.

Following the racing today there is the traditional Arc-eve horses-in-training sale at Saint-Cloud Racecourse, and we'll return there to take it in. The sale has a relaxed, informal, and very French feel; it's fun and a good opportunity to interact with the local racing people. Those not interested in the sale can taxi straight back to the hotel from Longchamp.

Day 7
Sun  Oct 2
Arc Day, one of the truly outstanding racing experiences in the world.

The mile-and-a-half Arc de Triomphe is Europe's championship race. If a horse from anywhere has a claim to be European Horse of the Year, and is still operating on four good legs and two good lungs, he or she is expected to run in the Arc and prove it. And by long-standing custom, reinforced lately by a huge Middle Eastern money purse enhancement, almost all the top contenders do indeed show up.

Years ago John Randall and Tony Morris put it thusly: "if they do not, we can only assume they are not up to it." We use this quote every year we do an Arc trip and we've still not seen the thought expressed any better than that.

Longchamp, ParisEven aside from the racing, Arc Day is an extravaganza. The crowd is cosmopolitan and always heavily flavored by British and Irish over for the weekend. And if there's a prime challenger from an unusual source, such as Deep Impact from Japan or Shirocco from Germany in recent years, the partisanship gets entertainingly vocal. There's also the fashion spectacle. It's fall, and the start of a new season in Paris. The women dress accordingly, and it's a good opportunity to preview what we'll be seeing over the winter in the major cities around the world.

In the end, though, the centerpiece is always the race: when the usually large Arc field hits the top of the stretch and spreads wide for the two-furlong run-in, the crowd goes bananas and all else is just background.

Besides the Arc, there are six other Group 1 races currently scheduled to be on the card in 2011: the Abbaye, a straight five-furlong sprint; the Foret, Europe's only Group 1 at seven-eighths; the Lagardere and the Boussac, 2-year-old events for colts and fillies respectively; the increasingly important Prix de l'Opera for fillies and mares, and the two-and-a-half mile Cadran, besides the Gold Cup at Ascot the only other Group 1 in the world at the distance.

We'll have our same well-located block of reserved seats for race viewing, and access to the best enclosures to mingle with the racing people that have come from all over the world. It's a day at the races you won't forget.

Back at the Raphael this evening, we'll probably want to regather in the bar and have some last laughs together. Dinner will happen at some point.

Day 8
Mon  Oct 3
The organized itinerary ends after breakfast and checkout this morning. If you must go, bonne chance and travel safely. Transfer to your Paris airport is provided if you are leaving today or upon your departure if extending at the Raphael.


This trip will close on August 3, 2011. Payment in full and all necessary paperwork must be completed and received by us no later than this date to insure that you will be able to join the group.


The itinerary, by design, is short and busy. If you would like a bit more of a leisurely experience, we invite you to consider staying on in Paris after our organized trip concludes. The fall is many people’s favorite time of the year in Paris. The Raphael is convenient to everything and the concierges have all the keys to the city.

The hotel has promised to accommodate extensions as best they can, but the space is not blocked or guaranteed. This is the busiest time of the year in Paris, so please let us know as soon as possible if you want more time.


The itinerary includes:

  • Five(5) nights' lodging at the Raphael Hotel in Paris.
  • One(1) night's lodging at the Dolce Hotel in Chantilly.
  • Breakfast each morning as indicated.
  • Five(5) days of racing at Longchamp, Chantilly, Saint-Cloud, and Fontainebleau, including admission, transportation to and from the course, and race card. Restricted lounge access at Saint-Cloud, and reserved seating both days at Longchamp.
  • Visit to the Museum of the Horse in Chantilly with a private guide.
  • Training visit in Chantilly, including the gallops and visit to two trainers' yards..
  • Full day excursion to Fontainebleau, including racing and visit to the Chateau and gardens with a private guide.
  • Cocktail reception in a private residence on September 30.
  • Brunch on One(1) Day: In Chantilly September 28.
  • Transfer from Paris airport to the Dolce Hotel, Chantilly.
  • Transfer from Chantilly to the Raphael Hotel, Paris.
  • Transfer from Raphael Hotel to Paris airport at conclusion of trip.
  • Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
  • Welcome cocktails at the Raphael Hotel, Paris.
  • Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The itinerary does not include:
  • Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
  • Dinner on any night, or lunch on any day except where indicated above.
The Cost of the Trip does not include:
  • Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, and activities arranged through hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in at each hotel to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
  • Excess baggage charges. Please check intra-European air flight baggage allowances.
  • Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Alcoholic beverages, except for the "Welcome" cocktail hour.
  • Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
  • Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tip farm and stable personnel, our drivers, and the hotel staffs on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including any special assistance by hotel staff. Please note your principal tour escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
    $3,825 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers)
    $3,875 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to twelve travelers)
    $3,975 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers)

    $1,575 Single Supplement, regardless of group size.

    *Please note we have still not received final pricing for some elements of this trip, and the trip price is therefore subject to minor adjustment until we do.

    At the Raphael in Paris, singles will be accommodated in the same class of double rooms as the double-occupancy members of the group. Single travelers should give extra consideration to doubling up on this trip. The rooms at the Raphael are spacious.

    We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler's's decision whether or not to accept a roommate.

    Trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip departure to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States and the European Union. U.S. Dollar prices quoted herein are based on the following exchange rates:

      1 US $ = 1.32 Euro // 1 Euro = 0.758 US $


  • Additional Nights at The Raphael Hotel, Paris, and the Dolce Hotel in Chantilly, if available: will vary, depending on length of stay and specific nights chosen. Please inquire.


*This trip is designed for eight(8) to sixteen(16) people. Although we will make every effort to operate the trip, we reserve the right to cancel it if it has less than eight subscribers. Should we need to do so, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.

*You must have a valid passport to enter France.

*Please note the 2011 French racing schedule for non-major days has still not been officially finalized as of December 10, 2010. Changes to the provisional schedule, although unlikely, may result in our racing days being shifted from one day to another in the itinerary. If the day of racing scheduled for Chantilly is changed, we may substitute racing at another venue and/or shift the night's stay planned for Chantilly to our hotel in Paris. This may result in a small adjustment to the price of the trip. There will be a training hours visit to Chantilly in any event.

Quote by John Randall and Tony Morris from A Century of Champions,
published in 1999 by Partway Press Ltd., Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 1XE


Photos courtesy Kay Minton, Fontainebleau Tourism Office, ©, and
Arthur Frank © 2009.

Racing-Europe traveler Arthur Frank's book of racing photography,
with an introduction by Joe Drape, will be published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. in the spring of 2012.


View the itineraries for our other 2011 trips:

For May-June (England), click here      For June (Ireland), click here


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Rounding the Turn at Chantilly Bucolic Fontainebleau Racecourse