A world of possibilities.

| 17 Jun 2021,

Do Europe like the King of Versailles

When Europe reopens its borders, why visit ‘The Old Continent’ like a tourist when you could enjoy it like someone who owns the place?

On the top right hand side of Spain lies one of Europe’s most captivating cities, a pulsating Catalonian jewel that mixes the modern with the old and then takes everyone off to the beach for a party. We can pull a few strings in Barcelona – such as arranging a private visit to Camp Nou, the 99,000-seat home stadium of the city’s beloved FC Barcelona football (sorry, soccer) team. This is the domain of Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and Antoine Griezmann, and if you bump into any of them, why not invite them along with you to a private evening at Gaudi’s iconic La Pedrera building – something else we can accommodate.

To an American visitor, the ready availability of so much history here can seem positively overwhelming. Rome looks like a film set: turn one way and you’re staring at the Colosseum. Adjust your gaze and the eyes fall on the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, or the Trevi Fountain, which actually was featured in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and a number of other movies.

Full disclosure – Rome’s busy. There is, of course, a reason it’s so darned popular (and it’s not just the ready availability of the latest Armani and Prada lines), but to have the best time you need someone who really knows the city who can escort you into unknown side-doors and bypass the crowds. Better still, how does an after-hours visit of the Sistine Chapel or Vatican Museum sound? GR8 can organize both – and we can also arrange for a private visit of Castel Gandolfo, the charming and peaceful summer residence of the Pope.

There’s nowhere on earth like Venice – apart from that amusingly kitsch tribute in Vegas – and now that the city is talking of a quieter, post-pandemic ‘reset’ there may briefly be a chance to see this watery corner of Italy without the crowds. Visit as a GR8 client, and we’ll arrange with our contacts for a private visit to the iconic St Mark’s Basilica. We’ll also pull a few strings to take you for a private wine experience at the world-famous – if tiny – Venissa vineyard on the Venetian island of Mazzorbo. At the vineyard’s very own restaurant – also called Venissa – we can arrange for a Michelin-starred dinner with Chiara Pavan, who was voted Best Female Chef in Italy in 2019.

Almost always to be found on Most Beautiful Capital Cities lists, Paris – the city of love/city of light – has much to offer the visiting weekender. Arranged in a series of clockwise ‘arrondissements’ spiraling out from the center, Paris is a European history lover’s delight – and that’s before you even start contemplating the incredible shopping, the gourmet food and the uniquely Parisian way of life. To say we have the keys to the city may be an overstatement, but GR8 certainly has some influence in Paris, and we can arrange for our guests to visit the Louvre after hours, or have a private visit to the sumptuous Palace of Versailles – followed up by a king’s dinner at Ore, the Alain Ducasse restaurant there which looks out onto the Royal Courtyard.

If you’d visited Bordeaux 20 years ago you’d have left with the impression of a rather grubby city, but today – thanks to some sparkling renovation work spearheaded by then-mayor (and former French Prime Minister) Alain Juppé – it’s now a beautiful, thriving place that enjoys some of the best sunshine in France. In 2017, the Lonely Planet guide named Bordeaux as the world’s most attractive city, and there’s many a happy hour to be lost wandering the narrow streets of its old town, dining in Gordon Ramsay’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant or taking in the air while exploring Bordeaux’s 4km of bustling river frontage. In the neighboring towns and villages, of course, are to be found some of the world’s most prestigious wine chateaux. We can arrange for private visits to the vineyards of Château d’Yquem, Château Rothschild and Château Lafitte.

“Should you interested in exploring any of these destinations the GR8 way, get in touch with us at experience@gr8-group.com

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