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ARC WEEK IN FRANCE
8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)
OCTOBER 1 to OCTOBER 8, 2018
3 nights in Paris, 3 nights in Chantilly
4 days of racing at Longchamp, Saint-Cloud, and Compiegne
Training area visit in Chantilly
The Arc-eve Sale of Horses in Training
Other special activities
|Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from France or elsewhere.
Arrive in Paris or Chantilly. If you're flying in today you'll be met at the airport and transferred to our accommodation in Chantilly. We're here for three nights to give us time for a more extended experience of the training center and the town's other major sights, and also because racing is scheduled in nearby Compiegne on Thursday. Your transfer, if from Charles de Gaulle airport, should take about 35 minutes.
The remainder of your arrival day is free for adjustment and your own activities. We always advise staying active and there is plenty to see and do near the hotel. Around about 5:30PM we'll rendezvous in the hotel bar for a couple of rounds -- to get acquainted and organized for the week ahead. Following, if you are wanting company, we'll have a no-host dinner at a local bistro popular with horse people. We'll do our best to make it an early night.
THE AUBERGE DU JEU DE PAUME: Opening in the fall of 2012 (we were among its first guests) the Jeu de Paume has well lived up to its promise of a fine property in the heart of the centre-ville. Within close walking distance of all the town's principal attractions and services, the hotel occupies a 250-year-old building originally constructed for the "palm" game, an indoor ball-and-net precursor to tennis that was much enjoyed by the French nobility.
In addition to the very comfortable guest rooms, the hotel features two on-site restaurants and a bar, an indoor pool and fitness center, and a spa facility. Learn more at the hotel website www.aubergedujeudepaumechantilly.fr. A buffet breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
Up early this morning and out for a long look at the racehorse training center of France. Similar to Newmarket in England or The Curragh in Ireland, Chantilly is the principal headquarters for French trainers. Over a hundred, including almost all the major players, are situated here and they work with more than 3,000 horses at last count. The center covers nearly a thousand acres and includes grass, sand, and artificial gallops in open areas and woods.
We'll go out with an Arc-winning trainer to see all the different parts of it, and follow up with a nice brunch at his yard.
Early afternoon we'll be back at the hotel. You'll then have the rest of the day to yourself to relax or to explore Chantilly on your own. This would be the perfect time to visit the very worthwhile Museum of the Horse and/or the beautiful Chateau and its gardens. We'll supply admission tickets for all.
Chantilly Racecourse is also just around the corner. Unfortunately there's no racing scheduled here this week, but a stroll over will be rewarded with a visual experience of the beautiful track.
Home to the French Derby and Oaks, and in action since 1834, this is certainly one of the world's most extraordinarily situated courses. Backdropping it are the famous Grands Ecuries (Grand Stables), built by the Prince de Conde for his horses in the 1700's, and currently housing the Horse Museum – you'll recognize the view when you see it. Behind the stretch turn is the Chateau. Sometimes, when the field sweeps the far turn here, it's hard to keep your eye on the race itself.
We have no specific plans for the evening. You might want to try the fine-dining restaurant in the hotel, something more casual in the town, or just relax with room service. We'll organize a group dinner if the demand is there.
In 2018 we again have good luck with the fixture list on this pre-Arc Thursday. Racing is scheduled at the charming course in Compiegne, a place not far from Chantilly and rich with history.
Now a busy small city, Compiegne has a past that stretches across more than a thousand years. Charles the Bald built the first palace in the 800s, and also supported an abbey around which the town gradually grew. In 1430 Joan of Arc was captured here by the Burgundians and the English. For centuries French kings visited Compiegne and Louis XV ordered a massive reconstruction of the palace in the 1700s to get it up to near-parity with the comfort and grandeur of Versailles and Fontainebleau.
In recent times it's most famous for the signing of the armistice ending World War I, in the forest just to the east of town. The French Marshal Foch received the German delegation in a railway car, and later a landscaped memorial including the rail car was built on the spot. When Germany defeated France in 1940, Hitler insisted that the peace be signed in the same place. The original car was taken to Berlin and burned, but after World War II a replica was brought and the memorial reestablished.
Today the "Armistice Clearing" includes a small museum and provides a thought-provoking experience. It will be our one definite stop on the way to the racecourse. There's quite a bit else to see in Compiegne – including the palace itself and the Second Empire Museum within, and another fascinating museum full of historical miniature figurines. As the town center is only a kilometer or so from the racecourse, we'll do our best to accommodate those for whom the racing might be less than an all-consuming priority.
Compiegne Racecourse is peaceful and lovely, and though there will be no major events on tap today it's a nice opportunity to experience the flavor of casual French country racing. We'll lunch at the course.
After check-out from the Jeu de Paume this morning we'll head into Paris and our lodging at the Raphael Hotel, not far from the actual Arc de Triomphe, in the leafy 16th Arrondissement.
They'll be off and running this afternoon at Saint-Cloud, just across the Seine in the city's northern near-suburbs. This is Paris' second most important flat course after Longchamp and it hosts a number of major events throughout the year, including the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June and two big Group 1s for 2-year-olds in November.
This pre-Arc Friday card usually includes a Listed race or two and a pair of interesting conditions/allowance-type events for 2-year-olds, many of them promising prospects for next year. The program will also feature some large-purse Group-level races for pure-bred Arabians.
A racing day at pretty Saint-Cloud is always a pleasure. The course has its own unique ambiance and the normallly light crowd on this weekday allows us to enjoy it peacefully. We'll have access to the comfortable Owners' Bar.
Nothing concrete is on for tonight, but if you've never done it before we might suggest a dinner cruise on the Seine. Like a gondola ride in Venice or a balloon over the Serengeti, an evening boat ride in Paris is one of those cliches that delivers genuine magic.
THE RAPHAEL: We've made our Paris home at the Raphael Hotel since 2004 and never been disappointed. Many of our travelers have returned to it on subsequent independent trips to Paris. We particularly appreciate it because, more than any of the other top city hotels, it has avoided the glass-and-marble international style and retained its atmosphere of traditional Parisian luxury. The rooms are spacious, there's a fine restaurant, a cozy "English" bar that's one of the most famous in the city, and of course the 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 www.raphael-hotel.com for details on the hotel.
Arc Weekend starts today at the newly renovated Longchamp Racecourse, now officially re-christened ParisLongchamp. As is usual with new venues which replace venerated old ones, ParisLongchamp and its innovative architecture will probably take a bit of getting used to -- but the views across the Bois de Boulogne to the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin, the tree-filled paddock, and the majestic racing course itself will be in place as always.
This is the first of two days for us at Longchamp (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 the place without the masses that will be here tomorrow for the Arc itself. It's a good day to learn your way around, and the racing will be of a very high quality.
The specific races carded on "Arc Saturday" vary from year to year, and the 2018 scheduling is not finalized as yet. In some years the authorities card one or two of the weekend's seven Group 1 events on the Saturday, and the lineup is always fleshed out by a quartet of Group 2s -- the Chaudenay, Royallieu, Dollar, and Daniel Wildenstein – for various age groups and at distances ranging from a mile to almost two miles.
France-Galop is still developing its specific race-day packages for Arc Weekend as we go to press. But at a minimum, both today and tomorrow we plan to have a block of well-located reserved seats with excellent viewing of the racing, plus access to the best parts of the grounds. For those wanting to separately book raceday hospitality at one of the several restaurants, we can steer you in the right directions once the details become available.
Following the racing today is the Arc-eve horses-in-training sale. With the Arc having been run at Chantilly the past two years the sale has taken place out there. But the traditional venue is at Saint-Cloud Racecourse and we expect it to return there in 2018.
This sale has a relaxed, informal, and very French feel and it's a good opportunity to interact with the local racing people. The offerings usually include horses entered for tomorrow's big races (including the Arc itself), giving the buyers the chance to see their colors represented immediately at the highest level. Those not interested in the sale can taxi straight back to the hotel from Longchamp.
Arc Day, one of the truly great racing experiences.
When everything is taken into account, we consider the Arc de Triomphe to be the greatest flat race in the world. It wins in a photo from the Derby at Epsom and its Kentucky and Irish counterparts, the Gold Cup at Ascot, and the Melbourne Cup.
For the past seventy or so years, the mile-and-a-half Arc has been Europe's definitive race, and despite the recent proliferation of competing fall championships it retains that place of eminence. If a horse from anywhere aspires to the title of European Horse of the Year, and is operating on four good legs and two good lungs, he or she is expected to run in the Arc and prove it. And by custom, reinforced lately by a huge Middle Eastern money purse enhancement, almost all the top contenders do indeed enter the gate.
The Arc's particularities - the usually large and potentially congested field, the often testing ground – emphasize the severity of the challenge. Many a pretender has been humbled in it, but the very best usually find a way to win: Ribot, Sea-Bird, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave, Zarkava, and Sea the Stars are testament to that.
Years ago John Randall and Tony Morris put it this way: "The best horses have to accept that ultimate challenge. If they are fit and well and 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 yet to see it said better.
Arc Day is a spectacle even apart from the racing. The crowd is probably the most cosmopolitan of any in the world: The Qatar sponsorship insures good representation from the Middle East, there always is large contingent of English and Irish over for the weekend, and in recent years competitive challenges from Japan, Germany, and other racing centers have added more colors to the mix. For the ladies there's also the fashion angle: It's fall and it's Paris -- the start of a new season and a first look at what you'll see being worn in big cities around the world.
In the end, though, the highlight is always the race, and the moment when the Arc field hits the top of the stretch and the wheat starts separating from the chaff. There's not a more exciting thirty seconds in the sport than the thirty after that.
Besides the Arc, there are six other Group 1 races on the weekend: 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 important Prix de l'Opera for fillies and mares over ten furlongs, 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. Some years all of these are run on the Sunday, and on occasion one or more are carded on the Saturday. Either way it's still the closest thing France has to a Breeders' Cup.
We'll have our same well-located block of reserved seats for viewing today, 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, we'll probably want to re-gather for a no-host final-night-together dinner and some last laughs. Our habit in recent years has been to take the 15-minute walk to Brasserie Le Stella on Avenue Victor Hugo, and it's not let us down yet.
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 July 20, 2018. 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.
COME EARLY, STAY LATE:
The itinerary, by design, is full and busy. If you would like a more leisurely experience, we invite you to consider coming to Chantilly earlier and/or staying on in Paris after our trip concludes.
If you're flying over just for our trip, an extra night in Chantilly might make your adjjsutment a bit easier and give you more time for the Chateau and its grounds, the Horse Museum, and an extended viewing of the racecourse. As to Paris, the fall is many people's favorite time of year in the city. The Raphael Hotel is convenient to everything and the concierges have all the keys to the city.
Our hotels have 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 in either place.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
- Three(3) nights' lodging at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly.
- Three(3) nights' lodging at the Raphael Hotel in Paris.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Brunch on One(1) Day: In Chantilly October 3.
- Lunch on One(1) Day: At Compiegne Raceourse on October 4.
- Four(4) escorted days of racing at Longchamp, Saint-Cloud, and Compiegne, including admission, transportation to and from the course, and race card. Lunch seating at Compiegne, restricted lounge access at Saint-Cloud, and reserved seating both days at Longchamp.
- Training visit in Chantilly, including the gallops and visit to a trainer's yard.
- Admission tickets for the Chateau and Horse Museum in Chantilly.
- Excursion to the World War I Armistice Clearing, and assistance with other independent sightseeing in Compiegne.
- Visit to the Arc-eve horses-in-training sale.
- Transfer from Paris airport to the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly.
- Group transfer from Chantilly to the Raphael Hotel, Paris.
- Transfer from the Raphael Hotel to Paris airport at conclusion of trip. (Please note incoming and outbound transfers from and to Charles de Gaulle airport are included in the trip price; there will be a supplementary charge for transfers involving Orly or other airports, or to and from central Paris.)
- Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
- Welcome cocktails in Chantilly.
- 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 their incoming and outbound transfer drivers and 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 (twelve or more travelers)
$3,925 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to eleven travelers)
$4,075 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers)
$1,155 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 Jeu de Paume in Chantilly, the single rooms are somewhat smaller than the rooms we have reserved for double-occupnacy guests. At the Raphael in Paris, singles will be accommodated in the same class of double rooms as the double-occupancy members of the group.
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 $ = 0.862 Euro // 1 Euro = 1.16 US $
- Additional Nights at The Raphael Hotel, Paris, or the Auberge du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly, if available: will vary, depending on length of stay and specific nights chosen. Please inquire.
- Upgrade your room category at The Raphael Hotel in Paris for as little as $110 total per person. See the hotel website for particulars on the rooms.
- Reserved hospitality at Longchamp Racecourse on Saturday October 6 and/or Sunday October 7. Please inquire.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to eighteen(18) people. Although we will make every effort to operate the trip, we reserve the right to cancel it if it has less than eight(8) 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 2018 French racing schedule for non-major days has still not been officially finalized as of November 2017. Changes to the provisional schedule, although unlikely, may result in our minor racing days being shifted from one day to another or from one course to another in the itinerary.
*There is a fair amount of walking involved with the training visit in Chantilly, some of which must be done with alacrity to avoid disturbing the horses. Any prospective traveler having reservations about his or her ability to be nimble should discuss this in advance with us.
Quote by John Randall and Tony Morris from A Century of Champions, published in 1999 by Partway Press Ltd., Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 1XE
Racing photo © www.actionplus.co.uk
Other photos courtesy of the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Kay Minton, Candace Wong,
Oise Tourism Office, Peter Kastner, and France-Galop
View the Itinerary for our other 2018 trip:
For May-June (Germany), click here
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