Joanna Gaines just wrapped up a swoon-worthy field trip to Paris with a group of creative women and her oldest daughter, Ella. Since the very first season that “Fixer Upper” appeared on HGTV, it’s been clear Gaines has a special place in her heart for French design. Fans have seen her do everything from host Paris flea markets at her shops to design a line of French Country furniture. She’ll return to Waco, Texas, full of new inspiration after diving into the art and design of Paris. Want to go, too? Here’s a guide to the dreamiest spots on their trip!
Gaines Went on an Art & Design Field Trip to Paris
Gaines spent an inspiring week in Paris with a small group of women, including designers from her and husband Chip’s company, Magnolia, and their oldest daughter Ella, who turns 16 in October. Ella has recently helped her mom with design work including shirts to raise funds for St. Jude’s and Gaines’ new book cover.
The creative women took part in travel expert Eva Jorgensen’s Paris By Design trip, which she describes as a week of “creative inspiration, exclusive visits with local artists, delicious food, sisterhood, and more in the City of Light.” Jorgenson, who is the author of Paris By Design: An Inspired Guide to the City’s Creative Side, limits each trip to no more than nine women to keep the experience intimate.
Gaines and her fellow travelers shared peeks into their artistic adventures via their Instagram Stories. They did hit some must-see spots for tourists, including watching the Eiffel Tower light up at night.
According to the Solo Sophie website, the tower is illuminated every evening from sundown until 1 am, but at the top of each hour, the tower glitters with hundreds of thousands of lights for a full five minutes. Gaines shared a video in which she joyfully posed with a tiny illuminated replica of the Eiffel Tower while standing in front of the real one as it sparkled.
Gaines also shared photos of beautiful shops, meals, and everyday art — like the mosaic tiles found in the Metro subway system and the black-and-white Buren columns outside the Palais Royal.
One store they visited was Merci Paris, which The Shopkeepers site calls a “must-see, must-go and must-be-seen shop for all those who love interior and fashion design. Visiting Merci is like stepping into magazine editorial; there is so much inspiration and discovery.” Gaines shared photos from inside the store including a wall of built-in, black bookshelves and a modern living area with a huge wooden coffee table.
Gaines also shared a beautiful snapshot of dozens of creative bouquets sitting outside Monceau Fleurs, a quaint flower shop inside of a charming blue building, as well as a video of Ella walking beneath a weeping willow tree that looks to be the one at Square du Vert Galant, a spot along the River Seine with a quaint cobblestone walkway and special views of various architectural gems.
Even the photos of the food Gaines shared looked like works of art. She shared snapshots in her Instagram Stories of crepes at Breizh Cafe, French Onion soup at Au Pied de Cochon, a picnic of fresh cheeses, baguettes and vegetables, and salads at Sunday in Soho — a darling cafe opened by a couple from New York City.
Gaines’ Group Met French Artists & Learned Their Craft
One of the coolest aspects of the Art & Design tour was all the experiential learning. Gaines and her companions got to immerse themselves in artists’ homes or studios and even take mini-classes in their crafts.
Gaines was especially taken by visiting artist Nathalie Lete in her eclectic, colorful Parisian studio, which she wrote was “a dream.” In the U.S., Lete’s art can be seen on many home design products at Anthropologie. Gaines shared multiple photos of the whimsical studio and close-ups of her art.
Over one, featuring a little girl walking through a forest of giant fairytale-like mushrooms, Gaines wrote, “I want to live amongst the mushrooms.”
On another photo of quirky cats-in-clothes paintings and ornaments, Gaines wrote, “I think I need a cat now.”
The group also got to take a perfume-making workshop in Francophile Chelsea Brady‘s apartment, and decorated cakes using fresh flowers with dessert master Frank Adrian Barron, author of the new book Sweet Paris.
Jorgensen’s Paris By Design tours cost around $5600 per person, not including airfare. The October trip is sold out, but she has a waitlist on her website for those interested in learning about future dates.