Storming the Bastille: Lamborghini Lessons with Waldorf Astoria in Versailles

Waldorf Astoria’s Trianon Palace Versailles leant out Lambos over Bastille Day weekend.

Three Lamborghinis at the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles.

Forget cake; Marie Antoinette should have said, “Let them drive Lamborghinis.” That’s exactly what guests of the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles were able to do over Bastille Day weekend, courtesy of a partnership between the exotic carmaker and the luxury hotel brand.

The Lamborghini Driving Experience is a brief but immersive introduction to Lamborghini’s latest offerings, the Aventador S supercar and the rear-wheel-drive Huracán Spyder. The tour rotates throughout the summer at various Waldorf Astoria properties around the world, with other recent stops including Southern California and Chicago.

In Versailles, the setting is the 107-year-old Trianon Palace, which sits adjacent to the grounds of Louis IX’s opulent palace. Our appointment begins with a welcome from one of the marque’s professional racing drivers, who takes us through an overview of the entire Lamborghini portfolio, including the Aventador S and all variants of the Huracán. The latter is a Robb Report favorite, as the all-wheel-drive Huracán Spyder was co-winner of the publication’s 2017 Car of the Year.

The 740 hp Lamborghini Aventador S.

The 740 hp Lamborghini Aventador S is powered by a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 engine.  Photo: Courtesy Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.

After a safety talk, we choose the Aventador S, a 740 hp supercar powered by a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 engine. The experience is conducted lead-follow style, with the pro driver up front and two “student” cars behind. Even when parked, the Lamborghinis draw plenty of attention—their drastic design a sharp contrast against a backdrop of 17th-century French architecture.

With the push of the start button, crowds lingering nearby draw closer and, suddenly, we are no longer on a test drive, but in a parade, waving to onlookers as our conga line of yellow, blue, and matte black cars rolls slowly out of the gravel driveway.

At first, it’s slow going down the narrow, cobblestone streets of Versailles. But oh, that sound. The distinctive, unmistakable rumble of the Aventador S is courtesy of a titanium exhaust, and is pumped through a muffler and a resonator before being expelled out of three tailpipes clustered in the center rear bumper.

Waldorf Astoria's Trianon Palace Versailles in France.

The aristocratic aesthetic of Waldorf Astoria’s Trianon Palace Versailles in FrancePhoto: Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

Soon, we are out on less crowded roads, and we slow down to create plenty of space between us and the cars ahead. With the word from our instructor, we switch over to “Corsa” mode, and drop the throttle hard. We’re thrown back in our seats and a delicious swirl of adrenaline bubbles up in our stomachs as the Aventador S rockets from zero to 62 mph in a mere 2.9 seconds. Traffic comes up quickly and we slam on brakes, fitted with carbon ceramic rotors, that can bring the car to a standstill in slightly more than 100 feet.

The drive is just enough to whet our appetites. We want more, but our time is up. Our return route takes us past the entrance of Versailles Palace, where throngs of tourists snap photos as our little group of Italian interlopers roar by.

For those looking for a similar taste of the Aventador S or the Huracán rear-wheel-drive Spyder, the Lamborghini Driving Experience is complementary to qualified guests of participating Waldorf Astoria properties, space permitting. The remaining stops on the tour are the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh (August 25 through 27), Boca Raton Resort and Club (November 3 through 5), and the Waldorf Astoria Dubai (November 16 through 18).

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