Follow the Sinner’s Grand Tour

The Royal "Sex Chair" in Paris

Sex & travel have always been intertwined, and never more so than on the classic Grand Tour of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the continent is still littered with salacious remnants of that golden age, where secret boudoirs, notorious dungeons and forbidden artifacts lured travelers all the way from London to Capri.

In The Sinner’s Grand Tour, historian and travel writer Tony Perrottet sets off to discover a string of legendary sites and relics that are still kept far from public view. In southern France, an ancient text leads him inside the château of the Marquis de Sade, now owned by fashion icon Pierre Cardin. In Paris, an 1883 prostitute guide helps him discover the belle époque fantasy brothel Le Chabanais and the lost “sex chair” of King Edward VII. Renaissance documents in the Vatican Secret Archives point the way to the Pope's very own apartments in the Vatican City, wherein lies the fabled “Stufetta del Bibbiena,” a pornography-covered bathroom painted by Raphael in 1516.

En route, Perrottet visits a cache of forbidden Victorian erotica known as the Secretum in the British Museum, a village descended from sex-crazed medieval heretics in the Pyrenées, the perverse relics of Scottish sex clubs, Casanova's prison cell in Venice, and exotic pagan shrines of Capri, still very much in use.

Blending original historical research, sharp wit and hilarious anecdotes, The Sinner’s Grand Tour is a romp through the scandalous backrooms of Europe.