Day 1 - Friday, February 18: Paris
Tour members meet this morning at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport - time and location to be determined - to begin our introductory coach tour of the city’s principal sites including the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, etc. Early afternoon hotel registration with time to settle in before a leisurely late afternoon familiarization stroll in our 9th arrondissement, including the Les Grands Magasins, L'Opera Garnier and the nearby Madeleine. This evening, group dinner in a typical local restaurant.
Day 2 - Saturday, February 19: Paris (L)
Theme of today’s sightseeing: Traditions Old and New.
Following breakfast, a walking tour of the ancient monuments of Roman Paris, such as the Arènes de Lutèce and the Baths, as well as the Ile de la Cité and the under-construction Notre Dame. A cozy lunch together in the Latin Quarter before crossing the city to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen…the city’s traditional flea market. Late afternoon hotel return and evening at leisure.
This evening you will receive a NAVIGO DÉCOVERTE Metro Pass, permitting convenient and efficient travel on the city’s excellent public transportation system until our departure. Please be sure to bring a passport-size picture to be attached to this pass! If you already have a Navigo Décoverte, please bring it with you.
Day 3 - Sunday, February 20: Paris (D)
Theme of today’s sightseeing: Modernity.
Our morning begins viewing important monuments of contemporary Mitterand Paris: the monumental “Grande Arche” in the suburb of La Défense, the National Library, the Omnisports Stadium and the unique Ministry of Finance. Later, after lunch in trendy Bercy, we metro to famous Père La Chaise cemetery with the tombs of such notables as Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Simone Signore and the evocative monuments of WW II. Weather permitting, our day concludes with a stroll in the “Cité Scientifique” of La Villette, with the unusual but significant “deconstructivist” architectural creations of Bernard Tschumi on the site of the old Parisian slaughter houses! This evening, dinner in a local bistro.
Day 4 - Monday, February 21: Paris
Theme of today’s morning sightseeing: Daily Life
We begin our day - perhaps in the Marais, perhaps Montmartre or St-Germain des Prés … a surprise that will allow us to experience the sights, smells and tastes of the city from croissant to cheese, wine to fruit … a movable feast to make a memorable lunch! In the afternoon we climb the staircase of the Butte of Montmartre or, if lunch has had its desired effect, then by funicular to the famous district of artists and Bohémiens, featured in Puccini’s opera La Bohème. Here too, the site of the great Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. A magnificent view of Paris rooftops and skyline before strolling home and an evening to relax.
Day 5 - Tuesday, February 22: Versailles
Today you will receive a four-day museum pass valid for admission not only to the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Orsay Museum, but also to a host of other Parisian museums, art galleries, and monuments including: Cluny Museum (highly recommended!) - Notre Dame Towers and Crypt - Orangerie (with Monet’s Water Lilies) - Sainte Chapelle - Arc de Triomphe - Pantheon - Invalides (with Napoleon’s tomb) - Pompidou Centre - Museum of Modern Art - newly renovated Picasso Museum - Rodin Museum.
The Pass begins today plus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Michael will be available to assist with planning personal visits/choices to museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
Over the next four days, three of the major sites have been chosen for group visits: the Palace of Versailles, the Orsay and the Louvre.
Theme of today’s sightseeing: Absolute Monarchy.
This morning we travel out of the city by rapid transit to the once-country village of Versailles. A short walk before our self-guided visit to the monumental Palace of Louis XIV - the Royal Chapel, the Hall of Mirrors, the magnificent formal gardens of Le Nôtre. Time for lunch in the village market before returning to Paris, where an individual visit to Les Invalides, the Musée Rodin or perhaps the Arc de Triomphe can end the day. Evening at leisure.
Day 6 - Wednesday, February 23:
Theme of today’s sightseeing: Revolution.
Today we explore selected sites and monuments associated with the French Revolution: Place de la Bastille (where it all started on July 14, 1789), the Place des Vosges and the Carnavale Museum with its excellent memorabilia. Later, by metro we travel to Place de la Concorde (site of the guillotine), the Tuileries Gardens, and the little-known Mausoleum of Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette. Remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure...a stroll on the Champs-Élysées, tea at La Dureé or an opportune time to enjoy an early evening sightseeing cruise on the River Seine.
Day 7 - Thursday, February 24: Paris
A full morning at the D’Orsay Museum, the great Parisian showcase of 19th-century art, with works by masters such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, etc. Remainder of the afternoon to take full advantage of the Museum Pass. Or a touch of retail therapy in the marvelous Grands Magasins of Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Bon Marché with an early dinner at any one of their gourmet counters...a pleasure!
Day 8 - Friday, February 25: Paris (D)
Off to the Louvre Museum after breakfast to meet the countless superb art treasures including Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The afternoon allows for personal choices, an open invitation to visit any other museum or monument: e.g., the Musée du Moyen Age; Picasso; Pompidou Centre. But this evening, our Au Revoir dinner in a typical elegant “bistro”!
Day 9 - Saturday, February 26: Airport and return flight
After breakfast transfer to airport for return flight.