Essential Paris - An Iconic Collection of Cultural Hits

In record collecting circles, there are those who relish in the esoteric: The B-sides, the path less trodden. Sometimes, one just wants the hits, something to sing along with, that is recognizable and significant. Were this tour a record collection, it would be a compendium of greatest hits. Everything you could want. Start with the toe tapping tones of the Champs-Elysées and the chorus provided by the bells of Notre Dame. Proceed to the bucolic movements of Giverny, the home of Impressionist Claude Monet, and the sweeping overtures of the Loire Valley. A symphony of images and colors greets you at Musée d’Orsay and Musée Louvre. From the inspiring heights of the Sacré Coeur Basilica to the low coursing of the River Seine, this tour is nothing but the hits.

Degree of Difficulty - Two Paws

Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.

Weather Reports - When To Go

With its mild Mediterranean climate, Provence & the Riviera enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine a year and moderate temperatures, thus a tour to this part of the world can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Provence is of course known for its amazing lavender fields. End of June through early August is when the fields turn into a beautiful hue of purple, but that’s not the only time that one can enjoy the beauty of the region and culinary delights.

Paris also enjoys mild and moderately wet climate year round with the summer being warm and pleasant with a fair amount of sunshine. Spring and Autumn are lovely with mild days and fresh nights. Winter is cold and although the temperatures are above freezing, it can be overcast and cold. However, like our London program, the ‘city of lights’ can be visited any time of the year as long as one is appropriately prepared for the weather.

Days 1/2 NEW YORK/PARIS

Fly to Paris today. Upon arrival the next day in Charles De Gaulle airport you will be met by your guide after you clear customs. Board a comfortable motor coach and transfer to your hotel. Relax and begin to take in the Paris air. This evening you will be treated to a welcome dinner accompanied by your fellow travelers. Your 4-star home for the next 6 nights is located in the heart of Paris, close to Montparnasse train station, the Eiffel Tower, and Saint Germain des Près. Completely renovated, enjoy your comfortable room, the bar, restaurant and fitness room. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE or similar. (D)

Day 3 PARIS: CHAMPS - ELYSÉES - NOTRE DAMERIVER SEINE TOUR - MUSÉE D’ORSAY

Bid Paris a hearty bienvenue for today will be filled with the sights and sounds of this most cosmopolitan of cities. Aboard your comfortable motor coach you will drive along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and to the Cathedrale de Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité the medieval center of Paris embraced by the River Seine. Climb aboard a bateaux mouche for a river tour of the city. As with many medieval cities, Paris grew along the shores of a river and as a result much of the city can be seen from the deck of a slow moving boat. Having already viewed Notre Dame from street level, you will now see it from the river, along with views of other iconic landmarks on the Right and Left Banks. Disembark, and enter the Musee d’Orsay, which houses one of the finest collections of Impressionist art in the world. Tonight enjoy a 2-hour evening illuminations tour. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE. (B)

Day 4 GIVERNY/VERSAILLES/EVENING AT THE OPERA OR BALLET

A short drive downriver from Paris is the town of Giverny. This picturesque riverine town is a delightful collection of narrow cobbled streets lined by stone houses, ornamented by crawling rose bushes and clinging ivy. Among the sights you will see will be the small Japanese style bridge that spans a lily pond made timeless in the painting aptly named, The Water Lily Pond (1899). In addition to the village and house, you will view some of the small vales and promontories of the surrounding countryside that inspired the artist’s creativity. From the quiet and bucolic you move to the regal ostentatiousness of the Palace Versailles. Once the country chateau of Louis XIV, Versailles has now been subsumed by the ever growing Paris. As with the works of Monet, light, and how it is captured, plays an important role here. Perhaps this is expressed most exuberantly in the Hall of Mirrors, where panels of glass reflect rays of sunshine off of gilded ceilings. Walk amongst the formal gardens that surround grand fountains as you make your way to the intricate masonry of the Marble Court. Return to your hotel in the evening inspired by the play of light. Tonight, attend your first performance of either opera or ballet. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE. (B)

Day 5 LOIRE VALLEY: CHÂTEAU TOUR

Put Paris to the rearview mirror again today and head to the more quiescent environs of the Loire Valley which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This lush region occupies the central stretch of the Loire and Cher Rivers which has fed expansive wine vineyards, fruit orchards, fields of asparagus and artichokes, as well as the imaginations of architects. The result of this inspiration are the many grand châteaus that grace the area. The most iconic of these is the Château Chambord, built as a hunting lodge for Francis I, renowned for its many spired roofline in the style of the French renaissance. From the spires of Chambord you move on to the graceful arches of Château Chenonceaux that span the Cher. Another fine example of the French renaissance, the undulating span was designed by architect Philibert d’Orme and the galley that rests upon it by Jean Bullant. Return to Paris this evening, stopping en route at Tours. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE. (B)

Day 6 PARIS: CULINARY EXPERIENCE - MUSÉE LOUVRE - EVENING AT THE OPERA OR BALLET

No tour of Paris would be complete without a culinary diversion of some sort, and this morning that is just what you will experience at Les Coulisses du Chef. This enterprise is the creation of Chef Olivier Berte, and here you will prepare and then enjoy a two course meal with fellow travelers. Well fed, you will then take on the Musée Louvre, a monument of a place that houses many of the world’s most treasured works of art. Occupying approximately 14 acres, it housed the collection of Louis XIV when he moved his residence to Versailles in 1682. It has served as a repository for art and antiquities since and now encompasses some eight curatorial departments that display treasures such as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. This evening you will take in a performance either the Opera Garnier or Opera Bastille. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE. (B,L)

Day 7 PARIS: MONTMARTRE-SACRÉ COEUR

Put on your walking shoes this morning for a pedestrian tour of the Montmartre district of Paris. This excursion will include an exploration of the meandering streets in the Artist’s Quarter and the Sacré Coeur Basilica. The name of the hill for which the area is named was originally mons martis Latin for “hill of mars”. Later it came to be called Montmartre, or “mountain of the martyr” in the Gallic language, in commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint Denis in 240 C.E. Here symbols of spirituality sit in close proximity to places of more corporeal orientation, such as the Moulin Rouge. After the tour proper, the afternoon is yours to do with as you wish: Return to Champs-Elysées for shopping, take in the perfumed air of the Jardins Tuileries, take in the sights of the Montparnasse district. This evening you will share food, wine, and stories of your trip with fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. PULLMAN MONTPARNASSE. (B,D)

Day 8 PARIS/NEW YORK

Arise this morning and board a motor coach bound for Charles de Gaulle airport and your flight home. Along your route bid Paris adieu or perhaps à bientôt (see you soon). Bon Voyage! (B)

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • Continental breakfast daily, a welcome dinner and a farewell dinner. (B=Breaktast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner)
  • Culinary experience at Les Coulisses du Chef.
  • All ground transfers and excursions in private deluxe motor coach.
  • Services of a specialist Paris guide with 10 travelers for visits only – not during performance.
  • Entrance fees to all venues indicated and two performances of the ballet or opera.
  • Complimentary bottled water on coaches during sightseeing.
  • Complimentary passport wallet and baggage tags.
Prices starting at $4,495. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.