Few cities have remained as modern as Paris through the ages, from the exquisite architecture of its medieval kings, to Napoleon, Haussmann and the birth of modern art. The city’s rejuvenation has continued into the 21st century, with new galleries and performance spaces by the likes of Frank Gehry, and constantly evolving collections and special exhibitions. Unpack your bags and enjoy the best of one of the world’s great cultural capitals on this new 15-day tour, from extraordinary art collections, to the city’s evanescent history, excellent performances in iconic and contemporary venues and Michelin-starred dining.
The history of a nation, from the coronations in Reims to cosmopolitan modern capital
The world-class museums of Paris: iconic art and antiquities at the Louvre, Impressionism at the Musée d’Orsay
Lesser-visited collections, including the Jacquemart-André and the Arts et Métiers
Stellar performances in historic venues, from the Palais Garnier to Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie
Paris’s long history as a cultural epicentre, both sophisticated and contemporary
A production of Don Pasquale by Donizetti and an after-hours tour at the opulent Palais Garnier, one of the world’s most famous opera houses and the setting for Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera.
In contrast to the 19th century Palais, we see a performance of Verdi’s Otello at the other seat of Paris Opera, the ultra-modern Bastille Opera house, inaugurated by President Mitterrand in 1989.
A piano recital by Alexander Melnikov at the art deco Théâtre des Champs Elysées.
An intimate evening of cabaret or jazz at one of Paris’ smaller cafés chantants.
A carefully selected sightseeing program, with expert guidance:
Background talks from art expert Angus Haldane to help you navigate the Old Masters at the Louvre, Impressionism in the Musée d’Orsay and the modern art of the Pompidou Centre.
Paris’ fascinating and turbulent history: from Roman remains and the Medieval core at Notre-Dame and the Latin Quarter, through Revolutionary Paris, Napoleon III and his legacy in the rebuilding of the city, to the streets of Montmartre, so evocative of the Belle Epoque.
Small, less visited, house museums which present a personal history of Paris: the house of Victor Hugo, the residence of Eugène Delacroix and the Museum of Romanticism.
Superb Gothic architecture at the cathedrals of Notre-Dame de Paris, Notre-Dame de Reims and the Sainte Chapelle.
The magnificence of the Sun King Louis XIV and his Hall of Mirrors at the Chateau of Versailles.
Innovative modern architecture by Frank Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates and Etihad fly daily from Australia to and from Paris. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Tuesday 19 March: Arrive
Join your tour leader and fellow participants for a welcome drink in the bar at the Royal Saint Honoré, followed by a light dinner in a nearby restaurant. (D)
Wednesday 20 March: Medieval Paris
Today we set out on foot to enjoy a walking tour of the medieval heart of Paris. We start with the cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of the most important monuments of the Middle Ages and then proceed to the astonishing 13th century Sainte-Chapelle, a royal chapel built by Louis IX to house major relics. We visit the Sorbonne, one of Europe’s oldest Universities, dating back to the 13th century, and enjoy an amble around the streets of the Latin Quarter where the Medieval lives on today in many of the facades. Dinner is at the convivial Bistro Benoit. This warm and comfortable, typically Parisian Bistro is proud of its 100-year history and of being the only Bistro to be starred by the Michelin guide. (B, D)
Thursday 21 March: Louvre
This morning art expert Angus Haldane joins us for a talk in the hotel before we set forth to explore the vast collection at the Louvre museum, which dates from the Middle Ages to 1848. The building has a fascinating history, having started as a fortified enclosure in 1190 on the outskirts of the city and being enlarged in size by successive rulers, including two Napoleons, into the world’s premiere art gallery. The latest addition, the superb pyramid, was completed in 1989. To compliment the ‘high art’ of the Louvre you might also like to visit the nearby Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which offers an extraordinary collection of furniture, objets d’art, tapestries, ceramics, jewellery and toys from the Middle Ages to today. (B)
Friday 22 March: Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin
Angus Haldene joins us for a second talk before we venture to the Musée d’Orsay. When it was built in 1900, painter Edmund Detaille declared that the Gare d’Orsay looked like a palace of fine art. How appropriate that one of his paintings is now part of the exceptional collection at the Musée d’Orsay, the national museum of 19th century art. Our visit takes a thematic approach following the development of painting from the early academic paintings to the celebrated work of the Impressionists. After lunch at the fabulous museum restaurant, our next stop is the nearby Musée Rodin which underwent an enormous renovation some years back that included the building and grounds, to the Rodin sculptures themselves restored and re-presented. (B, L)
Saturday 23 March: Marais and Maison Victor Hugo
Our walking tour today takes in Le Marais on the right bank of the Seine, an area that has long been the aristocratic heart of the city and houses many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance. It is here, on the Place des Vosges, that we find the Maison de Victor Hugo, his apartment between the years of 1832-48, an illustration of the life of the writer through his three major stages (before, during and after his exile in Guernsey). The afternoon is at leisure before we enjoy a performance of Verdi’s Otello at the modern Opéra Bastille, a striking building which was the ‘Grand Project’ of French President, François Mitterrand. (B)
Sunday 24 March: Markets and Versailles
This morning we head out to the royal chateau of Versailles on the fast RER train. Before commencing our palace visit we enjoy the sensory delight of a walk around the bustling open-air markets here, a market that is arguably worth the visit alone! Our tour of the former hunting lodge which Louis XIV transformed into the seat of French political power in 1682, encompasses the gardens and the imposing interiors of rooms like the Hall of Mirrors, terminating in the vast 19th century Gallery of Battles, a grandiose picture gallery devoted to the history of France. After a break for lunch in the area adjacent to the chateau there is some free time for individual exploration of the lovely gardens of the estate. As our visit is on a weekend the magnificent fountains will be on show. (B)
Monday 25 March: Delacroix and Cabaret
We cross the river to Saint Germain des Près to visit a gem of a museum, often overlooked by the crowds, the Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Dedicated to the 19th century painter and housing a well curated collection of over a thousand of his works and objects that belonged to him, the space belongs to a bygone era and is an apartment he clearly loved, with a charming garden. After our visit we enjoy a fine macaron from the nearby Ladurée patisserie before free time to enjoy a walk along the Seine or indulge in a spot of shopping. This evening we meet again to enjoy some iconic Parisian cabaret at an intimate, café chantant. (B)
Tuesday 26 March: Montmartre and Romanticism
Today we venture to the north of the city to another exceptional house museum, the Musée de la Vie Romantique. The former abode of painter Ary Scheffer, where George Sand, Delacroix and other friends would meet. it is a perfect example of an 1830’s hôtel particulier, or aristocratic town house. The museum recreates a harmonious historical setting evoking the romantic period and a peaceful haven in busy Pigalle. Set at the foot of the Montmartre hill, it is the perfect start to a walking tour of the iconic arrondissement with its atmospheric staircases leading up to the fabulous Sacré Coeur Basilica, where we can delight in fabulous views over the city. Tonight, we enjoy France’s finest seafood at David Bottreau’s Michelin starred, Les Fables de la Fontaine. (B, D)
Wednesday 27 March: Reims and The Champagne Region
Our train journey today takes us into the heart of France’s Champagne region, Reims, where we enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful town including the UNESCO world heritage listed High Gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims. For over 1000 years French monarchs were crowned here and the cathedral is recognised worldwide as one of the defining models of Gothic art. Reims was the seat of the archbishop and we can visit his residence at the nearby Palais du Tau. Close by we visit one of the fine champagne houses for a tasting and lunch before returning to Paris in the mid-afternoon. (B, L)
Thursday 28 March: Picasso and Quai Branly
We start the day with a visit to the recently renovated and expanded Musée Picasso, a collection which houses over 5000 of his works. Picasso spent many years in Paris, and the museum traces the artist’s creative process through the most complete selection of work painted, carved, engraved and drawn by him. After a break for lunch we head to the Musée du Quai Branly, a collection which would have interested Picasso in his African Period: the museum showcases a vast collection of indigenous art and culture from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas and was the ‘Grand Project’ of French President, Jacques Chirac. (B)
Friday 29 March: Giverny and l’Orangerie
Monet lived in his house at Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926 and painted his famed water lily series here. Instead of following a guided tour, we will immerse ourselves in the experience of the gardens. There are no paintings by Monet at the garden, but on our return to the centre of Paris we visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, a gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the Tuileries Gardens and the permanent home for eight of Monet’s water lily murals. Tonight, we will attend a piano recital by Alexander Melnikov at the beautiful art deco Théâtre des Champs Elysées. (B)
Saturday 30 March: Musee d’Art Moderne
We have scheduled a talk today from art expert Angus Haldane in preparation for our museum visits of the next two days. Today we visit the Musée d’Art Moderne, which opened in 1961 in the Palais de Tokyo. The permanent collection covers the major art trends of the 20th century and houses works by Picasso, Gris, Matisse and Giacometti. From here it is a short walk across the Seine to enjoy the famed Tour d’Eiffel, the symbol of the capital which stands at 324m tall and was built for the Universal Exposition of 1889. In the afternoon we enjoy a private guided tour at the historic Palais Garnier, in preparation for enjoying tonight’s performance: the closing night of Don Pasquale by Donizetti. (B)
Sunday 31 March: Pompidou Centre
Our focus today is the National Museum of Art, located in the Pompidou Centre. This was one of the first of Paris’ modernist buildings, built partly in response to the youth revolution of 1968 and intended to show that France could embrace modernity. This collection takes on the narrative of modern art from that of the Orsay; from 1900 to the present. It is rich in the classics of Modern Art- the Fauves, Cubists and Surrealists but also constantly renews itself, exposing visitors to aspects of recent art that may be less familiar. After a break for lunch we visit the little-known collection at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. The Museum was refurbished in 2000 and exhibits thousands of inventions and technological innovations from across the ages. We focus on the museum’s 150 ‘flagship objects’ which are fascinating and fun. (B)
Monday 1 April: Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne
Located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement, the Bois de Boulogne is the second largest park in the city. It contains a variety of areas to explore, several lakes, magnificent gardens and the most recent addition, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by internationally renowned architect, Frank Gehry. The curved glass of the twelve sails forms in Gehry’s words, ‘a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France’. After free time in the park we return to the hotel and the rest of the afternoon is at leisure before our farewell dinner at Michelin starred restaurant Garance, with chef Guillaume Iskandar and manager/sommelier Guillaume Muller. Their tenet is ‘Garance uninhibits wine and gastronomy’, so we may be in for a surprise! (B, D)
Tuesday 2 April: Departure
The tour ends this morning after breakfast. A transfer is available to the airport for those who have booked their flights through Academy Travel. (B)
Is a director of Academy Travel and has over 20 years' experience in travel, including leading groups through western Europe, Russia and the United States.
Stuart Barrie is a social historian with strong interests in modern history, and in particular Europe and the USA in the twentieth century, and lately modern architecture, especially the residential architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. The development of his latest interests arose from the intersection of the Bauhaus Movement and the Prarie style of architecture developed by Wright.
Stuart has a BA from Macquarie University and a MComm from the University of NSW and has been leading tours for over 30 years. He started working for a leading coach tour operator in the mid 1980’s leading tours throughout the UK, Western Europe and into the then Soviet Republic and Eastern Europe. His passion for tour leading led him to be a founding director of Academy Travel and he has led over 20 tours for Academy.
A particular interest has been observing the radical changes that have occurred in group tourism over the past 30 years and the changing landscape of cities. His favourite city is Berlin, from his first visit entering East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie and being forced to exchange West German Marks into virtually worthless East German Marks, to visiting the vibrant city that Berlin is today with the ironic focal shift from the former “1960’s modern” West Berlin central area to the preserved, through neglect, historic Museum Island area.
His latest passion has been the modern architecture movement of the mid twentieth century in America, primarily of Frank Lloyd Wright, but also of Meis Van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey. This has led Stuart to develop and lead several architecture themed tours throughout the USA following the “Frank Lloyd Wright Trail”.
This well-appointed four-star hotel is located in the heart of the First Arrondissement of Paris, close to major sites such as the Opéra, the Louvre Museum and centres of fashion such as Place Vendôme and the Boulevard des Capuchins. The hotel has just 77 rooms.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.