This 13-day study tour takes you well beyond the tourist’s Paris, to explore the history, art and architecture of the quintessential European city from its Roman origins, through its medieval glory to its rebirth as the epicentre of modernism. Throughout the tour, a series of detailed background lectures, guided visits and historical walking tours are balanced with time for independent exploration.
Old Paris, from Celtic and Roman settlements to the capital of the kings of France
The glory of the Middle Ages, from Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame to the renovated Cluny Museum
Masters of magnificence: from Louis XIV’s Versailles to the Empire of Napoleon
Impressionist and postimpressionist Paris, from masterpieces in less visited galleries to the Montmartre of Toulouse-Lautrec
The cradle of modernism: Paris in the 20th century
Academy Travel study tours are designed to provide in-depth intellectual stimulation for the independent traveller. The tours feature:
Daily background lectures
Morning guided site visits
Several afternoons for individual exploration or optional visits with the tour leader
Longer walking tours of historical cities, and use of public transport for short journeys
Self-contained accommodation where possible, allowing you to live like a local
The glory of medieval Paris at Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame and Cluny Museum
Guided visits of world-class museums including the Louvre, and many excellent quieter museums, such as the Musée Jacquemart-André and the Petit Palais
Day trips to Versailles and Giverny, home of Monet’s garden
Walking tours of key sites in the city’s history, such as Montmartre, the Marais, and Hausmann’s Opéra district
Icons of modern Paris, including the Musée Pompidou and the Picasso Museum
Underground Paris: the Roman city and the Napoleonic Canal St Martin
Days 1–3: Ancient and medieval Paris, from Roman settlement to the pinnacles of Gothic architecture, and a cruise up Canal Saint Martin.
Days 4–5: Explore the Louvre in depth and experience the extravagance of Louis XIV and his court at Versailles.
Days 6–8: Discover 19th-century Paris in depth, from Napoleon and Josephine to the birth of modern art; day trip to Monet’s gardens at Giverny.
Days 9–13: The cradle of modernism: bohemian Montmartre and modern art at the Pompidou Centre, Picasso Museum and more.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
There are a number of airline options available for flights into and out of Paris. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Day 1 | Monday 2 July: Arrive
The tour starts in the mid afternoon, when we meet in the hotel for an orientation walk of Bercy, a quiet neighbourhood in the 12th Arrondisement and the historic centre of Paris’ wine trade. In the late afternoon, we have lectures on Paris’ history from its Celtic and Roman origins to its medieval splendour, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. (D)
Day 2 | Tuesday 3 July: The hidden history of Paris
The early history of Paris is rarely explored, partly because it is buried beneath centuries of history and the city’s major monuments. Today we make two quite different, and very unusual, ‘deep contacts’ with historical layers of the City of Paris. We begin with the Archeological Crypt below the pavement in front of Notre-Dame, where workers excavating a car park discovered the remains of the Roman city of Paris, then called Lutetia. The museum has been recently renovated with state-of-the-art reconstructions and boardwalks allowing you to walk through the streets and houses of the Roman city. After a break for lunch and time to explore the Ile St Louis, we enjoy a cruise along one of Paris’ best-kept secrets: the Canal St Martin. The canal was constructed under Napoleon’s rule, and leads through a tunnel beneath the city, to a series of spectacular locks and the leafy, arty suburbs of Paris. The late afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Day 3 | Wednesday 4 July: Medieval Splendour
Paris was the heart of medieval France and the influence of its art and architecture extended across Europe. We immerse ourselves in the gems of medieval Paris today, starting with the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, and then proceeding to the astonishing 13th century Sainte-Chapelle, a royal or ‘palatine’ chapel built by Louis IX to house major relics, including the Crown of Thorns. This structure consists almost entirely of stained glass windows, having virtually no walls apart from the fine Gothic columns that support the building. After a break for lunch in the nearby St. Michel area, we visit the Cluny Museum. This extraordinary collection of medieval fine and decorative art ranges from ivories, stained glass windows, everyday objects, sculpture and tapestry (including the Lady and the Unicorn cycle) and is housed in a medieval residence built on top of the very well preserved Roman bath complex. The later afternoon is free for individual sightseeing, and you may wish to visit the Bercy markets before an evening lecture on the Louvre. (B)
Day 4 | Thursday 5 July: The French Ark
From its very beginning, the Louvre Museum was conceived to be the world’s premiere art gallery, with collections tracing the history of art from Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquity, through to the Renaissance in Europe and then modern developments in France. We begin our tour with some of the less-visited, but no less spectacular, collections including the rich collection of Delacroix, Corot and the Barbizon School of landscapists, and the beautiful rooms of 17th and 18th century French painting, where we discover the intense beauty of works by the likes of Lorrain, Poussin, Chardin and the much-neglected Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. The rest of the day is free to explore the other collections in the Louvre. Returning to Bercy, we have a lecture on Versailles. (B)
Day 5 | Friday 6 July: At the court of the Sun King
The Palace of Versailles redefined what a royal palace must be and how it must reflect royal magnificence. This morning we travel to Versailles by train and begin with a guided tour of the Private Apartments, which is reserved for groups only. Upon completion, we independently explore the part of the palace open to the general public and its extensive grounds before returning to Paris. Late afternoon and evening at leisure. (B)
Day 6 | Saturday 7 July: Napoleonic Paris
France changed dramatically under the Napoleons, whose systematic program of modernisation largely created the Paris we see today. This morning we have lectures on Napoleon and Josephine and the extensive modernisation of the city under Napoleon III, which gave Paris its modern appearance and made it an iconic capital. After a break for an early lunch, we travel by coach to the Chatteau Malmaison, the former residence of Napoleon and Josephine, now a museum dedicated to their memory. The point of our visit will be to evoke the extraordinary garden and zoo that Josephine established here – including kangaroos and emus from a distant land called Australia – and to acknowledge thereby her considerable erudition. Contrary to a thousand sentimental paintings, and a hundred gushy romantic novels, Josephine was very definitely ‘not just a pretty face.’ We then continue by coach to visit the Museum of Les Invalides, a military hospital built by Louis XIV, to see the monumental tomb of Napoleon I in the Church of Les Invalides, and then explore the recently renovated Napoleonic wing of the military history museum. The evening is at leisure. (B)
Day 7 | Sunday 8 July: Civilising the city
In the mid-19th century, Emperor Napoleon III empowered his prefect, George Hausmann, to literally tear down the urban tangle and accretion of centuries of Parisian life, and to create wide, straight boulevards, lines of sight, monumental foci, as well as infrastructure such as a vast underground network of sewers to cleanse Paris. Our walking tour this morning explores the new world created by Haussmann, including the Paris Opera and the Avenue de l’Opera, to the historic Galleries Lafayette. This world will be oddly familiar to us, for it was the plan of renewal, largely competed by 1875, that created the new urban conditions that inspired the generation of young Impressionists painters, who embraced and recorded the new thrill of the modern. In the early afternoon, there is the option of visiting the nearby Museum Jacquemart-André, with its astonishing personal collection of old master paintings. The afternoon is otherwise free for individual sightseeing. (B)
Day 8 | Monday 9 July: Giverny
Monet’s gardens at Giverny, where Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926, allow us to make contact with his greatest masterpiece. This morning, we travel to Giverny by coach and, rather than follow a guided tour, we will immerse ourselves in the experience of the gardens. There are no paintings by Monet at the garden, and there is a Museum of Impressionism nearby in Giverny. On some occasions, this museum has exhibitions of astonishing breadth and depth, usually focusing on an aspect of the impressionist movement. On returning to Paris in the mid-afternoon, we have lectures on the art and culture of 19th and early 20th century Paris. Evening at leisure. (B)
Day 9 | Tuesday 10 July: Two hidden gems of Paris
While Paris’ most famous museums, such as the Louvre, attract millions of visitors per year, its 200 other museums are perennially under-visited. This morning we take a coach to the Marmottan Museum, a mansion-museum created when a wealthy art collector left both his house and his collection to the City of Paris. In addition to its elegant Empire style rooms, it has an impressive collection of paintings by Berthe Morisot, a talented painter who is still somewhat neglected as ‘a woman Impressionist’, a collection of medieval manuscripts and paintings, and an underground gallery with dozens of paintings by Claude Monet, including the iconic Impression. Sun Rising and the breathtaking Train in Snow. We then take the metro a short way to the Museum of the Petit-Palais, which was constructed for the great International Exposition of 1900, with the intention that it would then become a permanent art museum for the City of Paris. It has recently been splendidly renovated to make it one of the most exhilarating museum visits in Paris, with its quiet rooms of Old Masters, Impressionists, ancient Greek bronzes, and intriguing paintings of the 19th-century Naturalist school. The museum also has a delightful café, looking out onto a colonnade and a beautiful interior garden. The afternoon and evening are free for independent sightseeing (B)
Day 10 | Wednesday 11 July: The painters of modern life
In the 1860s and 1870s, painters responded to the modern world they saw emerging around them. Following Baudelaire’s injunction to study ‘the heroism of modern life’, painters such as Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas adopted novel points of view and radical techniques – sometimes inspired by the old art of Japanese woodblocks and the new art of photography – to capture the acrid flavour of what Robert Hughes would call ‘the Shock of the New.’ We start the day at the Musee d’Orsay, where we will actually use the examples of formal, academic salon art exhibited to ‘see the 19th century whole’, that is, to really see what was so radical about Impressionist art and fully appreciate the technical revolution operated by the Impressionists. After a break for a light lunch, we cross the Seine to visit the Museum of the Orangerie, whose oval-shaped galleries contain Monet’s massive ensemble of vast waterlily canvases, as well as a significant collection of modern art of the 19th and 20th centuries. The mid-afternoon is free for independent sightseeing. We have a lecture in the early evening, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 11 | Thursday 12 July: The Republic of Pleasure
Today, we will take the metro to Les Abbesses metro stop (one of the few that still has a completely original 1900 metal entrance) and enjoy a walking tour in the footsteps of the likes of van Gogh through the fabled streets of Old Montmartre. The walking tour ends with a visit to the Basilica of Montmartre, a break for lunch in the old square at the top of the hill, and a visit to one of the most charming of local museums in Paris, the quaint Museum of Montmartre. This museum was small in scale and intimate in nature, but a recent renovation has both extended it and transformed it, creating new rooms and vastly increasing the amount of material on display. The standard of display, too, has been massively enhanced, and is truly state-of-the-art. The rest of the afternoon is free for independent sightseeing. Early evening lecture on modernism in Paris. (B)
Day 12 | Friday 13 July: The Cauldron of Modernism
The early 20th century saw a proliferation of new art movements, and today we explore the birth and development of modernism in Paris. We begin at the recently renovated and extensively expanded Picasso Museum, a rich collection created in one swoop when the artist, charged with failure to pay taxes, covered his arrears by donating a core collection of his work to the French state. After a break for lunch in the Marais, we visit 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 will take the narrative of modern art on from that of the Orsay, that is, from 1900 to the present. It is rich in the ‘classics’ of modern art – the Fauves, the Cubists, the Surrealists, but the museum is also resolutely contemporaneous, exposing us to aspects of recent art that may be less familiar. In the evening, we enjoy a farewell meal at an excellent restaurant. (B, D)
Day 13 | Saturday 14 July: Departure
The tour ends this morning. Please check your individual travel documents for your ongoing journey. A transfer is available to those who have booked their flights through Academy Travel. (B)
Dr Michael Adcock
A social and cultural historian who specialises in the field of modern France. He has published works on the French Revolution with Cambridge University Press.
Dr Michael Adcock specialises in the field of modern France. Michael ‘s extensive teaching experience includes several years with the History Department of the University of Melbourne, where he lectured in courses devoted to nineteenth and twentieth century France and series’ of popular lectures at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Art Gallery of Queensland and the National Gallery of Victoria. Michael’s PhD examined the visual arts of the French Second and Third Republics, with much of his research undertaken in Paris. His research on the French Revolution has been published by Cambridge University Press. He has led Academy Travel tours to Paris since 2006
Well-equipped and modern studio apartments with kitchen and wifi. Continental breakfast included. Self-service washing machines and laundry service available. 24-hour reception.
Bercy Village is a quiet neighbourhood in the 12th Arrondisement, which has grown around the historic wine warehouses, which have been transformed into small bars, cafes and restaurants. It offers you the pleasure and convenience of a local neighbourhood in Paris and is only a short journey on the Metro or RER train to Paris’ premier attractions. The Parc de Bercy, a pleasant park with tree lined avenues, walking paths and seating for picnics, is a few minutes walk from the hotel, and the local market is on in Bercy Village twice a week.
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.