This 13-day study tour takes you well beyond the tourist’s Paris, to explore the history, art and architecture of this quintessential European city. Beginning with its Roman origins, we move to an exploration of Paris’ medieval glory and rebirth as the epicentre of modernism. A series of detailed background lectures, guided visits and historical walking tours are balanced with time for independent exploration. Accommodation is in a local neighbourhood conveniently close to the centre. Go beyond the typical tourist experience and explore the City of Light in all its glory.
While study tours are full of group activities, a reasonable degree of independence is also required. You will need to make trips to the neighbourhood laundromat, and there is a nearby supermarket and grocery stores for any “hotel picnics”. We also use local public transport and there is a significant amount of walking. However, your tour leader will of course show you around the neighbourhood and will provide full assistance if you encounter any difficulties.
The glory of medieval Paris at Sainte-Chapelle and the Museum of the Conciergerie
Guided visits of world-class museums including the Louvre, and many quieter museums, such as the excellent Musee Jacquemart-Andre 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 Haussmann’s Opera district
Icons of modern Paris, including the Musee Pompidou and the Picasso Museum
Underground Paris: the Roman city and the Napoleonic Canal Saint Martin
Days 1–3: Arrive. Explore ancient and medieval Paris, from Roman settlement to the pinnacles of Gothic royal architecture. Cruise the Canal Saint Martin to Paris’s leafy inner suburbs.
Days 4–5: Explore the Louvre in depth and experience the extravagance of Louis XIV and his court at Versailles.
Days 6–8: Discover the 19th-century recreation of Paris, from Napoleon and Josephine to the birth of modern art; day trip to Monet’s gardens at Giverny; visits to Chateau Malmaison and the Marmottan.
Days 9–13: The cradle of modernism: the Musee d’Orsay, bohemian Montmartre and modern art at the Pompidou Centre and more.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in Paris. Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways offer the best connections into and out of Paris from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Friday June 28: Arrive
The tour starts in the late afternoon, when we meet in the hotel for an orientation walk of the local neighbourhood and Bercy, a quiet neighbourhood in the 12th arrondisement and the historic centre of Paris’ wine trade. In the early evening, we have a lecture on Paris’ history from its Celtic and Roman origins to its medieval splendour, followed by dinner in a local restaurant. (D)
Saturday June 29: 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 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. We then visit the Museum of the Conciergerie, the medieval royal palace that was converted into the centre of the judiciary, and would become the seat of the Revolutionary Tribunal. 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.
Sunday June 30: Canal St Martin
The early history of Paris is rarely explored, partly because it is buried beneath centuries of history and the city’s major monuments. This morning 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 cruise ends at La Villette, where we have a break for lunch, before returning by metro to the city centre. The afternoon is at leisure, and you may wish to explore the Saint Germain district, formerly Paris’ intellectual centre and today lined with boutiques and restaurants. In the early evening, there is a lecture on the Louvre. Note the Bercy markets are on today between 7am and 3pm. (B)
Monday 1 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, and you may wish to visit the nearby excellent Museum of Decorative Arts. Returning to the hotel, we have a lecture on Versailles. (B)
Tuesday 2 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 Joséphine 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 Chateau Malmaison, the former residence of Napoleon and Joséphine, now a museum dedicated to their memory. The point of our visit will be to evoke the extraordinary garden and zoo that Joséphine 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, Joséphine 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. In the early evening there is a lecture. (B)
Wednesday 3 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, an area 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) Note the Bercy markets are on today between 3-8pm. (B)
Thursday 4 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 Opéra and the Avenue de l’Opéra, as well as the historic Galeries 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)
Friday 5 July: Giverny and the Marmottan
Monet’s gardens at Giverny, where Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926, allow us to make contact with his greatest masterpiece, the Nymphéas, or water lilies. 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. In the afternoon we return to Paris via 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 Sunrise and the breathtaking Train in Snow. In the early evening we have lectures on the art and culture of 19th and early 20th century Paris. Evening at leisure. (B)
Saturday 6 July: Petit-Palais
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 visit 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)
Sunday 7 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 Musée 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 Musée de l’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)
Monday 8 July: The Cauldron of Modernism
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 ending at the Basilica of Montmartre with spectacular views of the city. After a break for lunch in the old square at the top of the hill, we visit one of the most charming 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. We enjoy an early evening lecture on modernism in Paris. (B)
Tuesday 9 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)
Wednesday 10 July: Departure
The tour ends this morning. Please check your individual travel documents for your ongoing journey. A complimentary airport transfer is available to those who have booked their flights through Academy Travel. (B)
Dr Michael Adcock
An historian who specialises in 18th to 20th century Europe and the political role of art in times of rapid social change.
Dr Michael Adcock is a social and cultural historian with over ten years’ experience in leading residential study tours in Paris and France. He has a strong interest in the interpretation of the arts in the context of the political and social moment in which they were created.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts (Combined First-Class Honours in French and History), a Master of Arts (French History) and a Doctor of Philosophy (French History), all from the University of Melbourne. He has held a post as lecturer-in-charge at the University of Melbourne, where he presented courses on the French Revolution and on French society and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is currently Head of History and Head of Humanities at Melbourne Grammar School. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious History Teachers’ Association of Victoria award for Excellence in the Teaching of History.
Michael led his first Academy Travel tour to Paris in 2006, although this had been preceded by some ten visits, many of them residential trips for the purposes of academic research. During this time, Michael came to know the city in depth, and has since found great intellectual satisfaction in introducing people to its treasures and, perhaps more importantly, in teaching them how to navigate the city so that they may return to travel independently on a future occasion.
We asked Michael what he enjoys most about leading tours?
“I love the feeling of a tour that unfolds with the regularity of clockwork. I like to see people swept along effortlessly on a seamless unfolding of vivid travel experiences. For me, tour leading is not hard work, but a real professional joy. I sometimes feel rather like the operators who provide the New Year’s Eve fireworks display on Sydney Harbour, in the sense that I carefully plan the sequence of spectacles, and then orchestrate them one by one until the whole makes up a dazzling display of French history.”
The Mercure Bercy offers clean, comfortable rooms in a great location on the banks of the Seine. We have the metro at our doorstep, the picturesque Bercy Park just across the river and a supermarket for convenience over the road. In Bercy, in the 12th arrondissement, we are on the edge of the Latin Quarter and only a 2.5km walk along the river to the Île de la Cité. Bercy Village used to be the centre of the wine trade and there are great cafés and markets in the area, often located in converted cellars and warehouses. The bars on the riverbank are an excellent spot to enjoy the summer sun and not pay typical Parisian prices! Hotel rooms in Paris are generally small but here we get larger rooms and more value for money than in the central tourist areas.
While study tours are full of group activities, a reasonable degree of independence is also required. Local public transport is used and there is a significant amount of walking. Some group dinners are included but not as many as on our standard tours. Your tour leader will of course show you around the neighbourhood, recommend restaurants and cafés and will provide full assistance if you encounter any difficulties.
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.