Exploring London and Paris: A Family Adventure
Explore the Tower of London and see Shakespeare’s theater; then take the “Chunnel” to Paris to visit the Eiffel Tower, join a scavenger hunt in the Louvre, and take in Versailles and Monet's Giverny.
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London and Paris are ideal destinations for a fun, engaging family summer vacation. Introduce your children or grandchildren to both cities on this new family tour that showcases special tours of historic, literary, artistic, and other cultural associations. You’ll explore English history through tours of the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Hampton Court; experience literary associations that might include Shakespeare, Dickens, and Harry Potter; and take a leisurely cruise on the River Thames. Then take the Eurostar train under the English Channel to Paris and discover another of Europe’s magnificent capitals with your family. Enjoy special tours of the world-renowned Louvre and Musée d’Orsay; experience fabulous architecture and engineering feats from the medieval cathedral of Notre Dame to opulent Versailles and the 19th-century Tour Eiffel; and enjoy a hands-on culinary demonstration and cruise along the Seine. Join us for this enriching family experience to two of Europe’s most popular capital cities. (This tour is designed for children ages 8 and older.)
Day 1-2 — U.S., London, England
Depart the U.S. for London. Upon arrival a representative will meet you at the arrivals area and whisk you off to your hotel. Later in the day enjoy an orientation tour of London that showcases many of the city’s iconic sites, from Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Royal Albert Hall, and Kensington Gardens. This evening, enjoy a festive welcome dinner. (D)
Day 3 — London
Gather with other families for an exciting taste of historic London, featuring Westminster Abbey and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Westminster Abbey, a World Heritage site, has been the setting for every coronation since 1066 and for other royal occasions such as the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. During an engaging tour, explore an architectural masterpiece that spans the 13th to 16th centuries, hear about the lives of kings and queens as you see their various tombs or markers, and explore memorials to famous poets, writers, and other important English subjects. Your guide will then take you to nearby Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard, one of London’s most famous traditions. Here the Queen's Guard, dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, changes the guard in a formal ceremony set to music.
Many people associate England with Shakespeare and theater, so what better way to introduce children to the subject than a fun tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This faithful reconstruction reflects the Elizabethan open-air playhouse originally built on the south bank of the River Thames in 1599, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed. Learn about the playwright, theater, and performances from your guide, then feel what it’s like to be part of the “groundling” audience closest to the stage. From here, continue to the National Theatre for a backstage tour or if the fine arts command more interest, choose to go to the Tate Modern, London’s flagship museum of modern and contemporary art. Here, you’ll enjoy an artist-led workshop on “Understanding Modern Art,” an introduction to the collection using sketching as part of an interactive tour. (B)
Day 4 — London
Enjoy a themed walking tour of London this morning. Tour choices may include a focus on the literary figure Harry Potter or an exploration of “Secret London.” During a tour of a contemporary fictional character, you might visit sites featured in the Harry Potter films, such as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, the location of the red telephone box, the bridge destroyed by the Death Eaters, and Platform 9 ¾. On a walk through “Secret London,” discover hidden places and forgotten nooks as you explore parts of the city that few people know even exist.
Round out the day with a special tour of the Tower of London, a World Heritage site, which has been an integral part of British royal history for nearly 1,000 years. Children and adults alike will marvel at the breathtaking Crown Jewels, stand at the execution site of three English queens, and hear the myths and legends of this historic fortress located alongside the River Thames. Throughout your tour, a “Beefeater”—or Yeoman Warder as they are more properly known—will be your guide. (B)
Day 5 — London, Hampton Court, Eurostar to Paris
Travel outside London today to visit Hampton Court Palace. Here, discover the magnificence of Henry VIII's favorite royal residence, built in 1515 by Cardinal Wolsey and presented to the king in 1529. Immerse yourself in the sites and sounds of the medieval Great Hall, the grand state rooms, and the Tudor kitchens, which once fed over 600 people twice a day. Stroll through acres of enchanting gardens, lose yourself in the famous maze, and appreciate the beauty of one of England’s most exceptional palaces.
Return to London by cruising along the River Thames and get a sense of what is was like to journey to London during an earlier era, when travelling by river was safer and easier than by road. This is also one of the most interesting and scenic stretches of the river, featuring such famous landmarks as Teddington, Lock, Ham House, Richmond Hill, and Syon House.
Upon your return to London, take the Eurostar train to Paris, travelling beneath the English Channel via the “Chunnel”—a thrill for kids and adults alike. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and gather for dinner. (B,D)
Day 6 — Paris, Giverny, Versailles, France
Enjoy a day outside the city to enjoy the gracious beauty found in Giverny and the royal splendor of Versailles. Begin with a visit to the Fondation Claude Monet, the famous gardens of impressionist painter Claude Monet, where you’ll explore his house, the Japanese-style water garden (inspiration for the water-lilies series of paintings), and the main flower garden. Afterwards, proceed to a ferme auberge for lunch to savor traditional French cuisine at a restaurant located on a farm.
This afternoon visit glorious Versailles, a World Heritage site, and the center of political power in France from time of Louis XIV to the French Revolution. Explore many of the rooms of this opulent château, including the Royal Chapel and Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was ratified). You’ll also explore the formal gardens designed by the famous French landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. Return to Paris late afternoon and enjoy an unscheduled evening. (B,L)
Day 7 — Paris
Today, introduce your kids to some of the many treasures of Paris, a World Heritage site. Begin with a guided panoramic tour that includes views of famous landmarks such as the Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Centre Pompidou, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Pantheon, and more. Stop on the Île de la Cité for a special tour of Notre Dame Cathedral, widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, with its famous Rose Window, flying buttresses, and incredibly high arches, and also renowned for the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Children and adults will enjoy a special visit to the world-renowned Louvre Museum featuring a “Muse Clues” scavenger hunt for the kids. Together, parents and children learn about a broad range of collections, but the younger set gets additional motivation through “Muse Clues.” This educational and interactive treasure hunt is designed to give children an entertaining background to the history of art while sharpening their “detective” skills of observation. Their answers lead them to discover an educational prize hidden somewhere under the Louvre's glass pyramid. An alternative option for young adults is Quest, an entirely new way to experience the Louvre through an interactive game designed to explore four great civilizations (Ancient Near East, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Modern Europe), each with their own set of challenges designed to test your mettle and sharpen your skills.
During a leisurely cruise along the River Seine, discover spectacular views of monuments and bridges from a new perspective while the ship’s guide provides commentary on the historical and cultural sites. Afterwards, stroll through the Latin Quarter, the name given to the network of narrow streets located on the Left Bank around the Sorbonne University. Conclude the day with dinner at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter. (B,D)
Day 8 — Paris
The Eiffel Tower, perhaps the most famous symbol of Paris, is a global icon and the most visited monument in France. Built in 1889 by the engineer Gustave Eiffel for the World’s Fair, it is still the tallest structure in Paris, about the same height as an 81-story building. Explore this fascinating structure close-up as you travel to the second tier and enjoy magnificent views of the city.
Continue to the Musée d’Orsay, a monumental art gallery that displays France’s national collections of paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art produced between 1848 and 1914. You and your family will enjoy a special tour that features works by renowned artists Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and others as well as amazing museum design given its spectacular setting in a former train station.
In the afternoon attend a hands-on cooking demonstration at a culinary school, where you’ll learn about French haute cuisine and finish with lunch featuring some of your creations. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to pursue individual family pursuits. (B,L)
Day 9 — Paris
Enjoy a morning at leisure for independent sightseeing or choose to take an optional family excursion. Take an optional excursion to the Centre Pompidou, one of Europe’s most important museums of modern art, showcasing art movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. Another optional program features the Fragonard Parfumerie where children can become a perfumer's apprentice and customize an eau de toilette in a dedicated workshop. This is an unforgettable, funny, and fascinating sensorial experience focused on the creation of a fragrance.
The entire group reconvenes to visit the artists’ quarter of Montmartre, with its spectacular white church of the Sacre Coeur. Around the corner in the Place du Tertre, many artists still set up their easels each day to paint. It is a reminder of when this area was a mecca for modern art and where many famous artists lived and worked, including Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso. Enjoy a farewell dinner in Montmartre this evening. (B,D)
Day 10 — Paris, U.S.
Transfer to the airport today for return flights to the U.S.