Paris: A Stay in the City of Light
Explore at your own pace and let your interests be your guide as you explore the art, culture and joie de vivre of Paris during this special stay that showcases the City of Light in the tradition of lifelong learning.
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Join us for a special stay in Paris where you can enjoy a leisurely pace or pack your time full of activities—it’s your choice. Paris offers a rich selection of museums, neighborhoods, boutiques, and restaurants to discover. During this new tour, enjoy themed walking tours of the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and Champs-Élysées, which provide a background to the city, as does a special cruise along the historic canal Saint-Martin and Seine River. To provide more depth to your stay, three special excursions take you beyond Paris, including the nearby Palace of Versailles, and full-day excursions to both Dijon, a charming Burgundian town, and Rouen, the capital of Normandy. Our sojourn ensures a number of afternoons at leisure to pursue personal interests—solo or with new travel friends—to visit museums, explore new neighborhoods, or simply relax at an outdoor café.
You’ll be completely at ease in the “City of Light” since our Smithsonian Journeys Expert offers insight into its history and art, and our resident director is always available with guidance for your free time. Plus, your Paris Museum and Metro passes provide easy access throughout the city! And, you’ll feel like a Parisian as you enjoy a stay in a suite-like studio apartment in the Bercy neighborhood, a historic area with modern attractions and both metro and rail stations nearby.
Day 1 -2 — Depart the U.S., Paris
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Paris, France. After an early morning flight arrival, clear brief arrival formalities, then transfer to the Adagio Bercy. Your Paris home-away-from-home is a suite-like and comfortable studio apartment with a fully equipped kitchenette. The hotel is beautifully situated adjacent to the #14 Metro line that hugs the Seine River and connects directly to the Saint Lazare, Lyon and Bercy railway stations. Situated just a few steps from the Cour Saint Emilion in the Bercy neighborhood where the Parisian wine market was located until 1960. This heritage is still visible in the ancient white-stone storehouses of Cour Saint Emilion, now protected as a historical monument. Today Bercy Village offers the combination of an historical site and contemporary attractions in the center of a unique neighborhood that includes one of the city’s largest parks with 34 acres, the Cinémathèque Française, many restaurants, and shops. A Travel Representative will be available at the Activity Resource Desk to assist with independent sightseeing arrangements, dinner or shopping suggestions, or any other “concierge” services you may require. Attend a group welcome briefing that will acquaint you with the Paris Metro System. Following the briefing, depart for an orientation walk of your new neighborhood. Bienvenue! A hearty Parisian Welcome Reception and dinner will be enjoyed at a local restaurant. (D)
Day 3 — Paris
The day starts with a guided walking tour of the historic old Jewish Quarter of the Marais. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance such as the Place de Vosges and the Georges Pompidou Center. This afternoon, continue your exploration of Paris at your leisure. Dinner this evening will be served at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 4 — Paris
Today, the morning is free of planned activities. In the afternoon, board a canal boat to cruise the Canal Saint-Martin and the Seine. Cruise on this canal built by Napoleon 1802 to connect local Parisian waterways to facilitate local commence. Today, this inner-urban canal is tree-lined and flanked by friendly cafes and charming boutiques. Enter the Seine, and sail past the Tuileries Gardens, Ile de la Cité, Notre Dame, and the Ile Saint Louis. (B)
Day 5 — Paris
Today, extend your exploration just a short distance beyond the borders of Paris with a short rail journey to visit the Palace of Versailles. Visit the opulent Grand Apartments, the stunning chandelier-lit Hall of Mirrors, and the Queen's Apartments, while discovering illuminating details of courtly life in the palace. Explore the formal gardens. To enhance your visit, headset rental is included so that you can explore independently and at your own pace. Return to Paris by train. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore on your own. (B)
Day 6 — Paris
This morning attend an informative lecture covering the works of art in the Louvre and Orsay. See your Travel Director who can assist with planning your day. It might be fun to take in a Paris market or find a spot to enjoy near the Luxembourg Gardens this afternoon. (B)
Day 7 — Paris
This morning enjoy a lecture on the art and sites of Paris. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Your Travel Director will be on hand to assist you in planning your day. Explore the city using your included Paris Metro tickets. (B)
Day 8 — Paris
Travel at 200 miles per hour aboard France’s TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) high-speed train to the Burgundian town of Dijon. An expert guide will introduce us to the sites and culture of this charming town. Explore the historic city center, which will introduce you to the Darcy Garden, the Covered Market, the Dukes' Palace and Notre Dame Church. Luncheon is served in Dijon at the remarkable Hotel Particulier Maleteste. Have time to explore on your own before boarding the TGV to travel back to Paris. (B/L)
Day 9 — Paris
Enjoy a guided walking tour in the Latin Quarter. See where revolutionaries lived and met the oldest café in Paris, and the hall where Danton and the radical Cordelier’s club held their debates. Learn of the back-story of Dr. Guillotin’s sinister “razor” and that of Marat, stabbed in his bath by Charlotte Corday. This evening join fellow travelers for a Farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 10 — Paris
Today, journey in comfort aboard a regional train as we travel to the historic town of Rouen, the capital of Normandy. An expert guide will meet the train and lead us to the landmark the Gros Horloge. Continue to see the Rouen Cathedral of Notre Dame made famous by Monet in his 28 studies of color and light. Hear the haunting story of heroic Joan of Arc, before returning to Paris by rail. (B)
Day 11 — Paris
“Contemporary France” will be the subject of a morning lecture. An escorted tour detailing the history of Paris under German occupation is scheduled. Learn how the Parisians survived the dark years of the occupation from 1940-44 on this walk in the area of the Champs Elysées. Learn the stories of daily life, the Gestapo, the Resistance and the Liberation. See the traces of the last street battle on Rue de Rivoli and the Hotel Meurice where General Von Choltitz surrendered the German forces. See the Jeu de Paume Museum, where Rose Valland's heroic endeavors saved priceless artworks from Nazi plunder. We contrast instances of collaboration with accounts of magnificent courage displayed by French and foreigners alike in the face of arrest and deportation. We will celebrate with Ernest Hemingway the liberation of the Ritz Hotel and stride with Charles de Gaulle down the Champs Elysées. The remainder of the day is free of planned activities to continue your exploration of Paris. (B)
Day 12 — Depart for the U.S.
Depart the hotel and transfer to the Charles de Gaulle Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)