During a week in the heart of Paris, explore the “City of Light” through the lens of the African American experience, following in the footsteps of the intellectuals, performers, and musicians such as Josephine Baker and James Baldwin who found a warm welcome in the city in first half of the 20th century—and who left a lasting impact on culture in France and the world.

Starting at: $5,290 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Quintessential Paris....
Quintessential Paris....
 Jazz musicians in Paris
Jazz musicians in Paris
 Josephine Baker, Paris, 1926, by Stanislaus Julian Walery. Credit: National Portrait Gallery
Josephine Baker, Paris, 1926, by Stanislaus Julian Walery. Credit: National Portrait Gallery
 Richard Wright, photo by Carl Van Vechten. Credit: National Portrait Gallery. ©Van Vechten Trust
Richard Wright, photo by Carl Van Vechten. Credit: National Portrait Gallery. ©Van Vechten Trust
 Lieutenant James Reese and Harlem Hellfighter musicians. Credit: National Archives (165-WW-127-22)
Lieutenant James Reese and Harlem Hellfighter musicians. Credit: National Archives (165-WW-127-22)
 Group of Harlem Hellfighter soldiers
Group of Harlem Hellfighter soldiers
 Portrait of W.E.B. Du Bois. Credit: National Archives (H-HNP-16)
Portrait of W.E.B. Du Bois. Credit: National Archives (H-HNP-16)
 Montmartre, Paris
Montmartre, Paris
 Entrance to the Louvre, Paris
Entrance to the Louvre, Paris
 Street-side café in Paris
Street-side café in Paris
 The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles
 The gardens of Versailles
The gardens of Versailles
 The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Paris: The African American Experience

9 days from $5,290

During a week in the heart of Paris, explore the “City of Light” through the lens of the African American experience, following in the footsteps of the intellectuals, performers, and musicians such as Josephine Baker and James Baldwin who found a warm welcome in the city in first half of the 20th century—and who left a lasting impact on culture in France and the world.

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by August 30, 2024!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

During the first half of the 20th century, Paris was a center of African-American creativity, drawing the likes of intellectuals and artists such as Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, and W.E.B. Du Bois. They were embraced by the French, who admired the valor of Black servicemen like the Harlem Hellfighters during World War II. In a society without America’s racial constraints, they were able to thrive, leaving a lasting impact on France—and the world—through their music, writing, and art. From your base in the Marais district, set out to explore the haunts and histories of Black Americans in Paris. Trace the evolution of jazz in France, meet filmmakers and expats for insight into contemporary life, and discover the “City of Light” through the lens of the African-American experience.

Highlights Include:

  • African American Legacy in Paris : Retrace the footsteps of famous African Americans across Paris on a variety of walking tours. Explore Lower Montmartre, where Langston Hughes once bussed tables in the nightclub of jazz musician and fighter pilot Eugene Bullard. Visit the Panthéon, where Josephine Baker was recently inducted—the highest French honor, and explore the impact of the Harlem Renaissance and jazz on French musicians.
  • Literature, Film, and Music: Meet with award-winning novelist and American expatriate Jake Lamar to hear about his experience in present-day Paris. Watch a documentary film on Blacks in post-World War I Paris and discuss the film and its subject with the filmmakers. Attend a jazz concert in the Latin Quarter.
  • Versailles: Spend a day discovering the palace and gardens of Versailles, a World Heritage site, and walk through the legendary Hall of Mirrors on a guided tour.
  • Sites of Paris: Cruise the River Seine through the heart of the city, admiring views of landmarks like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Taste your way through the city on a culinary tour, and admire the architecture and exhibitions at the National Museum of the History of Immigration.

2024 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. and Arrive Paris

Depart on a transatlantic flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport and transfer to central Paris upon arrival. Check in to your hotel in the historic Marais quarter. This afternoon, gather for a short orientation walking tour of the Marais, once the city’s Jewish quarter and now a trendy neighborhood full of upscale boutiques and gastronomic shops. This evening, meet for a welcome reception and dinner at a popular local restaurant. (R,D)

Day 3 — Paris: Pathways of iconic African Americans

After breakfast at the hotel, set out with a local guide to discover the sites of Paris—and the haunts of the Black Americans who spent time in the city. Travel along fashionable avenues like the Champs-Elysees and up the steep, narrow streets of Lower Montmartre, and visit the Luxembourg Gardens and the Latin Quarter, abuzz with students. Along the way, see locales frequented by the likes of W.E.B Dubois and Sidney Bechet, and the connections between 20th-century African-Americans and the Louvre, La Madeleine, and the Paris Opera House.

South of the River Seine, explore the important legacy of Josephine Baker, a dancer and entertainer who became the first Black woman to be buried at the Panthéon in 2021. In the city’s northern arrondissements tour memorials and statues that honor three generations of Alexandre Dumas' family—and illustrate France's relationship with slavery and race. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and afterwards spend the remainder of the day exploring Paris on your own or relax back at the hotel with dinner independently. (B,L)

Day 4 — Paris: Montmartre and the Latin Quarter

Begin the day with an exclusive screening of the film, Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light, followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers.

Then head to Lower Montmartre, where a vibrant community of Black Americans flourished during the 1920s, becoming an enduring part of France’s cultural landscape. Learn about the dawn of the Jazz Age in Paris and history-making Black musicians like the Harlem Hellfighters. See the sites of famous nightclubs run by the singer Ada “Bricktop” Smith; World War I flying ace and drummer Eugene Bullard; and Josephine Baker. After lunch at a neighborhood restaurant, tour the Montmartre Museum, housed in a quaint 17th-century residence near Sacre Coeur. View art collections that depict the history of Montmartre during the 19th and 20th centuries including pieces by Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Dufy.

Gather this evening for a visit to St. Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, where a local guide will point out the iconic clubs and caveaus where young French jazz musicians were cultivated by African-American artists. Enjoy a festive dinner and a live jazz concert tonight.  (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Paris: Cuisine and Cultures

Delve into many delights of French gastronomy on a culinary walking tour this morning. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, Paris is a “moveable feast,” and your tour will have you sampling a broad array of French specialties and flavors. In the afternoon, take a guided tour of the National Museum of the History of Immigration, devoted to the history of immigration and diversity in France from the early 19th-century to the present. Built in 1931 for the Paris Colonial Exposition, the building is covered with bas-relief sculpture that depict scenes of immigration. Discover one of the city’s many dining options during an evening at leisure. (B)

Day 6 — Paris and Versailles

Travel west to the Palace of Versailles, the principal royal residence of France from 1682, during the reign of Louis XIV, until 1789, when Louis XVI was deposed during the French Revolution. In the company of a guide, meander through the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 formally ending World War I. Following lunch on your own, enjoy free time to explore the palace and gardens at your own pace. (B)

Day 7 — Paris: The Left Bank

This morning, gather for a presentation by American expatriate Jake Lamar, an award-winning author who hails from the Bronx. Hear his stories and insights on life as a Black American in Paris today. Then set out for the Left Bank, where the African diaspora flourished. On a walking tour visit iconic symbols of greatness such as the Pantheon and the Sorbonne, and delve into the Négritude Movement, an explosion of Black consciousness and expression led by African and Caribbean students in the 1930s. On the esplanade of the Sorbonne, learn about the far-reaching significance of the First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists held in 1956, which featured such speakers as Richard Wright, Léopold Senghor, Aimé Césaire, and Frantz Fanon. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and the balance of the day is yours to pursue your own interests. This evening, gather with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for a lively, informal conversation about the places and topics you have encountered. (B,L)

Day 8 — Paris: Cruise along the Seine

After a leisurely breakfast, gather mid-morning and depart the hotel for a cruise on the river Seine through the heart of Paris. While traveling along the World Heritage-listed river banks view  legendary Paris attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral and pass beneath elegant bridges like the Pont Neuf. Spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the city independently. In the evening, gather with fellow travelers for a farewell reception followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart for the U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport for your onward flight. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2025 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. and Arrive Paris

Depart on a transatlantic flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport and transfer to central Paris upon arrival. Check in to your hotel in the historic Marais quarter. This afternoon, gather for a short orientation walking tour of the Marais, once the city’s Jewish quarter and now a trendy neighborhood full of upscale boutiques and gastronomic shops. This evening, meet for a welcome reception and dinner at a popular local restaurant. (R,D)

Day 3 — Panoramic Paris

After breakfast at the hotel, set out with a local guide to discover the sites of Paris—and the haunts of the Black Americans who spent time in the city. Travel along fashionable avenues like the Champs-Elysees and up the steep, narrow streets of Lower Montmartre, and visit the Luxembourg Gardens and the Latin Quarter, abuzz with students. Along the way, see locales frequented by notable figures such as W.E.B Du Bois and Sidney Bechet, and the connections between 20th-century African Americans and the Louvre, La Madeleine, and the Paris Opera House.

South of the River Seine, explore the important legacy of Josephine Baker, an American entertainer and activist who became the first Black woman to be buried at the Panthéon in 2021. In the city’s northern arrondissements tour memorials and statues that honor three generations of Alexandre Dumas' family—and illustrate France's relationship with slavery and race. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. (B,L)

Day 4 — Paris: Montmartre and the Latin Quarter

Begin the day with an exclusive screening of the film, Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light, followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers.

Then head to Lower Montmartre, where a vibrant community of Black Americans flourished during the 1920s, becoming an enduring part of France’s cultural landscape. Learn about the dawn of the Jazz Age in Paris and history-making Black musicians, including members of the Harlem Hellfighters. See the sites of famous nightclubs run by the singer Ada “Bricktop” Smith; World War I flying ace and drummer Eugene Bullard; and Josephine Baker. Lunch and the balance of the day is free of planned activities. (B)

Day 5 — Paris: Cuisine and Cultures

Delve into many delights of French gastronomy on a culinary walking tour this morning. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, Paris is a “moveable feast,” and your tour will have you sampling a broad array of French specialties and flavors. In the afternoon, take a guided tour of the National Museum of the History of Immigration, devoted to  the indigenous art and cultures of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum collection comprises more than a million objects, of which 3,500 are on display at any given time, in both permanent and temporary thematic exhibits. This evening, discover one of the city’s many dining options during an evening at leisure. (B)

Day 6 — Paris and Versailles

Travel west to the Palace of Versailles, the principal royal residence of France from 1682, during the reign of Louis XIV, until 1789, when Louis XVI was deposed during the French Revolution. In the company of a guide, meander through the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 formally ending World War I. Following lunch on your own, enjoy free time to explore the palace and gardens at your own pace. 

The heart of post WWII Paris beat to the sound of jazz, and that beat defined this artistic district of St. Germain-des-Pres and the Latin Quarter. Strolling through the lively streets, your guide will point-out the iconic clubs and cafes where French jazz evolved and where returning African American masters attracted adoring audiences. Your guide will then take you across to the Right Bank to a tiny street housing three major jazz clubs. This evening’s ends with dinner and a Jazz concert. (B,D)

Day 7 — Paris: The Left Bank

This morning, gather for a presentation by American expatriate Jake Lamar, an award-winning author who hails from the Bronx. Hear his stories and insights on life as a Black American in Paris today. Then set out for the Left Bank, where the African diaspora flourished. On a walking tour, visit iconic symbols of greatness such as the Pantheon and the Sorbonne, and delve into the Négritude Movement, an explosion of Black consciousness and expression led by African and Caribbean students in the 1930s. On the esplanade of the Sorbonne, learn about the far-reaching significance of the First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists held in 1956, which featured such speakers as Richard Wright, Léopold Senghor, Aimé Césaire, and Frantz Fanon. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and the balance of the day is yours to pursue your own interests. This evening, dine independently. (B,L)

Day 8 — Paris

Today cruise on the river Seine, through the heart of Paris. While gliding along the World Heritage-listed banks of the River Seine, you’ll see legendary Paris attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral, newly restored after a tragic fire and pass beneath elegant bridges like the Pont Neuf. In the evening, gather with fellow travelers for a farewell reception followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart for the U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport for your homeward flight. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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