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10034
France

Independent Paris: People, Places, Culture

Celebrate the grand culture of Paris on expert-led walks and independent excursions, reveling in architecture, world-class museums, famed cuisine and traditional open-air markets.
Rating (5)
Program No. 10034RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
1,899
Flights start at
725
France

Independent Paris: People, Places, Culture

Celebrate the grand culture of Paris on expert-led walks and independent excursions, reveling in architecture, world-class museums, famed cuisine and traditional open-air markets.
Length
9 days
Starts at
1,899
Flights start at
725
Program No. 10034 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 3 - Jul 11, 2021
Starting at
2,199
Sep 11 - Sep 19, 2021
Starting at
2,199
Sep 17 - Sep 25, 2021
Starting at
2,599
Itinerary Note

Please note that this program date stays at an upgraded hotel.

Oct 2 - Oct 10, 2021
Starting at
2,199
Nov 6 - Nov 14, 2021
Starting at
1,899
Dec 4 - Dec 12, 2021
Starting at
1,899
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jul 3 - Jul 11, 2021
Starting at
2,959
Sep 11 - Sep 19, 2021
Starting at
2,959
Sep 17 - Sep 25, 2021
Starting at
3,399
Itinerary Note

Please note that this program date stays at an upgraded hotel.

Oct 2 - Oct 10, 2021
Starting at
2,959
Nov 6 - Nov 14, 2021
Starting at
2,339
Dec 4 - Dec 12, 2021
Starting at
2,339

At a Glance

From a table at a street-side cafe near the Sorbonne, you watch students excitedly discoursing, mothers shepherding children along the sidewalk, the life of a Parisian neighborhood unfolding before you. It’s just one moment in your independent exploration of the Paris behind the postcards. Stroll the grand boulevards, meet local experts who illuminate the city’s most marvelous treasures, compare the city’s diverse quarters and savor every new experience that crosses your path.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to five miles per day. Extensive use of the Paris Métro system, often accessed by stairs. Activity level is based on included program elements. You may enjoy a more leisurely version of this program, "Paris at a Slower Paris: Art & Culture in the City of Light" (#22235).
Independent City Discoveries
Independent City Discoveries
Learn with a Group Leader and enjoy educational programming while also getting independent time to explore on your own. Most Independent City Discoveries include lectures, self-guided excursions and passes for public transit and museums.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • A local Road Scholar expert introduces you to life as a Parisian as you explore Île de la Cité, the center of Paris.
  • Examine and discuss the art of Paris at museums, gardens and an open-air market.
  • Enjoy ample free time for independent discoveries or choose to follow the Group Leader to intriguing corners of the city.

General Notes

Included in the program: Seven nights hotel accommodation, Métro and museum passes, all breakfasts, some lunches and dinners, escorted activities and optional field trips. Current Events in Paris: Due to the fire at Notre Dame, the cathedral is closed to visitors. Road Scholar programs that visit île de la Cité will be able to see the outside of the cathedral, but we will not be able to go inside.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Julian Brown
Born and educated in England, art historian Julian Brown holds a PhD in the ancient art of Southeast Asia and has lived in Paris for almost thirty years. He began showing visitors around Europe in the early 1980s and today spends much of each year sharing the wonder of France’s capital and provinces. When not in France, he shares his knowledge in Spain or Asia and lectures on his research around the world. Books and classical music compete with travel as his main passions.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Julian Brown
Julian Brown View biography
Born and educated in England, art historian Julian Brown holds a PhD in the ancient art of Southeast Asia and has lived in Paris for almost thirty years. He began showing visitors around Europe in the early 1980s and today spends much of each year sharing the wonder of France’s capital and provinces. When not in France, he shares his knowledge in Spain or Asia and lectures on his research around the world. Books and classical music compete with travel as his main passions.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
My Life in France
by Julia Child
The touching and famous story of Julia Child in France, where she learned to cook and fell in love with French cuisine, all in her own words.
Paris Pratique Par Arrondissement
by Atlas Indispensable
This pocket atlas contains detailed maps of every neighborhood in Paris, as well as details about bus and metro stops.
The Hotel Majestic
by Georges Simenon
The most famous fictional detective in France, Maigret, tackles a case in the heart of Paris.
The Secret Life of the Seine
by Mort Rosenblum
After losing his Paris apartment, Rosenblum, a born storyteller, takes to a houseboat moored on the Seine. The result is this entertaining tour of the places and people he encounters during his explorations along the river.
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
by Joan DeJean
A captivating history of the growth, design, and planning of Paris, telling the story of how the modern city came to be.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, A Pedestrian in Paris
by John Baxter
Australian critic and writer Baxter draws on his second career as a literary tour guide in his adopted city for this witty memoir, laced with terrific tales.
Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light
by Tyler Stovall
A history of black Americans who settled in Paris, France, from 1900 to the present.
F is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders
by Piu Eatwell
An alphabetized catalogue of quirky French culture and history tidbits.
A Traveller's History of Paris
by Robert Coles
A fast-moving, short survey of French history with a focus on Paris from its foundation, through the heady days of revolution and up to modern times.
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
A treasure for anyone interested in Parisian cafe society and its luminaries circa 1925. Hemingway includes sharp portraits of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others who idled on their way to greatness.
The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris
by Edmund White
A 'flaneur' is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through city streets in search of adventure and fulfillment. Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook
by Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
The New Paris
by Lindsey Tramuta
Move past the clichés and learn about what makes up Paris today. Explore the open-minded sensibility, diverse populations, and hidden corners of The New Paris.
The Food & Wine of France: Eating & Drinking from Champagne to Provence
by Edward Behr
Behr seeks out the best of French food, in encounters from Champagne to Provence, to tell the stories of French artisans and chefs who work at the highest level. He shares what he learns from these experts on French traditions and how to best enjoy this food.
Murder in the Marais
by Cara Black
Literate and thrilling, with a strong sense of the geography and flavor of Paris, the first in a series of mysteries starring Aimee Ledoc shows off the French-American detective's wit and wile. The series continues with Murder in Belleville (FRN562), Murder in the Sentier (FRN563) and many more.
Markets of Paris
by Dixon Long & Marjorie Williams
An in-depth guide to the best markets in Paris. Dive into the heart of French culture and navigate the markets like a local with maps, tips, and handy phrases.
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9 days
8 nights
10 meals
7 B 0 L 3 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Paris, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Paris
D
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Independent program. It is designed for participants who want high-level Road Scholar instruction, a few group activities, and who are capable and comfortable setting out on their own for a significant part of the day/night. There will be several hours each day of educational content. Most meals will be on your own (excluded from the program cost) to enjoy what you like, and there will be substantial free time for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The program is staffed with an instructor — a licensed professional “Guide-Conférencier” in Human & Social Sciences — who will give lectures, accompany field trips, and provide expert commentary as well as a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. The program also provides each Road Scholar with a Paris Visite Pass (5-day pass for unlimited travel by public transportation in Paris and the Île-de-France region) and a Paris Museum Pass (entry to 60+ participating museums for 2 consecutive days). They will make your free time and personal independent exploration easier and more rewarding. For further information on the Museum Pass, please visit: http://en.parismuseumpass.com/; for the Paris Visite Pass: https://www.ratp.fr/en/titres-et-tarifs/paris-visite-travel-pass Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal featuring traditional French food, plus a glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase. French restaurants take pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere where patrons expect to take their time, savor every bite, and set the pace of the meal, requesting “l’addition” — the check — only when they are ready. Meals are accompanied by complimentary “pain” (bread) and “eau” or “l’eau” (water), so you need not ask for them. When wine is offered, it is customary to fill your glass only half way so the wine can breathe and to be sure everyone has a share. Servers wait until everyone at the table has finished their dish before clearing and bringing the next course. To indicate that you have finished your meal, place your utensils together on the right hand side of your plate.

Evening: At leisure. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In addition to free time suggestions from the Group Leader, you can find information on local events at: https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/major-events/what-to-do-in-paris NOTE: Due to ecological regulations in France, new motorcoaches do not have restrooms on board, and older models have restrooms, but they are not available for use; rest stops will be made for rides that are over 90 minutes. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Paris Origins, Île de la Cité, Sainte-Chapelle, Notre-Dame
Paris
B
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; afternoon field trip via Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the days, standing up to 2 hours at a time; pavement, cobblestone streets, potentially crowded conditions.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices such as eggs, breads and pastries, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will gather with our instructor for a lecture on the origins of Paris from Roman development through the Middle Ages. Archaeologists estimate that the area has been inhabited for about 9,000 years. What eventually became Paris began in the 3rd Century BCE when members of the Parisii tribe settled on an island in the Seine River. We will then board a motorcoach for a panoramic view of some of the most famous monuments and sites as our instructor continues to present aspects of the city’s history and architecture through the ages. We will also stop for photos as permitted in approved areas. Our motorcoach exploration will conclude on the Île de la Cité in the vicinity of Notre-Dame.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will regroup at a designated time and place for a walking field trip to the Sainte-Chapelle and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The Sainte-Chapelle, one of the glories of Gothic architecture, was begun in 1239 and completed less than a decade later, an achievement in itself almost miraculous given its structure and decoration. Originally part of the royal palace of Capetian monarchs, it was built by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house religious relics he acquired from the Holy Land — including the Crown of Thorns! The sense of otherworldliness in the upper church comes from amazing stained glass, held within slender columns in the flamboyant Rayonnant style of architecture, creating the sensation of being inside a jewel box. Construction on Notre-Dame Cathedral began in 1163 and was not completed until 1345. Damaged and restored a number of times — including the disastrous fire of April 2019 — it remains one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere. We will be able to admire the exterior. The Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the hotel. Those who would like to stay out and return independently are welcome to do so.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Latin Quarter, Free Time, The Seine by River Boat
Paris
B
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, our instructor will address Paris during the Renaissance period and into the 18th century. Next, we will set out on a walking field trip to the Latin Quarter. The University of Paris and its core college, the Sorbonne, were founded on the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) about 1257, one of the first universities in the world. This quickly became the intellectual heart of the city, called the Latin Quarter as Latin was the language of the educated classes. Over succeeding eras, it attracted artists, writers, and bohemians. Among the highlights we will see are the Sorbonne, Cluny Museum, and Boulevard St Michel.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. There are many options to choose from in the Latin Quarter.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. This would be a good opportunity to explore the Rive Gauche neighborhood known as St. Germain des Prés. Once a gritty haven for artists, philosopher, and writers — many of whom frequented the famed Café Les Deux Magots or the Café de Flore — it has become an upscale neighborhood that still retains much of its historic ambience. It is also the home of Café Le Procope, the oldest café-restaurant in France (1686) that was a favorite — at different times! — of Voltaire, Danton, Hugo, Balzac, Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: We will board a river boat for a late afternoon or evening trip (depending on time of year) along the Seine to view wondrous sites on the Rive Gauche and Rive Droite.

DAY
5
Parisian Open Air Market, Marais
Paris
B,D
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time; potentially crowded conditions.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll head out on foot and via Métro to experience the sights, sounds, and scents of a traditional open-air market. We’ll see how Parisians experience Paris.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. You might like to assemble a picnic lunch from specialties at the market or dine at a nearby café.

Afternoon: We will regroup at a designated time and place to rendezvous with our instructor and explore the renowned district known as Le Marais — the Marsh — hearkening back to its medieval identity. This area was once called the Jewish Quarter because it was the most populous Jewish community in Europe. It has more intact pre-Revolutionary structures and streets than anywhere else in the city and is what much of Paris resembled before the vast 19th-century reconstruction designed by Baron Haussmann. The most striking feature of the Marais today is undoubtedly the superb Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris, built by King Henri IV in the early 1600s.

Dinner: We will go to a local restaurant via Métro and walking for a plated meal with soft drinks, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Palais-Royal, Musée du Louvre
Paris
B
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time; potentially crowded conditions, large crowds at Louvre that may make it difficult to see the most popular works.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, our instructor will speak to us about some of the masterpieces at the Louvre Museum. We will take the Métro to the Palais-Royal. This “village in the city” that faces the Louvre was a seat of power and high position for centuries. It was built by Cardinal Richelieu in 1629 and bequeathed to King Louis XIII. It went through a series of royal owners and became the focal point of a lively social scene with notable theaters, restaurants, and promenades that attracted many visitors. The Palais-Royal was also a center of free speech in the period leading up to the Revolution. We will walk along some of the covered passageways and hidden courtyards as we learn about its history through the centuries.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Next, we will walk over to the Musée du Louvre and explore with our expert instructor. The largest museum in the world, the Louvre’s unrivaled collection includes thousands of masterworks including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and the statue of a goddess known as “Vénus de Milo” for the island where it was discovered in 1820. Note: Crowds may make it difficult to get a good look at some of the most popular works.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: We will gather at a designated time and place to attend a performance together. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not available and will be confirmed by the Group Leader during Orientation on Day 2.

DAY
7
Musée d’Orsay, Free Time
Paris
B
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time; potentially crowded conditions.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will take the Métro for a field trip to the Musée d’Orsay. Led by our instructor, we will explore the world’s largest collection of Impressionist paintings at the Orsay Museum on the Rive Gauche of the Seine. The first work of art is the building itself, the former Gare d’Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The collections of painting, sculpture, and decorative objects show the tremendous diversity of artistic creation in the western world from 1848-1914, showcasing many of the most remarkable works of the early modern era including the Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and Art Nouveau movements.

Lunch: On your own. The museum has three dining venues, or you might like to eat at a nearby brasserie.

Afternoon: Free time. You might like to take the Métro to the church of Les Invalides in the Musée de l’Armée with the extraordinary Tomb of Napoleon or the Rodin Museum and sculpture garden for independent exploration.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Musée de l’Orangerie, Montmartre
Paris
B,D
Le Patio Bastille

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time; potentially crowded conditions, inclined terrain at Montmartre.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, our expert instructor will give us a lecture on Paris in the 20th century. Led by our instructor, we will take a field trip to explore the collections of the Musée de l’Orangerie and view Monet’s magnificent “Les Nymphéas” (Water Lilies). Situated in the heart of Paris at the corner of the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was constructed in 1852 as an actual orangery (shelter for orange trees), with a variety of uses in subsequent eras. When it was repurposed and refurbished after 1921, the great Impressionist artist Claude Monet began work on eight huge panels that are regarded as the ultimate expression of his artistic ideas. They were installed here after his death. The museum also contains works by Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir, and other great artists of Impressionism and Modern Classicism.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time. You might like to take the Métro up to the “village” of Montmartre, home of many artists during Impressionist and post-Impressionist periods. This would be an opportunity to explore popular Place du Tertre (Artist Square), Sacré Coeur Basilica, or simply to meander through the neighborhood and see streets that inspired so many artists.

Dinner: We will go to a local restaurant via Métro and walking and have a 3-course plated meal with choice of entrée plus wine and water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning. If you need assistance with transfer arrangements for travel tomorrow, please consult with the Group Leader.

DAY
9
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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