Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:30 p.m.
Afternoon: After arriving at the hotel, check in and get your room, then take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax before our Orientation session. A sign will be posted with the time and location. 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 Intergenerational program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren during the program. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. In addition to the Group Leader, our program will be staffed with a resident instructor who is also an official licensed guide and who will provide most of the lectures and on-site commentary during field trips. Another outstanding benefit of this program is included tickets for museums and the Paris Métro. The Group Leader will explain how to use them. Periods in the daily 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. 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 enjoy a 3-course welcome dinner including wine. In France, meals are accompanied by complimentary bread (“pain”) and water (“eau” or “l’eau”), so you need not ask for them; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles (about 5km). Travel via Paris Métro (public transportation system), accessed by going up/down flights of stairs and walking through pedestrian tunnels; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; occasional crowded conditions — stay together.
Breakfast: At the hotel, choose what you like from the French-style breakfast buffet with hot and cold choices plus juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: French is one of the most common languages in the world, spoken by more than 400 million people worldwide including little kids. Our instructor will lead a class to learn a few basics of the French language and practice pronouncing them. We’ll use these essential phrases during our Parisian learning adventure, beginning with lunch today. French is considered one of the easiest foreign languages to learn because so many English words have French roots. Parler français est facile!
Lunch: Especially for kids: We’ll take the Métro to Montmartre with our Group Leader and instructor. There, we’ll have a list of restaurant choices and “tickets repas” (meal tickets) to get lunch. The assignment will be to read the menu and order in French. Try not to use a dictionary or guidebook unless absolutely necessary.
Afternoon: Especially for kids: We will regroup at a specified time and place, then walk to Place du Tertre, the heart of the bohemian Montmartre neighborhood. The “bohemians” of Paris were artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, and others who wanted to live as free spirits. That spirit lives on today. We’ll continue developing our French language skills as we find artists to draw or paint our portraits. Artists may charge less for kids than adults, so don’t be afraid to bargain! We’ll then embark on an exploration of Montmartre behind the scenes. The main square has been a gathering place for artists for generations and is still a focal point of the local artistic scene. It is situated next to the famous Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica) built on the summit of Butte de Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. If you prefer not to climb the steep steps to the entrance, you can ride in the funicular. For those who wish to climb to the dome of the church, there is a climb of 234 steps up a spiral staircase (no elevator), rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the city.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Share highlights of the day with fellow Road Scholars, conversing en français, bien sûr!
Activity note: The motorcoach ride to Vaux-le-Vicomte is about 38 miles, approximately 1.25 hours depending on traffic. Extent of walking determined by personal interest.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Our instructor will tell us some of the most important things to know about French art. By the 12th century (1100s), France was the leader of intellectual and artistic life in Europe, including architecture and building styles called Romanesque and Gothic. Many artistic movements started in France and continue to this day. “Avant-garde” is a French term for new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts. Especially for kids: We’ll then take the Métro to one of the greatest museums and one of the most important art collections in the world, the Louvre. Once there, we will divide into teams to search for a list of masterpieces while exploring. The Louvre began in 1190 as a fortress that was later turned into a royal palace. French kings couldn’t leave anything they inherited as it was, so the Louvre went through lots of transformations up until the time of King Louis XIV, who was born there. But Louis didn’t like Paris and left the city for the chateau he built in Versailles. The Louvre was then mainly a royal art museum. After the French Revolution, it became a museum for the people. The big glass “pyramide” we see right in the middle of the courtyard today opened in 1989 as part of a renovation plan. Some people loved it, some hated it, but it is now a major landmark.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, choose what you like from a tasty buffet.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll hop aboard a motorcoach with our leadership team and ride to the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. There are many magnificent palaces and chateaux (castles) in France, but this may be the most magnificent private residence in the whole country. It was built by Nicolas Fouquet (1615-80), an ambitious courtier (someone who attends a royal court as a companion or adviser to the king or queen). Fouquet became the Superintendent of Finances in 1653 and commissioned this estate covering more than 1,200 acres (500 hectares) with the grandest architecture, interior design, gardens, and landscaping ever seen. When Fouquet invited King Louis XIV to an elaborate dinner, the king was inspired to build an even grander Versailles, but — maybe feeling jealous? — he threw Fouquet in jail on charges on embezzlement. As we explore the chateau, gardens, and grounds, we’ll learn how the French aristocracy and nobility lived during the “ancien regime” — building palaces as representations of their wealth and power. We’ll then return to Paris.
Dinner: We’ll delight in a traditional French dinner with a local family in their backyard (weather permitting).
Evening: At leisure. Partagez les moments forts de la journée avec les camarades Road Scholars.
Activity note: Use of Paris Métro (subway), and climbing stairs.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Accompanied by our Group Leader and instructor, we will take the Métro for a field trip to the center of Paris, the Île de la Cité. It was originally occupied by the Iron Age Parisii tribe, who legend says claimed their name from Prince Paris of Troy. It became a prominent settlement in Roman Gaul as Lutetia and later capital of the Merovingian dynasty. Today, it is home to some of Paris’s most iconic sites including the Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie, and Cathédrale de Notre Dame. The Sainte-Chapelle, one of the glories of Gothic architecture, was begun in 1239 and completed less than a decade later. Originally part of the royal palace of Capetian monarchs, it was built by King Louis IX to house religious relics he acquired from the Holy Land including the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the True Cross, a nail from the Crucifixion, and more — all of which cost more than the construction. The sense of other-worldliness in the upper church creates a sensation of being inside a jewel box due to its slender columns and flamboyant architecture. A former palace and prison, the Conciergerie rises out of the Île de la Cité’s western bank. The seat of the medieval kings of France, it was expanded and fortified under Louis IX and Philip IV in the 13th century. During the French Revolution, it became a prison where many spent their last days while awaiting the guillotine, including Marie Antoinette. Though rebuilt throughout the 19th century, numerous parts remain from medieval times, including the Hall of the Guards. Notre-Dame Cathedral was conceived in 1160 by the Bishop of Paris who wanted a much grander edifice than the existing Merovingian building. Construction began in 1163 and was not finally completed until 1345. Severely damaged during religious conflicts, rededicated during the French Revolution to the Cult of Reason, and damaged again during World War II, it remains one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere.
Lunch: At a crêperie, choose a salad and savory or sweet crêpe.
Afternoon: We will re-group at the hotel for an afternoon cruise along the Seine to view the magnificent monuments lining the river, enhanced by expert commentary. After our river cruise, the remainder of the afternoon is free for personal independent exploration to see more the many marvels of Paris before dinner.
Dinner: We’ll take the Métro to a neighborhood restaurant for an early dinner with a 3-course plated meal plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Next, we will walk from the restaurant to attend a performance in the opulent splendor of the Paris Opera-Palais Garnier. Napoleon III commissioned a new Paris opera house in 1861 to be designed by Charles Garnier as part of his extraordinary reshaping of the capital during the Second Empire. It is one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not confirmed. When available, the information will be posted on the Road Scholar website under this program number and will also be included in preparatory materials sent following enrollment.
Activity note: The motorcoach ride is about 50 miles (79 km), approximately 1.5 hours, depending on traffic.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: This morning we will travel by motorcoach to Giverny, where the artist Claude Monet (1840-1926) created incredible paintings of his gardens. Monet drew pictures as a child, went to a school for the arts, and when he grew up painted many outdoor scenes. Monet and his artist friends rebelled against the kind of conservative art approved by critics and created their own style. It was called Impressionism because it was an “impression” of a scene, painted outdoors to capture the look of natural light. Today, Impressionism is one of the most popular art forms in the world. At his home in Giverny, Monet planted gardens that inspired some of his greatest paintings. There was a flower garden in front of the house and a water garden with a Japanese bridge over a pond in the back. The blooming gardens were full of colors and beautiful views in every season. Monet once said, “All my money goes into my garden. I am in raptures.” We’ll visit the house and studio, explore the grounds, and see some of the settings — including water lilies — he made into wonderful paintings like no one had ever done before.
Lunch: At the restaurant in Giverny just beyond the Monet house.
Afternoon: Returning to Paris, we’ll have some time to freshen up and relax before our next field trip, to the Musée d'Orsay. We’ll take the Métro and enter the world's largest collection of Impressionist art. The former Gare d’Orsay railway station was built in 1900 for something called the Universal Exhibition, like a world’s fair. Long after the railway station closed, it was refurbished, repurposed, and reopened as the Musée d’Orsay in 1986. The collections of painting, sculpture, and decorative objects gathered here show the tremendous diversity of artistic creation in the Western world from 1848-1914. We’ll see remarkable works of the early modern era including great the examples of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and Art Nouveau movements.
Dinner: At the Musée d'Orsay restaurant, we’ll have a 2-course meal.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Standing in line at the Eiffel Tower before taking the elevator to the top.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Our program would not be complete with a visit to one of the most famous structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower (Tour d'Eiffel). It was designed by Gustave Eiffel, built from 1887-89 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial of the French Revolution. It was originally intended to last only 20 years, but was saved by radio! Now recognized worldwide as the symbol of Paris, Eiffel’s tower at first aroused skepticism and outrage. A committee of 300 architects, painters, sculptors, and writers protested, “We…passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.” But it survived and was the world’s tallest man-made structure until 1930. This unique monument has been continually adapted to new technologies and spectacular visual demonstrations exemplifying Paris as the “City of Light.”
Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you want. You might like to have “le picnique” on the Champ des Mars.
Afternoon: Especially for kids: Next, we’ll take the Métro to a bakery for a hands-on opportunity to see how real French bread is made and, under expert instruction, we’ll develop our baking skills as we create our own mouth-watering brioche or croissant. Take notes while making this scrumptious French specialty and impress friends and family back home.
Dinner: 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 and give directions.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Use of Paris Métro; climbing stairs. Walking up to 3 miles (about 5km). Getting to the top of the Arc de Triomphe includes an elevator followed by 46 steps.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will take the Métro to one of the city's many open-air markets where we can browse the stalls and mingle with Parisians during their morning shopping. Experience the sights, smells and delicious treats of the marché! Believe it or not, one of the most fascinating and instructive sites in Paris is the necropolis (cemetery) of Père-Lachaise. When it opened in 1804, some of the most famous people in French history and culture were re-buried here. Père-Lachaise soon became the most important final resting place for the great, near-great, and merely rich. The 70,000 burial plots range from simple headstones to elaborate monuments and mausoleums for renowned artists, heroes, movie stars, musicians, and statesmen. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come here every year to walk along the streets and paths.
Lunch: On your own to enjoy the local cuisine of your choice.
Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for 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. We’ll regroup at the hotel before going to dinner.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: Tonight we’ll say goodbye to Paris from atop the Arc de Triomphe. This is also one of the most famous symbols of Paris. Begun in 1806, it honors those who fought and died in military service since the Napoleonic Wars. It stands 164 feet (50 meters) tall, is 148 feet (45 meters) wide, 72 feet (22 meters) deep, and has a rooftop terrace. It was the largest triumphal arch in the world until 1982 when North Korea intentionally built one slightly larger. Especially kids: It’s 284 steps to the top! We’ll have a fantastic view of Paris and a chance to think about what we’ve learned and experienced together. Returning to the hotel via Métro, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 12:00 Noon. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.”
Breakfast: Hotel buffet (depending on your departure time). This concludes our program. 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. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!