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. Note: The order of activities may vary to accommodate holiday hours.
At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold choices such as eggs, breads and pastries, juice, coffee, tea, water.
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. On foot and via the Paris Métro, we will head to the Île de la Cité and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Construction on the 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. Our next stop will be to see the Sainte-Chapelle, one of the glories of Gothic architecture. It 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.
At a restaurant near Notre-Dame, we’ll have a 2-course plated meal with beverage choices of a soft drink and water; other beverages available for purchase.
We will have some time to explore independently. Later in the afternoon, we’ll gather at a designated time and place and take the Métro to attend a performance together. Our program was planned far in advance when details of performances were not available. The information will be confirmed during our Orientation session on Day 2.
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.
Next, we will board a motorcoach for a panoramic view of some of the spectacular holiday light displays on the boulevards and in the specially decorated showcase windows of Les Grands Magasins — the “grandes dames” of Paris department stores.