Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).
Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. 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. You will also receive some expert advice on getting around Paris and find out more about our planned special holiday field trips and happenings in the City of Light. 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 Paris Métro tickets for program-related travel as well as a 2-day museum pass. They will make your free time and personal independent exploration easier and more rewarding. Extensive use of Paris Métro, accessed by walking up/down flights of stairs and through pedestrian tunnels; elevators/escalators not available in most stations; be prepared to stand on Métro if seats are not available. Expect crowded conditions. 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. Note: The order of activities may vary to accommodate holiday hours. 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: We will walk to a restaurant near the hotel. We’ll have a 3-course plated meal featuring traditional French food plus a glass of wine and water; 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. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
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. Note: The order of activities may vary to accommodate holiday hours.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
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. 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.
Lunch: At a restaurant near Notre-Dame.
Afternoon: 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.
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: We'll reconvene and head to a performance together.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 75 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Use of Paris Métro; unavoidable stairs. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: We will take the Métro for a field trip to 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: At a local restaurant.
Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach for a field trip to the extraordinary Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, decorated brilliantly for the holidays. Vaux-le-Vicomte was a relatively modest manor in 1641 when Nicholas Fouquet, an ambitious member of the local parlement, bought it and began its transformation into the grandest estate in France until Versailles. Fouquet rose to become the Superintendent of France and commissioned the leading architect, painter-decorator, and landscaper of the day to achieve a unified vision of exceptional splendor that set a precedent for French architecture and design. Unfortunately for Fouquet, the magnificence of Vaux-le-Vicomte was his undoing. He fell victim to a plot by his rivals and King Louis XIV ordered his arrest — but not before attending an extravagant fête at the chateau in 1661.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy the local fare.
Evening: 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.
Activity note: Use of the Paris Métro. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1.5 hours at a time; even and uneven ground; unavoidable stairs.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: We will take the Métro to one of the city's many open-air markets that display food from local farms. During the field trip, our instructor will discuss food as a significant element of French identity, markets as an important part of French culture, and regional specialties.
Lunch: Near the market at a local restaurant, we’ll have a light lunch of charcuterie, fromage, and taste some wines.
Afternoon: We will take the Métro to the Musée du Louvre for a self-directed exploration. 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: At a local restaurant, we will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a special festive meal.
Evening: At the restaurant, we will ring in the New Year together, clink our glasses, and toast Tchin-Tchin (cheers). Meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année!
Activity note: Use of Paris Métro; unavoidable stairs. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time; pavement, cobblestones, gravel paths. Expect crowded conditions; large crowds at Louvre may make it difficult to see the most popular works. Note: The order of activities may vary to accommodate holiday hours.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Free time. You may join the Group Leader to 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. Its most striking feature today is the superb Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris, built by King Henri IV in the early 1600s.
Lunch: On your own to have what you would like.
Afternoon: We’ll head to Montmartre to learn about this historic area. Often referred to as being at the Heart of the Parisian Artist Movement, we will walk the same streets where artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec strolled. Some of the sites we will explore are the Sacré Coeur Basilica and Place du Tertre.
Dinner: We will board a bateau — riverboat — for a festive meal as we glide along the River Seine.
Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. See your program’s “Getting There” information regarding transfers.
Breakfast: At the hotel. 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!