Monday, January 13, 2014

Paris and Ile de France Discovery Tour

APRIL 27-MAY 3, 2014

This cultural adventure through Paris is sure to please lovers of Paris and especially those who desire to learn about its history and its artistic and architectural heritage.  To really know Paris is to walk its streets and the best way to get acquainted is to be accompanied in your journey by an expert guide who will make Paris through the ages come to life and reveal its secrets.  This is what I propose in this new  Spring Paris and Ile de France Discovery tour. A substantial,  in-depth and fun exploration of the city's lore.  As a bonus,  travelers will also experience the Ile de France, the cradle of the French Kings from the time of the Capetian dynasty.   This region that surrounds Paris, often overlooked by travelers,  offers historical treasures like  great cathedrals (it is here that the Gothic style was conceived and developed), and magnificent castles.  It is also here that Impressionist painters  took their inspiration.  For the culturally curious traveller this tour is a must . This is a small group tour so space is limited so reserve today.  Visit

Below are Highlights of the Tour. 

Paris two Islands-- Ile de la Cite  
The Ile de la Cite, the island on which Paris was founded. First settled on a bend of the Seine River by the Parisii tribe, Lutecia, as it was first called, developed as a thriving Gallo-Roman trading post. As the heart of Paris, Ile de la Cite was the center of the French Royalty since the Merovingian Dynasty when King Childebert built a castle. Notre Dame Cathedral was built in the 11th century a stone throw from the King’s Palace on a site of an ancient Roman Temple devoted to Mercury. 

Ile St. Louis
Cross the Seine to Ile Saint Louis—Paris’s most romantic island— Along the Quais de Bethune, Anjou and Orleans, discover an elegant 17th century architecture ensemble with unbeatable views over the River Seine. Its main street, rue Saint Louis en l’Ile is lined with tantalizing shops .We will make sure to stop at Berthillon, for a taste of Paris “best” ice-cream.

Place des Vosges
Le Marais
This neighborhood of Paris was the center of  the aristocracy in early 17th century. In 1605 the elegant Royal Square, known today as Place des Vosges was built. Many French noble families settled here and built impressive urban mansions like the Hotel de Sens, Hotel de Sully, Hotel de Soubise to name a few. Madame de Sevigne, the prolific letter writer, lived in the Hotel Carnavalet from 1677 till her death in 1696. We will also evoke here the Jewish past of this neighborhood, which had been for centuries home to a vibrant community. Once a dilapidated neighborhood, le Marais, has been revitalized in recent years into the trendiest neighborhood of Paris and home to the Gay community. 

Caillebotte- Paris sous la Pluie
Art Institute, Chicago
Paris of the Impressionists 
We will retrace some of the favorite Parisian spots painted by 19th century masters like Renoir, Caillebotte, Monet, Toulouse Lautrec including Montmartre, Opera, Gare Saint Lazarre, Grand Boulevards and the banks of the Seine River.  This will be followed by own private guided tour of the Orsay Museum to view the great masterpieces of the Impressionist art movement.

Ile de France

A short train ride will take us to Chartres  for a visit of one of the finest and best preserved gothic cathedrals in Europe. The architecture and the majority of its stained glass windows dating from the 12 and 13th centuries have survived almost intact. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. We will enjoy lunch and a walking tour in the atmospheric medieval town. 


Fontainebleau is a magnificent Renaissance palace built by King Francois I. Its recent restoration will allow us to admire the beautiful Francois I Gallery decorated in frescoes painted by Rosso, a pupil of Michelangelo. We will be dazzled by the mastery of Renaissance art and workmanship such as the Grand Ballroom’s paneled ceiling decorated by Italian master, Primatticcio in 1552 that depict mythological and hunting scenes as well as the lavish decoration and magnificent tapestries that embellish the State Apartments. Napoleon I and his nephew, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte made Fontainebleau their retreat from the rigors of the Parisian court life and as such they added their imperial touch to the Palace. 

Vaux le Vicomte 
 The Chateau of Vaux le Vicomte is the magnificent castle that inspired Versailles. 
It was built by Louis XIV's finance minister, Nicholas Fouquet. It took five years to complete and the best architect, artists and artisans of the time contributed to build  a most magnificent castle.  Fouquet enjoyed it for a brief time for after a fete where he invited the King and his court to show off his castle, the king was not amused as Vaux le Vicomte's splendors exceeded his palace at the Tuileries and his modest hunting lodge in Versailles.  Shortly after the festivities, Fouquet was arrested never to return to his castle. Louis XIV hired the the same architect (Le Vau), painter/decorator (le Brun) and landscape designer (Le Notre) to create his castle at Versailles.

For more details of the tour visit

Tag: Paris , Notre Dame Cathedral, Le Marais, Impressionist Paris, Chartres, Vaux le Vicomte, Fontainebleau

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