Day 1 :
Depart from North America
- Flight to Paris:
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight to Paris.
Day 2 :
Travel to Loire Valley
- Arrive in Paris:
Our 24-hour tour director will meet us at the airport and remain with us until our final airport departure. We will have use of a private coach and driver, while touring for the next eight days.
On the way to the Loire Valley, we will stop in the small market town of Amboise, once home to the French royal court, but today primarily a tourist destination because of its historic surroundings and architecture. The great Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life in Amboise, and some of his inventions are still on display there.
- Visit the Château d’Amboise:
A one-time royal residence that was used to greet royal pilgrims en route from Paris to Santiago, Spain, during the Middle Ages, the Château d’Amboise has a spiral staircase thought to be designed by Leonardo da Vinci. The small chapel also features a plaque marking da Vinci's burial place.
- Visit Le Clos Luce (The House of Light):
A plush palace where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life, the house does a wonderful job of recreating the everyday atmosphere that he enjoyed in his final years. We will see sketches and models of his incredible inventions.
- Loire Valley (area):
The Loire Valley, the “Garden of France” and “Cradle of the French Language,” is a cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments, and lands that have been cultivated and shaped over the centuries. This is an enchanted place filled with vineyards, flowers, and rolling green hills, and dotted with more than a thousand chateaux. It is the gentle pace of life, however, that charms visitors most.
- Hotel check-in:
The Loire Valley area will be our base for the next two nights. While here, we will enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 :
Learn the Loire Valley
- Tour the Château Chambord:
The Château Chambord is the largest and most recognizable of the Loire chateaux. Our visit to this 400-room “hunting lodge” includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Double Helix Staircase and a tour of the elaborately decorated roof.
- First Concert Performance:
Your first concert performance is today. Venue options include Chapelle Saint-Jean, which dates from the 13th century and was built by the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. Today, it is one of the major Gothic art masterpieces in Anjou, and one of many local churches in Thouars, Chenonceau or Angers. In Tours, there is the famous St-Sulpice known for its acoustics and a site to perform sacred repertoire.
Day 4 :
Explore Chartres and Head to the Rouen Area
- The City of Chartres:
We will travel from the Loire Valley to the Rouen area and stop in the city of Chartres. Lying near the border of the Loire Valley, the city of Chartres was one of the first urban conservation sites in France. With its half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and stone bridges, the venture has successfully retained the town’s unique charms.
- Visit Chartres Cathedral:
The Chartres Cathedral is the jewel in the crown of medieval churches in Europe. The stone church is a testimony to the religious fervor of the Middle Ages. Chartres boasts an unrivaled expanse of sculpture, as well as one of Europe's most impressive collections of stained glass windows.
- Journey to the Rouen Area:
Rouen is the capital of the Haute Normandie region and was once the Anglo-Norman capital from which England was governed. The beauty of this thriving port city, which has grown from industrialization to a rich and cultured place, has drawn such notable tourists as Monet.
- Visit Rouen’s Cathédrale Notre-Dame:
Dominated by its famous west facade and two unequal towers, the fame of the cathedral was increased by Claude Monet upon completion of his four paintings of the west facade.
- Stroll Along the Rue du Gros-Horloge:
A bustling street with old half-timbered houses, the famous Gros-Horloge Clock, and the Place du Vieux-Marche, the Rue du Gros-Horlage is the city’s main square. In this square, the French heroine Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. Today, the great Cross of Rehabilitation marks the square to commemorate her death.
- Hotel check-in:
Our base for the next two nights will be Rouen area, where breakfast and dinner will be provided at the hotel.
Day 5 :
Day Trip to Honfleur
The former defensive port of Honfleur has grown into one of Normandy’s most appealing harbor towns. The 17th century heart of the city has drawn artists from around France for the last century, including Boudin, Renoir, Courbet, and Cezanne; painters are still often seen along the quayside.
- Visit the Eugène Boudin Museum:
The museum houses a variety of early Impressionist paintings, as well as a collection of Norman costumes.
- Second Concert Performance:
Your second concert performance is today. Venue options include the Église Sainte-Catherine, the main church of the town and the largest wooden church in France. Choirs can perform a full evening concert here with a mainly sacred program of music.
Day 6 :
Travel to Paris
We continue on our journey from the Rouen area to Paris. Along the way, we will visit Giverny and Versailles. The small village of Giverny is best known as the home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet. A settlement has existed here since Neolithic times, and the quaint town is now an attraction in its own right.
- Fondation Claude Monet:
Explore Claude Monet’s House and Gardens, known also as the Fondation Claude Monet. The house is decorated in the original color schemes that Monet admired and the gardens are the subject of some of the artist’s best-loved works, including the Water Lilies series.
- Experience Versailles:
A palace commissioned by Louis XIV around Louis XIII’s hunting lodge, Versailles truly provides an experience. In addition to viewing the spectacular Gardens, our visit includes the ornate State Apartments, highlighted by the magnificent Hall of Mirrors. Versailles set the standard for royal opulence in the 17th century; this overindulgence set the stage for outrage and the ensuing French Revolution 100 years later.
- LEAP Seize the Chateau!:
Experience the French Revolution through role play. Using Audio Guides you will find yourself in the shoes of the monarchy, clergy, nobility, bourgeoisie, or peasantry to explore the issues underlying the French Revolution.
- Arrive in Paris:
For the next three evenings we will enjoy the convenience of our centrally-located Paris hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
Enjoy local French fare in a restaurant in Paris.
LEAP Activity | Seize the Château!
A lively role-play puts you in the shoes of the monarchy, clergy, nobility, bourgeoisie, or peasantry to explore the issues underlying the French Revolution.
Day 7 :
Paris is one of the most iconic cities in the world, filled with culture and history, monuments and museums. Known as the City of Light, Paris is a million things to a million people. No writer has ever been able to truly capture Paris in words, and only the experience of being there can begin to express the grandness and magic of this incredible city.
- Ascend the Arc de Triomphe:
A massive triumphal arch commissioned by Napoleon, today the Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of Paris and is home to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- Walk Through the Jardin des Tuileries:
Explore the Neoclassical gardens outside the entrance to the Louvre and continue to La Place de la Concorde for a magnificent view of the Champs Élysées. Time permitting, we will explore the Champs Élysées, which offers a beautiful look at Parisian life and architecture.
- Louvre Museum:
Tour the renowned Louvre Museum with a local specialist guide. We will see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the imposing Coronation of Napoleon, and many of the finest paintings and sculptures from Western civilization.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner in a local restaurant in the Latin Quarter, a section of the city that dates back to the Roman times; it is generally associated with artists, intellectuals, and political unrest.
Day 8 :
Paris of the Impressionists
- Visit the Musée D’Orsay:
The Musée D’Orsay is housed in a former railway station. It features mainly French art from 1848-1915, and is best known for its impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne.
- Eiffel Tower:
Ascend to the top of Paris’ most recognizable landmark, the Eiffel Tower, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889. The wrought-iron tower was not meant to be permanent, and the first permit was only for 20 years. By that time, it had proved to be a valuable communication device for radio. It is now France’s global icon and has hosted over 200 million visitors.
- Sacré-Coeur Basilica:
Visit Sacré-Coeur Basilica, a huge white church that dominates the Parisian skyline. Construction of the church began in 1875 and ended in 1914, just before WWI. Inside, we can admire the stained glass and some of the world’s largest mosaics.
- Dinner andPlace du Tertre:
Tonight we will ascend to the Montmartre area of Paris, where we will have dinner in a local restaurant. This area was made famous in the late 19th century as an artists’ haunt. We will also spend time in the Place du Tertre, a square known for its local artwork.
- Third Concert Performance:
Your third concert performance is today. Venue options include historic gothic masterpiece Notre Dame and La Trinité, where Messiaen served as organist and where Hector Berlioz had his funeral. In addition, there is Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, The American Church in Paris, and the Église de la Madeleine, which is another of our most popular venues for attracting good audiences. Finally, the Église St- Roch regularly hosts concerts. It is an excellent venue for visiting choirs and has good facilities and very organized publicity.
Day 9 :
- Depart to North America:
Our rewarding and enjoyable tour comes to an end as our tour director accompanies us to the airport on our final day.