Day 1 :
The Journey Begins
- Departure from home:
Relax and enjoy your scheduled flight from North America.
Day 2 :
Arrive in Europe
- Upon arrival:
Your 24-hour Tour Director will meet you at the airport and remain with your group until your final airport departure. Your private coach will be waiting to transfer you to the hotel in Paris. For the next two evenings, you will enjoy the convenience of a centrally located Paris hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
- Paris overview:
Paris is one of the world’s most iconic cities, filled with culture and history, monuments and museums. Known as the City of Light, Paris is many things to different people. No writer has ever been able to truly capture this incredible city in words, and only the experience of being there can begin to express its grandness and magic. In Paris, the cost of public transport is included for all group sightseeing. Escorted by your Tour Director, you’ll be able to experience the city in the same manner as the locals.
- L’Arc de Triomphe:
Ascend the Arc de Triomphe, a massive triumphal arch commissioned by Napoleon. Today, it’s a symbol of Paris and home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- Stroll down the Champs Élysées:
The Champs Élysées is one of the most famous boulevards in the world and offers beautiful views of Parisian life and architecture, dotted with elegant boutiques, restaurants, and hotels.
- The 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 its first permit was only for 20 years. By that time, it had proven to be a valuable radio communication device. It’s now France’s global icon and has hosted over 200 million visitors.
- Dinner in a local restaurant:
Tonight, you’ll enjoy dinner in the Latin Quarter, a section of the city that
dates back to Roman times and is generally associated with artists, intellectuals, and political unrest.
- Daily Reflection and Group Discussion::
"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey
Every evening of the program, we’ll set time aside to update your Reflection Journal and share thoughts and impressions that have come up during the day.
Day 3 :
The Da Vinci Code in Paris
- Local expertise:
During your tour, the group will gain the knowledge and insight of one half-day local guide in France.
Begin with a visit to Place St-Sulpice, where you’ll view the 1844 fountain by Visconti, which displays the sculpted likenesses of four bishops of the Louis XIV era: Fenelon, Massillon, Bossuet, and Flechier. Continue to St-Sulpice, one of Paris' most impressive churches, which is highlighted by the priceless treasures inside: Servandoni's rococo Chapelle de la Madone, with a Pigalle statue of the Virgin, one of the world's largest organs, comprising 6,700 pipes, and the Delacroix frescoes in the Chapelle des Anges (Chapel of the Angels). Enjoy a specialist-guided The Da Vinci Code Tour of St-Sulpice, tracing the path of Silas in his quest for the Keystone.
View the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Work began in 1163 on this spot that had been a holy shrine since Roman times. Over the centuries, the cathedral has been the scene of some of France's most momentous occasions, including the coronation of Napoleon.
- Tuileries Garden:
Walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, the Neo-Classical gardens outside of the Louvre entrance, and continue to La Place de la Concorde for a magnificent view of the Champs Élysées.
- The Louvre:
Tour the renowned Louvre Museum with a local specialist guide. See Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the imposing Coronation of Napoleon, and many of the finest paintings and sculptures from western civilization. Revisit Robert Langdon's adventures by tracing his fictional footsteps in and around the Musee du Louvre. Your tour will begin and end where his caper does, and travel through where the breathless action unfolded. Your specialist-guide, our private "symbologist," will use works of art to explore the provocative ideas in Dan Brown's book.
Ascend to Montmartre, an area of Paris made famous in the late 19th century as an artists’ haunt. We will spend time in the Place du Tertre, a square known for its local artwork.
- Group dinner:
Have dinner in a local restaurant in the Montmartre area of Paris. You’ll also spend time in the Place du Tertre, a square known for its local artwork.
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, you can admire the stained glass and some of the world’s largest mosaics.
Day 4 :
Continue to London
- To London via the Chunnel:
Board a private coach for your transfer to the train station—from Paris to London. Your group will then take a private coach to your centrally located London hotel, where you’ll spend the next three evenings and enjoy the convenience of an included daily breakfast.
London is the largest city in Europe: quite a feat, considering its location on a relatively small island. The city's location is perfect for an administrative, communications, and trade center, as the Romans realized when they founded their city here in AD 43. London is filled with countless
historic and cultural treasures that meld seamlessly into an exciting, contemporary city. The cost of public transport is included for all group sightseeing here. Escorted by your Tour Director, you’ll be able to experience the city in the same manner as the locals.
- Sightseeing overview:
During your time in London, you’ll explore the Westminster and Whitehall areas, including Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, Parliament Square, Downing Street, St. James's Park, and Buckingham Palace.
- Group dinner:
This evening, dine in a local restaurant near Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, two of London’s most vibrant and lively areas.
Day 5 :
Search of the Holy Grail
- Westminster Abbey:
Your day will begin at Westminster Abbey, where English kings and queens have been crowned since 1066. Pick-up your quest to break the grail code on a specialist-guided tour of the church, which will include the Royal Chapels, holding the tombs of monarchs from past centuries; Poets' Corner, where you’ll view the memorials of famous literary figures; Sir Isaac Newton's Tomb; and the Chapter House.
- Temple church:
This afternoon, resume your quest for the "Holy Grail" with Robert and Sophie, beginning with a visit to the Temple Church, one of three Norman "round churches" left in England—first completed in the 12th century. Search for the knightly effigies and the Norman door, and take note of the circle of grotesque portrait heads, including a goat in a mortarboard.
- British Library:
Next, you’ll be at the British Library to do a bit of research and break the Priory's code. One of the world's great libraries, it features a collection of some 12 million books, manuscripts, and other items. The Library's fascinating collection includes items of historic and literary interest, such as two of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, Nelson's last letter to Lady Hamilton, the journals of Captain Cook, a copy of The Canterbury Tales from 1410, and manuscripts from Beowulf. Almost every major author, including Hardy, Dickens, Austen, Brontë, Keats, and hundreds of others, are represented in the section devoted to English literature. You can also view the Diamond Sutra, dating from 868, said to be the oldest surviving printed book.
- Group dinner:
Enjoy an evening meal together in a local restaurant.
Day 6 :
- British Museum:
Explore the British Museum, one of the most comprehensive collections of art and artifacts in the world. Highlights of your visit will include the Rosetta Stone, the discovery of which led to the deciphering of hieroglyphs; the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens; and the Sutton Hoo Treasure.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral:
Your day will continue with a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1710. St. Paul's classical dome dominates the London skyline, and you’ll climb to the top for a 360-degree view of the city. You’ll see the dome’s interior and the Whispering Gallery, an acoustic marvel in which the faintest whisper can be heard clearly on the opposite side. The famed Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, and Sir Christopher Wren himself are all entombed in the cathedral, and at the east end, you can view the American Memorial Chapel, honoring the 28,000 U.S. service personnel who lost their lives while stationed in Britain during World War II.
- Tower of London:
Visit the Tower of London, one of Britain’s most fascinating and important historical structures. Begun as a fortress by William the Conqueror, the Tower is now primarily associated with the legendary figures imprisoned and executed there over the centuries. Your visit will include the armories, a display of instruments of torture and execution, and the breathtaking Crown Jewels exhibit.
- Group dinner:
Enjoy dinner this evening in Covent Garden, home to some of the city’s liveliest restaurants, pubs, and cafés.
Day 7 :
Excursion to Oxford and Yorkshire
Oxford has long been an important stopping point on central routes from the north of England to London, but it’s more well-known as the home of England’s first university. With its spectacular architecture and famous scholars, including some of the world’s most important writers, the university is a uniquely integral part of Oxford and England as a whole.
- Literary walking tour:
Take a literary walking tour through the many colleges that make up Oxford, highlighted by St. John’s College, Trinity College, the Sheldonian Theater, Bodleian Library, and Queen's College.
- Christ Church College:
Visit Christ Church College, Oxford’s largest and grandest Renaissance College, which was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey. The college’s Christ Church Cathedral is the smallest in England.
- The town of York:
Visiting York is like walking through a living museum. Its medieval structures are impressively preserved among timbered houses and winding, cobbled streets, surrounded by the remains of the city walls. Founded by the Romans in A.D. 71, York was a strategic point used by both the Saxons and Vikings. For the night, your base will be in York. Breakfast and dinner will be included at the hotel.
Day 8 :
Yorkshire to Edinburgh
- City stroll:
Take a walking tour of York, through the medieval and historic parts of the city. Visit York Minster, which originates from the early 7th century and features stunning stained glass from the Middle Ages.
- The Shambles:
Take a walk through the Shambles, Europe's best-preserved medieval street, although the name also refers collectively to the surrounding maze of narrow, twisting lanes and alleys around it. The street itself is mentioned in the Domesday Book, so we know it’s existed for over 900 years.
- Travel from Yorkshire to Edinburgh:
- Rosslyn Chapel:
Explore the exquisite and ornate 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel. The church is one of the most mysterious places in Scotland, especially with the current gloat of books purporting to show how hidden secrets lurk within every crack of stone at this venerated place. Its elaborate carvings are some of the best in Europe and portray scenes not found in any other 15th-century chapel. Rosslyn Chapel has become a kind of magnet to those interested in the mysteries of life and contains many carvings relevant to biblical, Masonic, pagan, and Knights Templar themes.
Edinburgh is widely regarded as one of Europe's most attractive cities, due primarily to its impressive medieval and Georgian districts and surrounding Lothian Hills. It’s as famous for the arts as it is for its long and turbulent history. Both the Old and New towns are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For the next two evenings, you’ll enjoy the convenience of a centrally located Edinburgh hotel, where daily breakfast will be included.
- Group dinner:
Enjoy your evening meal as a group in a local restaurant.
Day 9 :
Edinburgh Through the Ages
- Edinburgh Castle:
Visit Edinburgh Castle, a place filled with history, legend, and lore. Your visit will include St. Margaret's Chapel, the State Apartments, the Great Hall, and the Crown Chamber, which houses the Honors of Scotland (Scottish Crown Jewels).
- Walking tour:
Enjoy a walking tour of Edinburgh. Begin at Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the monarch in Scotland, and continue along one of the most fascinating and historic walks in Europe—from the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.
- St. Giles Cathedral:
Visit St. Giles Cathedral, which was at the center of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and eventually became the first Presbyterian church in Scotland. John Knox, who had been appointed as Minister of Edinburgh, preached here from 1560 to 1572. Behind the cathedral is John Knox’s Grave, which you’ll also visit—it has been paved over in the centuries since his death.
Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, built by James IV, adjacent to the Augustinian abbey David I established in the 12th century. Your tour of the palace will include King James Tower, the Throne Room, the King's Bedchamber, and the Picture Gallery, with portraits of Scottish monarchs.
- Queen’s Gallery:
Visit the Queen's Gallery, part of the Palace of Holyroodhouse complex, which exhibits pieces from the Royal Collection.
- Group dinner:
Enjoy an evening meal together in a local restaurant.
- Final Reflection and Discussion Session:
This evening, you’ll make the final entries in your Reflection Journal and share some of the most significant observations and perspectives that have taken shape throughout your Da Vinci Code Literary Trip. We’ll also discuss how these experiences may be most relevant for us all as we return home.
Day 10 :
Departure for Home
Your rewarding and enjoyable Following the Da Vinci Code Tour comes to an end as your Tour Director accompanies your group to the airport on your final day.