Day 1 :
- Fly to London:
Relax and enjoy your scheduled flight from North America.
Day 2 :
- Welcome to London:
Meet your Tour Director and check into hotel.
Day 3 :
- London Guided Sightseeing Tour:
A local guide brings you to the city's highlights. View Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square with Nelson's Column, and lively Piccadilly Circus.
- Tower of London Visit:
Get up close and personal with the Tower of London. Towers, rather. Twenty stone towers, as well as tunnels, winding staircases and narrow passageways comprise this huge fortress covering 18 acres on the banks of the Thames. A royal residence from the 11th-16th centuries, the Tower also served as a jewel safe and a prison. The headless skeletons of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard (Henry VIII's former wives who were executed here) are believed to be buried here. The Crown Jewels are housed here, including the largest cut diamond in the world (530 carats). Beefeaters (guards) lead tours through the Tower.
- Optional London Theatre Performance:
Head to London's famous West End to sit back and enjoy a theater performance.
Day 4 :
- Oxford and Stratford Guided Excursion:
Explore the oldest English-speaking university in the world. Founded in 1096, Oxford got a big attendance boost in 1167, when a tiff between the English and French kings caused all English students to be expelled from the University of Paris. Many came back to Oxford, and since then the university has been home to many of England’s most illustrious thinkers and writers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Roger Bacon—and Dr. Seuss. With a local guide tour Brasenose College, one of the 39 colleges that make up the university, then continue to Stratford. Your guide will take you to William Shakespeare's childhood home, furnished in a style typical to the Elizabethan period. Then tour the thatched cottage where his wife, Anne Hathaway, lived before her marriage. The adjoining Shakespeare Tree Garden is planted with trees and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
Day 5 :
- Eurostar Channel Crossing:
Take the Eurostar under the English Channel. Faster than you can say... anything in French, you'll whiz through a tunnel and arrive in Paris.
- Paris Guided Sightseeing Tour:
Your local guide gives you an up-close view of the Arc de Triomphe, the sweeping Champs-Élysées, Napoleon's gold-domed Les Invalides, and the Gothic splendor of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Day 6 :
- Louvre Visit:
The world's largest art museum, the Louvre is housed in a Medieval fortress-turned-castle so grand it's worth a tour itself. You walk through the 71-foot glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei and added in 1989, and step into another world—one with carved ceilings, deep-set windows, and so many architectural details you could spend a week just admiring the rooms. The Mona Lisa is here, as well as the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory (the headless statue, circa 200 BC, discovered at Samothrace). The Louvre has seven different departments of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and antiquities. Don't miss the Egyptian collection, complete with creepy sarcophagi, or the collection of Greek ceramics, one of the largest in the world. (Please note the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.)
- Optional Eiffel Tower Ascent:
Enjoy breathtaking views from atop the Eiffel Tower.
Day 7 :
- Versailles Guided Excursion:
The ultimate palace, Versailles was built by Louis XIII, and housed the royal family and its groveling court from 1682, when the Sun King moved in, to the French Revolution. Everything in Versailles is worth a look, from the 250-foot-long Hall of Mirrors, with themed salons (war and peace) on either side, to Marie Antoinette's faux country hamlet. When being a queen became too much to bear, she would pretend to be a commoner, tending her sheep and wearing peasant clothes. (Please note Versailles is closed on Mondays.)
- LEAP Seize the Château:
Participate in a live role-play to understand the French Revolution.
- Chartres Cathedral Visit:
Built on an ancient worshipping ground to house a piece of the Virgin Mary’s veil (which is still on display), this 13th-century Gothic church is best known for its windows. With over 20,000 square feet of stained glass, visiting Chartres can be like walking around inside a large jewel. But don’t spend all your time looking up—on the floor is the only surviving medieval labyrinth. The faithful travel the winding 300-yard path on their knees to reach the image of paradise at the center. Ouch.
Add on 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 8 :
- Château de Chenonceau Visit:
Explore one of the most recognizable castles in the Loire Valley, built over the River Cher.
- Château d'Amboise Visit:
Sitting on the bank of the River Loire, this former royal residence is home to the grave site of Leonardo da Vinci.
- Vouvray Wine Caves:
Learn more about the kinds of sparkling wine produced in the Loire Valley.
- Vineyard Visit:
Includes a tasting for adults.
- LEAP Bon Appetit:
Slice, dice, and stir!
LEAP Activity | Bon Appetit
Slice, dice, and stir! Savor the French country lifestyle by creating (and eating) traditional Loire Valley cuisine.
Day 9 :
Loire Valley-St. Malo
- Travel to St. Malo:
- Mont-St-Michel Visit:
Stop to see Mont-St-Michel, an enormous abbey that seems to rise up out of the water, completely isolated from any connecting land. Perched on an enormous rock just off the Normandy coast, the granite Abbey of Mont-St-Michel is linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway that is covered with water during high tide. The Benedictine Abbey was founded in the 10th century, and has undergone many transformations since. Now it is a memorable complex of various buildings and styles—including rounded Romanesque arches and lacy Gothic vaulting—all culminating in a dramatic pointed spire. A major pilgrimage site for centuries, it was turned into a prison during the French Revolution, and the Benedictines did not return until 1966.
Day 10 :
- Pointe du Hoc Visit:
During World War II, this 100ft cliff in Normandy was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. Pointe-du-Hoc was hit by more than 10 kilotons of explosives during the German occupation.
Ingenious military engineering allowed the Allied forces to land at Arromanches on D-Day. Barges towed 600,000 tons of concrete across the English Channel, sinking them to create an artificial harbor, and then 33 jetties and 10 miles of floating roadways allowed the troops to land in France. Learn about this feat and other at the Arromanches Museum, where dioramas, interactive displays, and models detail the Allied landing.
- LEAP Soldiers’ Stories:
Step into the shoes of U.S. servicemen as they land in Normandy on D-Day.
- American Cemetery Visit:
Pay your respects at this World War II cemetery and memorial honoring American troops who died in Europe.
- Travel to Paris:
Day 11 :
- Optional Giverny Visit:
Claude Monet discovered this tiny farming village when he looked out the window of a stopped train. Impressed by its beauty, in 1883 he and his family moved into the pink stucco house where he spent the next 40 years planting his extensive gardens and creating some of the world's most beautiful Impressionist paintings. Spend some time wandering through the riot of natural color in the Clos Normand and watching soft light shine on the delicate Japanese bridge and lush water lilies that inspired some of his most famous works. See Monet's studio, preserved just as he left it, with supplies and sketches scattered around. Neglected for years and badly damaged during WWII, the house and gardens took 10 years to restore, but are now back in their full glory. Which just leaves one question: With all that weeding and fertilizing, how did Monet have time to paint?
- LEAP Cover the Canvas:
LEAP Activity | Cover the Canvas
Live the artist life. Explore line, color, perspective, negative space and form, then paint a masterpiece inspired by the beauty of Paris.
Day 12 :
- Return Home:
Board your flight back to the U.S. and reflect on the incredible memories you’ve created!