Itinerary – The Paris Experience
A European Experiences week has an ideal balance of structure and flexibility, activities with the group and time on your own. We may also adjust our plans based on weather, the interests of the group members, and unexpected opportunities. If there’s a special event during your week, we’ll likely rearrange things to be there.
We’ll describe a “typical” Experience week in Paris, but no two weeks are ever quite the same! Your week might be organized differently, and experiences may be added or not included. And of course, there are a few surprises that we’ll wait to share with you when we’re together in the City of Lights!
We’ll meet you in the late afternoon at our boutique hotel in the Latin Quarter, near the charming Place Monge.
After introductions, we’ll head out as a group for an exciting first night on the town.
Tonight we’ll use the metros like locals and make our way to the Right Bank. An unforgettable icebreaker has our group seeing the City of Lights from a truly special perspective, including a nighttime joyride through some of Paris’ most picturesque neighborhoods. Bring your camera!
Afterward, we’ll enjoy fromage, charcuterie, and an informal intro to French wines by the owner of a convivial French wine bar.
Today we’ll start our day the way a typical Parisian might: with a trip to the historic St. Ouen flea market, where we’ll encounter a spectacular array of antiques, vintage goods, and other rare finds. A colorful and quirky setting, the market is the ideal spot to find one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs.
Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a group lunch in the market, getting savory crepes from a funky, highly-rated food stall frequented by locals.
In the afternoon, we’ll tour the Hôtel de la Marine, an 18th-century building in the heart of Paris, and the Place de la Concorde. The mansion’s stately rooms offer a taste of the over-the-top opulence of the former French monarchy.
We end Day Two with a group dinner in a neighborhood haunt near our hotel.
Paris is known for its parks, squares, and gardens, and today we make that our focus. Our day starts with a visit to historic gardens built for the Queen Marie-Antoinette in the late 18th century. The garden assembles a dreamlike mix of waterfalls, pagodas, footbridges, and, of course, a splendid array of fauna and flora, including over 10,000 rose bushes.
Our visit to the gardens is enriched by a one-of-a-kind tour from a horticultural and gardening expert. After the tour, she’ll treat our group to a relaxed, homemade lunch at her home. It gives our group a unique window into how many Parisians live.
In the afternoon, you’ll have the option to enjoy a scenic stroll through the Left Bank neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Près. A onetime bohemian enclave, the existentialists and artists of yesteryear have since given way to trendy boutiques and upscale shopping.
You will enjoy dinner on your own tonight. It’s Paris, so you have many choices!
Day Four focuses on the Marais, a trendy district that seamlessly blends old world charm with a hip twenty-first-century cosmopolitanism. Anchored by the Place des Vosges, the Marais is among Paris’ oldest neighborhoods. It boasts the largest concentration of medieval structures in the entire city.
We start our day with a guided walking tour to acquaint ourselves with this Right Bank neighborhood.
A leisurely group lunch in one of the Marais’ charming squares gives us the opportunity to enjoy the neighborhood’s lively atmosphere from a different vantage point.
We’ll spend our afternoon at one of the Marais’ most unmissable destinations, the Musée Carnavalet. A former aristocratic mansion, this 16th-century estate has since been transformed into one of Paris’ premier museums. Richly detailed permanent exhibits educate visitors about the history of the French capital, which stretches over two millennia, while a well-manicured courtyard offers the opportunity for scenic repose.
In the evening, we’ll head to a local’s apartment for a convivial, informal dinner party featuring numerous delicious surprises you won’t find back home.
No tour of Paris would be complete without a deep dive into the city’s rich culinary history. Day five is all about French gastronomy and Paris restaurant culture.
Our day starts with a visit to the Les Halles district. Fittingly, the area was once the site of Paris’ largest open-air food market, earning it the nickname the Ventre de Paris (The “Belly of Paris”). The old market hall, demolished in the early 1970s, may be long gone, but the area’s rich culinary history remains. Exploring the neighborhood with a charming and fun food history expert, we taste pastries in one of the patisseries that line the buzzing, vibrant side streets.
Once we’ve worked up an appetite, we then enjoy a lunch in a veritable, century-old Parisian institution. Guided by insights from our history of restaurants expert, our group appreciates the many details of its lively dining room, rich in historic splendor, and the menu filled with classic brasserie fare. You will be sure to enjoy this quintessential Paris experience.
We have a more flexible schedule for the remainder of the day. You have the option to visit some of the shops and boutiques near Les Halles – including the city’s great cookware stores – or the nearby grand department stores.
After a copious lunch, you’ll enjoy dinner on your own this evening. (You might decide to opt for a lighter meal!)
Day six takes us out of Paris and to a countryside château. Situated in a protected forest – once the private domain of the French monarchy – the grounds and castle of this royal estate are truly something to behold. Our group has the opportunity for a private “behind the scenes tour” that enhances the experience.
After touring the lavish château, we enjoy a picnic in the gardens where we an fully enjoy the tranquil setting.
In the afternoon we head to a charming countryside village renowned for its artistic past. You’ll have the option to explore the village, meandering down cute side streets and peeking into courtyards, or visit the museum dedicated to the many painters that called the village home.
Once back in Paris, we enjoy dinner in our neighborhood at a local ethnic food restaurant. For those with the stamina, dinner is followed by an optional visit to a jazz club.
Our last full day in Paris finds us lingering in our neighborhood and its environs. We’ll explore the scenic Latin Quarter on a guided walking tour, learning more about this area long associated with its universities and youthful student energy.
You enjoy lunch on your own today.
In the afternoon, we’ll discover the lively area around the Île Saint-Louis and the Île de la Cité, the two small islands on the Seine. You have the opportunity to stop for a coffee break at a café or pay a visit to the classic English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Company.
Our last night together is spent with a celebratory apéritif at the hotel followed by a farewell dinner at a nearby restaurant bistronomique.
We usually say our goodbyes after our farewell dinner, as everyone is headed in different directions today. Some will begin their journey home and others may stay on in Paris for a few days or continue their travels in Europe. It’s been a wonderful week together!