The Paris Experience
2023 Dates: April 24 – May 1 (“April in Paris”); May 7 – 14 (Women’s Week); Oct 4 – 11 (“Paris in the Fall”)
2024 Dates: October 7 – 14 (“Paris in the Fall”)
We also offer a four-night trip, Inside Paris.
The Paris Experience is a unique week-long Experience trip, which was offered for the first time in 2022. Our groups base in heart of Paris, not far from the River Seine, in the Latin Quarter and near St Germain des Prés.
Who doesn’t know Paris? It is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating, beautiful and loved cities on earth. This iconic city captures the imagination with grandiose monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the magical River Seine, traversed with multiple pedestrian bridges, lined with booksellers and artists. The “City of Light” is the apex of architectural beauty, artistic expression and culinary delight.
The true charm of Paris, however, lies in the small details: the quaint cobblestone streets, perfectly manicured gardens, bakeries on every street corner, Belle Epoque brasseries, and sidewalk cafés. This is the locals’ authentic Paris and the one we will enjoy during our week together.
Our groups stay in a typically Parisian, comfortable, boutique hotel, in the Latin Quarter (the 5th Arrondissement). It’s the ideal location and ambiance to enjoy a a week in a Parisian neighborhood.
Experiences in Paris
The Paris Experience follows the same approach as our other European Experience trips, including a variety of special activities and experiences unique to this area. This trip is designed for those who have already visited the most touristed highlights of Paris. We dig deeper, providing experiences that locals enjoy, some of which are not normally accessible by visitors. Because of the city location and the intimate nature of these experiences, we’ll normally have a group of up to eight travelers for this week.
Our week focuses on themed days, including French gastronomy and food history, art and architecture, homes and gardens, neighborhoods, and history, while visiting through the perspective of locals for a true “inside” experience.
- An introductory jaunt about town in an iconic French Citroën 2CV car. This is a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime experience and a great way to get to know your fellow travelers.
- A visit to the St Ouen flea market, also known as “Les Puces” and considered one of the biggest antique markets in the world. This buzzy place is the best spot to pick up vintage fashion or a pre-loved treasure.
- A walking tour of the Marais district, considered one of the oldest neighborhoods of Paris, filled with aristocratic mansions and hidden courtyards dating to the time of King Louis 14th.
- A visit inside one of Paris’ charming “house” museums, such as the Musée Carnavalet or Musée Cognac-Jay. Unique collections of art, furniture, decorative objects and maps show the history of Paris and Parisians’ way of life through the ages, in beautiful nobleman’s mansions restored to their former glory.
- A tour inside the splendid salons of the recently renovated “Hotel de la Marine”, a national treasure, built on the Place de la Concorde in 1757. First, an office to manage all royal furnishings and then, as the headquarters of the French Navy, this impressive building offers an interactive visit with 3D virtual reality displays to bring its grandeur to life.
- Exploration of the Jardins de Bagatelle, accompanied by a passionate garden lover and garden designer. This “parc” on the edge of Paris was inspired by Marie Antoinette and features 6 unique gardens, full of royal connections and imagination.
- An “off the beaten path” walking tour of the Latin Quarter, our neighborhood for this week, taking in plenty of hidden secrets that are usually only known to locals.
- A special day focused on gastronomy and food history, hosted by a specialized guide who is also a professional chef. A highlight will be lunch in a historic eating establishment created at the beginning of the 20th century to serve all walks of life. These types of preserved dining rooms are “old school” Paris, where simple, tasty, French bistro meals are still presented in glorious art deco interiors that retain their authentic atmospheres.
- As part of this food heritage walk, we will visit a few historic shops catering to the former wholesale district of the city, including a generations-old kitchen equipment store, an “épicerie” selling the finest ingredients from across France, and also the most historic “patisserie” in Paris (with a delicious tasting, of course!).
- A day trip outside central Paris to visit a historic chateau. Normally, we enjoy the Chateau de Malmaison, the former family home of Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte, where the story of this famous, powerful couple and the two unique individuals come to life.
- Also on the outskirts of Paris, we try to visit the unique Maison Albert Kahn, with its beautiful gardens and incredible collection of turn of the century travel photography. This home has recently been renovated and launched to the public and to the Parisians’ delight. (We rarely hear other English voices while visiting and our travelers rank the experience as a highlight of our week together).
- Other memorable meals may include a wine bar for cheese & charcuterie, a crêperie for a savory meal, a local Lebanese restaurant (Parisians’ favorite ethnic cuisine), a Parisian tea room, and a final night dinner at a restaurant “bistronomique” (contemporary & creative cuisine in a local bistro setting). One highlight is a private dinner hosted by a Parisian food stylist and caterer, at her Haussmannian apartment. We also enjoy other private meals, either at another friend’s home or a picnic, weather permitting.
On this week-long Experience you’ll have some free time for relaxation, shopping, or your personal interests. For early birds, we’re happy to suggest a morning neighborhood walk where you might stroll through the local farmers market square before breakfast. An optional jazz club evening is another possibility. We may also be able to arrange other optional activities at an additional cost, such as an evening cabaret show or a very early morning excursion to the famous Rungis wholesale food market on the outskirts of Paris.
Arrival and Departure
The group will meet in our hotel lobby, late on the afternoon of the first day. We’ll depart after breakfast on our last day. If you’re continuing on to one of our other Experience trips in the south of France, we’ll provide transportation to the Gare de Lyon station and then to the next destination. Our hotel can help coordinate transportation to the airport or city train stations, depending on your plans.
We always recommend arriving in Europe at least one day before our week begins. This allows you to adjust to the time difference and also provides a buffer in case of any travel delays. If this is your first trip to Paris, we encourage you to come a few days early to get a good overview of the city before our Experience week begins. We suggest three days for a self-guided “highlights” trip. We can assist in arranging additional nights at our hotel at a preferred rate.
Paris is the hub of transportation in France with direct flights to and from major international cities. It’s also a great hopping off point for other famous French and European destinations by high-speed train, offering many possibilities before and after this trip.
Leader: Jennifer Dugdale
Prices: $4,100 per person, double occupancy. $4,550 – single occupancy of a double room.