Social Programme / Tours

Half Day Tours

MUSÉE D’ORSAY
Tuesday, 10 June, 09.30-13.00 and Wednesday, 11 June, 09.30-13.00.
Opened in 1986, the Musée d’Orsay soon became one of Europe’s top art museums. The building is a converted Left Bank hotel and railroad station which lent itself for imaginative displays, winning wide acclaim. The art collections cover the period from 1848 to 1914, a dynamic period for the art world, with Paris very much at the helm. The station was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It burned down in the Commune uprising of 1871. The original iron and glass railway architecture was concealed by a stone façade to fit into the elegant surroundings. The Ornate Belle Epoque reception areas, restaurant and ballroom are still intact. Various important art collections, covering the period from 1848 to 1914, including the Impressionist works from the overcrowded Jeu de Paume, are housed in the Musée d’Orsay.
Ground floor - mostly covering the period 1848 - 1870, works that paved the way for 20th century paintings and sculptures. Look out for sculptor Carpeaux, romantic painter Delacroix, realist painters Millet and Courbet.
Upper Level - a world famous Impressionist collection which includes Manet, Monet, Whistler, Cézanne, Degas, Van Gogh, Renoir, Pissarro and pictures of the Pont Aven school led by Gauguin.
Middle Level - varied collections such as the early photographs, art nouveau glass and ceramics, the ballroom, and sculptures by Rodin.
Cost: 45 EUR

FASHION SHOW AT LE PRINTEMPS DEPARTMENT STORE
Tuesday, 10 June, 09.00-12.30.
Nothing better illustrates Paris’ unchallenged dominance of the world of haute couture than a fashion show at the Printemps, featuring creations by top designers (Dior, Chanel, Yves St Laurent). Afterwards try to resist the temptation afforded by your discount shopping card in the store’s boutiques.
Cost: 31 EUR

WALKING TOUR OF MONTMARTRE
Sunday, 8 June, 09.15-12.45
Monday, 9 June, 14.00-17.30
We will visit one of the liveliest, most colourful, bustling areas of Paris: Montmartre. Its commanding position overlooking Paris ensured Montmartre’s importance from early times. From cabarets to churches, artists studios to quarries and vineyards of Paris, there is an astonishing panoply of things to see and enjoy, including the cemetery of Montmartre, where many celebrities lie peacefully, the Moulin de la Galette that inspired artists such as Renoir, Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec, the vineyards of Montmartre.
But also a stroll through the labyrinth of the charming old and steep streets and the world famous Place du Tertre with its cafés, little shops and artists, conveys a village atmosphere.
Roundtrip transfers are included.
Cost: 41 EUR

LE MARAIS AND MUSÉE PICASSO
Wednesday, 11 June, 09.00-12.30
It was in the 13th century that the Marais (marsh), a swampy area lying on either side of the raised rue Saint Antoine, a highway since Roman times, was drained and converted into arable land.
By the beginning of the 17th century, the Place Royale, now the famous Place des Vosges, commissioned by Henry IV, had become the focal point of the Marais. A walk under the remarkable and impressive symmetrical arcades will show you the exceptional beauty of the square place. Several private mansions and private palaces host many famous museums such as the Hotel Salé housing the Picasso museum. The magnificent 17th century Hotel Salé in the Marais houses the Musée Picasso, built by a wealthy salt tax collector. It opened in 1986 and represents the largest collection of the Paris-based Spanish artist. A large collection of his works were donated by Picasso’s family in lieu of an important amount of inheritance tax payments. A large proportion of the works displayed were personally owned by Picasso at the time of his death in 1973.
The museum offers an unparalleled view of the artist’s long career and the full extent of his artistic development. His Blue and Pink periods (1901 – 1906) were inspired by tragic figures he saw on the streets of Paris: prostitutes and beggars (Blue period), harlequins and circus performers (Pink period). Poignant sadness pervades Picasso’s works during those two periods, however there is an impression of a greater tranquillity and lighter colours seen throughout his Pink period.
During his 20s and 30s artists such as Matisse, Cézanne, Braque and Rousseau made a powerful impression on him. Then new themes were brought up seen in the “Bathers” or the “Demoiselles d’Avignon”. Later he created cubism with Braque and Juan Gris.
Cost: 49 EUR

VERSAILLES PALACE AND GARDENS
Sunday, 8 June, 09.00-12.30
Tuesday, 10 June, 14.00-17.30
Wednesday, 11 June, 14.00-17.30
Versailles, created during the golden age of French royalty, remained the government headquarters and the political heart of France from 1682 to 1789, when the Revolutionary mob invaded the Palace of Versailles and carried Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette off to captivity in Paris. Versailles owes its reputation to the Sun King’s resplendent Royal residence and gardens, built and decorated by the greatest artists of the time.
Our visit includes the State Apartments and the Hall of Mirrors (where the treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919). Each State Apartment is dedicated to an Olympian deity. The Salon d’Apollon, which served as the Throne Room, is dedicated to Apollo (needless to say) god of the Sun.
The glittering Hall of Mirrors, 70 metres long, was built to enhance the magnificence of the palace and glorify the Sun King’s own absolute power.
After a visit of the palace, our group will have free time to enjoy and dream as they wander through the magnificence of the formal Le Nôtre gardens with their geometric paths and shrubberies, hedges and flowerbeds, pools, fountains and sculptures.
Cost: 53 EUR

CHANTILLY CASTLE
Monday, 9 June, 08.45-13.15
The Ile de France, the region that surrounds Paris, is a rich mix of glittering palaces, castles, cathedrals, stately forests and quiet villages, all within short distance of the city. In the delightful Forêt de Chantilly, the blue and white Château de Chantilly nestles in a grove. Although Renaissance in style, it is not much more than a hundred years old. It has Gallo-Roman origins, and started to take shape in 1528 inspired by Anne de Montmorency. In the 17th century the Grand Prince of Condé undertook renovation work and asked the landscape artist Le Nôtre to create the gardens which made even Louis the XIV jealous.
As the previous castle that stood on this site was destroyed in the Revolution by vengeful mobs, the actual Château was rebuilt in the late 19th century and is surrounded by a moat, fountains, park and Le Nôtre gardens.
It houses the Musée Condé and its celebrated library and art collection that ranges from the curious - a wax head of King Henri IV, the Pink Condé diamond - to the sublime, with works by artists like Memling, Van Dyck, Botticelli, Poussin, Watteau, Corot, Rubens and a sumptuous collection of medieval miniatures.
Cost: 49 EUR

MONET’S HOME AT GIVERNY
Saturday, 7 June, 09.00-13.30 and
Wednesday, 11 June, 13.00-18.00.
Drawn by the verdant hills, haystacks, and lily pads on the Epte river, Impressionist Claude Monet settled in Giverny in 1883 until his death in 1926. By 1887, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne and Mary Cassatt had placed their easels beside Monet’s and the village became an artists’ colony.
The impressionist Monet was a brilliant innovator, excelling in presenting the effects of light at different times of the day, as depicted in his series of paintings of the Rouen Cathedral and of the well-loved water lilies.
Today, the Foundation Claude Monet maintains Monet’s house and gardens. They were lovingly restored as Monet himself designed them and are now open to the public. All are a delight. From April to July, Giverny overflows with roses, hollyhocks, poppies and honeysuckle, and the pond beneath the little Japanese bridge blooms with water-lilies, cherished by gardeners in rowing boats.We can also admire his house with its fresh yellow walls and tiled floors, each room bathed in light, the shutters and garden furniture still painted in the exact green chosen by the master. The Foundation also includes his collection of 18th- and 19th century Japanese prints. Visitors today can wander the paths of the garden and view the same palette of bright colours that Monet painted as he admired his thousands of flowers. The Japanese bridge, hung with whisteria, leads to a dreamy setting of weeping willows and rhododendrons.
Free time after the visit for shopping in the village or to visit on your own the American Art Museum.
Cost: 53 EUR

CHÂTEAU DE VAUX-LE-VICOMTE
Tuesday, 10 June, 13.00-18.00.
“What heights will he not scale” was Fouquet’s motto.
The powerful Nicolas Fouquet was appointed treasurer to Sun King Louis XIV in 1653 and used his privileged position to amass a fortune. As a patron of the arts, he supported Molière and Jean de la Fontaine.When he decided to build a country Château, he commissioned the finest specialists: architect Le Vau and the greatest landscape gardener, Le Nôtre, to whom Vaux-Le-Vicomte owes its original splendour. The ancient town of Melun was the site chosen to house the Vaux-le- Vicomte palace.
The park was Le Nôtre’s major work and the elegant symmetry of the garden is echoed by the château. A succession of terraces, the blue water in the lake, the green velvet lawns and the sandy pathways set off to perfection the warm stone and the slate blue roofs of the palace.
When it was completed in 1661, Fouquet organised an audacious and most extravagant banquet to celebrate the King’s birthday and inaugurate his exquisite new home, that was then France’s most beautiful château. But King Louis XIV was not just impressed, he was infuriated by being outclassed by his minister. That same night Fouquet was arrested and all his estates confiscated for he had presumably embezzled funds from the King’s own coffers. The château’s designers were then ordered to build another bigger palace, sparing no expense, to work their magic at Versailles. Thus the Sun King and his court shone at Versailles.
In many ways, the château is a forerunner of Versailles: state rooms decorated with fine 17th century furniture, stucco, “trompe l’oeil” painted ceilings (which produce optical illusions), precious Gobelin tapestries. Le Brun’s Salon des Muses boasts of a superb frescoed ceiling of dancing nymphes. The whole creates a classical harmony.
Cost: 49 EUR