Here’s what’s included:
- Two trip leaders every day to help you enjoy your time in Paris
- All nights at the four-star Relais Monceau Hotel in the lovely 8th arrondissement
- Full hot breakfast every morning
- Admissions to every museum or other site mentioned in the itinerary
- Navigo pass for the Paris Metro, buses and regional trains
- Restaurant recommendations for lunches and dinners
- Wine and conversation socials most evenings with the trip leaders
What’s not included: lunches and dinners, tickets to museums and attractions not listed on the itinerary,
your flight to Paris and back home or anything else not listed under “What’s included.”
Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Price for the optional three-day extension is $1965. We’ll stay on for another three nights at the
Hotel Relais Monceau, so you won’t have to re-pack.
(There’s a six-person minimum group size for the extension.).
See below for description of the trip extension.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve actually never been to Paris. Should I come on this trip?
Who should come on this trip?
Can I come early or stay on for some extra days?
I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
How many people will be on the trip?
Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?
Tell me about the trip leaders.
I don’t speak French. Can you help me figure out what to eat?
Is it safe to walk around by myself at night?
Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
Some friends are going to be in Paris while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
When do I need to sign up by?
If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
What we’re not visiting on the trip are some of the most iconic places in Paris: the Louvre Museum, the Musée D’Orsay, or the Eiffel Tower, for instance. But you will have time to go there on your own if you like (with guidance from the trip leaders). You can also choose which of the “official” activities you might like to skip to go off on your own or with a friend.
This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.
Do note that we travel primarily by Paris Metro – and there are very few escalators and virtually no elevators in the Metro system. Sometimes there are long walks even in the Metro when changing stations. You should be able to negotiate stairs and walking on uneven pavement.
Absolutely. We suggest you come early, as the trip leaders will be around to help you plan your days. At the end of the trip, we’ll be handling the optional extension, so we won’t be accessible to you then.
Please let us know the exact dates you plan to arrive and depart, so we can alert the hotel. You’ll pay for your extra nights directly to the hotel when you get there. The rate is €210, with breakfast included
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group – especially since there are two trip leaders to break us up into smaller sections.
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:
- You’ll never board a big tour bus (a city bus on your own, yes, but never a tour bus).
- You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants.
- You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel
- You only unpack and pack once – we’re not touring, but staying in Paris to really get to know it well.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain. In her day-to-day work, she was a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she has been a volunteer at the National Gallery of Art for many years.
Donna Morris is president of Best Friend in Paris, where she creates customized experiences for travelers to Paris. She has lived in France since 2006 and is one of the founders of the Politics & Prose travel program. She’s fluent in French and is an expert navigator of European cities and sites.
Most Americans, when they come to Paris, stay on the Left Bank. We love that area…except that it’s full of Americans. So we’ve chosen instead a typically French 4-star hotel in the 8th arrondissement, on the Right Bank. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood where there are few other hotels – but within a block or two are a street market, an artisanal bakery, delightful cafés, the Jacquemart André and Nissim de Camondo mansions and the Parc Monceau.
When you walk through the front doors of the hotel, there are quiet salons for you to relax in on either side, plus a small bar where they’ll open a bottle of wine for you and put your name on it for the next day if you like.
The bedrooms are simply furnished, but of a nice size by European standards. Windows open to the air, with classic French shutters to close at night for privacy and quiet. The bathrooms have double basins, plus a tub and shower and wooden floors. There’s a small dressing room area that can be closed off from both the bedroom and the hall, and most rooms have a hair dryer and mini-fridge.
We usually see few Americans at the hotel; most of the clientele are French or European. But the hotel staff speak English and are terrifically friendly and helpful.
Like many French hotels, the Relais Monceau offers a wide selection of croissants, rolls and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, French yogurt and so on. But – unlike many continental hotels — they also have scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage and fresh-squeezed orange juice every day. And, of course, coffee, tea, other juices, still or sparkling water and milk.
It’s hard to predict these days. Usually May and June in Paris are much like Washington’s weather. Our advice is to come prepared for just about anything. Bring an umbrella, a light jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
Like most cities these days, people wear just about anything during the day in Paris. Jeans are fine; shorts tend to be seen mostly on the young. At night, if you’re eating in neighborhood restaurants, you don’t need to dress up–casual slacks or skirts are fine. Of course, for any place where you need a reservation, you’ll want to dress appropriately. And even the French are often now choosing comfort over style for shoes.
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Paris that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, sitting in the Tuileries gardens looking over Seine; or you might choose to browse the food stalls at one of the many street markets.
Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend
As in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But in Paris it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings. One reason we chose the Relais Monceau is that we love the neighborhood – and it feels like a real neighborhood. Within a block or two are artisanal bakeries, little bistros and cafés, a street market, and a Metro stop – plus the jewel of Paris parks, the Parc Monceau.
What you do have to watch out for in Paris is pickpockets in the areas where there are lots of tourists. They’re wily, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist. And remember not to sling your handbag over the back of a chair in a café; that makes it a very tempting target.
Do you require us to buy travel insurance? We very strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely. If you’re on Medicare, remember that it doesn’t cover medical treatment outside of the U.S., so you’ll definitely want healthcare coverage.
Some friends are going to be in Paris while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.
If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
Yes. We can arrange for you to stay on at the hotel at your own cost, although our trip will be over. If you’d like to arrive early, we can also make those reservations for you. We may not be there to greet you if you come early, but it’s okay if you want a day or two on your own before the official trip starts.
Terms and Conditions
Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, daily transportation as mentioned in the itinerary, entrance fees to museums if with the group as listed in the itinerary, evening socials to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.
Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not expressly included; taxis or other forms of city transportation; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
The payment of your deposit confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to email@example.com. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
Please note that, should a covid pandemic recur after trip deposits have been paid, no refunds will be possible (the funds will now be in France), but we will reschedule the trip as soon as possible with no change in price.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Full final payment is due February 15, 2023.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before February 15, 2023, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. No refunds are possible after February 15, 2023.
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.
Changes to Your Reservation
If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of 90 days before the trip start date. From 30 – 89 days before the trip start date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of the trip.
Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. Our trips require a reasonable amount of walking, possibly several hours a day, uphill or on uneven streets or streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb stairs and board trains and buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your
full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date 90 days before the trip start date.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland
Please note that we may make changes to this itinerary.
Saturday, May 27 or Saturday, October 28
Depart from home for your overnight flight to Paris.
Sunday, May 28 or Sunday, October 29
Arrive in Paris and head for the Hotel Relais Monceau. Since people will be arriving at different times, the afternoon is free. Some things we might suggest, depending on when you arrive: walking in the nearby Parc Monceau; or visiting one of the two fabulous house museums nearby: the Nissim de Camondo or the Jacquemart André. Both have restaurants for delicious lunches. Or, if you haven’t yet been, visit the Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum in a dramatic Frank Gehry-designed building.
6:00pm. Meet for wine and orientation in the hotel salon
Monday, May 29 or Monday, October 30
10:00am We leave the hotel for Hotel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde.
Until the French Revolution, it housed the furniture and decorative arts for the king’s palaces, including the crown jewels (stolen during the revolution). Lavish apartments served the superintendent who lived there. Later it became the headquarters of the French Navy, and its ballroom hosted such events as Napoleon’s coronation ball. Only recently has it returned to its former glory, with spectacular views over the Place de la Concorde.
If you like, you can have lunch at the Café Lapérouse in the beautiful courtyard. Afterwards, you might want to stroll through the Tuileries garden or shop on the nearby rue St. Honoré.
6:00pm. Meet in the hotel salon for wine and conversation.
Tuesday, May 30 or October 31
10am: We take the Metro to the Atelier Lumières the original organization (now copied but not equaled) for immersive art experiences. Located in an old 19th century foundry, the enormous space now surrounds you with art that has been choreographed perfectly to music. Almost everyone who has been there calls it magical. At this writing we don’t know what the new 2023 show will be, but it’s always a highly visual and emotional presentation of artists’ work.
Afterwards, we’ll depart for the historic Marais, where the Carnavalet – the museum of the city of Paris – has undergone a five-year excellent renovation. The museum covers 450 years of history presented in two adjoining historic mansions. Paintings, sculptures, scale models, shop signs, drawings, engravings, posters, medals and coins, historical objects and souvenirs, photographs, wood paneling, interior decorations and furniture combine to present the history and tell the unique story of Paris.
You can have lunch in the gardens of the Carnavalet or any of the tempting restaurants nearby in the Marais. You might also want to visit the Victor Hugo house in the Place des Vosges, considered the most beautiful square in Paris. After nearly two years of work, the apartments where the author of -- among other works --The Hunchback of Notre Dame, lived with his family. New exhibits include numerous letters and literary works, plus recently restored rooms that demonstrate Hugo’s artistic decorative talents.
6pm. Meet in the hotel salon for wine and conversation.
Wednesday, May 31 or Wednesday, November 1
10am: We leave our hotel for La Galerie Dior, which only opened in 2022. Featuring a unique scenographic narrative, the museum showcases the visionary audacity of Christian Dior and his six successors: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
After lunch in the neighborhood, we’ll head for Gare de Lyon and our train ride out to the town of Yerres, where we’ll visit the newly restored home and gardens of Impressionist artist Gustave Caillebotte. It’s one of the most beautiful examples of a restored mansion still in its original grounds. You’ll enjoy strolling through the English-style park, where Caillebotte painted some of his plein air canvases. There are also vegetable and flower gardens with examples of rare plants.
Thursday, June 1 or Thursday, November 2
10am. We leave the hotel for the Left Bank, where we’ll visit the new Musée de la Liberation de Paris. On August 25, 1944, French and Allied troops rolled into Paris, ending four years of Nazi occupation of the City of Light. On the 75th anniversary, a revamped World War II museum was inaugurated.
On our guided tour, we’ll learn about the dramatic events leading to the eviction of the German troops, as well as the lives of the extraordinary men and women who sacrificed so much. The museum also celebrates the life of Resistance heroes Jean Moulin and of Philippe de Hauteclocque, better known as General Leclerc.
In the afternoon, we’ll go to the Panthéon, the temple to the great men and women who have contributed to the arts and history of France. Josephine Baker, the American singer and resistance fighter, has recently been entered there, and we can visit her monument. Also new is a permanent exhibition of works by Anselm Keifer, a German artist whose works center around war and remembrance; this installation is breathtaking.
6pm. Meet for wine and conversation in the hotel salon.
Friday, June 2 or Friday, November 3
10:00am: We leave the hotel for the recently opened Bourse de Commerce art museum. The historic circular building (long ago, it housed the Stock Market) has been imaginatively redesigned and is a work of art itself. The core of the exhibits are from the private art holdings of François Pinault, who founded the luxury conglomerate that owns brands like Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. M. Pinault’s collection is made up of 5,000 works by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois.
Afterwards, we’ll stroll over to the very famous Samaritaine department store at Pont Neuf. A long-familiar landmark, the building was closed for many years, but it has now been reincarnated into a very stylish store. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to shop or to re-visit any of your favorite places in Paris.
6pm. Meet for wine and conversation in the hotel salon.
Saturday, June 3 or Saturday, November 4
Depart for your flight home, or stay on for the optional extension
Optional Trip Extension: And Now for Something Old
We’ve designed this extension to feature some spectacular places, full of art and history, that are often difficult for Paris visitors to reach.
Saturday, June 3 or Saturday, November 4
We depart this morning for our drive out to Vaux-le-Vicomte, the Baroque chateau that was the inspiration for Versailles. It was owned by Nicolas Fouquet, King Louis XIV’s superintendent of finance. He commissioned the foremost architectural and garden designers to renovate the estate and establish a grand formal garden.
Fouquet was a well-established patron of the arts; painters and writers visited often. Sadly, his over-the-top taste was his downfall. Jean-Baptiste Colbert convinced the king that all this luxury surely came from embezzling from the state coffers, and Fouquet was soon imprisoned. Not surprisingly, Colbert then got the superintendent of finance job.
We’ll have time there to tour the chateau and learn its history with an audioguide, walk through the famous gardens, and have lunch on our own in the café.
Sunday, June 4 or Sunday, November 5
In the early afternoon, we Metro to the Basilica Cathedral of St. Denis, located in what is now a rather crowded suburb of Paris. Designed by Abbot Suger, St. Denis was the very first Gothic Cathedral, setting the style for cathedrals all over Europe for the next several hundred years. The site is believed to be the burial place of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, who was decapitated around 250 AD on the Montmartre hill. At that point, he picked up his head and walked here to be buried.
Very quickly, St. Denis became the burial place for the kings and queens of France, beginning in the 10th century up until the 19th, with the death of the last king of France, Louis XVIII. Louis XIV and his queen Marie Antoinette are interred here. The cathedral is centuries older than Notre Dame in the center of the city.
All through the church are stone and marble effigies of the kings and queens buried there, although during the French Revolution, most of the remains were tossed into a pit.
We’ll visit the church and its crypt with a guided tour to learn about how its story reflects the history of France.
Monday, June 5 or Monday, November 6
We leave our hotel this morning for a day spent at the chateau of Chantilly outside Paris. The grand chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution, but restored to its former glory in the 1800s. Our visit includes a tour of the impressive public rooms, including its art museum whose collection is said to be second only to that of the Louvre. We’ll also have our own guided tour of the luxurious private apartments.
The gardens, with extensive parterres and water features, were laid out by Le Nôtre. The park also contains a rustic ersatz village, the Hameau de Chantilly, which inspired the “farm” of Marie Antoinette at Versailles.
One of the most striking features on the estate are the Grandes Écuries, the great stables, which house the Living Museum of the Horse. According to legend, the then owner Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, believed he would be reincarnated as a horse and commissioned stables built suitable to his rank. We’ll see a short demonstration of horsemanship there in the early afternoon.
Chantilly’s history includes that of the famous chef Vatel. On a night when grand festivities were planned for King Louis XIV’s visit, the fish order didn’t arrive on time. Vatel, overcome with shame, committed suicide on the spot.
Tuesday, June 6 or Tuesday, November 7
Depart for home or your next adventure.
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