Paris and London are so much more than postcards. Millennia of culture plays out, and you’re invited to go behind the scenes. Explore bohemian neighborhoods, Parisian bistros, private art collections, and antiquated streets. There’s so much to experience when you go inside the cultures. Led by specialist city guides, this ten-day luxury tour looks beyond the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, into two cities packed with secrets and salubrious discoveries. Begin planning your dream vacation by visiting...
Paris – Getting Settled in the 19th Century
Land in Paris and take your first steps along the cobbled stone. Aromas seep out from bakeries and bistros; everyday buildings have a dedication to the ornate; church bells chime as chatter emanates from an alfresco terrace. Your hotel is amid Paris from the 19th century, a web of narrow streets framed by extravagant architecture. Its beauty and charm are such that you can see why the locals were so unhappy with the Eiffel Tower; the tower can be found downriver and is a sharp contrast to the style of neighborhood you are staying in. You’re transferred to the hotel and have this day free. Wander the 19th-century neighborhood, take a stroll along the Seine, sample Parisian delicacies, and settle yourself into the City of Lights.
Paris – Art and Icons Along the Right Bank of the Seine
It’s along the right bank of the Seine that you find Paris’ grand icons. While many adorn postcards, there is so much more to experience behind the scenes. Start today’s tour at the Louvre, the famous art gallery once home to the kings of France and now a place of secrets. Crowds gather around the Mona Lisa, yet it’s so small in comparison to other priceless art pieces here. It’s just you and your guide in some of the other galleries, admiring collections that have influenced the world yet are barely known to 90% of people who visit the Louvre.
A morning in the famous art gallery is followed by an afternoon on foot, wandering the marvels that make Paris distinct. Through the peaceful gardens of Palais Royal to grand arcades and magasins, department stores, past the Corinthian pilasters and columns to where Marie-Antoinette lost her head, then out to the Champs Elysees. Take a glance at the Arc de Triomphe, then drift off to discover a culture that lies beyond the famous avenue. Cafes, small arcades, Parisian treats, and cobblestone squares adorn the city and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to escape the crowds, and see real Paris, just a few steps beyond the Champs Elysees.
Paris – Bohemian Neighborhoods of the Seine’s Left Bank
If the right bank is about icons, then the left bank concerns neighborhoods. Smells guide you at first, Saint-Germain the indulgent home of Paris’ chocolatiers and macaron makers. Their secrets are well guarded and the best treats are found off the main roads. From Saint-Germain to the Musee d’Orsay – Gaugin and Monet all around – then into the Latin Quarter, so bohemian and beautiful as it brings chic to medieval era buildings. Stop for coffee and some jazz in a converted 12th-century prison, then continue your musings along the Seine’s left bank, so many cobbles and turns you seem absolutely lost; but one more turn and you’re right outside the hotel. The evening is free, and there are so many places to enjoy in Paris.
Paris – Inside the Culture of Parisian Food
Parisian food is a relatively secretive world. Of course, the culinary style has far-reaching influence, but the very best of the French capital isn’t what you’ll find through top tourist attractions. Instead, it’s what you experience down cobbled backstreets and generations-old establishments. Today’s journey is a filling one as you learn about the culture behind the food. There’s a bakery, of course, all indulgent smells and delicate pastries. There are small chocolates to try, along with coffee in the Parisian style and a foie gras, duck liver tasting session.
This tour starts late in the morning and continues until the early evening, ending with a few decadent hours at a Parisian bistro. Go behind the scenes to discover how the bistros are so integral to local life. You’ll learn through taste, traveling a variety of French regions with their own wines and cheeses – Roquefort, Rocamadour, and Comte among many others. A tutor introduces you to the basics of pairing and how it’s so important to the bistros before you move on to the cured meats and heavier wines. By the end of today, you won’t need dinner, although you will receive various restaurant recommendations from local specialists you have met along the way.
Paris – Behind the Scenes of Versailles and Final Evening in Paris
You head off to Versailles this morning, where a famous palace stands proudly amid glorious gardens. Leave at a relaxed time and start in the Royal Gardens, before lunch along the banks of the canal. Skip the queues and enter through a private palace entrance, admiring the postcard rooms that every visitor to Paris wants to see. But as the hallways get crowded, you step over the rope into historical rooms that are closed to the public. It’s in these stately rooms you discover the most ostentatious and opulent of royal tastes, the guide showing you which king bought this and what queen designed that. You’ll be back in Paris before nightfall and have a final evening in the city. A champagne cruise on the Seine is one option; a backstreet eight-table restaurant is another.
London – Antiquated Beauty Sets the Scene
Famous old sights dominate Central London. Take the Eurostar from Paris in a first-class carriage, and you walk out into a city of towering icons and antiquated legend. A guide meets you and it’s a short black taxi ride to the hotel, centrally located so you can walk to so much of the city. Big Ben rises high. The Palace of Westminster reflects off the River Thames. But these are postcards. You enter the place of the British parliament and take a walk through a building that few visitors ever step inside. At the end of one corridor is a parliamentary cafe, perfectly poised above the river; nowhere better for your first spot of English tea and scones.
The rest of today’s private tour follows a similar tone. You’ll explore Central London to find all the blocks the capital’s culture is based upon; iconic bridges, famous palaces, heritage entwined with the royal family. This is a city with an incredible wealth of history and culture. You start to understand it by exploring the inside of the famous monuments. It’s not all magnificence of course. All across Central London, you’ll hear stories that reveal another side to the city, often a polar opposite to the life enjoyed by the royals. As with subsequent days in London, the pace of the tour is relaxed, and there’s some flexibility over where you go; the best guides have the best stories, but they also have a full repertoire of places to visit dependent on the mood and interests.
London – Private Collections, Unusual Museums, and Artists' Homes
Step back from the postcards and London is liberally filled with hidden gems. Unusual museums that bring past glories to life such as small houses once home to artists and their studios; cluttered rooms from a Victorian-era; remarkable inventions crafted by experiments in tiny townhouses; the wonderful Spitalfields house of Dennis Severs. On today’s off the beaten track London tour, you explore a private art gallery and explore the old red-brick lanes of a borough mostly unchanged since Victorian times. You’ll find that London isn’t just the cityscape, but the treasures to be found in small houses and neighborhoods that lay in the shadow of the monuments.
London – Neighborhoods From a Forgotten Era
London is best explored on foot. While the underground is famous and convenient, it’s remarkable how small the central city really is. Sometimes it’s quicker to walk two stops than to change lines on the underground. And by walking you admire how the city has evolved, how each neighborhood has a slightly different architectural style from a specific era. Some parts of London have undergone huge regenerations and The Shard is the towering example of change. It looks impressive from a distance, but the unchanged neighborhoods are so tightly packed you can only explore them by walking with someone in the know. As with all days in London, you have a specialist guide, and by using different guides, there’s always a new story waiting to unfold.
Your first stop is to Soho, where saucy street names and hidden noses are found alongside cafes of post-war debauchery. Walk the streets through the time of romantic poets in Hampstead, where squares and townhouses whisper immortal lines. Medieval bone houses provide a different tale in Spitalfields. Turn another corner, and you explore a Victorian food market, which is as atmospheric as it always has been, complete with traders shouting in Cockney rhyming slang. Then head north, through Georgian streets, learning about the characters that put Mayfair on the map. As you explore, you appreciate the nuance in architectural style, how each bygone era had its variant on the past. You find that London has so much culture beneath its glitzy first facade.
London – Departure
With a late flight out of London, you have a full day in the city. Four different guides have led your journey, and each will have imparted ideas and recommendations, so there should be a healthy list of things you would like to experience today. Late hotel checks out has been arranged, and you’re given a private transfer to the airport.
- Explore some of the world’s most magnificent art galleries; specialist art guides revealing hidden gems and forgotten stories in the Louvre, Tate Britain, and National Gallery
- Discover neighborhoods that look and feel like past centuries, from the chic and bohemian atmosphere of Paris’s left bank to the Georgian streets of Mayfair.
- Go behind the scenes at the Palace of Versailles, then compare the extravagance with Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster
- Food is integral to Parisian culture, and you’ll learn why: chocolatiers, macarons in Saint-Germain, cheese and wine bistros plus unforgettable bakeries
- London is a famous city full of secrets, and you’ll continually go off the beaten track, expert guides showing you the intriguing every day and the extraordinary medieval stories
- Travel between Paris and London is fast and simple with a first-class Eurostar train ticket
- All tours are private and led by the cities’ finest guides, those that will bypass the crowds at the Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower to show you the real culture of these capital cities
- Over the ten days, you have time to find the famous icons for yourself, like cruising the River Seine with champagne in hand
Paris and London have so many postcard sights it can be hard to know where to start. You will visit the Big Ben and the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Shard, all those icons draped around the waters of the Thames and the Seine. You could spend ten days in these capitals and still have another pack of postcards to find. The postcards barely scratch the surface of what Paris and London are about. Go behind the scenes, and you discover cities that delight in their subtleties and surprises, cities that have their own distinctive cultures. With this ten-day tour, you go inside the culture of these famous capitals, discovering all those things that most people miss.
Paris and London are amongst the world’s most visited cities. Tourists and tourism dominate the postcard sights. The locals typically distance themselves from these crowded places. But head into the neighborhoods, and you find these cities to be very different. Aromas creep out from chocolatiers, stories whisper along medieval lanes, extravagance glistens in forgotten rooms and the atmosphere can be felt everywhere you turn. Over these ten days, you go inside the cultures of these famous cities. Even if you’ve visited London and Paris at various times before, this tour will show you something completely different.
Specialist guides are at the forefront of the experience. Their knowledge of the niche is integral: art, food, particular neighborhoods, gaining access to otherwise inaccessible places. On each full day, there’s a different focus, a tour that reveals a unique slice of each city. Travel between the capitals with a first-class Eurostar ticket and stay in the boutique, centrally located hotels, ideal for walking to restaurants and bars. The daily tours are private and flexible, the program also allowing free time to discover those touristic parts of Paris and London you deem unmissable.
Land in Paris and settle into a part of the city from the 19th century, its charm showing why locals were so upset with the style of the Eiffel Tower built further along the river. You follow the right bank of the Seine, including a behind-the-scenes walk through the Louvre. The following day is spent on the left bank, full of neighborhoods that come alive with an inside guide. Parisian food is the focus of your next day, followed by a behind the scenes tour of Versailles.
Take the train to London, and a guide shows you the secrets of famous antiquated London; for example, you’ll walk through the Palace of Westminster and drink tea in the parliamentary cafe, rather than take a photo of the palace from the Thames. You discover private art collections and some unusual museums, where the stories aren’t what you would expect. An expert art guide shows you the secrets of London’s pre-eminent art galleries then you head out to neighborhoods that scream of a forgotten era. As with the days in Paris, you have leisurely evenings to see London at your pace; local guides provide recommendations, so you continually experience the local culture.
$2,803 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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