***The following itinerary is subject to change depending on availability of hotels and transportation or matters beyond our control. We do everything in our power to remain faithful to the itinerary presented with our guests’ best interest, safety, and best experience in mind.
Departure: May 15, 2017 Flight departure from your home country. Guests are expected to make their own international flight arrangements with the carrier of their choice. Let us know your arrival time and we will arrange your transfer. Guests who would like to arrive early should let us know as soon as you can so we can make advance bookings for you to enjoy a few extra days in Paris.
Day 2, May 16
Transfer from airport to our hotel in the Heart of the Paris. Settle in, freshen up, or take a little nap before we go out for an evening stroll and dinner at a nearby restaurant. We will review our itinerary and hand out your Paris Passes, which give you full access to the Metro and transportation and include a fast pass to over 70 Museums and attractions.
Day 3, May 17
Following breakfast at our Hotel, we take advantage of our Metro pass to go as a group to the artist neighbourhood of Montmarte: we will tour this charming enclave, which was home to artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec, and visit iconic sites such as Sacré Coeur Basilica and the famous Moulin Rouge. Stroll along the artist-lined streets of this amazing village within Paris, seeing secret cabarets and vineyards and some amazing street-side cafés to enjoy lunch with sketchbook in hand.
Following lunch we will host an optional visit to the 44 hectare sculpted gardens of Père Lachaise Cemetery with lots of time to draw and sketch the headstones of Oscar Wilde, Chopin, playwright Moliere, poet Apollinaire, Gertrude Stien, Edith Piaf, Modiglinani, Delacroix, Seurat, Pissarro, and famous Americans like Jim Morrison and Sarah Bernhardt, just to name a few.
Following happy hour back at our hotel we enjoy an evening tour of the Seine River though the heart of illuminated Paris, ending at the Eiffel Tower for the most remarkable view of the city of lights from above.
Day 4, May 18
Sleeping is overrated in this amazing city of art and history …. and we will do our best to enjoy everything Paris has to offer. Taking the Metro to the heart of the City, our day starts off at Gothic masterpiece Notre-Dame, one of the most important cathedrals in the world. We continue by foot to Pont Neuf, crossing the centuries old stone bridge and strolling along the Seine before crossing back over the Pont des Arts, the romantic bridge lined with padlocks and an amazing view of Île de la Cité. Our walk continues along the opposite shore of the Seine toward the Louvre Museum and the Jardin des Tuileries. Following a visit of the Louvre, our group can enjoy lunch before meeting at George Pompidou for a touch of the Modern Art and architecture of Paris (our street walk is approximately 5km so please wear good walking shoes). Our guests can return to the hotel with the group or venture off on your own to explore the Picasso Museum or other attractions included in our Paris Pass.
Day 5, May 19
Following breakfast, our morning starts off at the incomparable Musée d’Orsay for one of the most incredible collections of French Impressionist paintings. Constructed as a train station by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay is a national museum devoted to all the arts between 1848-1914. After our visit to the Musée d’Orsay we continue along the left bank for an amazing view of the Grand Palace and the Champs-Élysées before heading to the complex known as the Hôtel des Invalides, founded in 1671 by Louis XIV, the Sun King. We continue our walk to the Rodin Museum for a picnic lunch, with time to draw and paint in the gardens and enjoy the amazing sculpture housed in his former home. Returning to our hotel for a short rest we head out in the evening to explore Paris by night, dining in the Latin Quarter and soaking up the evening culture of this great city.
Day 6, May 20
After a couple of early mornings you will have some time to pack end enjoy a leisurely breakfast after a whirlwind of galleries and monuments in Paris. We depart late morning, giving everyone a chance to catch their breath before being whisked away by high speed train to Provence. We arrive in Avignon in just a few hours, with a short transfer to our hotel, giving us the afternoon take our time wandering about the streets of Avignon. Do some drawing, photography, shopping, or sip a glass of wine; the ancient streets, courtyards of the private mansions, and renovated facades will all charm you. Dinner out at a local restaurant and the start of a slightly slower pace to our trip.
Day 7, May 21
For those who miss the early mornings, wake up at 6:30 to go for a photo walk with Mark; we will be back to join the others for breakfast followed by a historical walking tour of the Avignon. Our walking tour of Medieval Avignon includes the Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace ever, built by Pope Clement V, who abandoned Rome in 1309 as a result of violent disorder following his election. It served as the seat of papal power for seven decades, and its immense scale provides ample testament to the medieval might of the Roman Catholic church. A our day continues we will admire the hilltop views of the Rhône River, breeze into the Popes’ Palace to tour the ornate chambers and chapels, and enjoy a glass of Côtes du Rhône wine near the Place de l’Horloge. A late afternoon off for painting and drawing in the streets of Avignon.
Day 8, May 22
With private transportation our group sets off early in the morning to visit the birthplace of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. A walking trail links sites including his childhood home and former studio, overlooking the city Aix en Provence and the white limestone mountains of Sainte-Victoire which where frequent subjects of his works. Following our studio visit we have some time to enjoy the many restaurants and cafés lining the charming leafy boulevards of Aix. After lunch our adventure continues to Arles to visit the studio of another great Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Once a provincial capital of ancient Rome, Arles is known for the many remnants of that era, including Arles Amphitheatre, which now hosts plays, concerts, and bullfights. Our day in Arles concludes with dinner and a visit to the Roman sites of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence before following the Rhône River north, returning to Avignon after dusk.
Day 9, May 23
A lazy start after a busy tour yesterday: following a leisurely breakfast we explore Provence’s ancient roots and winemaking traditions on a half-day tour. We start at the UNESCO-listed town of Orange and learn its history as a Celtic and then Roman settlement, viewing the beautifully-preserved Triumphal Arch and Roman amphitheater. We then wind through the verdant vineyards of the Rhône Valley to a distinguished wine estate in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to sample fine wines and learn about local varietals.
Day 10, May 24
Following breakfast we pack up our vans and take a leisurely drive through the French countryside, winding our way though the Rhône valley and then towards the Languedoc region, travelling though Nîmes and Montpellier as we wander from town to town, stopping to take photos, taste some artisan cheeses, and sip some wine, arriving in Pezenas for the late afternoon and just in time for a little drawing and painting before happy hour.
Day 11, May 25
Following breakfast we depart for the beautiful port city of Sète, nicknamed the “Venice of France” and our home for the day, giving us plenty of time to explore our artistic talents, stroll the rustic streets of this centuries-old fishing village, or take in a glass of wine at one of the street-side cafés . We return to our hotel in Pezenas for dinner and an evening art class, with a review of what we have been exploring with our art over the last ten days.
Day 12, May 26
Today we visit the wonderful city of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll explore the old town with its medieval castle, drawbridge, 53 towers, and two fortified walls, and then follow the cobblestone streets to the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celese, a national monument of France. There are several Cathar castles between Carcassonne and Sète, the remnants of Catharism, a religious reform movement that began in the 11th century and became extremely popular in southern France and other parts of Europe. Perceived as exceedingly dangerous to Catholicism, Cathars were persecuted, massacred, and eliminated during the Inquisition in the 13th century.
Day 13, May 27
A visit today to Beziers, birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the engineer of the Canal du Midi. Beziers appeals to visitors with its Saint-Nazaire cathedral overhanging the River Orb and its Vieux bridge. In the heart of Béziers we will find many beautiful sights to paint, such as the Paul-Riquet alleys, a pleasant promenade decorated with plane trees is lined with shops and cafe terraces, and the nearby charming park of the Poètes plateau. We return to our hotel in time to pack and for our final dinner in preparation of our departure the following day.
Day 14, May 28
For those returning to Paris we will escort you to the train station in Beziers for your return to Paris and overnight at the hotel before your flight home the following day.
Our group continues on our extension to Northern Spain, where we travel along the rugged coast, stopping in Cadaques for a little drawing and painting followed by a visit to Figueres the birthplace of the great Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. and home of the Dalí Theatre-Museum the artist designed himself. Following our visit to this amazing gallery we continue to the beautiful medieval city of Girona.
Day 15, May 29 : Wandering the old and narrow cobbled streets of medieval Girona is like turning back time; explore the labyrinth of steps and the Old Jewish Quarter before visiting the Cathedral or visit the Muslim and Roman bathhouses and the beautiful 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque Benedectine monastery Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants. Lots of time for drawing and painting with no set agenda for the day other than explore and enjoy.
Day 16, May 30 : Wake up early for a Photo walk with Mark before a leisurely breakfast before we say goodbye to this underrated tourist location. Following breakfast at our hotel we continue down the coast of Brava toward Barcelona, stoping in Tossa del Mar before driving to Barcelona to check into our hotel.
Day 17, May 31 : With only a couple days on our Barcelona schedule our guests will enjoy a complimentary 2 day hop on hop off bus pass to explore the cities many Galleries and historic sites. This is the best way to explore the City visiting all the best monuments and galleries. We will find time to draw and paint in the streets of Barcelona; however after more than two weeks a regimented schedule it will be a nice change to have a casual Itinerary with our smaller extension group.
Day 18, June 1: For our last full day in Barcelona a early morning photo walk has been planned with a casual day for shopping or exploring individual interests. In the evening we will enjoy our final meal before heading home the following day.
Day 19, June 2: Following breakfast at our hotel – transfer to the airport for the return flight home. We are happy to help you with your bookings if you wish to extend your stay in Spain.