Begin the journey in the Loire Valley, also known as the Garden of France due to an abundance of beautiful scenery and stunning châteaux. Much of the culture of this region owes its heritage to the Renaissance period. During this time, the Loire Valley was a playground for royalty, where they constructed storybook castles with extensive gardens. In 1516, the king of France invited Leonardo da Vinci to move to Château du Clos Lucé on his property in Ambroise. As a true Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci challenged aesthetic values and rules to discover new ways of seeing the world, inventing imaginative castles, staircases, philosophies and works of art along the way. In the Château Chambord, the double helix staircase was entirely of his design along with much of the brilliant architecture.
Experience more stories of legend and history in Normandy and Versailles. Discover the tidal island of Mont-Saint-Michel, where the rising water determines whether visitors can climb this granite outcrop up to a medieval monastery. Get a WWII history lesson on the Allied troops in Normandy on Utah Beach and at the museum as well as guided tours of Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and Normandy American Cemetery. Go on a visual journey through 11th-century history while viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, which is 231 feet of embroidery depicting the Norman Conquest of England. An essential stop in France is the Palace of Versailles, which was designed to glorify the king and express his power over nature. While here, walk the Hall of Mirrors, where tall windows draw in light and mirrors reflect the gardens across the way.
The rest of the journey is spent in Paris, which is known by many names due to the famed sights and artistic trends. View more of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius artwork at the Louvre, see the national art collections at Musée d’Orsay, and explore the academic side of town in the Latin Quarter. Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon commissioned to celebrate the victory of his French armies, and visit his tomb in Hôtel des Invalides. Experience the historical expanse of the City of Light on visits to iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Tuileries Gardens. Stroll through the cobbled streets and charming squares known for the artists and philosophers who have called Paris home.
Overnight flight from home to Paris.
On arrival in Paris, we meet up with our Tour Director and continue on to Loire Valley, taking in all the scenery along the drive. Stop in the charming town of Chartres to visit Chartres Cathedral, a testimony to the architectural innovations of the Middle Ages, which is filled with sculptures and stained glass windows portraying stories from the Bible. After exploring Chartres, end the day at the accommodations in the Loire Valley area.
Explore storybook castles, starting in Blois to see the Château de Blois, home to generations of royalty and a work of art in its own right. In the afternoon, visit Château Chambord to begin the journey through the works of Leonardo da Vinci, a true genius of arts, science and invention. At this archetypal castle, he designed the double helix staircase that spirals all the way up to the terrace. Since these are the largest castle grounds in the Loire Valley, continue exploring all there is to see here by bicycle, before returning to the accommodations.
Leave the Loire Valley and travel to Normandy. En route, experience the medieval magic of Mont-Saint-Michel, a granite outcrop that becomes an island when the tides rise. Climb the winding Grande Rue through the charming village up to La Merveille, a Gothic monastery. Towering above it all is the abbey, crowned by a statue of St. Michael, the legendary archangel who has drawn pilgrims to the island for hundreds of years. Continue to Normandy and arrive in the evening.
While exploring Utah Beach Museum, discover the preserved history of D-Day on the beach where the Allied troops invaded Normandy in WWII. Afterwards, take a guided half-day tour with a local historian on a journey to Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and Normandy American Cemetery.
Experience the moral story woven into the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the architecture of the medieval period. Explore the Palace of Versailles, viewing the Hall of Mirrors, the stylized gardens and impressive fountains with a local guide. Continue on to the hotel in Paris in time for dinner, featuring the local cuisine.
Take in the symbols of Paris, starting at a commemorative monument to the victory of the armies of France at the Arc de Triomphe. Stroll along Champs-Élysées to experience the avenue's Parisian atmosphere. Walk through the lovely Tuileries Gardens and under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Discover endless works of art, from Leonardo da Vinci’s original “Mona Lisa” to ancient Egyptian artifacts, at the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre. Have dinner in the Latin Quarter and tour the area on foot, learning more about its academic history as we pass by the oldest university in Paris, the Sorbonne.
Enter the Musée d’Orsay to view the inclusive artworks at France’s national museum of fine and applied arts. Afterwards, visit the vaults of history within the Hôtel des Invalides, including the Dome church to see the tomb of Napoleon. Ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the best pictures of time in Paris. On our last evening in France, stroll the cobbled streets of Montmartre, where all the scenery looks like it came straight out of a movie. While here, stop at the charming artist hub, Place du Tertre. Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica to see the striking sculptures, architecture and panoramic view of Paris.
Climb aboard the plane in Paris and journey home.
On this educational journey through the Loire Valley, Normandy and Paris, students take in storybook castles and monumental landmarks that showcase the cultural arts of France. Experience the genius of Leonardo da Vinci through his inventive architecture and famous works of art on castles tours in the Loire Valley and museums in Paris. Discover the stories of thousands of Americans who paid the ultimate price for freedom far from home at the American Memorial Chapel, The D-Day Story and the Utah Beach Museum. Learn the history behind the charming villages and medieval architecture throughout France, including the island of Mont-Saint-Michel, the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre. With a curated curriculum for educators to apply with the program, students are empowered to put their learning into practice before, during and after the trip.
Quality, safe hotels with twin or triple occupancy that are centrally located.
All transportation is provided throughout the program.
Airfare covers round-trip flights from major airports.
Two meals are provided daily, breakfast and dinner, featuring local cuisine.
Interactive learning experiences designed to expand educational and career goals.
Scheduled activities, experiences and guided tours are all included.
Customized experiences developed by travel experts to promote learning and engagement.
Full-time Tour Directors are on site for the duration of the trip, for an all-inclusive experience.
Tips for bus drivers, guides, Tour Directors and meals.
International travel insurance is provided for protection in case of accidents, illness, flight interruptions or baggage loss.
Advanced student security software that integrates geofencing, logistics, communication and more optimized safety features.
Dedicated 24/7 staff availability, supporting students every step of the way.