Day 1: Depart for London
Day 2: London
On arrival at the airport, your tour director will whisk you into town. After checking into the hotel, take a gentle stroll around Covent Garden, famous for literary coffee shops & street performances. Theatre has been associated with this area since the time of the ''merry monarch,'' Charles II, in the 1660s. We may well bump into the ghosts of Samuel Pepys, Nell Gwynn or even Eliza Doolittle! A welcome dinner of English fare is included tonight.
Day 3: London
This morning, we will hop on our tour bus & take a spin by some of London's most celebrated sights such as: Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We will finish by Borough Market where you can get lunch next door to Bridget Jones' pad or sip a pint at Harry Potter's Leaky Cauldron. Afterwards, a short walk along the river brings us to Shakespeare's neighborhood, where we will participate in an interactive lecture at the Globe Theatre. Tonight it's on to a show!
Day 4: Bloomsbury
An expert guide leads us on a jaunt through Bloomsbury. This area is steeped in literary connections, from Dickens to T.S. Elliot. Most notorious, however, is the group of artists & writers who took their name from the area & shocked early 20th century society with their politics of feminism, pacifism and their "modern attitude" toward love affairs. Best remembered of the Bloomsbury group is Virginia Wolf. Our walk will finish by the British Library where you can view original manuscripts, from Shakespeare's first folio to handwritten Beatles lyrics. The rest of your day is entirely free!
Day 5: Oxford
Today, we take a trip out of town to see Oxford & tour some of the university's famous buildings. The city itself is gorgeous, but you will also thrill to the idea that celebrated alumni from Percy Shelly to Dr. Seuss have been inspired by their varsity life here. We'll visit Christchurch College where Lewis Carroll taught while imagining Alice in Wonderland & see the great dining hall that served as the inspiration for Hogwarts. Today' you might decide to have a pub lunch at the Eagle & Child where the ''Inklings'' met & JRR Tolkein invented elfish!
Day 6: London & Hampstead
This morning is free. A strong suggestion would be for you to visit Westminster Abbey to say hello to some of the famous deceased in Poet's corner. See if you can track down Aphra Behn, the first English woman to make her living as a writer. This evening, we wend our way up to Hampstead, one of London's most lovely villages. This area is not so well known to the mainstream, yet has been home to many writers and artists & has splendid pubs! We may stretch our legs on the Heath before enjoying an included dinner.
Day 7: London & Paris
Today, we speed off through the Chunnel to Paris. We will be met at the Gare du Nord by a tour bus and set out on a panoramic drive around town to get our first views of the Champs Elysees & the Eiffel Tower. After we check in to our centrally-located hotel this evening, we will sink our teeth into some traditional French cuisine. Frog legs & escargots anyone?
Day 8: Paris
A local literary expert guide will meet us this morning & take us on an odyssey through the Paris of Stein, Toklas, Proust & Joyce amongst others. We will see several locations where Hemingway tippled & Oscar Wilde bid farewell to his wallpaper. We will end by a bookshop where such writers as Henry Miller, Anäis Nin, Lawrence Durrell & Alan Ginsberg have shared a cup of tea with George, the eccentric owner. He was granted permission by Sylvia Beach, who had printed James Joyce's Ulysses for his store, to carry forward the name of her publishing house, Shakespeare & company. This afternoon is free. Maybe you will visit the Rodin Museum, go shopping in one of Paris' great department stores or choose to climb the Eiffel Tower! Tonight, we will enjoy a romantic cruise along the Seine river.
Day 9: Giverny & Auvers-sur-Oise
Today, we are off to see the countryside to visit one or two old artistic friends. The first stop will be to luxuriate in the floral bliss of Claude Monet's country garden at Giverny. His Japanese water lily garden has been well looked after, & the symphony of color is breathtaking! After an included rustic lunch, we will meander through some country lanes to find our way to the picturesque town of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent Van Gough chose to end his days. The painting of the local church is one of his best-known images.
Day 10: Paris
We begin this morning with a trip to Pere Lachaise cemetery. The graveyard is beautiful & full of old friends, from Gertrude Stein to Jim Morrison. Afterwards, we will trek up to the delightful area of Monmartre, noted for its artistic connections & one of the loveliest churches on the planet, the Sacre Coeur basilica. You have some more free time this afternoon. Take on the world's biggest museum, the Louvre or explore the more contemporary Musee d'Orsay.
Day 11: Return to US