Language & culture programmes


If you want to arrive earlier - or leave later - we can make arrangements for you - both accommodation and programme-wise upon request

Following the highly successful tour in 2008 (Paris & Aix with Brian McKay), we have decided for this new tour to remain throughout the stay in Paris, and to include in the programme - both linguistic & cultural - places of major interest that can be visited within at most a radius of 90 minutes travel by train (conventional or TGV!) - hence Reims, Rouen, Chartres are included along with Giverny, the Château de Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, and of course Versailles. The general pattern will remain much the same as before : morning French language sessions, part of each session being related to the "theme" or "visit" of the day, and in the afternoon there will be a series of excursions and walking tours. On full-day excursions there are no classes, but you use your French all day! Themes treated will range from aspects of day-to-day living, the Roman history of Paris, medieval glories, the façades of Paris from the Renaissance to the present day, great historical figures such as Jeanne d'Arc, the Roi Soleil, and Monet...and the programme will include an all-day cooking class with a chef in Paris!

Of interest to :
Everyone interested in developing their knowledge of France in general, and Paris & the Paris region in particular - and who seriously wish to brush up their French at the same time!


 "Merci beaucoup encore une fois pour the amazing tour" (Holly, Oct 2008)

Co-tutor and tour leader with Brian throughout will be Annie Bancroft. Annie is responsible for the overall direction of all Cpederf French Language & Culture programmes. Brian and Annie together built up the highly successful tour of Sept-Oct 2008.

    We offer you here details of the principal themes and highlights of the programme. For more complete information on the structure of the day-to-day programme, we invite you to look at the Day-to-Day Programme documents attached to the top of this page, together with the Details of Costs and the Registration Form. The site will be up-dated regularly

The first two days will be essentially around the idea of "getting acquainted" - with each other, with the way things will function, with or within Paris, and with the bus system - the bus providing a much more interesting and visually stimulating way of getting round Paris than the metro - the first day culminating in the Welcome Dinner on a bateau mouche gliding through the World Heritage part of Paris on both sides of the River Seine.

The first language "class" sessions will be based around practical & useful hints, followed by looking at and talking about the Architectural Façade of Paris. The first bus and walking tour around the streets of Paris will be on the theme : The face of Paris from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

 Day 3 : the theme of painting in Paris in general and Impressionism in particular forms the basis of the morning sessions

However you will also spend some time preparing for watching - and understanding - a recent French film, with study of language, vocabulary, story-lines & themes, and comments on the director and prinicpal actors/actresses. On the evening you will go and see the film in a cinema!

We will then metro over to Montmartre for lunch in the Crémaillère, situated in the famous Place du Tertre.  

After lunch there will be a guided walking tour of Montmartre with a specialist guide, with specific reference to Montmartre and the painters.

In the evening you go to the cinema, to watch the film for which you have been prepared in the morning.

Day 4 will offer the first of our all-day excurions to Rouen, returning via Giverny. By train direct to Rouen, beautiful and historic capital of Normandy.

Here you will have a guided visit to the historic town, the great cathedral which so inspired Monet and was the subject of so many paintings (you will be shown the site of his atelier, and the vantage point for some of his most famous paintings), the celebrated clock, and of course the old market place where Joan of Ark was burned at the stake (you will have lunch here in the market place).

Between Rouen and Paris lies Giverny (on the same main railway line), so you will return by leaving the train at Vernon to be taken to Giverny for a couple of hours in order to visit Monet's house, garden, and lake with its famous water lilies and Japanese bridge!

Day 5 will start by visiting one of Paris's great morning street markets - you will be armed with a questionnaire to give your visit a specific purpose by visiting the stalls, talking to the owners who will answer your questions!

After an early lunch, you will be taken for a guided visit of the Musée d'Orsay, the French national impressionist museum, and this will be follwed by a shorter guided visit of the Orangerie, where you can see Monet's celebrated Nymphéas.

Day 6 offers a whole day around the theme of the History of Paris from Roman times to the Renaissance. The morning sessions will concentrate on Paris history and architecture, first under the Romans, and the during the Middle Ages, concentrating especially on Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

The morning sessions will be followed by guided walking tours relating to the various elements studied in the morning, with highlight visits which will include the Archeological Crypt of Paris, found beneath the parvis de Notre-Dame, and to the Sainte Chapelle, arguably the most beautiful medieval structure and stained-glass windows in France, if not in Europe. After the guided visit, you will be free to choose to explore Notre-Dame on your own, or visit the Cluny Museum (the superb Middle Ages Museum situated on the site of the ancient Romans bathes, and where you can see the celebrated Dame à la licorne.

Day 7 A trip of less than an hour now from Paris to Reims, thanks to the TGV! The morning will be devoted essentially to the great cathedral, considered by many to be the most perfect example of French gothic style. The town itself became a major religious centre as early as the late fifth century, while most of the kings of France were crowned in the cathedral as from the 11th century up to Charles X in 1825. Close-by is the Palais du Tau

After lunch (taken in the historical centre of the city) you will explore the great Basilica of Saint Rémi, along with its musuem established in the buildings of the ancient abbey.

No visit to Reims can be complete without exploring something of that other aspect of its history for which it is equally known the world over : champagne! To learn as much as we can in the time available, there will be a visit to the Pommery champagne cellars. While founded in the first part of the 19th century, the present cellars date from the 1870s, when the original 120 gallo-roman crayères were linked by a network of 18kms of galleries! The visit will finish with a champagne tasting!

Day 8 is built around the theme of Paris from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

The morning sessions will be devoted partly to this theme, and partly to the preparation of a play you will see in a theatre in the evening.

You will be taken for lunch in one of the most fascinating, beautiful and historically interesting parts of Paris, that known as Le Marais, after which you will be taken on a guided walking tour.

Evening : theatre!

Day 9 : free morning!

After lunch, you will be taken on a guided visit of the 7th arrondissement, which will include both the Rodin Museum and the Invalides.

Day 10 is devoted to French cuisine - all day cooking class with a Parisian chef!

The programme will start with a visit in the company of the chef to a local street market in order to select the produce to be used in the cooking class itself. He will guide you in the techniques of selection.

You will assist in the preparation of the ingredients to be used - from peeling carrots to preparing herbs for the sauce(s) - and the chef will guide you in the assembling of the dishes for actual cooking.

Eventually you will sit down at table to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and discuss techniques, processes and results with the chef!

Day 11 is devoted to Versailles.

On arrival, (we go there by RER), there will be a guided tour of the World Heritage château : the restoration work completed over the last decade or so is absolutely phenomenal - so much so that if you have not visited Versailles in the last 20 years, you will have the impression that you are seeing all its marvels for the first time - in the case of the incredible Hall of Mirrors, this could well be true, given the state of the ceilings before the six years of restoration - now they are compared by specialists most favourably with the Sixtine Chapel!

The rest of the programme will depend on weather of course, but it is hoped that you will be able to wander round the park, visit the (newly restored!) domain of Marie-Antoinette, and visit the Orangerie and the Potager du Roi!

A late-afternoon return back into Paris should give you an hour or two for meandering or shopping before dinner!

Day 12 : the emphasis of the morning sessions will on the art and history of France in the 19th & 20th centuries.

After lunch, there will be a guided walking visit of the "passages couverts" (the early 19th century Paris equivalent of today's commercial malls), then a visit to the Opera Garnier (a magnificent example of Napoleon III architecture and decoration, plus the celebrated Chagall ceiling in the opera theatre itself).

Day 13 : the whole day excursion to visit two very beautiful and historically very important châteaux, Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau.

Vaux-le-Vicomte : Fouquet, Surintendant des Finances under Mazarin, was one of the most powerful figures in France at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV. In 1656 he decided to build himself a château, for which endeavour he brought together the most outstanding team possibe : architect Le Vau, painter Le Brun, landscape gardener Le Nôtre and together they started in 1656 the building of the exquisitely beautiful château we know today. The work-force was 18.000 strong. The budget was limitless (he was after all in charge of state finances!) He even created his own tapestry workshops, which after his fall in 1661, were renamed by Louis to become the Manufacture Royale des Gobelins! Fouquet was thrown into prison by Louis XIV, who immediately appropriated Le Vau, Le Brun, and Le Nôtre for work on Versailles. Needless to say most of the tapestries at Versailles came from the Gobelins! It is easy to see the work of all these great artists in both Vaux le-Vicomte and Versailles.

The Palace of Fontainebleau, a World Heritage monument and deservedly so, owes much of its form we know today to the Renaissance monarch François Ier, though important extensions and modifications were made by his son, Henri II, and by Henri IV who was responsible for major additions - but transformations continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries by Louis XIV, XV & XVI. Not forgetting Napoleon who far preferred it to Versailles, and who called it the Maison des Siècles - it bears witness to the styles and tastes of several sovereigns spanning some three centuries.

Day 14 free morning! People wishing to attend mass might like to do so in Notre-dame (or indeed in any other church of their choice!)

After lunch, there will be a guided visit on the theme of the Guimard art nouveau architecture in the 16th arrondissement. This will be followed by a visit to the fascinating - and notorious! - Centre Pompidou

Day 15 takes us on an all-day excursion to the town of Chartres, less than an hour away by train.

First off will be of course a guided visit of the World Heritage cathedral, celebrated not only for its superb architecture but especially for its 12th and 13th century stained glass windows. After the visit there should be time to explore briefly a site close to the cathedral which is quite unique in France - the Centre International du Vitrail and its associated Musée du Vitrail.

After lunch, you will explore the historical heart of the city which has plenty of superb buildings to offer the visitor especially those dating from the Renaissance to the 18th century. Its real treasures, apart from the cathedral, are to be found in and around the Rue Chantault, one of the oldest streets in Chartres - the "house" at No.5, for example, contains a bedroom with decoration going back to the time of Henri  IV, while No.29 is one of the oldest houses in France, dating back to the 12th century. The Maison de la Voûte offers a superb example of medieval domestic stonework architecture - the façade also dates back to the 12thC.

Day 16 : a rather special final session!

Each member of the group will make a short oral presentation of something which has been of particular interest to them during their stay!

This will be followed by the Farewell Lunch in a beautiful restaurant, historically classified for its art nouveau decoration Montparnasse 1900

The rest of the day will be free of programmed activities - to go shopping or catch up on something you haven't had time to see or visit - and especially for you to enjoy the Fête de la Musique, will will continue long into the night.

Day 17 : departure according to personal travel arrangements


You can contact Brian on email :

You can contact Annie & David Bancroft either by clicking on the Contact Us or Register Now box at the bottom of the page,

or by emailing direct on :

 We are all happy to supply any additional information requested and reply to any & all the queries you may have.



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