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During the Middle Ages, Paris underwent a seismic change that saw it transform from a small cathedral city of little economic or political consequence, to the largest city in Christendom and a leading cultural and intellectual hub. Its rise to prominence owed much to the Capetian dynasty, whose growing power mirrored that of the city’s. It was under early Capetian rule that Paris evolved into a city of three parts, the Île de la Cité, the metropolitan heart, site of the royal palace and the imposing new cathedral of Notre-Dame, begun in 1163; the mercantile Right Bank, a prospering centre of business and trade; and the Left Bank with its important monasteries, such as the Abbey Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The University of Paris, an amalgamation of the cathedral schools of Notre-Dame, was officially chartered in 1200 by King Philip II of France. It quickly emerged as one of the great centres of scholarship in Europe, bringing further importance to the Left Bank. Indeed, by the 13th century, the number of students living on the Left Bank had swelled so significantly that the area came to be known as the Latin Quarter, Latin being the language assumed by so many of its scholarly inhabitants. This boom period in Parisian history would be brought to a standstill with the arrival of the Bubonic plague in 1348, which killed a quarter of the city’s population during the first outbreak, and the Hundred Years’ War. Nevertheless, this remarkable chapter in the city’s history is preserved in the form of some of its most astounding structures and treasures. Join Dr Sally Dormer in a thrilling exploration of royal mediaeval Paris and discover the era that truly gave form to this most beloved European metropolis.
To use our NEW itinerary, simply click a day below and a detailed overview will appear.
Arrive in Paris, settle into the hotel and have a quick lunch. ST GERMAIN DES PRES - A chance to visit the oldest church in Paris, founded originally as part of a monastery by the 6th-century Frankish king Childebert I . The church that occupies the site today comprises a mid 11th-century nave, much restored, and an early Gothic east end. MUSEE DE CLUNY – An unparalleled collection of medieval artefacts housed in the remains of a Gallo-Roman bath complex and the 15th-century town house of the abbots of the Burgundian monastery of Cluny. This afternoon we will concentrate on Romanesque sculpture, including capitals from St Germain des Pres and heads of the kings from the Royal Gallery of Notre Dame, small-scale precious arts and consider the Basle Golden Altar Frontal, commissioned by an 11th-century Holy Roman Emperor.
THE LOUVRE – a day-long visit focusing on important French Gothic patrons and their commissions, including Louis IX, Queen Jeanne d’Evreux, Charles V and Jean, duc de Berry. We will begin the morning session by walking through the foundations of Charles V’s late 14th-century, Louvre palace-fortress and then continue to the Medieval Objets d’Art gallery in the Richelieu Wing to look at ivory carvings and goldsmiths’ work. In the afternoon we will move to the Medieval French Painting Gallery to study works such as the panel portrait of Jean le Bon and the Parement de Narbonne, commissioned by Charles V and his wife Jeanne de Bourbon.
AM ROYAL ABBEY OF ST DENIS – a visit by Metro to the place where Denis, the first bishop of Paris was buried in the 1st century AD and where Gothic architecture was born in the 1140s, under the patronage of Abbot Suger. We will look at the reconstructed portals and bronze doors that Suger commissioned for the new West end, as well as the architectural design and stained glass windows of his choir. The Rayonnant nave and transepts of the abbey and various important royal tombs will also be discussed. PM NOTRE DAME – visit to the cathedral of Paris, begun in 1163 by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris and remodelled extensively during the 13th century to keep abreast of architectural developments elsewhere. It provides a fascinating example of the experimental approach to Early Gothic style and an opportunity to think about considerations that governed the iconography of Gothic portal sculpture. SAINTE CHAPELLE – the royal palace chapel commissioned by Louis IX in 1238 to house the relic of the Crown of Thorns that he had procured from his cousin in Constantinople. It constitutes the finest example of the Rayonnant style of Gothic architecture that developed in Paris during the 1230s. The magnificent stained glass windows carry evidence of Louis’ theory of kingship in their choice of subject matter.
AM ST SEVERIN – a rarely visited Parisian church with a broad double ambulatory which provides a majestic example of the Flamboyant style of Gothic architecture, which emerged during the 15th-century. MUSEE DE CLUNY – a return visit to concentrate on the rich Gothic collections, including such treasures as the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries, the Sainte Chapelle reliquary, a fine collection of medieval jewels, Calendars from two Books of Hours and the Thornham Parva altar frontal. We will also look at the abbot of Cluny’s exquisite Flamboyant chapel. PM FREE TIME – before returning to the hotel, Gare du Nord and Eurostar.
When it comes to getting you to your destination. Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you to choose from
For complete flexibility, make your own transport arrangements to and from the ship. We will provide you with times and locations as well as some useful information for you to make your own arrangements to join your cruise.
If you require any further information to assist with your travel plans, please contact our Holiday Advisors who will be happy to help.
Travel down to Dover and jump onboard your coach for your ferry crossing.
Alternatively, travel the day before your departure and enjoy an overnight stay, with complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise, before being collected after breakfast the following morning.
Step aboard Eurostar at London St Pancras for a fast and comfortable journey to mainland Europe. You can even upgrade your reserved seat to Standard Premier – speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information. On arrival in Paris, Lille or Brussels, you will then join connecting services for your onward journey.
Return flights from London Heathrow with transfers to and from the ship are included in our package on our specific arrival and departure dates. We also include one item of checked in luggage per person.
If our included flights are not suitable, alternative flights may also be available from other airports on our arrival and departure dates. These may have an additional supplement and are subject to availability at the time of booking.
For those travelling from further afield, you can also book overnight accommodation in London, before and after your holiday. Speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information.
For an even more relaxed start to your European holiday, why not stay overnight in Dover or nearby Ashford the night before your cruise from only £65pp? All our quoted prices include car parking for one vehicle for the duration of your cruise and cooked breakfast the following morning. Our coach will collect you and return you to the hotel on its way to/from the port of Dover. And if you don’t want that holiday feeling to end, why not do the same on your return journey?