London and Paris – Celebrating Gay History

view from montparnasse on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

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A Gay Cultural Tour in England and France

Physical Challenge:

Take this gay tour and immerse yourself in a marvelous discovery of two of the world’s greatest cities, London and Paris. Uncover gay history from the Renaissance through the modern age while walking among England’s famous gardens and museums and the glorious chateaux of the French Loire Valley countryside.

  • Enjoy a guided tour of numerous gay pieces in The National Portrait Gallery
  • Tour the center of British gay history at Westminster Abbey
  • Experience an excursion to tour Charleston Farmhouse
  • Discover where the gay war hero Alan Turing helped save the world from Nazism
  • Stroll London’s gayest neighborhoods, Soho and Bloomsbury
  • Explore the French countryside of the Loire Valley
  • Visit the castle of France’s gayest king, Henri III
  • Get away to Amsterdam for 3 nights after this tour (optional)

Join us for a unique look at two magnificent cities: London and Paris. Embrace the flamboyant history, art, literature and fashion that have influenced global culture for centuries. Discover gay history as you’ve never known it. From Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, to King Henri III, Jean Cocteau, and Yves St Laurent, London and Paris are unparalleled encyclopedias of gay cultural history. We’ll touch upon the lives of Gertrude Stein and James Baldwin — famous gay American expats. Lavish accommodations and  seductive meals accompanied by an expert gay historian make this a memorable adventure.

Day 1: Welcome to the United Kingdom

exquisite westminster abbey on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

After checking in to the luxurious Chesterfield Mayfair hotel, we’ll meet our tour leader and gay historian Professor Lear and our Gay London guide for stroll through the the storied Westminster Abbey. Many will be surprised to learn the English coronation church houses so much gay history: memorials of gay kings, authors, actors and many others.

Together we’ll enjoy a sumptuous late afternoon tea at one of London’s most famous tearooms. Enjoy a lovely array of teas and sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream, and cakes — the perfect introduction to the rich culinary traditions of England.

We’ll return to our hotel with time to relax, and the evening will be on our own.

 

Day 2: Gay London

bright london street vibrant blooms in an English garden on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Today’s exploration of London takes us down Picadilly to the National Portrait Gallery with a guided tour by Professor Lear. There are a remarkable number of gay personalities on display, from the medieval King Edward II to today’s Sir Ian McKellen. We’ll have lunch atop the National Portrait Gallery with a fabulous view of London. Afterward, let’s meander through London’s gayest neighborhoods, Soho and Bloomsbury to the British Museum. There we shall to see for ourselves the famous and scandalous Warren Cup—the most expensive item ever purchased by the Museum. The evening will be free to explore and dine independently.

 

Day 3: Countryside Homes

300x204-lp-english-garden

Today we head into the countryside in Sussex to visit Charleston Farmhouse, a group retreat for the Bloomsbury Group, where Virginia Woolf and her friends carried on their complex lives while revolutionizing the arts in Britain. The say goes that they were “living in squares and loving in triangles—” many were gay and lesbian.

We’ll have lunch together at a local country pub and from there drive to the seaside resort town of Brighton, one of Britain’s main main gay centers since the 19th century. We take the local “Piers and Queers” tour and visit the fabulous Royal Pavilion—which does not have a gay history but is still one of the queeniest buildings on earth. We return to London for a free evening (but ask if you like about staying in Brighton for the evening).

 

Day 4: Bletchley Park

lovely bletchley park on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

This morning we’ll take the train for a fascinating visit to Bletchley Park. The pretty, Victorian exterior housed England’s top-secret wartime research center. It is here that the brilliant gay mathematician Alan Turing invented the computer which broke the Nazi military codes. In an infuriating turn of events, Turing was arrested in 1952 for cruising, as homosexuality was still illegal. In 2009 the Prime Minister issued a posthumous apology for “the appalling way he was treated.”

Back in London, we’ll have the afternoon and evening free to visit other landmarks or do a little shopping and enjoy one of London’s many delicious restaurants.

 

Day 5: Literary, Artistic, and Gay History

train from london to paris vibrant blooms in an English garden on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Today we’ll board the sleek Chunnel train to Paris to begin exploring this iconic city. Enjoy lunch in one of Paris’ charming street markets before discovering the Left Bank- from the top of Montparnasse to the river Seine!

view from montparnasse on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

From our stylish hotel, we’ll venture forth into our bohemian neighborhood to soak up the literary, artistic, and gay history that surrounds us. The night is free and with the ideal hotel location, we won’t have trouble finding a good restaurant.

 

Day 6: Père Lachaise and Marais Tour

paris cemetary pere lachaise on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

This morning we cross the Seine to visit another part of Paris, beginning with Père Lachaise, a picturesque, monumental cemetery. Here we gaze upon the graves of an abundance of celebrities: some gay (Oscar Wilde, Proust, and Gertrude Stein), some not (Chopin), others about whom we’re just not sure (Jim Morrison).

After a relaxed lunch together, we tour one of Paris’ most interesting neighborhoods, the Marais. This part of Paris showcases the city’s greatest collection of 17th century palaces and a traditional Jewish ghetto. Our afternoon ends with a drink as we stroll along the Rue St. Croix de la Bretonnerie, the city’s main gay district. Yet another glorious evening free.

 

Day 7: Valley of the Loire

Chenonceau castle in the Loire Valley on the HE Travel Gay Paris tour.

Today we travel southwest to The Valley of the Loire. Here we will find breathtaking natural scenery as well as a fantastic collection of castles built by the kings of France. We’ll tour Clos Lucé, where the great gay genius Leonardo Da Vinci spent his last three years.

At Chenonceau, we’ll admire the chateau most beloved by the gayest of French kings, Henri III. We’ll find out how Chenonceau played a part in the lives of Catherine de Médicis, Mary Stewart, Voltaire and the Jewish refugees who fled to safety through the castle in World War II. We will enjoy lunch and wine in the castle’s superb restaurant before beginning the tour.

Then back to Paris for another free evening of exploring the city’s magnificent restaurants and nightlife.

 

Day 8: Musée du Louvre

showcase of gay art history at the louvre on the HE Travel gay london gay paris tour

It wouldn’t be Paris without a visit to the world renowned, Musée du Louvre. We’ll pay special attention to the rich collection of gay-themed masterpieces. Statues of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s boyfriend Antinous, portraits of France’s gay kings, and a rich collection of homoerotic works from the Napoleonic period make this tour uniquely illuminating, spanning thousands of years of gay history. The final afternoon is open for your own expeditions. We’re happy to suggest another museum or architectural site, or a simple bistro for relaxing and watching the crowds stroll past.

We’ll gather for a farewell dinner at the Fontaine de Mars, one of the best bistros in Paris, where Barack and Michelle ate on their state visit to Paris. It’s the perfect spot to toast the two sparkling cities we have come to love, and the new friends made along the way!

 

Day 9: Bon Voyage

coffee and croissants on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Our tour ends this morning with breakfast in Paris. Bon Voyage!

For those with more time to spend exploring the great Capitals of Europe, we are offering two tours following the London/Paris trip. A 3-night getaway to Amsterdam and then a 12-night grand tour of Budapest, Prague, Vienna, and more! Details below:

A getaway to Amsterdam – August 22 to 25, 2017

picturesque canal houses in Amsterdam on the HE Travel gay history tour.

Extend your trip with a lovely stay in open-minded Amsterdam, where the first legal gay marriages were performed in 2001.  Liberalism was invented here!  Free trade and social tolerance are the hallmarks of Amsterdam, and the people here invented something called “Gedogen” which is a policy of “letting things happen” that has been shocking religious conservatives since the 17th century!  Many of us still remember the 1970s, when it was the ultimate city of free love and free drugs, and many aspects of that period are still alive, including a very active gay liberation movement.  Indeed, it is a city that looks both backward and forward, with the beautifully preserved 17th century architecture and art of its charming center and an open-minded liberalism that could serve as a model for the future if we are smart!

Day 1.  Welkom!

After checking in to our charming hotel set between the grand canals of the 17th century, our group gathers together for a walking tour that will show us the essentials of the city center and in particular its gay history (one of our local guide’s specialties).  Dutch-Indonesian rijstaafel— the city’s best-known culinary tradition is on the menu tonight before we set off for an after dark tour of the infamous red light district.

Day 2. Sexy Art History

Another of our guide’s specialties is 17th century Dutch art, and we spend this morning at the greatest museum of that period, the Rijksmuseum. Dutch Golden Age art has an often ignored sexy (albeit straight) side that is often ignored, but not by our guide! Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt are just a few of the Masters whose works are highlighted here. The cafés of the lovely Vondelpark call to us for lunch, and we answer.  Probably the best way to appreciate the charms of this so-called “Venice of the North” is with a tour of the city from a canal boat, and we will finish up with exactly that!  The evening is free for your own explorations.

Day 3. Naval History and a Poignant Remembrance

Get out your tissues, you’re going to need them when we visit the Anne Frank apartment, where she hid out with her family for four years, until the Nazi occupiers eventually discovered and arrested her family.  This is where she wrote her poignant diary that has moved many people over the years with its message of hope.  The National Maritime Museum is next, and we will explore the Netherlands’ great maritime history, including its gay side! This afternoon is yours to do as you please, may we suggest the Van Gogh Museum, with its peerless collection of the quintessential modern painter, or we can tell you how to get to an easily accessible nude beach!  Tonight we dine together with a city view at our Farewell Dinner.

Day 4. Vaarwel (Farewell)!

Today we’ll depart, and we hope you’ll continue on to Budapest for a splendid tour of Central Europe’s cosmopolitan capitals.

 

Central Europe’s Exquisite Capitals – August 25 to September 6, 2017

Astronomical Clock in Prague on the HE Travel gay Europe cultural tour

Our group will visit Central Europe’s most beautiful Capitals: Budapest, Prague, Vienna, and more! During the height of the Holy Roman Empire, Central Europe nurtured architectural and musical influences that continue to this day. Enjoy our gay cultural tours with walking, concerts, a dinner cruise, rejuvenating baths, and ample time to explore.

London / Paris Gay History Tour

Price includes:  Deluxe hotels in chic neighborhoods; 4 nights in London and 4 in Paris: knowledgeable gay historian accompanying the group on included activities; Entrance fees to sites listed in itinerary; Ground transportation including train between England and France; and All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 tea, and 1 farewell dinner with wine. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.

Not included: Airfare, Airport-hotel transfers on arrival and departure; Meals not shown as included in tour package; Alcoholic beverages; Gratuities for local guides and drivers; Personal items such as souvenirs and snacks; Optional activities; and Trip cancellation insurance.

Optional Tour Choices:

$TBA Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)

 

Amsterdam – Art and History

Price includes:  Three nights at our charming hotel; 3 breakfasts, 2 dinners; knowledgeable gay historian accompanying the group on included activities; Entrance fees to sites listed in itinerary; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.

Not included: Airfare, Airport-hotel transfers on arrival and departure; Meals not shown as included in tour package; Alcoholic beverages; Gratuities for local guides and drivers; Personal items such as souvenirs and snacks; Optional activities; and Trip cancellation insurance.

$TBA per person in a shared room

$TBA Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)

Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends.

 

We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. For our London-Paris tour, if you request a roommate and we can’t match you with someone, you will be responsible for the full single supplement.

This tour starts in London, England and ends in Paris, France.

Physical Challenge Level 2

 

This trip features a great deal of walking. We’ll be on our feet for several hours daily during tours of museums and historical monuments, mostly flat, non-strenuous terrain. We’ll traverse mostly well maintained areas, though there may be uneven footing in gardens or cobbled streets.

LONDON–The Chesterfield Mayfair: Set in the heart of London’s most chic neighborhood, Mayfair, around the corner from Berkeley Square and Bond St., the Chesterfield occupies a row of townhouses with a fascinating history of aristocrats and parliamentarians. Today’s hotel is a model of old-fashioned British charm and hospitality.

 

PARIS–Hotel Pont Royal: In the heart of the St. Germain neighborhood, steps away from Paris’ most famous cafés, the Pont Royal has a fascinating history, starting in the ‘20s when Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald held court in its bar. Today it is a hotel of quiet grace and elegance, and an ideal center for your visit to Paris.

Professor Lear on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

A beloved teacher at Columbia, Pomona College, and NYU, Professor Andrew Lear is a Classicist, art historian, and historian of sexuality, known for his important research on same-sex love in ancient Greece.  In recent years, he has led fascinating gay history tours in New York City and Europe. He is also developing a BBC series on gay history in collaboration with author/actor Stephen Fry.

For answers to your additional questions, please email info@hetravel.com or call 305-294-8174


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