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SIGNATURE MOMENT
Savouring bistro meals in some of Paris’s most iconic establishments
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Café-hopping to visit John’s favourites places
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Preparing a classic three-course meal at a Left Bank cooking class
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Walking in the footsteps of Balzac, Dumas, and Sand

Paris' Thinking Spaces: Drinking Spaces

May 23-29, 2021

7 days | France | Literary Adventures

Now seen as quintessentially French, the café was slow to catch on in Paris. But once it did, it was an irreplaceable feature of life in the capital. The earliest Parisian café patrons were traders at the great St-Germain fairs, and foreigners and working-class people who frequented the Turkish-style coffeehouses around the St-Michel bridge. With the opening of the Procope near the Comédie Française in 1689, the café became fashionable—a place to see and be seen for the aristocracy and later the flâneur and dandy. Paris, said historian Jules Michelet, was “one vast café.” Cafés were also places to debate and exchange ideas. Michelet and many modern scholars see coffee drinking and the rise of the café as fueling the Enlightenment, the French revolution, and the spread of scientific, artistic and philosophical ideas in France and Europe. From Voltaire at the Procope to Robespierre at the Régence, Simone de Beauvoir at the Deux Magots and James Baldwin at the Select, writers and artists have gathered at cafés. These egalitarian “third spaces” were no less important to those unknown to history, or to us today. Cafés have been escapes from cold and poverty, de facto offices, places to meet friends and lovers, or refuges where one can simply sit and observe. When we go to them, for whatever reason, we are taking part in the comédie humaine.

Our trip will feature walking tours led by novelist and storyteller Lisa Pasold, museum visits, a cooking class, and plenty of time to enjoy Paris’s many distinctive cafés. We’ll study these thinking/drinking spaces primarily through the works of the prolific writers Honoré de Balzac and Emile Zola—the first a consumer of prodigious quantities of coffee, the second obsessed with food and the way it is bought, sold and eaten. We’ll also look at selected poetry and short fiction from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modern-day flâneur and cartoonist L. John Harris will share with us his writings and drawings on café life.

Join other bons vivants for a relaxed yet stimulating exploration of Paris’s fascinating café culture and history.
Literary Adventures Cultural Explorations
Tour Cost (per person):
Approx. US$3595
Group Size:
12 - 16 participants

What’s included: Accommodation based on double occupancy; most meals; Paris Métro tickets ; all activities and literary discussions and any entrance fees; four guided walks with Lisa Pasold; cooking class with dinner; all taxes and gratuities; hosted by L. John Harris and Melanie Blake

Itinerary at a Glance

DayActivity
1Meet in Paris
2Paris - The New Athens
3Les Halles, the Belly of Paris
4Balzac and the joy of cooking
5Coffee and politics
6Coffee, cigarettes, and printing presses
7Depart Paris
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Your Tour Leaders

L. John Harris is a food writer, filmmaker, cartoonist and cookbook publisher. He played a founding role in the food revolution that started in Berkeley, California, in the late ’60s and spread across North America. Harris is the author of The Book of Garlic, Foodoodles and Café French, among others. From his earliest visits to Paris in 1963, he has been drawn to the “third space” of the café as a place to work, daydream, observe and seek inspiration.

Lisa Pasold is a Canadian writer who divides her time between Paris and New Orleans. She is currently the host of Discovery’s travel show, “Paris Next Stop.” She has published a novel and three books of poetry.

Melanie Blake is a writer and editor who developed a deep interest in fiction from Asia during a three-year stint in India. She has canoed, kayaked, sailed, trekked and cycled down or along rivers ranging from the Hudson to the Dordogne to the Indus.

Email Us

Or call 1-800-387-1483 with any questions or to reserve your spot!

Literary Adventures Cultural Explorations
Tour Cost (per person):
Approx. US$3595
Group Size:
12 - 16 participants

What’s included: Accommodation based on double occupancy; most meals; Paris Métro tickets ; all activities and literary discussions and any entrance fees; four guided walks with Lisa Pasold; cooking class with dinner; all taxes and gratuities; hosted by L. John Harris and Melanie Blake

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Paris' Thinking Spaces: Drinking Spaces

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