No additional reservations are being accepted.


Jefferson in France

Join Clay Jenkinson on a guided tour through Jefferson’s France. After exploring Jefferson’s Paris, we’ll visit Bordeaux, where Jefferson devised a wine classification system that was adopted by the region fifty years later. Enjoy tastings at vineyards with a family memory of Jefferson’s visit in 1787 and a visit to Montaigne’s castle, where the first great essays of modern history were written. Then to Nimes to see the Maison Quarree, what Jefferson called “the most precious morsel of antiguity,” the building that served as the model for the new state capitol in Richmond. We’ll visit Arles for time among Roman antiquities and make a brief stop at Aix-en-Provence, where Jefferson took the mineral waters to ease the pain in his wrist, damaged in a romantic escapade with Maria Cosway in Paris.

Canal du Midi Add-on Tour

For those who wish it, spend five additional days afloat on the Canal du Midi (Canal Languedoc), where Jefferson in 1787 spent more than a week in his quest to learn the best technologies for canal development in America.

The canal trip is sold out, and no additional reservations are being accepted for this add-on tour.

Clay’s Notes

I have done this trip twice before, with my friend Michele Basta of the University of Nevada libraries. It’s a fabulous trip. We know a great deal about Jefferson’s time in France, and it’s possible to visit sites that were important to him. Don’t let your lack of French intimidate you. We’ll have good local interpreters to smooth our way. Jefferson said every man’s first country is of course his own, but every rational man’s second country must be France. If you are interested in the aesthetic side of Jefferson, this is your trip: music, architecture, painting, sculpture, gardens, and French salon culture. We’ll also talk about Jefferson and the French Revolution, which he (at first) thought of as the next logical step in the liberation of the world after the American Revolution. The Hotel de Salm in Paris became the template for Jefferson’s rebuild of Monticello (with the dome), and the Maison Quarree became the template for the capitol at Richmond. We’ll spend a good deal of time discussing Jefferson’s last love affair, with Maria Cosway, and visit places where their platonic romance unfolded.

I did the canal trip many years ago. It’s pure magic. It’s maybe the finest canal trip in Europe. You can walk along the tow path or ride a bicycle. The French essentially invented the farm to table movement. This is pure Enlightenment luxury.


Day 1 – October 17

Welcome to France! We’ll start our journey in Paris and transfer you from the airport to your Paris hotel. This evening join Clay for a four-course dinner with an aperitif and wine. An orientation drive of Paris will also be part of this special night.

Day 2 – October 18

This morning get a firsthand look at just what makes Paris so magical on this delightful introduction to the City of Light. Join Clay for a morning drive by the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Opéra Garnier, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and other monuments, museums, and buildings exhibiting the city’s brilliance and beauty. Along the way, learn about Jefferson’s life in Paris with an afternoon sojourn to the Hotel Langeac location along with Palais Royale, The Hotel de Salm, the Thomas Jefferson statue, and the exclusive Catholic School location where Jefferson’s daughters were educated during their time in Paris.

Day 3 – October 19

Today is a day of leisure for you to explore Paris on your own. This evening, there is no better way to see the City of Light. Enjoy a 1-hour CRUISE ON THE RIVER SEINE followed by a guided discovery tour to admire monuments of Paris, including the Concorde, Opera, Madeleine, and Champs-Elysees.

Day 4 – October 20

After breakfast in Paris, you will journey through France’s beautiful Loire Valley to Bordeaux and join Clay for a walking tour through this pretty city on the Garonne River.

Day 5 – October 21

Welcome to Bordeaux! Today you visit some of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vineyards for touring and tasting: Chateau Haut- Brion, Chateau d Yquem and Villenave-d’Ornon before returning to the city of Bordeaux for dinner.

Day 6 – October 22

Discover one of France’s most scenic regions, the Dordogne as you journey to Nimes to see the Maison Carrée, which Jefferson regarded as the greatest morsel of remaining classical architecture. Overnight in Arles.

Day 7 – October 23

Tour Arles, the most famous of all the Provence towns, known all over the world by the paintings of Van Gogh. Admire the famous Roman ampitheater, then continue to Aix-en-Provence to see its main street, the Cours Mirabeau, lined with plane trees, and its 17th-century palace, houses, and fountains, where Jefferson soaked his broken wrist in the “healing” waters.

Day 8 – October 24

Travel north to Burgundy area, another region where Jefferson spent time and hired wine advisor Etienne Parent, who shipped Jefferson many cases of wine to America. Enjoy a wine tasting at the renowned Marché aux Vins wine cellar, then stroll around and admire the famous Hôtel-Dieu and Notre Dame Basilica. Visit Clos de Vougeo, one of Jefferson’s first stops and he notes the monks produced about 50,000 bottles of wine per year. Overnight in Beaune.

Day 9 – October 25

We depart Beaune and arrive back in the “City of Light” for an afternoon of leisure. Tonight you will enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by one of the famous Parisian Cabaret to enjoy an enchanting night.

Day 10 – October 26

Your vacation ends after breakfast as you are transferred to the Paris Airport. Au revoir!


Jefferson in France Land Tour
October 17-26, 2019

Add-On Canal du Midi River Tour
Sold Out
October 27-November 2, 2019

Your journey begins and ends at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Your package includes pickup and transportation from and back to the airport (airfare is not included).

Also included: a professional tour director; interpretations by nationally-acclaimed humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson; all activities; lodging; meals unless otherwise noted in itinerary; transportation throughout your tour; museum fees; journals; gifts; hotel baggage handling; and taxes. Alcoholic beverages are not included. A $1,500 non-refundable deposit will secure your reservation. Price is per-person based on double occupancy. Traveling single? No problem. Please inquire about our single supplemental fee.

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