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An Unforgettable Experience. 5 days/4 nights Tour of Paris.
Let Shady Ladies Tours introduce you to the royal mistresses and courtesans of Paris’ history, from Madame de Pompadour to the (real!) Lady of the Camellias. Discover them with Professor Andrew Lear, world-renowned scholar of sexuality and art, and founder of our company.

Summer 2018 Paris Tour Itinerary

Our tour is led by company founder Professor Andrew Lear, your ideal guide to the always exciting, often racy, world of great art.
*** Note that Professor Lear is also a native French speaker. A tour of Paris with him is the ultimate Cook’s tour. ***

Professor Lear’s expertise and knowledge is phenomenal. A master host, engaging, exciting, with a fine sense of humor.
I look differently at art now, looking for hidden connections Professor Lear opened my eyes to.
”—Natalia N. (Trip Advisor review)

* TAKE $200 OFF EARLY PURCHASES BEFORE September 15*

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Tour Introduction

More than any other city in the world, Paris has a rich history of seductive women who rose to the top. From royal mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry, to courtesans like the (real!) Lady of the Camellias, the Shady Ladies of Paris reigned over the so-called demi-monde, a glittering section of high society that—even if it had to glitter in the shade—was often the true center of power. Let Shady Ladies Tours introduce you to this intriguing side of Paris, from the Renaissance to the Belle Epoque. You will be guided by Professor Andrew Lear, world-renowned scholar of sexuality and art, and founder of our company. We’ll see famous sights (such as the Orsay Museum) from a whole new angle; we’ll discover hidden gems that reveal the lives of some of history’s most fascinating women; and we’ll dine in restaurants fit for a queen. Topped with a stay in a luxury hotel that has its own racy history, as well as a charming visit to a perfume museum, this tour gives you Paris the way Madame de Pompadour herself would want you to see it. Discover the City of Light for the first time, or see it again from an entirely new perspective. Whether you make it a fun long weekend with friends, or as part of a longer trip to France, Shady Ladies of Paris will create memories to last a lifetime.

Paris Tour Highlights
  •  Stay in a hotel where the Prince of Wales kept his love nest.
  •  Eat in a restaurant famous for its private rooms, where gentlemen entertained their mistresses
  •  Take the ‘Shady Ladies’ tour of the Orsay Museum
  •  Visit the Castle of the Women, Chenonceau
  •  Plus lesser known sights, such as the glamorous Paris Opera and the tomb of the Lady of the Camellias
  •  Time to shop and explore Paris on your own
Fall In Paris: Day 1

Our tour begins at our hotel—where Queen Victoria’s ne’er-do- well son the Prince of Wales kept his love nest—right across from the Opéra, the center of high society in the 19th century. Meet Professor Lear and our Paris guide, and set off for a walking tour around Montmartre. This area, still famous for the Moulin Rouge, was the great neighborhood for courtesans and artists during the Impressionist revolution. We will see a host of sights and visit three: the Musée de la vie romantique, a hidden gem with momentos of the very racy set that gathered around lovers George Sand and Frédéric Chopin; the Monmartre cemetery, site of the grand tomb of Alphonsine Plessis, Paris’ most glorious courtesan (memorialized by her lover Alexandre Dumas as the Lady of the Camellias, by Verdi as La Traviata, and by Greta Garbo’s performance in Camille); and a chic new hotel in a renovated 1905 bordello, where will end our tour with a drink at the harem-themed bar! We then proceed to our welcome dinner, at one of Paris’ most fascinating restaurants, a favorite of authors like Zola and Maupassant. Before settling in for our gourmet meal, we’ll visit the private rooms upstairs, where 19th -century gentlemen entertained their courtesan mistresses, who scratched their diamonds on the mirrors to see if they were real. You can still see the scratch marks today….

Fall In Paris: Day 2

This morning we experience yet another of the tour’s highlights, Professor Lear’s Shady Ladies tour of the Musée D’Orsay. We’ll see how close the world of art was to the demi-monde, from Clesinger’s so-called “Women Bitten by a Serpent” to Cézanne’s self-mocking “New Olympia.” After our tour, we relax over lunch at the museum’s beautiful Beaux Arts dining room before setting off for one of Paris’ lesser known museums, the Arts Décoratifs, where we will see their special courtesan collection (including the bed of Valtesse de la Bigne, which those who have taken Professor Lear’s New York tours know of). We end our afternoon with a visit to Paris’ premiere perfume museum, where you learn about both the technique of making perfume and the history of beautiful perfume containers. The evening is free for you to explore Paris’ culinary scene on your own, but ask us for advice!

Fall In Paris: Day 3

Today we take an excursion to the famously beautiful Loire Valley, where France’s kings built the world’s most spectacular castles. Our goal is Chenonceau, the best-preserved and most interesting of the valley’s castles. Known as “the castle of the women,” Chenonceau boasts a history involving Henri II’s mistress (and unofficial co-regent) Diane de Poitiers, his jealous wife Catherine de Médicis, her scandalous daughter and daughter-in-law, Queen Margot and Mary, Queen of Scots, among many others. During our visit, we have a lunch of local specialties (including the castle estate’s own wines) in its splendid Orangerie. At the end of the day, we return to Paris for another free evening.

Fall In Paris: Day 4

This morning starts with another kind of palace: the mansion of La Païva, one of the most famous courtesans of Belle Epoque Paris. Born Esther Lachmann, to a Jewish family in Russia, she ended her days with two aristocratic titles and on the way built this spectacular jewel-box, famous in Paris for its yellow marble spiral staircase. The house—now the only remaining private mansion on the Champs Elysées—is today one of Paris’ most elegant private clubs, but we have arranged an exclusive visit for our tour. Then we’re off to the Paris Opera house for another insider’s visit: famous for many reasons, the Opera has a hall of mirrors that far outshines Versailles and is of course the inspiration for the Phantom of the Opera. This afternoon we leave you free for your own explorations: amazing museums, shopping, patisseries, Paris has it all. Finally, in the evening we gather for a farewell dinner at one of the great boulevard cafés that were the center of 19th century Paris’ exciting nightlife.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Professor Lear?
Our Paris tours tours are led personally by Professor Andrew Lear, a leading scholar on the history of sexuality and a master guide. With a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA, Professor Lear is one of the foremost experts on the erotic in Greek and Roman art. His book on Greek vase-painting won widespread praise for its erudition and accessibility, and was hailed by the American Journal of Archaeology as “destined for Classic status.” First and foremost, however, Professor Lear is a teacher. He prides himself on his ability to make high culture accessible to everyone, honed through years of teaching at Columbia, NYU and Harvard—where he won the Harvard Certificate for Excellence in Teaching four times. With his groundbreaking work on the history of art, his expertise in bringing the past to life and his long experience as a scholar and teacher, Professor Lear is your ideal guide to the always exciting, often racy, world of great art. “Professor Lear’s expertise and knowledge is phenomenal. A master host, engaging, exciting, with a fine sense of humor. I look differently at art now, looking for hidden connections Professor Lear opened my eyes to.”—Natalia N. (Trip Advisor review)
What is our hotel?
Shady Ladies Tours groups stay in 4 and 5 star properties, carefully chosen for a combination of historic charm, up-to-date elegance, and central location. In Paris, our hotel is the Edouard VII, right by the Opera, and it fits our style perfectly, with its racy history and modern comfort.
What meals are included?
Shady Ladies Tours multi-day tours include breakfast every day and generally one main meal each day, according to itinerary. On the Shady Ladies of Paris tour, we include a welcome dinner on day 1, a farewell dinner on day 4, and lunch on days 2 and 3.
What is included?
Our tour starts and ends at our Paris hotel. It includes hotel accommodation; 4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners; services of escort and local guides; admission to all sights on the tour, and transportation to them (by taxi, minibus, and train).
Will we have any free time to explore on our own?
In each city, we include a free afternoon, so you can explore, shop, or visit museums not included in the tour.
Is this a good tour for people with difficulty walking?
All of the main sights in the tour are visited on foot, on walking or museum tours. There may be uneven ground and steps in some museums or historic houses. The amount of walking is not, however, excessive: we rarely exceed 2 miles a day. We travel from site to site by train or air conditioned bus (or at times, in major cities, in fleets of taxis or limousines).

GRAND HOTEL PACKAGE

Stay in the Edouard VII, the only hotel right on the Avenue de l'Opéra, a charming boutique hotel with a racy history suitable to the Shady Ladies tour: the hotel is named for Victoria's son, "Bertie," who kept his Paris love nest in this building

$2650

PIED-À-TERRE PACKAGE

Stay in the neighborhood of the Galleries Lafayette and the Opera in our modern apartment hotel, the Citadines Opéra, where every room has a mini kitchen.

$2450

Call For More Info: 646-201-4848

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La Traviata's tomb
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Summer 2017 Paris Tour
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La Païva's staircase
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Summer 2018

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Shady Ladies of Paris Tour Reviews

What an amazing Paris Tour! It was so well curated, and I felt like we got to see the best of Paris and even saw a gorgeous castle in the Loire Valley!!!! Food was excellent, hotel was excellent. Professor Lear was so wonderful, he is knowledgeable and so personable, he was so much fun! My mom and I felt really taken care of, we learned so much culture and history (the fun kind lol), and it was simply amazing. Words can not describe how much fun we had. We saw Paris through 19th century eyes thanks to our wonderful guide, Prof Lear. The other tour guides were excellent as well, Davide and Veronique, and the Tour at the Opera Garnier was spectacular. It put us in King Edward VII’s racy Paris, we stayed in his former building, and had dinner at a famous restaurant from 1776, saw a former bordello and got a private tour of a courtesan’s mansion on the Champs Elysees, got a private tour of the Orsay Museum, all without waiting in line—and all things we could not have arranged on our own, so it’s quite exclusive and very VIP. We felt scandalous, lol! Don’t hesitate, this was one of the best ways to see the very best of Paris Art and History.

-KittyKatNYC75

Shady Ladies of Paris Tour

★★★★★
5 5 1
What an amazing Paris Tour! It was so well curated, and I felt like we got to see the best of Paris and even saw a gorgeous Castle in the Loire Valley!!!! Food was excellent, hotel was excellent. Professor Lear was so wonderful, he is knowledgeable and so personable, he was so much fun! My mom and I felt really taken care of, we learned so much culture and history (the fun kind lol), and it was simply amazing. Words can not describe how much fun we had, and saw Paris through 19th century eyes thanks to our wonderful guide, Prof Lear. The other tour guides were excellent as well, Davide and Veronique, and the Tour at the Garnier L'Opera was spectacular. It put us in King Edward's racy Paris, we stayed at his former apartment, and had dinner at a famous restaurant from 1776, saw a former Bordello and got a private tour of a Courtesan s mansion on the Champs Elysee, got a private tour of the Museum D'Orsay, all without waiting in line, and all things we could not have arranged on our own, so it's quite exclusive and very VIP. We felt scandalous! lol Don't hesitate, this was one of the best ways to see the very best of Paris Art and History.

Highly Recommend

★★★★★
5 5 1
The Shady Ladies of Paris was fun and fabulous! It allowed me to get inside and up close to places and events I otherwise could not have. The tour was entertaining, the accommodations were swanky, the food was decadent, the group size was perfect, and the pace was just right – plenty to see and do with just enough down time in between. Professor Lear and the local guides were all extremely knowledgeable, happy to answer questions, and kept the information flowing. Highly recommend!

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