Happy July 4 and Bastille Day, July 14.
Jefferson, who lived in Paris for five years as a minister to pre-Revolutionary France from the new US of A, was almost at a loss for words (!) in describing his new experience in a 1785 letter: “Were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy (Paris’) architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should want words. It is in these arts they shine.”
These arts shine brightly in the three-hour “A Walk with Thomas Jefferson” tour by Context Travel, which includes the Louvre, the Hôtel de la Marine at Place de la Concorde, the Palais Royal, and other spots he was “violently smitten with”, according to another letter.
Jefferson “paid keen attention to Parisian architecture,” Context notes, “with an eye toward the future development of an American capital city and his own home, Monticello. As we walk, we'll make connections back to American monuments that are deeply connected, through Jefferson, to Paris.”
Ever the architect himself, Jefferson even made structural changes to one of his four Paris residences.
Jefferson “shopped for a lifetime” in Paris, sending back 86 crates of items, ranging from furniture to teapots, according to Monticello curator Susan Stein in her book “The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello” (Harry N. Abrams).
What better way to see Paris and “how this new scene has struck a savage of the mountains of America”, as Jefferson described himself. As we know, that "savage" born in the mountains of Virginia became a Founding Father, and third US President.
And there’s no better time -- after July, “A Walk with Jefferson” will cost 65 Euros (just more than $92 per person), or 290 Euros (about $412) per private group, maximum six participants.
The tour, like all Context Travel's walking seminars, will be led by historians and art historians.
Context offers walking tours also in a dozen other major cities including Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Boston; London; Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples; Madrid, Barcelona; Berlin; and Istanbul.
“Travel + Leisure” Magazine has named Philadelphia-based Context a 2010 Condé Nast Travel Specialist.
For more info: Context Travel, www.contexttravel.com, 2208 South Street, Philadelphia, PA. 215-392-0303. This just in: Condé Nast Traveler Magazine selected Context's co-founder Paul Bennett as one of 11 “Top Travel Specialists” for 2011, the second consecutive year, www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/travel-specialists/paul-bennett.