You may have been to Paris before.  You may have been there twice, three times, or more.  But you have never seen the side of Paris that this sojourn uncovers.  That is because we make Paris our classroom as we sojourn here to explore the revolution that sent shock waves through 18th century Europe and changed the course of European history forever. Our inquiry takes us to some of the most charming and typically Parisian neighborhoods of the city.  We gain entry to venues not always open to the general public, such as the renowned Sorbonne – arguably one of Europe’s greatest universities – where we hear from some of the most respected living experts on the French Revolution. We visit the palace at Versailles, but instead of simply seeing what most tourists do, we are given an in-depth tour of the edifice that has come to symbolize the excesses enjoyed by the French nobility.  A special walking tour designed by our sojourn leader affords us the opportunity to retrace the “route to the Bastille,” following the exact footsteps the revolutionaries took some 220 years before when they stormed the notorious prison.  A day-long excursion takes us to Valmy – site of one of the most dramatic and decisive battles not only of the Revolution, but of modern times – and to the historic city of Reims – site of Louis XVI’s coronation.  Further exploration of Paris leads us to an understanding of the terror and the quest for vengeance.

Along the way distinguished University of Maryland Professor Donald Sutherland and a select group of guest speakers and private guides lead us to the ‘undiscovered’ corners of Paris – the charming quarters and the atmospheric, off-the-beaten-path nooks and crannies that most tourists never get to experience.  These experts help us arrive a better understanding of this epoch and how it became a turning point in relations among men and between governments and the governed.  Our endeavor is to understand the roots of the Revolution and how the conflict led this country – the birthplace of the Enlightenment – to the depths of a terrible civil war. We’ll come to understand the central characters of the epic struggle and we’ll visit the sites that remain lasting testaments to what transpired. In the end, we’ll discover how France passed through chaos and dictatorship while transforming itself from monarchy to republic and what lessons the process has left for posterity.

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