London and Paris – Celebrating Gay History

HE Travel: Don’t miss out on this amazing adventure! Pack your bags, grab your friends, and join HE Travel to experience London and Paris – Celebrating Gay History.

Join us for a unique look at two magnificent cities: London and Paris. Embrace the flamboyant history, art, literature and fashion that have influenced global culture for centuries. Discover gay history as you’ve never known it. From Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, to King Henri III, Jean Cocteau, and Yves St Laurent, London and Paris are unparalleled encyclopedias of gay cultural history. We’ll touch upon the lives of Gertrude Stein and James Baldwin — famous gay American expats. Lavish accommodations and  seductive meals accompanied by an expert gay historian make this a memorable adventure.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy a guided tour of numerous gay pieces in The National Portrait Gallery
  • Tour the center of British gay history at Westminster Abbey
  • Experience an excursion to tour Charleston Farmhouse
  • Discover where the gay war hero Alan Turing helped save the world from Nazism
  • Stroll London’s gayest neighborhoods, Soho and Bloomsbury
  • Explore the French countryside of the Loire Valley

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ITINERARY

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Day 1: Welcome to the United Kingdom

exquisite westminster abbey on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

After checking in to the luxurious Chesterfield Mayfair hotel, we’ll meet our tour leader and gay historian Professor Lear and our Gay London guide for stroll through the the storied Westminster Abbey. Many will be surprised to learn the English coronation church houses so much gay history: memorials of gay kings, authors, actors and many others.

Together we’ll enjoy a sumptuous late afternoon tea at one of London’s most famous tearooms. Enjoy a lovely array of teas and sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream, and cakes — the perfect introduction to the rich culinary traditions of England.

We’ll return to our hotel with time to relax, and the evening will be on our own.

 

Day 2: Gay London

bright london street vibrant blooms in an English garden on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Today’s exploration of London takes us down Picadilly to the National Portrait Gallery with a guided tour by Professor Lear. There are a remarkable number of gay personalities on display, from the medieval King Edward II to today’s Sir Ian McKellen. We’ll have lunch atop the National Portrait Gallery with a fabulous view of London. Afterward, let’s meander through London’s gayest neighborhoods, Soho and Bloomsbury to the British Museum. There we shall to see for ourselves the famous and scandalous Warren Cup—the most expensive item ever purchased by the Museum. The evening will be free to explore and dine independently.

 

Day 3: Countryside Homes

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Today we head into the countryside in Sussex to visit Charleston Farmhouse, a group retreat for the Bloomsbury Group, where Virginia Woolf and her friends carried on their complex lives while revolutionizing the arts in Britain. The say goes that they were “living in squares and loving in triangles—” many were gay and lesbian.

We’ll have lunch together at a local country pub and from there drive to the seaside resort town of Brighton, one of Britain’s main main gay centers since the 19th century. We take the local “Piers and Queers” tour and visit the fabulous Royal Pavilion—which does not have a gay history but is still one of the queeniest buildings on earth. We return to London for a free evening (but ask if you like about staying in Brighton for the evening).

 

Day 4: Bletchley Park

lovely bletchley park on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

This morning we’ll take the train for a fascinating visit to Bletchley Park. The pretty, Victorian exterior housed England’s top-secret wartime research center. It is here that the brilliant gay mathematician Alan Turing invented the computer which broke the Nazi military codes. In an infuriating turn of events, Turing was arrested in 1952 for cruising, as homosexuality was still illegal. In 2009 the Prime Minister issued a posthumous apology for “the appalling way he was treated.”

Back in London, we’ll have the afternoon and evening free to visit other landmarks or do a little shopping and enjoy one of London’s many delicious restaurants.

 

Day 5: Literary, Artistic, and Gay History

train from london to paris vibrant blooms in an English garden on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Today we’ll board the sleek Chunnel train to Paris to begin exploring this iconic city. Enjoy lunch in one of Paris’ charming street markets before discovering the Left Bank- from the top of Montparnasse to the river Seine!

view from montparnasse on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

From our stylish hotel, we’ll venture forth into our bohemian neighborhood to soak up the literary, artistic, and gay history that surrounds us. The night is free and with the ideal hotel location, we won’t have trouble finding a good restaurant.

 

Day 6: Père Lachaise and Marais Tour

paris cemetary pere lachaise on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

This morning we cross the Seine to visit another part of Paris, beginning with Père Lachaise, a picturesque, monumental cemetery. Here we gaze upon the graves of an abundance of celebrities: some gay (Oscar Wilde, Proust, and Gertrude Stein), some not (Chopin), others about whom we’re just not sure (Jim Morrison).

After a relaxed lunch together, we tour one of Paris’ most interesting neighborhoods, the Marais. This part of Paris showcases the city’s greatest collection of 17th century palaces and a traditional Jewish ghetto. Our afternoon ends with a drink as we stroll along the Rue St. Croix de la Bretonnerie, the city’s main gay district. Yet another glorious evening free.

 

Day 7: Valley of the Loire

Chenonceau castle in the Loire Valley on the HE Travel Gay Paris tour.

Today we travel southwest to The Valley of the Loire. Here we will find breathtaking natural scenery as well as a fantastic collection of castles built by the kings of France. We’ll tour Clos Lucé, where the great gay genius Leonardo Da Vinci spent his last three years.

At Chenonceau, we’ll admire the chateau most beloved by the gayest of French kings, Henri III. We’ll find out how Chenonceau played a part in the lives of Catherine de Médicis, Mary Stewart, Voltaire and the Jewish refugees who fled to safety through the castle in World War II. We will enjoy lunch and wine in the castle’s superb restaurant before beginning the tour.

Then back to Paris for another free evening of exploring the city’s magnificent restaurants and nightlife.

 

Day 8: Musée du Louvre

showcase of gay art history at the louvre on the HE Travel gay london gay paris tour

It wouldn’t be Paris without a visit to the world renowned, Musée du Louvre. We’ll pay special attention to the rich collection of gay-themed masterpieces. Statues of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s boyfriend Antinous, portraits of France’s gay kings, and a rich collection of homoerotic works from the Napoleonic period make this tour uniquely illuminating, spanning thousands of years of gay history. The final afternoon is open for your own expeditions. We’re happy to suggest another museum or architectural site, or a simple bistro for relaxing and watching the crowds stroll past.

We’ll gather for a farewell dinner at the Fontaine de Mars, one of the best bistros in Paris, where Barack and Michelle ate on their state visit to Paris. It’s the perfect spot to toast the two sparkling cities we have come to love, and the new friends made along the way!

 

Day 9: Bon Voyage

coffee and croissants on the HE Travel gay london gay paris gay history tour

Our tour ends this morning with breakfast in Paris. Bon Voyage!

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