For the discerning traveler, France offers an almost unbelievable variety of cultural delights! It is all here for you to enjoy. Experience gastronomic delights, sampling local cuisines and wines. Naturally France is well known as a destination for wonderful food, fabulous sweets, excellent spirits and fine wines. Here you can explore great chateaux, miles of vineyards, mountainous scenery, breathtaking cathedrals, art from prehistory to present day, from world renowned galleries to small village artisans. Discover an amazing array of architectural styles, ancient ports, the rolling countryside and the one-of-a-kind capital city of Paris. France is a relatively compact country but such variety, a pallet for all of the senses!
Paris to Bordeaux: Culinary Delights, Jazz & Josephine Baker
This magical tour offers a variety of sightseeing – magnificent historical cities often dominated by powerful hilltop fortresses, miles of vineyards, mountainous scenery, art from prehistory, colorfully fragrant gardens, an amazing array of architectural styles, ancient ports, distinct cultures and naturally – this is France, after all – some wonderful food and fine wines. Our route will take us via two famed grape growing areas to experience excellent gastronomic delights. Along the way we can fill our ears with the sounds of jazz music and delve into the larger than life personality of Josephine Baker, one of France’s First Ladies, as we loosely follow her trail from Paris to the Dordogne and beyond.
Walking the Spirit of…Jazz Age Paris & the Harlem Hellfighters, Heroes of WWI
First World War Centenary 2014 – 2018 – Special Tours in Remembrance
11 November, 2018 is Armistice Day in France
The US 369th Infantry Regiment, better known by their nickname “Harlem Hellfighters,” were one of the most successful units in the American Expeditionary Force of the First World War. Among the first units in the US armed forces to have black officers in addition to its all black enlisted corps, the 369th compiled quite an impressive war record. Formed in New York in 1913 and dispatched to France in late 1917, the Hellfighters rejuvenated depleted French troops, never lost a foot of ground or had a man taken prisoner. For service in the First World War, 171 members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Honour and many Distinguished Service Crosses. For exceptional bravery, the Hellfighters were also awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre, the first Americans to achieve what is France’s highest military honour.
Originally overlooked in America, the Hellfighters received more recognition on the home front for their musical qualities but their military service began a change of attitude. At the end of the war, the 369th returned to New York City and paraded through the city where thousands, of all races, lined the streets to celebrate their achievements.
The regimental band under leadership of James R Europe took France by storm, introducing the new and exciting rhythms of jazz to the continent, spurring Paris in particular on its continued love of jazz music. The 369th Regiment’s band were highly regarded and relied upon to boost morale for all Allied troops, which can be the difference between a battle being won or lost.
On this tour, follow the 369th through the musical streets of Paris and onto the front line, where they spent 191 days in combat, longer than any other American unit. On the battlefield, focus on the areas northeast of Paris including Belleau Wood, Chateau Thierry and the Meuse-Argonne where these brave soldiers fought in the trenches alongside French regiments. This area is a popular tourist destination, in the heart of Champagne Country, so we have the opportunity for a sample!
This one-of-a-kind tour is a partnership between Special Group Tours, which specializes in small group touring of fascinating destinations and themes in the UK and Europe, and Walking The Spirit Tours, the pioneers of Black heritage tourism in Paris and France.
Commonwealth Experience, WWI & WWII in France & Belgium
Experience the battle sites of both world wars, from the Normandy Beaches and Dieppe to the Great War reminders on the Somme and Ypres Salient. Our tour will trace the paths of the Commonwealth troops, focusing on the brave contributions of the American, Canadian and Australian divisions. Do you have a loved one who was lost here? Advise us and we will endeavour to incorporate sites of your personal interest, seeking out specific battle and/or grave sites as time and distance will permit. Folks seeking to discover the experiences of a loved one may find our small, intimate journeys the way to go. Our guides are retired military and/or historians with a personal interest in the tours that they lead.
Focus on Brittany, Celtic Magic of France
For many centuries Brittany was a proudly independent realm, with closer connections to Britain than France, Brittany was “petite Bretagne,” as opposed to “Grande Bretagne” across the Channel. The pan-Celtic traditions are still going strong; the Breton language remains proudly spoken, while cultural festivals celebrate Celtic music and dance. The local history stretches back even further than the Celts, as evidenced by the ancient standing stones and mysterious burial mounds of places like Carnac. Here too are striking walled medieval citadelles that once guarded its borders with France. The further west traveled, the more palpable this unique culture becomes – experience wild terrain, where vestiges of ancient forests survive around quaint villages. Here is an ancient corner with much to discover!
Gardens of Paris and Loire Valley…including Versailles & Giverny
The landscape of Paris is instantly recognizable, historic and iconic sites abound, old and modern sitting side by side throughout the city. On this short tour, sample some of the best of the green spaces that delight the locals. Experience a unique introduction to Paris, its landscapes, its daily life, its artistic heritage.
Nearby the city centre are amazing countryside settings, Versailles Palace and the haunts of artists, Monet’s Giverny and Van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise. Also, there are the grand houses and châteaux of the Loire Valley, covering many different styles and designs, sitting in magnificent gardens and boasting everything from water features to lavish landscapes. Come and enjoy some of the best gardens surrounding the capital!
Paris Rocks! Paris Music Day Trip
Full day trip in Paris -- Do 'Paris in a Day' exploring with a local guide. Experience the Marais, Place Vendôme, the Bastille, the ‘Left Bank’, Montmartre and Pigalle, the Seine embankment, and Père Lachaise Cemetery and Boulevard Saint Germain.
Available for private departures, date of your choice (subject to vehicle/guide availability)
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes - focus on a specfic band/artist where available. Price based on how many travelers and your chosen package inclusions.
Walking the Spirit, Black Heritage Paris Walking Tours
Daily, subject to availbility
Join Walking The Spirit Tours, the original Black Paris Heritage tours since 1994. You’ll love the versatility, blend Black heritage with delightful discovery of the city and regions. Your experience can be as boundless as your curiosity and time!
Join us for ONE, TWO or ALL THREE of our special neighborhood walking tours. Not only will you gain valuable insight into African-American expatriate and Diaspora life but get an up close look at what makes these streets buzz.
Come stand in the same doorway James Baldwin crossed, or browse the market the Beboppers shopped. You’ll also get to peek in the café where Richard Wright jotted his notes, study the landscape that inspired Lois Mailou Jones‘ paintings, stand beneath the marquee where the Harlem Hellfighters first jazzed up Paris, and stroll Josephine Baker‘s and Bricktop‘s neighborhood.
Also available – private Spirit of Black Paris bus tours, combo walking/bus tours. And multi-day tour adventures throughout France, London, Amsterdam and beyond!
Walking the Spirit Black Heritage Paris & Beyond Bus Tours
Groups of any size appreciate the convenience and scope of our private Spirit of Black Paris bus tours. Take in the full 200 years of history in a half day: Sally Hemings and the Harlem Hellfighters on the Champs Elysées, W.E.B. Dubois at the Opera, Josephine Baker and Bricktop in the shadow of the Moulin Rouge. Several opportunities to disembark for photos. Includes hotel pickup.
Choose a full 5-hr combo walking/bus tour or a 3.5 hour bus tour that includes a ½ hour stroll in Paris. Options for traveling BEYOND Paris too – experience Nice, Monaco & the French Rivera, Normandy, the Champagne region, Nantes and Josephine Baker’s chateau near the stunning Bordeaux region.
ATTENTION SCHOOLS/UNIVERSITIES: Turn textbooks into reality! Our knowledge of Black and French history and our engaging storytelling skills makes our tours appealing to students of all ages. We work closely with teachers and professors to meet the needs and complement course syllabi, as well as provide printed material.
Private tours cost is based on how many in your party & duration of your private tour. Please contact us for a specific rate quote.
Canadian European Battlefields, WWI & WWII: Normandy, Somme, Ypes Salient, Vimy Ridge, ‘Operation Market Garden’
They came between 1914 and 1918, from across the seas in answer to the desperate call of the Motherland. They came as representatives of a dominion; they left as representatives of a new Nation. Then in 1939 they again heeded the call, this time to help liberate Europe from the Nazi horde.
This tour visits some of the most memorable and important sites where young Canadians fought and died for their new county’s honour and the countries of their ancestors. Their ferocity and courage, on both land and in the air, earned them legendary status. They were often ‘shock troops’ who achieved victories where others had failed. The names of the various sites are etched into Canadian history for all time; Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Courcellette are but a few. This is as much a pilgrimage as a tour, honoring those whose actions helped ‘The Forging of a Nation.’
Ian Fleming, the 'Birth' of James Bond and the Battle for Dieppe
For decades, the Raid on Dieppe was considered to be nothing but a general rehearsal for the real thing to come in Normandy. But was that really the only objective to off-set the immense loss of lives? Join us and explore the possibility of the Dieppe raid being a cover for a “pinch” by the Commando’s to steal the German Enigma code machine. Find out about Ian Fleming’s involvement, from the Whitehall offices where he encountered the real life 'characters' that inspired the James Bond stories to the double agents from the XX-Committee that would provide him with the 00-moniker used in the naval department.