Art Nouveau and the Belle Époque
Immerse yourself in the aesthetic pleasures of two much-beloved styles of art, architecture and design – Art Nouveau and Art Deco – in the key exemplar cities of Prague, Brussels and Paris.
Discover the picturesque streets and artistic charms of three of Europe’s culture capitals. Wander the halls of Prague’s Municipal House and Koruna Palace, both impressive displays of Czech Art Nouveau. Explore the streets of Brussels and the architectural designs of Victor Horta, one of Art Nouveau’s defining figures, and visit the Grand-Place, featuring seventeenth century architecture. Meander your way through the markets of Paris, a gold mine for lovers of vintage items and eccentricities, and a testament to the ongoing love of the jewels of the Belle Époque period.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Qatar Airways flights to Prague via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Prague in the afternoon and transfer to your hotel for check-in (transfer included in tour price). In the late afternoon join Claudia and fellow art-lovers for a welcome briefing and special welcome dinner.
Following a morning talk by Claudia, enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town. Prague’s history stretches back to the early 12th century and since its formal establishment by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia, it has been a significant political, cultural and economic hub of central Europe. Wander through the medieval Old Town and marvel at the ingenuity and mechanical beauty of the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall.
After lunch, continue to the Charles Bridge, a historic bridge built between 1357 and 1402 over the Vltava River. Walk from the Charles Bridge to the Museum of Decorative Arts, which features a fine collection of ceramics, porcelain, textiles, fashion, toys and jewellery, as well as one of the most extensive glass exhibitions in Europe.
Begin the morning with a visit to Prague Castle, an immense castle complex dating from the 9th century. The numerous buildings comprising Prague Castle represent virtually every architectural style from the last millennium, including the Gothic St Vitus Cathedral (which features stained-glass windows by Alphonse Mucha), the Romanesque Basilica of St George and the Renaissance Rosenberg Palace. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before some free time to explore the sprawling castle district.
Then, visit the Museum Kampa art gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of works by one of the founders of abstract painting, František Kupka.
Attend a talk by Claudia in the morning before transferring to Koruna Palace, a late-Nouveau-style building featuring a domed hall with stained-glass windows. Then stroll to the Grand Hotel Evropa to view the elegant Art Nouveau exterior.
Continue to Municipal House, which displays an impressive façade decorated with allegorical sculptural scenes and a mosaic called Homage to Prague over the main entrance. Enjoy a tour of the exquisitely decorated interior and appreciate some of the finest Art Nouveau furnishings in Europe. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure, before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant.
Spend this morning on a tour of works by the subversive Czech sculptor, David Černy. Born in Prague in 1967, Černy initially gained notoriety in 1991 by painting the national Monument to Soviet Tank Crews bright pink. Begin by visiting the Communist era Žižkov Television Tower, where, in 2000, Černy installed ten fiberglass infants crawling up the supporting columns. Continue across Prague to the sites of Černy’s infamous installations, including The Horse, which hangs from the ceiling of the glorious Art Nouveau Lucerna Palace, the perpetually moving Head of Franz Kafka, Piss, and Quo Vadis.
Later, visit the Futura Centre for Contemporary Art, a private gallery dedicated to showcasing work from both local and international artists.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure to continue your exploration of Prague at your own pace.
Check out of the hotel for a morning flight to Brussels (flight included in tour price).
Arrive in Brussels and visit the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, a group of art museums dedicated to presenting the works of Belgian artists throughout history, with a collection spanning from the 15th to the 21st centuries.
Following a talk by Claudia, depart the hotel for a morning walking tour of the city. The area was settled in the late 6th century and after it was established as a city in 979 CE, it became a major commercial centre throughout the Middle Ages. Now the de facto capital of the European Union, Brussels is known for its culture, history and gastronomy. Wander through the Old Town, the Grand Place central square and the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a gorgeous, glass-roofed arcade.
Pass by the iconic Manneken Pis en route to the Fashion and Lace Museum. This outstanding museum showcases an impressive collection of lace, an industry Brussels was famous for up until the 19th century, as well as a rotating exhibition of historic and contemporary fashion design.
Begin the morning with a visit to the Magritte Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of works by renowned Belgian surrealist, René Magritte. The artworks displayed at the Magritte Museum represent the entire span of this prolific artist’s career and includes key pieces from one of the leaders of the surrealist movement.
Pass by the stately elegance of the Musical Instruments Museum, an Art Nouveau terrace housing an internationally renowned collection of antique and unusual instruments. Enjoy a walking tour of Sablon, an area filled with antique shops, chocolatiers and cafes, then head down the hill to explore the Marolles, Brussel’s historic working-class district. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel.
This morning, attend a talk by Claudia before transferring to Maison Cauchie and admire the opulent Art Nouveau exterior, famous for the remarkable allegorical sgraffito which adorn the building’s façade. Continue to the Hotel Van Eetvelde to view the exterior of this iconic town house designed by Victor Horta in 1895, and see the beautiful Saint-Cyr House.
After lunch, visit a series of prominent buildings designed by Victor Horta, including the Hôtel Tassel, generally considered the world’s first true Art Nouveau building, before transferring to the Horta Museum, located in the expertly conserved private studio and residence of the visionary designer. Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
This morning, learn to make your own chocolate and discover the tricks and techniques behind Belgium’s most famous sweet treat.
Then, transfer to the Villa Empain, a private Art Deco-style house built between 1930 and 1934 and which now acts as a cultural centre and museum hosting a wide variety of exhibitions.
After lunch, enjoy some time at leisure to explore Brussels at your own pace.
Check out of the hotel and transfer to Brussels Central Station. Travel by train from Brussels to Paris (train trip included in tour price) before enjoying lunch on arrival in Paris.
After lunch, visit the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, an extraordinary collection featuring the creations of one of the 20th century’s greatest designers. Displayed at the site of his iconic label’s former fashion house, the museum is an exhibition not only of the creative genius of a single individual, but of the history of haute couture fashion.
Check in to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure, before having dinner in one of Paris’s charming local restaurants.
Attend a talk by Claudia in the morning before departing the hotel for an Art Nouveau-focussed walk of the 16th Arrondissement, a district of Paris known for its ornate 19th and 20th century architecture, wide avenues, parks and museums. Wander through the stunning Art Nouveau creations scattered throughout the district before continuing to the great Palais de Chaillot on the vast esplanade of Trocadero, overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Partially reconstructed from an original 19th century palace in the 1930s, this extraordinary building reimagines Neoclassical architecture through the lens of the Art Deco aesthetic.
After lunch, transfer to the Left Bank to see the opulent Art Nouveau home of Jules Lavirotte. Continue to the Atelier de Lumieres for an extraordinary, immersive experience as works of art are magnified, manipulated and projected onto the interior of a converted factory.
This morning, take a stroll along the banks of the River Seine and wander through the Musée de la Sculpture en Plein Air, an open-air sculpture museum featuring over 50 works by prominent French and international artists. Continue to the Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum and cultural centre housed in an extraordinary glass building designed by Frank Gehry.
After lunch, transfer to Maxim’s Art Nouveau “Collection 1900”, a stunning museum dedicated to displaying Pierre Cardin’s incredible collection of Art Nouveau décor and objects, a monument to the Belle Époque.
Continue to the Louxor Palais du Cinéma, a wonderful example of the Art Deco Egyptian revival style from the 1920s, and thought to be the oldest movie theatre in Paris. Continue to the Folies Bergère, the infamous cabaret music hall which received an Art Deco makeover by Maurice Pico in 1926, before ending the day with a stop at Le Grand Rex, a landmark of Art Deco architecture.
Today, visit Saint Ouen Flea Market, one of the largest antique markets in the world. Wander through the winding alleys of this sprawling bazaar, where everything from priceless artworks to bargain mementos can be found.
Then, enjoy some time at leisure to continue exploring Paris at your own pace. Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Claudia and fellow travellers.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Make your way to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for suggested Qatar Airways flights to Australia and New Zealand via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Final payment due
19 March 2020
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit the Czech Republic, Belgium and France.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 4- and 4-star superior hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Economy Class flight from Prague to Brussels (32kg luggage allowance)
- First class train ticket from Brussels to Paris
- Airport/hotel transfer on arrival in Prague
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Claudia Chan Shaw
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfer on departure in Paris
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, room service, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Prague – InterContinental****+
Brussels – Marriott Brussels Grand Place****
Paris – Edouard 7****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.