Europe’s two great capitals each played a central part in the rise and fall of the great gay martyr (and great author!) Oscar Wilde. They have also had an outsize role in gay history and culture, from Shakespeare and Henri III to Yves Saint Laurent and Stephen Fry. Explore Wilde’s fascinating life and the gay culture of two of the world’s greatest cities, with our nine day tour of Oscar Wilde’s London and Paris.
Gay London: City of Triumph and Tragedy
We begin with visits to Westminster Abbey, the National Portrait Gallery, and the British Museum, focused on Oscar Wilde and gay history (and also with a wonderful afternoon tea at a favorite café of Wilde, Virginia Woolf and Noel Coward). We then spend a day among the beautiful spires of Oxford and visit Wilde’s college (also Tolkien’s!) and Oxford’s stellar and quirky university museum. We also visit Bletchley Park, where the gay war hero and inventor of the modern computer Alan Turing helped save the world from Nazism.
From same-sex love in Renaissance England to the spy scandals of the 1950s, you’ll encounter Britain’s gay history hiding in plain sight—and see how that history shaped modern gay identity. And of course we’ll leave you enough time to discover the pubs, shopping and hidden corners of contemporary London, one of the most exciting cities on the planet.
Gay Paris: City of Liberation and Refuge
Art, architecture, fashion, cuisine—the history of Paris is the history of the modern world. It is also the city that revolutionized modern attitudes to sex and sexuality. And as a result, it is where Wilde found refuge after his fall (as many others did for similar reasons before and after).
We begin our visit with a walking tour of the Left Bank, from the studio of Gertrude Stein to the café where James Baldwin wrote Giovanni’s Room, and finally to the hotel where Wilde lived his last, sad years and finally died. The next day takes us across the Seine, to Père Lachaise Cemetery—Wilde’s final resting place as well as that of countless other fascinating people, gay (such as Proust and Gertrude Stein) and not (such as Chopin and Jim Morrison). We follow this with a visit to the Marais, the heart of today’s gay Paris.
We’ll then head to the nearby countryside of the Loire Valley to visit the castles associated with France’s gayest king, Henri III, and gay genius Leonardo Da Vinci (including Chenonceau, the best preserved of all France’s royal castles). Finally, back in Paris we’ll have a “Gay Secrets” tour of the Louvre (like Oscar Wilde Tours’ well-known tour of the Metropolitan Museum), following gay themes from the ancient Greeks to Renaissance French kings to surprising homoerotic works from Napoleon’s France. Naturally we will also leave you time to explore Paris on your own, to indulge your taste for food, shopping or more art and culture!
In both cities, we will stay in specially selected hotels and dine in exceptional restaurants—with all breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners included. Our farewell dinner in is in one of Paris’ most charming restaurants—a fitting end to a journey that will introduce you to a Paris and London that you never imagined even existed.
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