The Black Heritage tour of Black Paris was enlightening! We boarded our motor coach near the Louvre for a trip into French history narrated by a tour guide from Martinique. We also took in a slice of London aboard a double-decker hop-on, hop off bus.
Comparing our tour products with riding the Provincetown Trolley tour, the Town of Plymouth trolley tour and the Boston Duck tour, this writer has formed three opinions about touring experiences. 1) Our Boston / New England area is a much better space for touring on motor coach or trolley bus because our traffic congestion is tolerable compared to London. Paris traffic was no big deal. Her wide streets help.
2) London traffic doesn’t help the tour bus business because it is congested. Audio tour narration gets out of synch with the locations. The pre-recorded audio helps when you can’t understand the step on guides talking in their thick British accents. London’s shiny red double-decker tour buses are noisy. The cheap ear phones they give you are low fidelity. You miss information. The bus passes too quickly by sites. You should hop off more than we did, explore and get back on the next bus. We stayed on for the whole tour which is not a good idea. Lesson learned, but we had a flight coming up and had a short window of time to tour before catching it.
3) The Black Paris motor coach tour was the most expensive tour ( $160 /3hr pp) I’ve been on but it was a better tour experience than London’s. Unfortunately, the President of China was visiting Paris that day causing blocked off streets and mandatory detours. So, because of CHINA 🙂 , the tour bus skipped a few important Black Paris landmarks the group I was with wanted to see. So maybe the tour would have been better if he had stayed home. The tour operator sent a large motor coach but our small group was expecting an 18 pax bus. The larger one worked out okay. And walking the streets of Paris made up for the detours caused by the Chinese head of state visitor.
Black models in renaissance art was the draw for this European trip. On March 22 we left Boston for Keflavik Iceland, then London then on to Paris aboard the Eurostar train with invitations in hand for the opening reception of the “Le Modeles Noir” (Black Models) art exposition at Musee d’Orsay.
As heritage and cultural tour operators we looked for things an explorer in Boston would enjoy in Paris or London along the way. While the Musee d’Orsay museum is a reference gallery of French Renaissance art Impressionists attracting 3 million visitors a year, Boston’s MFA museum has a collection of Renoirs and had mounted a Parisian exhibition when we returned.
In Iceland, Gray Line sightseeing customers can board at the airport. In Paris the hop-on, hop-off tour buses are marked with the Gray Line brand. It was ultra-easy to summon a late-model Puegot or Mercedes to our AirBnB condo located across the street from Gare du Nord where Eurostar trains to London, Brussels and other Eurpoean destinations arrive and depart. Can you get to Montreal from North Station?
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Gray Line Boston ITINERARIES
intro to the Black Models exposition
En adoptant une approche multidisciplinaire, entre histoire de l’art et histoire des idées, cette exposition se penche sur des problématiques esthétiques, politiques, sociales et raciales ainsi que sur l’imaginaire que révèle la représentation des figures noires dans les arts visuels, de l’abolition de l’esclavage en France (1794) à nos jours.
Taking a multi-disciplinary approach that combines the history of art and the history of ideas, this exhibition explores aesthetic, political, social and racial issues as well as the imagery unveiled by the representation of black figures in visual arts, from the abolition of slavery in France (1794) to the modern day.
Cécile Debray, chief heritage curator, director of the Musée de l’Orangerie
Stéphane Guégan, scientific advisor to the president of the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Denise Murrell, Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Wallach Art Gallery, Isolde Pludermacher, chief curator at the Musée d’Orsay.
First stage: Wallach Art Gallery of Columbia University in the City of New York, from 24 October 2018 to 10 February 2019. Last stage at the ACTe Memorial, Pointe-à-Pitre, from 13 September to 29 December 2019.