6 days October 2021

Register now at [email protected] and we will contact you in early 2021 with full tour details.

From mummified écorché figures to bone-lined catacombs, the early history of medicine is sometimes gruesome but always fascinating. During this tour you will discover the foundations of the modern science of medicine in two French cities: Paris, where the ‘Paris School’ of hygiene and hospital teaching flourished and Montpellier, home to the world’s oldest university medical faculty. 

You will be introduced to key figures including Louis Pasteur who pioneered the first vaccines, Rene Laennec whose stethoscope is a symbol of medical professionals still today, and Marie Curie – the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and still the only person to win the prizes in both Physics and Chemistry.

The tour will cover the churches administering the first hospitals, through to medical developments during the French Revolution and the great wars, to Paris’s role as the leading European centre of 18th century medicine, France has a long and varied history of medical discovery. Accompanied by New Scientist writer and author Linda Geddes. 

In addition to the wealth of medical history covered by this tour you will enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the architecture and gardens of these two beautiful cities. 

In partnership with Kirker Holidays.

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN TO PARIS AND ENJOY THE FIRST TALK FROM LINDA GEDDES

Welcome to Paris. You can either join the group journey from St Pancras, London by Eurostar to Paris or meet your fellow travellers at the Parisian hotel. There are no planned activities until the evening, so if you arrive early, Paris is an amazing city to explore.

In the evening, after meeting you tour leader and fellow guests, New Scientist writer Linda Geddes will give the first of three talks about the tour ahead and how it relates to the birth of modern medicine. Afterwards, you will enjoy a dinner together at a local Parisian restaurant.

DAY 2: THE MUSÉE CURIE, THE PANTHEON AND THE MUSÉE D’HISTOIRE DE LA MÉDECINE

This morning you  will meet our expert local guide for a walking tour on the Left Bank, starting at the Musée Curie, a fascinating museum devoted to the history of radiation therapy. Linda will be accompanying the next 3 days visits as well as giving 2 further evening talks.

You will continue to the Pantheon, the great mausoleum of the French great and good – including the lead-lined tomb of Marie Curie herself. After lunch you will visit the Musée d’Histoire de la Médecine, which houses an impressive collection of rare surgical instruments from the 18th century onwards including Rene Laennec’s first stethoscope.

DAY 3: THE MUSÉE DES MOULAGES IN THE HÔPITAL SAINT LOUIS AND THE MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS

This morning you will visit the Musée des Arts et Métiers in the Marais district, a former monastery which was converted into an academic institution during the revolution. It now houses a fascinating museum dedicated to science and technology, including exhibits on energy, communication, light and Foucault’s original Pendulum. You will also see the Musée des Moulages in the Hôpital Saint Louis which is generally not open to the public. Here you will see a specialist hospital built for dealing with epidemics and skin disease, which has a spectacular courtyard and bone-lined catacombs.

DAY 4: THE PASTEUR INSTITUTE AND MUSEUM AND THE MUSÉE FRAGONARD D’ALFORT

This morning you will visit the Pasteur Institute and Museum, named in honour of Louis Pasteur, inventor of the pasteurisation technique. You will have lunch nearby before travelling to the astonishing Musée Fragonard d’Alfort. Founded in 1766 by the anatomist Honoré Fragonard, this museum is now part of the Veterinary School of Paris (one of the world’s oldest) and it has a unique collection, including a startling room of his original écorchés, mummified anatomical studies ranging from a dissection of a human arm used as a teaching tool, to the gruesomely theatrical Horseman of the Apocalypse. 

DAY 5: TRAVEL TO MONTPELLIER AND VISIT THE MUSÉE FABRE

Board the TGV for your journey south to Montpellier, on the Mediterranean coast. The fast trains on this high-speed line take just three and a half hours at speeds of up to 300kmh to reach Montpellier, on the Mediterranean Coast. You will check in to a hotel just off the grand Place de la Comedie and the afternoon will be free to explore the city including the wonderful Musée Fabre, one of the best museums of French art in the country outside of Paris. 

DAY 6: THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTPELLIER AND THE JARDINS DES PLANTES

This morning you will visit the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montpellier, the oldest continually-operating medical school in the world, and alma mater of François Rabelais and Nostradamus. Here you will see the wonderful library of 900 manuscript volumes, 300 incunabula, 100,000 volumes printed before 1800, and all the theses produced by the faculties of Montpellier and Paris since the 17th century. In the Conservatory of Anatomy display cases house jars, skulls and casts including a resin écorché model that stands in the centre of the room. The second floor of the conservatory houses the imposing collections of the Delmas-Orfila-Rouvière museum, consisting of écorchés and wax anatomical models from the last two centuries. 

You will continue to the Jardins des Plantes botanical gardens, one of the oldest in the world and originally designed to produce herbs for medicinal use. In the evening you will enjoy a final dinner together at a restaurant in Montpellier.

DAY 7: RETURN HOME VIA PARIS

Return to Paris by train for an onward journey to London by Eurostar. If you would prefer, our partner Kirker Travel can also arrange flights home from Montpellier or extend your holiday in the south of France.

By winband

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