For the past 20 years, Professor Bettany Hughes has created historical documentary programs on Troy, Athens, Egypt, Rome, Alexandria, the Nile and Pompeii, connecting the past to the modern world.
And although she has made a name for herself on television as a classicist, the new series from the 55-year-old historian, author and presenter is much more of a travel show, albeit with a lot of history and culture.
In From Paris to Rome she embarks on the journey of a lifetime through France and Italy to discover how travel, art and culture and the best food can enrich our lives and shares some fascinating stories that explain how the destinations have arisen.
Inspired by the great tourists of the 18th century, Bettany embarks on her own modern, fun-filled journey to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
On her travels she encounters the overwhelming beauty of Venice’s canals, visits lush Lake Como and cruises along the Seine in Paris – all in search of the finer things in life. It’s a rich, goody-filled adventure that revels in all that makes life worth living.
Bettany begins this journey of a lifetime in the French capital and “City of Love” – Paris.
With special access to the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre, Bettany encounters the Venus de Milo, the ancient Greek sculpture made during the Hellenistic period between 150 and 125 BC. From there she checks into the five-star boutique L’Hotel – this is where playwright Oscar Wilde spent his final days before his death in 1900 and there is now a cozy cocktail bar named after him.
Bettany then has breakfast at the famous literary paradise, Le Deux Magots, in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris, before attending the great Parisian institution of lunch at a haute-cuisine bistro, where she discovers the city’s gastronomic delights.
Later, designer Christian Louboutin, best known for his high-end shoes with brilliant red soles, helps her understand why Parisian style is so iconic and chic.
After a sunset cruise on the Seine to say goodbye to Paris, the presenter travels to the French lakes and Annecy near the Swiss border to the magnificent Belle Epoque Hotel Imperial Palace, where former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a guest and Hollywood star Charlie Chaplin.
It’s also here that she discovers how the lakes inspired artists like Paul Cézanne (he described it as a scene one might expect to find in ‘the albums of young travellers’) and provided a haven for Queen Victoria, who bought her first land on the continent was in Aix -les Bains.
Heading south, Bettany visits Provence and a quaint town that has attracted creatives like DH Lawrence, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso.
She’s also seen firsthand why French painter Henri Matisse was drawn to the Côte d’Azur – Nice is home to the Musée Matisse.
Finally, she toasts the first leg of her adventure with a delicious local rosé. Well, it’s a travel show after all.