“French Chic”: Coco Chanel, her Friends, and 1920s Paris

Status: waitlist

28 Feb – 3 Mar 2022


“French Chic”: Coco Chanel, her Friends, and 1920s Paris
Tour Highlights

  • Join literary expert Susannah Fullerton, for 4 days based in Hepburn Springs celebrating Paris in the 1920s through its literature, fashion, music & food.
  • Enjoy lectures, country outings and the exhibition at the NGV ‘Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto’.
  • Meet chef and author, Annie Smithers, for a tour of her farm ‘Babbington Park, and afternoon tea.
  • In Castlemaine visit the studio of award-winning artist, David Frazer.
  • Stay at the historic Hotel Bellinzona a welcoming retreat in the spa town of Hepburn Springs.

“May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life.” Coco Chanel

In 1915, Harper’s Bazaar stated “this season the name Chanel is on the lips of every buyer.” Coco Chanel is today considered one of the most influential people of the 20th century. In the 1920s she set new standards of feminine style, expanded her business to offer fragrance and jewellery, worked with the Ballet Russes, and knew everyone who was anyone in Paris and London.

‘Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto’ is an exciting new exhibition coming direct from Paris to the NGV in Melbourne (Dec 2021 – April 2022). It showcases outstanding loans from great fashion houses, designs from the Palais Galliera, and never-before-seen acquisitions of gowns and capes. From the iconic ‘little black dress’ to costume jewellery, perfumes and accessories, this major exhibition explores the world and legacy of Coco Chanel.

You can now attend a special 4-day event which will end with a viewing of those Chanel treasures at the NGV. During our time based in Hepburn Springs, you can enjoy an immersion in all things French. Learn about the fascinating life of Coco herself – her humble origins, her aesthetic, her Nazi affiliations and her affairs. The great French writer Colette moved in the same social circles – discover what they thought of each other. What work did she do for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes? Artist and writer Jean Cocteau thought Chanel’s work “a kind of miracle” that exemplified “true Frenchness” – there will be an illustrated talk on Cocteau’s life and art. Coco herself adored the written word and poetry inspired her designs. Find out which authors she loved to read, who she assisted financially in their writing, and discover which books were dedicated to her? Which place in Paris did she have in common with Ernest Hemingway, and what did she know of the extraordinary American writers who flocked to Paris in the 1920s?

During the course of this ASA experience, you will dine on French food, listen to the music of Edith Piaf (and find out what Piaf had in common with Chanel), travel vicariously on the famed ‘Train Bleu’, and pay a visit to the Ritz. Susannah Fullerton, leader of many ASA literary tours to France, will share her love of French literature, culture and history in this exciting new series of lectures. Talks will be given in the morning, ‘après croissants’. In the afternoons, there will be outings and time to relax in the beautiful surroundings.

Ernest Hemingway once brilliantly described Paris as “a moveable feast” after his time living there in the 1920s: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Right now, travel to Paris is problematic – if we cannot go there ourselves, then that ‘moveable feast’ can at least come to us in Australia.

Revel in a famous epoch in the most beautiful city in the world, get to know an iconic woman in Coco Chanel, meet her artistic and literary friends, and discover the chic, glamour, poetry, writers and personalities of 1920s Paris. Be amongst those lucky enough to see the Chanel exhibition at the gallery – c’est magnifique.



The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Hepburn Springs – 4 days

Day 1: Monday 28 February: Tullamarine Airport – Mt Macedon – Hepburn Springs
  • Transfer to Hepburn Springs
  • Duneira Estate: art collection & private library, Mt Macedon
  • Talk 1: ‘Coco Chanel: Her Life, Work and Legacy’ (1hr)
  • Welcome Dinner at Hotel Bellinzona

Meeting Point: Tullamarine Airport, Terminal 1, Ground Floor Arrivals Hall, at the Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop at 11.00am.

After a morning arrival at Melbourne airport, we transfer by coach to the scenic area of Mt Macedon and will lunch at the beautiful Duneira Estate. Established in 1872, this property sits high on the edge of Mt Macedon, with stunning views. After a light meal, we will enjoy a guided tour of the home’s significant art collection and extensive library, period furniture and historic rooms. The art collection includes works by McCubbin, Rodin, Rembrandt and Warhol. The antiquarian library contains nearly 20,000 books, many of them first editions, some dating back to 1767.

We will also tour the superb gardens. The National Trust has graded the gardens as being of “outstanding cultural significance”, and Elm Avenue is considered one of the best examples of a private formal avenue in Victoria. The estate has some rare and remarkable trees.

We then travel to the Hotel Bellinzona at Hepburn Springs, which will be our base for the tour. Situated by the Wombat State Forest, and offering delightful walking trails, a heated pool, spa and sauna, the hotel provides fine European cuisine and an intriguing art collection on its walls. A perfect place to plunge into the delights of 1920s Paris.

Before dinner Susannah will introduce you to Coco Chanel, 20th-century icon and a truly remarkable woman. You can enjoy the talk on ‘Coco Chanel: Her Life, Work and Legacy’ over a glass of French wine. (Overnight Hotel Bellinzona) LD

Day 2: Tuesday 1 March, Hepburn Springs – Lyonville – Hepburn Springs
  • Talk 2: ‘Colette’ (45min)
  • Talk 3: ‘Jean Cocteau’ (45min)
  • Morning Tea
  • Talk 4: ‘Chanel, Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes’ (30min)
  • Talk 5: ‘Le Train Bleu’ by Elinor Mattern (15min)
  • Talk 6: ‘The Ritz Hotel’ (15min)
  • Light Lunch at the Hotel Bellinzona
  • Babbington Park Farm, Lyonville incl. afternoon tea: hosted by French chef and author, Annie Smithers
  • Time at leisure: Option to enjoy the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa 

Paris is a gorgeous city to visit at any time, but in the 1920s it must have been particularly exciting. The French economy boomed during that decade, and during ‘les années folles’ (‘the crazy years’) of the 20s Paris became a major centre for writers, artistic ferment (cubism, dadaism, surrealism, futurism), cinema, music and fashion. Paris hosted the Olympic Games in 1924, international art and design exhibitions were held there, and the city bubbled with optimism after the horrors of WWI. New technology brought fresher food to the cafes, new buildings in the Art Deco style were being constructed, and publishing houses were flourishing. It’s little wonder that artists and authors from other countries were attracted to the vibrancy and beauty of Paris – Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Gershwin, Yeats, Pound, Stravinsky and Diaghilev are just some of those who were drawn to the City of Light.

After breakfast, Susannah will introduce you to Colette (1873 – 1954), author and woman of letters whose stage appearances and novels shocked society. Colette has been acclaimed as France’s greatest woman writer, and she was the first woman writer to be given a state funeral by the French government (though the Catholic Church refused her a religious burial). Discover how she took Paris by storm with her ground-breaking Claudine novels, hear about her three tempestuous marriages and extraordinary love life, and share her passion for Paris (she was lucky enough to live in the Palais-Royal).

Jean Cocteau was multi-talented – poet, playwright, novelist, artist, designer, filmmaker and critic, Cocteau left his mark on French culture in many different ways. Born near Paris, he arrived in the capital at the age of fifteen and was soon mixing in artistic circles. He knew everyone – Proust, Gide, Picasso, Modigliani, Piaf, actor Jean Marais, and he inspired Coco Chanel, who was a close friend.  Susannah will give an illustrated talk about this remarkable personality and his cultural impact.

Cocteau wrote ballet scenarios for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. After morning tea, Susannah will recount the history of the famous ballet company (it never actually performed in Russia), which promoted avant-garde collaborations between dancers, composers, artists and designers. The company created a sensation in Paris and, throughout the 20s, such productions as Le Train Bleu (based on a Cocteau scenario), Les Noces with music by Stravinsky, Mercure with music by Eric Satie, and Le Fils prodigue with music by Prokofiev, were much discussed and highly influential.

There will then be two short talks to extend your appreciation of 1920s Paris. The famed Blue Train (the Calais-Mediterranée Express) transported the wealthy from Paris to the Riviera. The height of the season there was in winter and the luxury train left Paris in the early evening and reached Marseille in the morning. Writers (Agatha Christie wrote a murder mystery set on the train) and royals, politicians and film stars, made their way south in this way. Learn about the journey and its comforts in this 15-minute illustrated talk by Susannah’s daughter, Elinor Mattern.

The Ritz Hotel, overlooking the Place Vendôme, is one of the world’s classiest hotels. It was founded in 1898 by entrepreneur César Ritz and its kitchens were overseen by the chef Auguste Escoffier. The hotel features in novels, films and plays and its bar is named for Ernest Hemingway who claimed to have “liberated the Ritz” when he came into Paris with the Allies. This talk, also 15 minutes, will give you a ‘soupçon’ of this stunning hotel.

After a light lunch, we transfer to Babbington Park Farm. The owners, Annie and Susan, have restored old buildings and created a wonderful organic garden. There are fruit and veges growing in profusion, and in the grounds live Cashmere goats, miniature Cheviot sheep, Galloway cattle and Sebastopol geese. Chef and author Annie Smithers runs a tiny French farmhouse kitchen there, and her book, Recipe for a Kinder Life, published this year, is a guide to eating and living in a more sustainable way. Annie will talk about her book, the farm, and will treat us to a delicious afternoon tea.

According to legend, Napoleon once famously sent Josephine a letter: “I will return in three days. Don’t wash.” You may prefer to disobey the Emperor’s command, and luxuriate in the Hepburn Springs Mineral Bathhouse. The historic bathhouse, in operation since 1895, offers wellness baths, massages, spas, and much pampering. This is an optional visit before dinner (advance bookings are recommended). (Overnight Hotel Bellinzona) BL

Day 3: Wednesday 2 March, Hepburn Springs – Castlemaine – Hepburn Springs
  • Talk 7: ‘Expatriate Writers in Paris incl. Gertrude Stein, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, James Joyce (1hr)
  • Morning Tea
  • Talk 8: ‘Paris: Where Art Meets Fashion’ by Emeritus Professor Chris Browne incl. display of rare books and a selection of French magazines from his collection (1hr)
  • Light Lunch at the Hotel Bellinzona
  • Artist studio of David Frazer, Castlemaine
  • Time at leisure in Castlemaine
  • Concert by flautist Anna Rabinowicz & other musicians incl. pre-dinner drink
  • Farewell Dinner at the Hotel Bellinzona

Ernest Hemingway gave us a famous description of life in Paris in the 1920s: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” This morning’s talk looks at the expatriate writers who flocked to Paris – Hemingway, his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein (the American writers in Paris at this time are referred to as ‘The Lost Generation’), as well as James Joyce and Ezra Pound. Paris was then a cheap place for them to live, and its Café de Flore, La Closerie des Lilas and Les Deux Magots were their chosen hangouts. Susannah’s talk on these literary visitors to Paris will make you sigh for the days when it was cheaper to drink wine at a café than in one’s own apartment.

After morning tea comes a visual and intellectual treat. Book collector Professor Chris Browne has an extraordinary collection of French fashion magazines of the era. His talk on ‘Paris: Where Art Meets Fashion’ will focus on Lucien Vogel and his Gazette du Bon Ton. This ground-breaking magazine defined for a generation how art could represent fashion. Examples from Chris’s gorgeous collection, as well as some of his rare books, will be on display during the morning.

After a light lunch at the hotel, we will travel to the picturesque and historic town of Castlemaine. There we visit the studio of artist David Frazer. David has created paintings, linocuts, wood engravings and prints and his work has featured in solo exhibitions and won many awards. David will share his artistic experiences and show us his studio and works-in-progress.

Castlemaine began as a result of the Gold Rush (gold was discovered there in 1851) and was fortunately ignored by modern developers. The result is a fabulously historic main street that has been classified by the National Trust. Kerry Greenwood used the town as the setting for one of her Phryne Fisher detective novels set in the 1920s – hopefully we will not encounter any dead bodies as Phryne did in The Castlemaine Murders! There will be some free time to indulge in that wonderfully Parisian pastime of being a ‘flaneur’ (a stroller and observer) in this very pretty town.

Before dinner, and with a drink in hand, you will have the pleasure of some French music from the 1920s, with flautist Anna Rabinowicz and other musicians. After the concert, there will be a delicious French-themed farewell dinner at the hotel. (Overnight Hotel Bellinzona ) BLD

Day 4: Thursday 3 March, Hepburn Springs – Melbourne – Tullamarine Airport

This morning we check out and drive to Melbourne. The fabulous exhibition ‘Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto’ is on at the National Gallery of Victoria and our  tour will show us Chanel’s unique contribution to French culture and style. Important loans from public and private collections will be on display. The exhibition, divided into chronological and thematic sections, traces Chanel’s career, contemporary impact and lasting legacy. After our tour, there will be further time at leisure to admire the collection, and then time for a light lunch (not included) at the Gallery café. The visit to this landmark exhibition will bring our travels to a memorable end.

There will then be a transfer to Tullamarine Airport where our tour ends at approximately 2.30pm. B



Accommodation includes rooms with en suite bathroom.

  • Hepburn Springs (3 nights): 4-star Hotel Bellinzona  – a welcoming retreat located in the town centre. bellinzona.com.au

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double/twin room for single occupancy throughout the tour. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate

Commencing from November 2021 it will be a condition of travel that all group leaders and ASA travellers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. All participants must send ASA a copy of their vaccination certificate at the time of submitting their Reservation Application Form. For information on how to obtain either a Covid-19 digital certificate or a certificate in PDF format please view the Australian Government Services Australia “What types of proof there are” web page.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags  is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 4-day tour involves:
  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the Terms and Conditions section given below.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers see: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $2790.00 Land Content Only

AUD $440.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with en suite bathroom at the 4-star Hotel Bellinzona, Hepburn Springs
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Departure airport transfer if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ departure flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets for site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Return airfare to Melbourne
  • Personal spending money
  • Departure airport transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions or services of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products, services, terms and conditions. If a service provider cancels or does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, and does not give a refund, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (e.g. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, border closures, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any tour service provider or authority however caused (contingencies). You must take out such travel insurance as is available against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour cancelled or changed will be limited to the partial refund of amounts you have paid, less an administration fee of $500 and other costs and charges of third party service providers. No compensation will be payable to you by ASA where ASA cancels or changes a tour, or any part of a tour.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate and in the best interests of health, safety and wellbeing of tour participants. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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