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France Along the Rhone: Provence to Paris

Program Number: 12417RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/7/2013 - 9/19/2013; 4/17/2015 - 4/29/2015; 5/3/2015 - 5/15/2015; 9/5/2015 - 9/17/2015; 9/20/2015 - 10/2/2015; 10/2/2015 - 10/14/2015; 10/13/2015 - 10/25/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,851.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 29; 11 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Combine Burgundy's charming countryside and Lyon's Roman and medieval past with Provence's picturesque villages and stunning natural beauty to experience the essence of the Rhone River. From Martigues to Avignon to Paris itself, discover the region’s history and beauty and the world’s greatest vineyards along the way.

Activity Particulars

Extensive walking along unpaved lanes and cobblestoned streets; some stairs without railings and/or uneven. Participants should be able to stand for at least one hour.

04/17/15, 05/03/15, and 09/05/15 will sail on the MS Van Gogh and 09/21/15, 10/02/15, and 10/13/15 will sail on the MS Mistral.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aix-en-Provence, 3 nights; aboard vessel, 6 nights; Paris, 2 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-4: Arrival Marseille / coach to Aix-en-Provence:

Follow in the footsteps of Cezanne with a historian by exploring the sites that still exemplify his work today.Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Day 5: Embark vessel / Martiques:

At a working ranch, or manade, learn about the traditions and history of the Camargue.

Day 6: Arles / Avignon:

Discover Arles' Roman roots and explore the city's amphitheater. Learn about medieval history and the papacy in Avignon.

Day 7: Viviers:

Experience the essence of Provence in a small village along the Rhone. Learn about traditional rural values and the challenges of preserving Provencal history and culture.

Day 8: Tain-l'Hermitage:

Learn about the wine trade in the Rhone region from the time of the Romans to today, then taste some of the regional wines and local products.

Day 9: Lyon:

Marvel at the beauty and technology created more than 2,000 years ago at the Saint Romain en Gal settlement and the Chaponost Aquaduc.

Day 10: Macon:

Explore the monastic city of Tournus, then taste the great wines of Southern Burgundy.

Days 11-13: Chalon-sur-Saone / disembark / coach to Paris / departure:

Journey through the world’s most select vineyards en route to Paris. Walk the historic fortified city of Beaune and later take time to explore Paris. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

MS Van Gogh

The ms Van Gogh is a deluxe two-deck river ship that was built in 1999. It is 110 meters long and can accommodate 158 passengers in its 78 cabins, all of which have windows. The library, restaurant, lounge-bar and sun deck can be accessed by stairs.


The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Laurence Roux

A native of Provence, Laurence Roux is certified as a National Guide of France, specializing in gastronomy, wine, history, architecture and the cultural traditions of Provence. Laurence and her husband split time between their home in the small vineyard village of Suze la Rousse and their ancestral farm deep in the mountains of Provence, where they practice the tenets of terroir (terrain), raising livestock, fruits and vegetables. She sells her homemade jams and patés at local farm markets.
Meals and Lodgings
   Grand Hôtel Roi René
  Aix en Provence, France 2 nights
   M.S.Van Gogh
  Martigues, France
Avignon, France
Viviers, France
Tain l'Hermitage, France
Lyon, France
Chalon sur Saône, France
6 nights
  Paris, France 2 nights
 Grand Hôtel Roi René
Type: Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Grand Hôtel Roi René is ideally located at the heart of Cézanne's home town, near to the Cours Mirabeau and the business district. Discover its inviting, contemporary rooms, elegant restaurant serving typical southern cuisine and functional meeting rooms. The patio at the Grand Hôtel Roi René is full of flowers and provides an oasis of calm in this city of 100 fountains, whether you sit on the terrace or by the pool.
  Contact info: 24 boulevard du Roi René
Aix en Provence,  13100 France
phone: +33 (0)4 42 37 61 00
  Room amenities: 134 bright rooms with a calm and relaxing atmosphere, perfect for unwinding after a pleasant day in sunny Provence.Modern decor, flat-screen satellite TV, minibar and safe. Bathroom with bathtub or shower, high-end products, bathrobe, slippers, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities. Free Wi-Fi access.
  Facility amenities: Outdoor unheated pool, Multilingual Staff, Air conditioning, WIFI Wireless Internet access, Porter Fax machine, Safe deposit box at reception, Copy/print service available, Self service business centre with support staff, Dry cleaning / Ironing, Computer hire facilities, Wheelchair access, Phone light for hearing impaired
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBA Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.

 M.S.Van Gogh
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: Built in 1999. Length 110 meter. Width 11 meters. Accommodates 125 passengers
  Contact info:   
  Room amenities: 77 Double cabins all with shower and toilet, TV, Hairdryer, Safe
  Facility amenities: Dining room, lounge, bar and dance floor, TV and video in the lounge, central heating, shop, radiophone, radar, large sun deck, library, fully air-conditioned.
  Smoking allowed: No

Type: Hotel
  Description: In the heart of the Marais, around the patio, forget the hustle and bustle of the city. Adjacent to the former royal hunting pavilion, the Villa Beaumarchais is able to offer you a charming stopover, an ideal Paris pied-à-terre.
  Contact info: 5, rue des Arquebusiers
PARIS,  75003 France
phone: +33 1 40 29 14 00
  Room amenities: A/C. Fully equiped bathroom. Minibar.Wifi on demande. Safe.
  Facility amenities: Air conditionning WIFI on demand. Conference room.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: 160€ twin / 150€ single Call the Road Scholar Program Department at 1-866-359-5966.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with orientation at 6:30 p.m. at the group hotel in Aix-en-Provence. You will be staying at Grand Hôtel Roi René that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast at 6:30 a.m. on the final program day in Paris. You will be staying at VILLA BEAUMARCHAIS the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Trains, buses, and taxis are all available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Aix en Provence
  Nearest city or town:  Marseille
  Nearest highway: A7
  Nearest airport:  Marseille-Provence Airport
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Independent travelers may take a bus from the Marseille airport to Aix-en-Provence that leaves every 30 minutes on the hour. Taxis from Marseille Airport to Aix-en-Provence take 20 minutes.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest city or town:  Gonesse
  Nearest highway: A1
  Nearest airport:  Charles de Gaulle Airport
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and depart on the group date. Independent travelers can take a taxi from the hotel to the airport or can ask the hotel for assistance in arranging a shuttle transfer. Paris Shuttle, a third party service, offers discounted shared shuttle and private transfer rates to Road Scholar participants. The rate they offer is about 10% discount off their published rate. By using the web link below, you can take advantage of these rates and book your transfer for departure in Paris. You will need to pay in advance with a credit card to confirm reservations and print your own voucher.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from the U.S.
(Saturday, September 7)
 Depart From: Depart US for international flight to France

Day 2: Arrival and Orientation in Aix-en-Provence
(Sunday, September 8)
 Arrive To: Arrive in Marseille and transfer to the program hotel in Aix.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, check in at your hotel to rest and freshen up. Then assemble with your fellow Participants for an orientation meeting and a short walk around Aix-en-Provence to orient yourself to the area.
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner at or near the hotel
Accommodations: Grand Hôtel Roi René
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Cézanne in Aix
(Monday, September 9)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Enjoy walking around Aix en Provence to discover this historic city and heart of Provence. Discover the old religious and civil districts around the cathedral and the city hall, XVII and XVIII century mansions façades, and typical squares with their fountains and the Cours Mirabeau.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local bistro
 Afternoon: During a field trip and on-site lecture you will follow in the footsteps of Cézanne. Explore the artist's studio and the landscape that inspired many of his paintings.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Grand Hôtel Roi René
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Aix- Cassis-Aix
(Tuesday, September 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: Coach depart Aix for Cassis. Lecture/ Field trip: In Cassis you will discover the famous and unique Calanques (deep narrow bays). Learn about their geological history and how they determined the way of living in this little Provençal village.
 Lunch: Lunch in the old port area of Cassis
 Afternoon: Coach returns to Aix. Take photos and enjoy the lecture and the field trip as you travel along the crest road. Your Guide will discuss the Mediterranean environment and the impact of civilization on the landscape. Enjoy some free time in Aix this afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner on own to explore the food of Provence
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Aix- Saintes Maries - Martiniques
(Wednesday, September 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: Coach departs Aix for Saintes Maries. On site Lecture and Field Trip:Today you will learn about the traditions and history of the Camargue, France's "Wild West". This morning start in Saintes Maries de la Mer with her mythical church and proceed away from the coast to better understand the Camargue's landscape and wildlife. At the Ornithological Park you will have a chance to glimpse the wealth of marine birds that call this area home and perhaps even sight the elusive pink flamingo. Coach transfer to the Manade.
 Lunch: Lunch at a manade (the Camargue's version of a typical ranch or bull farm) in the heart of the Camargue serving local specialties
 Afternoon: This afternoon you will explore the manade and learn about daily life on the ranch, with its roots in the traditions and history of the Camargue.
 Dinner: Dinner and Orientation: After checking in, enjoy a welcome cocktail and leisurely dinner and evening on the barge.Tonight's orientation will cover all safety aspects during the cruise as well as drink cards.l
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Port Saint Louis - Arles - Avignon
(Thursday, September 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: On Site Lecture/Field Trip: Arles France's Roman Roots in the South of France.This morning, we coach to Arles to learn about the games enjoyed by the Romans in the amphitheater, a splendid and complex piece of architecture which still remains standing in the middle of the city. Enjoy Free time to explore the market and other sites of interest in Arles.
 Lunch: Lunch on board
 Afternoon: Free Time: Now you have to explore Arles on your own and perhaps take time to appreciate the Romanesque architecture represented in Saint Trophime church. Optional Trip: For those of you who prefer to remain with the group, you can join your expert local guide for a walking discovery of Arles, including some of the sites that inspired Van Gogh. Board the boat and enjoy time to rest and relax before dinner
 Dinner: Dinner on board
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Avignon - Viviers
(Friday, September 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: Field Trip: Explore the medieval city of Avignon with your local guide on foot. Free Time or Optional Tour: The Palais des Papes.Take some time for individual exploration of the town. You may remain with the group for a walking tour of the austere and imposing Palais des Papes where we learn about the history of the papacy in Avignon. If time allows you can then individually visit the Saint Benezet Bridge, known as "Le Pont d'Avignon", made famous by a children's song.
 Lunch: Lunch on board
 Afternoon: As you cruise northward on the Rhone your Group Leader will present a lecture on Provence through the centuries, revealing a melting pot of civilizations.
 Dinner: Dinner on board
 Evening: Enjoy an optional group activity
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Viviers - Tain
(Saturday, September 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: Coach departs for Marsanne. Field Trip: This morning you have the opportunity to visit rural Provence and breathe in the country air at the beautiful family gardens of "Jardin aux abeilles" in Marsanne. En route to rejoin the boat in La Voulte you will stop in Cliousclat, a scenic village specializing in traditional pottery.
 Lunch: Lunch on board
 Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon lecture focused on the history of the great wine regions along the Rhone. After arrival in Tain l'Hermitage you will walk with your Group Leader to a small wine cellar and taste some of the regional wines paired with local specialties.
 Dinner: Dinner on board
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Vienne - Lyon
(Sunday, September 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: Take a short walk along the bridge that connects Vienne and visit the Roman Temple of Augustus. After returning to the ship, we will coach to the Gallo Roman museum.Visit Vienne Museum de Saint - Romain-en gal. On site Lecture/ Field trip: "Roman Vestiges of the Northern Rhone" Explore the Saint Romain en Gal museum and archaeological site and learn about the everyday life of the ancient Romans. Then continue on to the Chaponost Aqueduct where you will marvel at the amazing beauty and technology created more than 2000 years ago.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant on Fourvière hill in Lyon
 Afternoon: Field Trip: This afternoon move ahead in time and look at urban development in the Middle Ages and explore Lyon. This UNESCO World Heritage city sits at the confluence of two great rivers, the Saône and Rhône, and has long been at the center of European trade because of its strategic location. Walk through Old Lyon and admire the architecture, hidden traboules and alleyways of one of the great Renaissance sites in France.
 Dinner: Dinner on board
 Evening: This evening boat departs from Lyon to Trevoux
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Monastic Tournus and the Vineyards of Burgundy
(Monday, September 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: Your Group Leader will present a lecture on the history of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy and the history of France from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1477.
 Lunch: Lunch on board
 Afternoon: Field Trip: This afternoon you will explore the monastic city of Tournus and learn about the role of monasteries in the wine trade. Then travel to a family vineyard where you will have the opportunity to taste the great wines of southern Burgundy and talk with a Cellar Master about his work.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner and evening celebration on board the barge.
Accommodations: M.S.Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: The Fortified City of Beaune
(Tuesday, September 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: This morning leave your ship behind and head towards Paris, driving past some of the world's most renowned vineyards. Stop in Beaune for an educational stroll of the fortified city, capital of the Burgundy wine trade, and enjoy an on-site lecture at the famous Hospices de Beaune.
 Lunch: Take this opportunity to have a quick lunch on your own before continuing on to Paris.
 Afternoon: After lunch you will journey on to Paris and check in to your hotel.
 Dinner: Dine at a local restaurant in Paris.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Medieval Paris and Île de la Cité
(Wednesday, September 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: This morning, accompanied by an expert lecturer and Paris resident, you will explore Medieval Paris and the "Île de la Cité".
 Lunch: Today, lunch is on your own. It is your chance to be a Parisian for a day. Choose to eat on a terrace, in a cafe or just buy something from the local market and picnic along the Seine. Your Group Leader can assist you in making a good choice.
 Afternoon: This is your chance to set your own schedule and expore the city on your own. Your Group Leader will provide suggestions for activities and general information.
 Dinner: Tonight say goodbye to each other in style during a festive farewell dinner.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Departure from Paris
(Thursday, September 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 In Transit: Transfer to Charles de Gaulle airport for international flights.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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