Road Scholar : Home
France Along the Rhone: Provence to Paris

Program Number: 12417RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/13/2013 - 10/25/2013; 4/20/2016 - 5/2/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/16/2016; 9/15/2016 - 9/27/2016; 9/27/2016 - 10/9/2016; 10/4/2016 - 10/16/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,687.00 - 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.

The 9/4/16 and 10/4/16 departures will sail on the MS Van Gogh. The 4/20/16, 9/15/16 and 9/27/16 departures 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

This deluxe two-deck river ship 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.

Meals and Lodgings
   Grand Hôtel Roi René
  Aix en Provence, France 3 nights
   MS Van Gogh
  Martigues, France
Avignon, France
Viviers, France
Tain l'Hermitage, France
Lyon, France
6 nights
   Villa Montparnasse
  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.

 MS Van Gogh
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: 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.
  Contact info: 12 rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67080 France
phone: +33 (0)8 25 33 37 77
  Room amenities: Each cabin is equipped with a window, TV, radio, safe, and private bathroom with shower and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Dining room, lounge/bar with dance floor, TV and video in the lounge, shop, radiophone, radar, large sun deck, library, fully air-conditioned.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Villa Montparnasse
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Villa Montparnasse is a quaint hotel on the left bank of the Seine. The colonial-style residence is located in the 19th century intellectual elite neighborhood opposite the famed Montparnasse Cemetery and next to the apartment where Simone de Beauvoir lived. This hotel is both charming and comfortable and is one block from a pedestrian street featuring restaurants and shops. It is within walking distance of two different metro lines both with direct access to the main monuments of Paris.
  Contact info: 2, rue Boulard
Paris,  75014 France
phone: +33 (0)1 56 80 34 34
  Room amenities: In each room there is satellite TV, air conditioning, a mini-bar and a safe.
  Facility amenities: 24-hour front desk with English-speaking staff, bar / lounge, laundry service, smoke-free environment. Wifi is available in the lobby. Participants should be aware that hotel rooms in Paris are often considerably smaller than hotel rooms in the United States.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with orientation in the early evening 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 on the final program day in Paris. You will be staying at Villa Montparnasse the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information 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.
(Sunday, October 13)
 Depart From: Depart US for international flight to France

Day 2: Arrival and Orientation in Aix-en-Provence
(Monday, October 14)
 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
(Tuesday, October 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: Enjoy a walking field trip 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, 17th- and 18th-century mansions' façades, typical squares with their fountains and the Cours Mirabeau.
 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: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Grand Hôtel Roi René
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: The Classic Coastal Village of Cassis
(Wednesday, October 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: Depart Aix for Cassis. Delight in a boat ride as you 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: Then return to Aix along the scenic crest road as your guide discusses the Mediterranean environment and the impact of civilization on the landscape.
 Dinner: Your are on your own for dinner tonight to explore the foods of Provence.
Accommodations: Grand Hôtel Roi René
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The Camargue Landscapes and Traditions
(Thursday, October 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: Check out of the hotel and depart Aix for Sainte Maries. En route learn about the manade and daily life on the ranch, with its roots in the traditions and history of the Camargue. Continue to the Ornithological Park where 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.
 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: On site Lecture/ Field trip: The Mythical Saintes Maries de la Mer and the Camargue landscapes and traditions. Today you will learn about the traditions and history of the Camargue: "France's Wild West." Explore Saintes Maries de la Mer with her mythical church and proceed away from the coast to better understand the Camargue's landscape and wildlife.
 Dinner: In the early evening board the ship in Martigues. After checking in and orientation, enjoy a welcome cocktail and leisurely dinner and evening on the barge.
Accommodations: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Arles' Roman Roots
(Friday, October 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: This morning, your vessel pauses in Port Sainte Louis. Depart by 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.
 Lunch: Return to the boat for lunch on board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon you have time to explore Arles on your own and perhaps take a moment to appreciate the Romanesque architecture represented in Saint Trophime church. 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.
 Dinner: Dinner on board
Accommodations: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Avignon and the Palais des Papes
(Saturday, October 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: Explore the medieval city of Avignon with your local guide. Then take some time for individual exploration of the town. Alternatively, you may remain with the group for a walking exploration 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 evening stroll in Viviers with your Group Leader.
Accommodations: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Rural Villages and the Essence of Provence
(Sunday, October 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: 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" (Garden of bees) in Marsanne. En route to rejoin the boat in La Voulte you will stop in Cliousclat, a town specializing in traditional pottery and one of the most lovely rural villages in France.
 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: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: The Northern Rhone and Historic Lyon
(Monday, October 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board
 Morning: This morning the focus is on the Roman vestiges of the Northern Rhône. 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 2,000 years ago.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant on Fourvière hill in Lyon
 Afternoon: This afternoon move ahead in time and explore Lyon of the Middle Ages. 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 passageways and alleyways.
 Dinner: Dinner on board
Accommodations: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Monastic Tournus and the Vineyards of Burgundy
(Tuesday, October 22)
 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: 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: MS Van Gogh
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: The Fortified City of Beaune
(Wednesday, October 23)
 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: As you drive from Beaune to Paris your Group Leader will talk about life as a Fench Immigrant. Arrive in Paris and check in to your hotel.
 Dinner: Dine at a local restaurant in Paris.
Accommodations: Villa Montparnasse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Medieval Paris and Île de la Cité
(Thursday, October 24)
 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.
Accommodations: Villa Montparnasse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Departure from Paris
(Friday, October 25)
 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.

Suggested Reading List

A Moveable Feast

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: A treasure for anyone interested in Parisian cafe society and its luminaries circa 1925. Hemingway includes sharp portraits of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others who idled on their way to greatness.

A Traveller's History of France

Author: Robert Cole

Description: This fast-moving survey covers the conquests of ancient Gaul through the heady days of revolution to modern times.

A Year in Provence

Author: Peter Mayle

Description: The original best-selling tale of settling down in Provence, told with warmth and a great deal of humor. It offers a wonderful inside look at the charms and quirks of the people and the countryside in the south of France.

Between Meals, An Appetite for Paris

Author: A.J. Liebling

Description: Liebling captures with stylish prose his coming-of-age in Paris in this elegant memoir, which is also a tribute to French cuisine.

Eyewitness Guide Paris

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Gorgeous, well illustrated and filled with maps, this compact book provides an excellent overview of the French capital, its history, traditions and sights.

Eyewitness Guide Provence & the Cote D'Azur

Author: Roger Williams

Description: This is an illustrated, colorful guide to the art and architecture, literature, history and attractions of Provence. With photographs and site plans, maps and sections on the Riviera, the Var, Bouches-du-Rhones, Vaucluse and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Fodor's Paris' 25 Best

Author: Fodor's

Description: This shirt-pocket map and guide includes essential information on the city's history, highlights and sightseeing, ideal for a short visit to the City of Light.

France, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: William Rodarmor (Editor)

Description: This collection contains literary gems from all corners of France--not just Paris--by a select group of 20th-century French writers, from Colette to Georges Simenon.


Author: James Henry Rubin

Description: An excellent illustrated survey of Impressionism in the "Art and Ideas" series.

In a Dark Wood Wandering, A Novel of the Middle Ages

Author: Hella Haasse

Description: With a cast of thousands including Joan of Arc and the Dukes of Burgundy, this 1949 historical novel renders the political intrigue, people and texture of 15th-century Europe and of medieval court life during the Hundred Years War.

Lonely Planet French Phrasebook

Author: Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet

Description: This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle

Author: Marcel Pagnol

Description: Best known as a filmmaker, Pagnol evokes his childhood in Provence and Marseilles fifty years ago. These memoirs sparkle with delight in the people, landscapes and daily life of southern France.

My Life in France

Author: Julia Child

Description: Child's characteristically ebullient record of Paris and Provence, her many friends, family and memorable meals, in the years after WWII, turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci (as husband Paul).

Rhone Valley Map

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A colorful, detailed map of the Rhone Valley from Lyon to the Mediterranean at a scale of 1:200,000.

The Botanist and the Vintner, How Wine Was Saved for the World

Author: Christy Campbell

Description: In this witty book Campbell interweaves a dramatic tale of the devastation of vineyards in 1860's France with French cultural history and a tale of the mad scramble by scientists (along with witches, priests and mystics) to discover the cause and cure. The French were none too pleased that salvation (as well as the disease) came in the form of American root stock.

The Cook and the Gardener, A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside

Author: Amanda Hesser

Description: An American cook in Burgundy, the author records her recipes and growing fondness for a very French gardener, in this narrative cookbook. It includes 250 recipes and some fine observations on local people and places.

The Food of France

Author: Waverly Root

Description: An evocative and beautifully written survey of French food. First published in 1958 and revised in the mid-1970s, the book covers the important regions of French cuisine by dividing them into domains of Butter (northern France), Fat (Alsace) and Oil (the south).

The Most Beautiful Villages of Provence

Author: Michael Jacobs

Description: With an excellent introduction on the history, culture, landscapes and the pleasures of Southern France, this illustrated guide features 34 towns and villages across Provence from the Vacluse to Bonnieux and Gordes, tranquil Alpine villages and southern vineyards.

The Popes of Avignon, A Century in Exile

Author: Edwin Mullins

Description: Grounded in the architecture and papal legacy of Avignon and the surrounding area, this engaging history sets the 70-year period of papal exile in the south of France against the context of Europe's turbulent transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

The Road from the Past, Traveling through History in France

Author: Ina Caro

Description: Time travel through France by way of its finest castles, chateaux, cathedrals and monasteries. This unusual travelogue is an invaluable companion for traveling in Paris, southern France, the Dordogne and the Loire Valley, combining personal observation with large doses of well-presented history.

Two Towns in Provence

Author: M. F. K. Fisher

Description: Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking these two favorite places with anecdote and loving description.

Wine Tours in the South of France

Author: Florence Hernandez

Description: With suggested itineraries, noteworthy wineries and estates and photographs throughout.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2015 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768