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Three Faces of France: Paris, Lyon and Provence

Program Number: 12141RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/26/2014 - 10/8/2014; 9/25/2015 - 10/7/2015; 4/22/2016 - 5/4/2016; 5/13/2016 - 5/25/2016; 6/3/2016 - 6/15/2016; 9/23/2016 - 10/5/2016; 10/23/2016 - 11/4/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,599.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 27; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The architecture that enlivens your mind. The vistas that inspire your inner artist. The chocolate truffles that melt in your mouth. Experience these impressions of France and more on this journey to three delightful regions and into the mind, heart and spirit of a country that means many things to many people. Expert insight and insider access offer you more reasons to love and to understand La Belle France.


• Explore Paris’ Latin Quarter, one of the oldest university districts in the world, with its Pantheon and the Sorbonne, while discussing French society and its political system.
• Walk through Old Lyon’s traboules, unique covered passageways once used by silk merchants, and savor traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.
• Explore the historic city of Aix-en-Provence and learn the traditions of the Camargue.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day on mostly flat terrain and standing in museums.

Extensive use of Paris Metro (subway system); Métro tickets provided.

Date Specific Information

9-26-2014, 9-25-2015, 4-22-2016, 5-13-2016, 6-3-2016, 9-23-2016, 10-23-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Paris, 4 nights; train to Lyon, 3 nights; coach to Arles, 4 nights; coach to Marseille Airport; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Paris
4 nights

Immerse yourself in Paris, the intellectual and cultural capital of France, during field trips to the Louvre, the Latin Quarter and Montmartre. Gain an overview of Paris during a narrated coach excursion and an evening Seine River boat ride that highlights the illuminated city monuments. Local experts introduce the history of Paris, the political system, French society and artistic life.

Highspeed train to Lyon
3 nights

A local expert discusses the city’s evolution and unique architectural features. Walk through Old Lyon to see the city’s numerous traboules, the historic passageways once used by silk merchants to transport their wares. Sample some outstanding wines in the Beaujolais vineyards.

Coach to Arles
4 nights
Coach to Marseille Airport

Experience vivid scenes of Provence from XVII and XVIII century mansions façades in Aix-en-Provence to the ancient streets of Arles and Avignon. Learn about France's Roman roots and see where Van Gogh spent the last year of his life in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.


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.

Paris: Centrally located four-star hotel. Lyon: Centrally located modern hotel. Arles: In the heart of the historic center.
Meals and Lodgings
   Villa Beaumarchais
  Paris, France 4 nights
   Hotel Best Western Charlemagne
  Lyon, France 3 nights
   Hotel du Forum
  Arles, France 4 nights
 Villa Beaumarchais
Type: Hotel
  Description: Nestled at the corner of the Passage du Grand Veneur, the Villa Beaumarchais echoes the charm of typical lanes of the Place des Vosges.
  Contact info: 5 rue des Arquebusiers
Paris,  75003 France
phone: +33 (0)1 40 29 14 00
  Room amenities: Cable television, complimentary newspaper, air conditioning, phone, internet access, minibar, wake-up calls, private bathroom, bathrobes, hair dryer, pay movies, in-room safe
  Facility amenities: Buffet breakfasts, room service, air conditioning, mini bar, WiFi, safe.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBA Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for rates and availability.

 Hotel Best Western Charlemagne
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: A charming hotel that upholds the Lyon tradition of hospitality and prestige with an ideal location, it is conveniently located in the center of town just a stone's throw from Lyon Perrache Main Train and Metro Stations. The Best Western Charlemagne Hotel offers a mix of modernity and tradition at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers.
  Contact info: 23 cours Charlemagne
Lyon,  69002 France
phone: +33 (0)4 72 77 70 00
  Room amenities: Each room at the Best Western Hotel Charlemagne is equipped with satellite TV and private bathrooms. Rooms also have AM/FM alarm clock, coffee maker, dataports, and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, Newspapers, Terrace, Non-smoking, Elevator, Safe, Heating, Baggage Storage, Air Conditioning, Room Service, Meeting/Banquet Facilities, Business Center, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Ironing Service, Fax/Photocopying, Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel du Forum
Type: Hotel
  Description: This charming hotel is a beautifully restored old house in the heart of ancient Arles.
  Contact info: Place du Forum
Arles,  13200 France
phone: +33 (0) 4 90 93 48 95
  Room amenities: Rooms are equipped with a telephone, satellite TV, a mini bar, a hairdryer, air conditioning, and a safe.
  Facility amenities: The hotel includes a swimming pool in a peaceful setting and a bar with a pool table.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Contact Ips group for pricing Call the Road Scholar Program Department at 1-866-359-5966.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program begins with orientation at 5:00 p.m. at the program hotel in Paris. You will be staying at Villa Beaumarchais that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends after breakfast in Arles. You will be staying at Hotel du Forum the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Commuter Rail: From CDG Airport: Take RER B (Blue) in the Direction of Paris (Robinson, Antony, St-Rmy-ls-Chevreuse). Descend at Denfert-Rochereau Station. Purchase ticket from vending machines before going to the platform. Cost 9.50. 1st train: 4:56am
To Start of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest city or town:  PARIS
  Nearest highway: A1
  Nearest airport:  Charles de Gaulle 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 join the group transfer or take a taxi directly to the hotel or take one of the Air France buses. Tickets can be purchased by anyone regardless of airline. 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 arrival in or departure from Paris. You will need to pay in advance with a credit card to confirm reservations and print your own voucher.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Arles
  Nearest city or town:  St. Gilles
  Nearest highway: A 7
  Nearest airport:  Marseille Provence International Airport
  Transportation from site: A coach transfer will depart to the Marseille Airport. TGV trains depart from Arles to Marseille.
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: Departures from the USA
(Friday, September 26)
 In Transit: International flight to Paris, France.

Day 2: Arrival in Paris
(Saturday, September 27)
 Morning: Arrivals at Charles de Gaulle airport and transfers to the program hotel in Paris. Please note that rooms are not generally available until early to mid-afternoon, so you should plan to drop off your luggage at the hotel and then take some time to explore Paris or relax and have a leisurely lunch on your own. There are Paris maps available at the hotel, and your Group Leader and hotel staff will be present to provide recommendations and directions.
 Afternoon: Check-in at your hotel and take the afternoon to unpack and relax before orientation. We will gather in our private meeting room in the early evening where the Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: A neighborhood walk will introduce you to the area around the hotel.
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Paris and the Louvre
(Sunday, September 28)

Note: Today's activities include walking and standing in the museum at your own pace, as well as Paris metro use.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will have a lecture titled, "History of Paris: Capital of France." Afterward, enjoy a panoramic overview of Paris' monuments and most famous sites while your Paris expert continues a discussion of the city's history and its architecture throughout the ages.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant near the Louvre.
 Afternoon: We will take a field trip to the Louvre, the largest royal palace built in the 16th century. It was enlarged in the 17th century and turned into a museum after the French Revolution. Visit the Louvre at your own pace, using Road Scholar’s exclusively customized MP3 audio-guide. We will then return to the hotel using the Paris metro.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Montmartre: History, Art, and the Bohemian Life
(Monday, September 29)

Note: Today's activities include use of the Paris Metro, which may comprise of unavoidable stairs. On foot visits to Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur include walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will have a lecture titled, “French Society and France’s Political System.” We will then depart on foot and use the Paris metro and the Montmartre funicular during a field trip to the Basilique du Sacré Coeur to examine the history of its construction, the amazing murals that decorate its interior – not paintings, but intricately constructed mosaics – and take in the views over Paris from the city’s highest geographical location.
 Lunch: At a restaurant in Montmartre.
 Afternoon: We will continue exploring the tiny streets and squares of Montmartre and discover the meeting places where the artists gathered at the end of the 19th century while learning about the neighborhood’s Bohemian traditions. Aftewards, we will return to the hotel on the metro.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The City Island and Rive Gauche - The Latin Quarter
(Tuesday, September 30)

Note: Today's activities include use of Paris metro, which may comprise of unavoidable stairs. Visits to L'Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter on foot include walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: During a lecture titled, "May 1968," you will learn the history and long-term effects of this eventful period in Paris. Afterwards, we will take a field trip to discover medieval art and architecture in Paris. We will explore L'Île de la Cité, the historic heart of Paris featuring Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral, led by your Paris expert.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a walking exploration of the Latin Quarter, where you will find the biggest university complex in France and one of the oldest universities in the world, La Sorbonne, which is dedicated to Literature, Languages, Civilizations, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Walk the streets of this neighborhood to examine the medieval foundations of the quarter’s churches and small pedestrian streets, Cluny Convent, La Sorbonne, and the Pantheon. You may return to the hotel on the metro at your leisure.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: View Paris from the Seine River, a completely different perspective, during a boat cruise.
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: High-Speed Train to Lyon and the Beaujolais Wine Region
(Wednesday, October 1)

Note: Today's activities include travel by train with luggage.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will travel by TGV, the high-speed train, from Paris to Lyon. We will then head out into the picturesque villages and vineyards of the Beaujolais. The Beaujolais region is the most southern part of the Burgundy vineyards. Wine has been produced in this region since Roman times. Learn what differentiates Beaujolais from other red wines during a tasting.
 Lunch: At the Beaujolais vineyards.
 Afternoon: We will depart by coach for château de Montmelas where you will enjoy a wine tasting.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Best Western Charlemagne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Old Lyon
(Thursday, October 2)

Note: Today's activities include use of the Lyon subway and tramway, with some unavoidable stairs. A visit to the Lyon historic district on foot includes walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will have a lecture titled, "History and Economy of the City of Lyon." Next, we will explore the old town of Lyon on foot, from the Place de Terreaux to the Place de Bellecour. Walk through the fascinating “traboules." Although a couple of Old Lyon's traboules date from Roman times, most were constructed by silk weavers in the 19th century to facilitate the transport of silk in bad weather. Resistance fighters found them equally useful during WWII. Take the funicular up to La Fourvière to enjoy the view over the city.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: On a pedi-cab ride, contrast the historic center of Old Lyon with the new architectural developments of La Confluence. The pedi-cab will drop us off at the hotel.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel Best Western Charlemagne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Lyon: The Gastronomic Capital of France
(Friday, October 3)

Note: Today's activities include use of the Lyon subway and tramway, with some unavoidable stairs. A visit to the markets of Lyon on foot includes walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will take a field trip to experience the food traditions of Lyon, known as “the stomach of France” on a walk through the market stalls frequented by local and restaurant chefs alike. Learn about the local ingredients, how they are used and the origins of regional customs.
 Lunch: Sample a variety of Lyonnaise specialties.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time in the city.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Best Western Charlemagne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Aix-en-Provence
(Saturday, October 4)

Note: Today's activities include a visit on foot to the village, which involves walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach for Aix-en-Provence and then Arles.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Aix-en-Provence.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a walking around Aix-en-Provence, a historic city and the 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. Afterwards, we will have a field trip and on-site lecture titled, "In the Footsteps of Cézanne." Explore the artist's birthplace and the landscape that inspired many of his paintings. Next, we will continue on to Arles.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel du Forum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Arles and the Camargue
(Sunday, October 5)

Note: Today's activities include a visit to the village on foot, which involves walking on pavement and cobblestones for up to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer where you will see the mythical church and have an on-site lecture. Afterwards, we will proceed away from the coast for the Camargue, where you will learn about the history and the traditions of "France's Wild West." At the Ornithological Park, you will have a chance to get a glimpse of the wealth of marine birds that call this area home and perhaps even sight the elusive pink flamingo!
 Lunch: At a manade, a typical ranch or bull farm located in the heart of the Camargue serving local specialties.
 Afternoon: We will explore the manade and learn about daily life on the ranch, with its roots in the Camargue's traditions and history.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel du Forum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11: Arles
(Monday, October 6)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will have a lecture titled, "Arles: France's Roman Roots in the South of France." We will then take a walking tour of 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: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a field trip to the Arles Antiques Museum.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel du Forum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Avignon and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
(Tuesday, October 7)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach for Avignon, where we will explore the medieval city on foot. Enjoy a walking tour of the austere and imposing Palais des Papes to learn about the history of papacy in Avignon. If time allows, you can then invidually visit the Saint Benezet Bridge, known as "Le Pont d'Avignon" and made famous by the children's song. We will then continue by coach to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a Provençal village where Van Gogh spent the second to last year of his life, after being forced to leave Arles.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
 Afternoon: We will take a field trip to St. Paul de Mausole's hospital where Van Gogh was confined.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner.
Accommodations: Hotel du Forum
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Departure
(Wednesday, October 8)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Departure by coach to Marseille International Airport (MRS). We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
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.

Adventures on the Wine Route, A Wine Buyer's Tour of France

Author: Kermit Lynch

Description: A delightful and warmly anecdotal book, highly recommended for anyone touring the wine regions of France. Lynch brings the domains and appellations of French wine to full-blown life, and his portraits of the grand personalities who make the wine are priceless.

Bocuse in Your Kitchen, Simple French Recipes for the Home Chef

Author: Paul Bocuse

Description: Lyon-based masterchef Bocuse offers 220 of his favorite recipes, all of which are simple to follow and prepare and include many classics of French cuisine such as beef bourguignon, olive tapenade and pears in wine sauce.

Death at the Chateau Bremont

Author: M.L. Longworth

Description: When local nobleman Etienne de Bremont falls to his death from the family chateau, the town is abuzz with rumors. A lively whodunit steeped in the rich and romantic atmosphere of Aix-en-Provence, this novel introduces Antoine Verlaque, the handsome and seductive chief magistrate, and his sometime love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet.

Eyewitness Guide France

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide to all of France features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

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 Map

Author: Michelin

Description: A colorful, accurate and up-to-date map of France at a scale of 1:1,000,000.

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.

Made in France, A Shopper's Guide

Author: Laura Morelli

Description: Both a fascinating history of France's artisanal legacy and an insider's shopping guide, the book includes illustrations, maps, a primer on French shopping culture and craft festivals.

Paris to the Moon

Author: Adam Gopnik

Description: Gopnik writes with candor and humor about Paris and Parisian ways in these charming reflections on adapting to life in glorious exile.

Provence Alps French Riviera Map 527

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A colorful and detailed map of the region from Lyon to Marseille along the Rhone River, at a scale of 1:200,000.

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 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 Roman Provence Guide

Author: Edwin Mullins

Description: Mullin's succinct history and guide to the many monuments, arches and other antiquities of Provincia Nostra, the first Roman territory outside Italy, covers the must-see archaeological sites of Provence and neighboring Languedoc in detail. With 2 maps and 60 black and white photographs.

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.

Village in the Vaucluse

Author: Laurence Wylie

Description: A loving portrait of rural Provence and its inhabitants by a sociologist who lived in Roussillon just after WWII. It was a different world then, a traditional village with two telephones and a single cafe.

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