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The Best of Southern France: Provence and the Cote d'Azur

Program Number: 21096RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/25/2014 - 10/3/2014; 4/21/2016 - 4/29/2016; 5/5/2016 - 5/13/2016; 5/19/2016 - 5/27/2016; 9/8/2016 - 9/16/2016; 9/22/2016 - 9/30/2016; 10/6/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/13/2016 - 10/21/2016; 10/27/2016 - 11/4/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $2,295.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

From the green hills, sunbaked villages and lavender fields of Provence to the brilliant azure waters and billowing white sails of the French Riviera, absorb the colors — not to mention the sights, sounds and flavors — of Southern France on this journey that combines field trips led by top-notch Road Scholar experts with plenty of time for independent discoveries.


• Explore Provence’s lively open-air markets, medieval villages and natural environments.
• Discover the famed medieval city of Avignon and the historic city of Nice on expert-led excursions.
• Enjoy independent time to experience this beautiful and unique region on your own.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some cobblestones and uneven and hilly terrain.

Date Specific Information

9-25-2014, 4-21-2016, 5-5-2016, 5-19-2016, 9-8-2016, 9-22-2016, 10-6-2016, 10-13-2016, 10-27-2016

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

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Marseille, coach to Avignon, 4 nights; coach to Nice, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Marseille
Coach to Avignon
4 nights

An expert-led walking excursion introduces you to Avignon's old town including the Palais des Papes, the Pont d'Avignon, and the lively Provençal markets. Explore the villages of the Luberon, the hilly area made famous by the book “A Year in Provence.” Take a field trip to Arles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to examine its impressive Roman monuments. Continue to the spectacular hillside village Les Baux-de-Provence and step inside its historic fort.

Coach to Nice
3 nights

Venture to Aix-en-Provence for an expert-led walking excursion. Visit the Picasso Museum in Antibes, located in a historic chateau where the artist once lived. Explore Nice’s old town and the Cours Saleya square with its daily flower market. Discover the Roman ruins of Cimiez Hill. Delve into the works of two great French artists who were inspired by Nice, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, at the respective museums dedicated to them. Enjoy free time to soak up the sun and the history in this beautiful Mediterranean port city.


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.

Avignon: Stylish hotel in the heart of old town. Nice: Four-star hotel in the city center.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Artea
  Aix en Provence, France 4 nights
   Hotel Brice
  Nice, France 3 nights
 Hotel Artea
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: The former house of the music composer Darius Milhaud, Hotel Artea combines the charm and the quality of an old Aix townhouse with modern facilities. Just a few minutes from the pedestrian heart of Aix-en Provence, the Théâtre de Provence and the Cours Mirabeau, Hotel Artea is the perfect base for exploring this lively town. The SNCF train station is only a five minute walk from the hotel.
  Contact info: 4 Boulevard de la République
Aix-en-Provence,  13100 France
phone: +33 (0)4 42 27 36 00
  Room amenities: All 50 rooms are spacious, simply furnished with traditional style and have air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, cable television with English language channels, a direct-dial telephone, a mini-fridge, soundproof windows, and a private bathroom with a bathtub and a hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: The htoel includes a bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, elevator, soundproof rooms, heating, baggage storage, air conditioning, a meeting room, and free Wi-Fi is available in all areas. The entire hotel is non-smoking.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Contact Road Scholar Travel Services for rates and reservations.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Hotel Brice
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Brice Hotel is located in central Nice, just a 5-minute walk from the Promenade des Anglais and the beach. It offers a sauna, a solarium and grounds with a fountain. A buffet breakfast is served in the breakfast room every morning. On sunny days, guests can enjoy a drink from the hotel bar on the terrace under the orange and lemon trees. The hotel is just a ten minute walk from the tram line and Nice’s central train station. It is ideally located for exploring the city and nearby town such as Monte-Carlo and Cannes.
  Contact info: 44 Rue du Maréchal Joffre
Nice,  06000 France
phone: +33 (0)4 93 88 14 44
  Room amenities: Each guest room at Brice Hotel is equipped with satellite TV, a mini fridge and a work desk. Each has a private bathroom with a hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel includes a bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, newspapers, terrace, elevator, safe, baggage storage, air-conditioning, a sauna, meeting/banquet facilities, airport shuttle, bicycle rental, car rental, tour desk, fax/photocopying, and free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBD Contact Road Scholar Travel Services for rates and bookings.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program starts with the orientation in Aix-en-Provence at 6 p.m. You will be staying at Hotel Artea that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends after breakfast at the hotel in Nice. Check out is 11:30 AM. You will be staying at Hotel Brice the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. All U.S. citizens require a passport that is valid a minimum of 6 months after their return date to the US. If you must apply for a new passport, plan to allow six to eight weeks for this process. Please bring along a photocopy of the first page of your passport (the page that has your photograph and information); in the event that your passport is lost or stolen, a copy of it will be of great assistance.
  Parking availability:
Not available or recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: TGV is a great option to travel in France and Both Nice and Aix en Provence are connected to Paris by TGV.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Aix en Provence
  Nearest highway: A7, A46, A54, A9 and A8
  Nearest airport:  Marseille-Provence International Airport
  Transportation to site: A transfer from the airport in Marseille to the hotel in Aix-en-Provence is provided for all participants who purchased air from Road Scholar and arrive on the program start date. If you arrive early or want to make your own way to the hotel, taxis from the Marseille (MRS) airport to the hotel in Aix-en-Provence are available and cost about 40 Euro. We do not recommend using buses. Taxis from the Aix en Provence TGV station into the city will cost about 20 - 25 Euro.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Nice
  Nearest airport:  NCE
  Transportation from site: A transfer from the hotel to the airport in Nice is provided for all participants who purchased air from Road Scholar and depart on the program end date. If you are departing later or want to make your own way to the airport, taxis from the hotel in Nice to the airport are available and cost about 25 Euro. We do not recommend using buses. Taxis from the Hotel to the TGV station will cost no more than 10 Euro.
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
(Thursday, September 25)
 In Transit: International flights to Marseille, France.

Day 2: Arrival in Marseille / Transfer to Aix-en-Provence
(Friday, September 26)
 Morning: NOTE FOR PARTICIPANTS COMBINING THIS PROGRAM WITH PROGRAM 21095 ending in Paris CDG: Because these programs are designed to be taken together, your transportation to Aix-en-Provence from Paris has been arranged by Road Scholar and is complimentary. Please see details of program below for start time on this day. All other participants will have a transfer from the airport to the hotel. Please wait in your terminal's arrival area for a Road Scholar representative to greet you.
 Afternoon: Check-in at the hotel in Aix-en-Provence and take some time to relax and freshen up before orientation. We will gather in our private meeting room at 6 p.m. 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: Get to know your fellow participants at the welcome dinner.
 Evening: Enjoy exploring the old city at night on a walking tour.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Aix-en-Provence Old Town / The Local Provençal Market
(Saturday, September 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart on foot to explore Aix-en-Provence, the historic city and heart of Provence. We will 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, as well as the Cours Mirabeau. In addition, we will explore the various Saturday markets; Saturday is the busiest market day and each square offers a different variety of stalls.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some leisure time to explore on your own. Saturday is the best day to check out the shops and to experience the Old Town.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Market / The Sights and Perched Villages of the Luberon
(Sunday, September 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore one of the largest markets in Provence and one of the biggest antique markets in the world. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a picturesque medieval town that offers a sumptuous setting for a Sunday market. Follow your guide as you learn the history of this small town and also sample some of the local specialties and learn about how they are made. Later, you will enjoy some time to continue the morning at your leisure to discover the city and explore the vendor stalls.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: We will depart by coach for Senanque and Gorde, lesser visited sites of Luberon, a region made famous by Peter Mayle's book, "A Year in Provence." We will stop to see the outside of the Abbey of Senanque, walk the streets of Gorde, and as we cross over the Luberon mountains, we will stop in the village of Lourmarin before making our way back to Aix-en-Provence.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant near the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Arles / Roman History / Van Gogh / Les-Baux-de-Provence
(Monday, September 29)

Note: Today's activities include travel by coach, climbing of stairs, and walking on cobblestone.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach to tour the Roman and art city of Arles. Eight of Arles' Roman and Romanesque monuments and 65 acres of downtown are considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. As part of our visit, we will explore the old town on foot and discover a few of these special sites. In addition, you will learn about the work and places that inspired Van Gogh while he lived in Arles. You will then have time to continue the morning at leisure to further discover the city.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: We will depart by coach for Les-Baux-de-Provence. This fortified village, with its interesting history, offers some of the most picturesque views of Provence. We will visit and learn about the sites of this fortress. Note: There are many stairs and some climbing involved on cobblestone streets to explore the fortress. Please wear comfy footwear!
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Transfer to Nice / Antibes' Picasso Museum / Saint-Paul-de-Vence
(Tuesday, September 30)

Note: Today's activities include over two hours of travel by coach and a walking tour.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart Aix for Nice (with luggage). We will drive through Cannes and along the beachfront before heading to Antibes. Enjoy a field trip to Chateaux Grimaldi and the Picasso Museum. Learn about Picasso, his work, and his time in France. We will then take the coach from Antibes to Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy free time to explore the village on your own or to visit the Maeght Foundation. We will then take the coach to the Matisse Chappelle in Vence (30 minutes).
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Brice
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: An Introduction to Nice: The Flower Market and the Old Town
(Wednesday, October 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Led by our local expert, we will drive by and explore the sites of Nice. We will see the Russian Orthodox church, stop at Castle Hill for a panoramic view of the city, and drive along the Promenade des Anglais before reaching the old town and the flower market. Later, led by the local expert, discover and savor the flavors of Nice as you explore the famous local food and flower market and stop at artisan shops where local specialties are made.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Old Nice.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a brief walking tour of the old town with your expert guide. Afterward, explore the old town or other sites on your own.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel Brice
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Nice's Ancient Past and Her Artists: Chagall, Matisse and Cimiez Hill
(Thursday, October 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach for Cimiez Hill. We will begin with a brief walk around the Monastery of Cimiez gardens that feature the old ruins of Nice's Roman past and the Matisse Museum. Afterwards, we will travel down Cimiez Hill to the Chagall Museum, which features Biblical scenes illustrated in 17 large paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries, 205 preparatory sketches, 39 gouaches (1930), 105 engravings (1956) and 215 lithographs. Next, explore the Matisse museum, which comprises of a comprehensive collection of the artist's works from all periods of his life; from the first paintings made in 1890 to the famous gouache cutouts, 236 drawings, 218 engravings and the complete presentation of the books illustrated by the artist.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time in Nice to explore on your own and discover the city's remaining museums and monuments or sinply enjoy walking and exploring the small streets and the waterfront.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Brice
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Return to the USA
(Friday, October 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Individual shuttle transfer to the Nice (NCE) airport. Transfer time is dependent on flight time and will happen between 6 a.m. and Noon. Check out is at 11:30 a.m. 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 Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France

Author: Georgeanne Brennan

Description: Marvelously frank about daily chores and the decidedly unglamorous business of raising goats and pigs, Brennan lards her earthy tale of the rural life with recipes, one per chapter.

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.

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 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.

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.

Lunch in Provence

Author: Rachael Mckenna

Description: A richly evocative blend of photographs, recipes, and literary and historical citations, this lovely book features thirty-five Mediterranean lunchtime recipes from Michelin three-star chef Jean-Andre Charial.

Matisse and Picasso, The Story of their Rivalry and Friendship

Author: Jack Flam

Description: Jack Flam explores the compelling, competitive, parallel lives of these two artists and their very different attitudes toward the idea of artistic greatness, toward the women they loved, and ultimately toward their confrontations with death.

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.

Provence A-Z

Author: Peter Mayle

Description: A companion to all things Provencal, from bouillabaisse to lavender and vinaigre, by the British expatriate and Francophile Peter Mayle.

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.

Provence, From Minstrels to the Machine

Author: Ford Madox Ford

Description: Madox Ford probes the history, attractions and pleasures of the region in this spirited classic, with illustrations by his companion Biala, written during their time on the Mediterranean coast.

The Dream of Scipio

Author: Iain Pears

Description: An unusually rich and illuminating historical novel, The Dream of Scipio interweaves stories from three separate centuries in the Rhone Valley, ancient Roman, Medieval and 20th century.

The Magic of Provence, Pleasures of Southern France

Author: Yvone Lenard

Description: The adventures and misadventures of a French woman and her American husband who leave L.A. for a home in the Luberon mountains.

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 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.

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.

The Yellow House

Author: Martin Gayford

Description: Gayfor chronicles the turbulent three months and texture of the daily lives of Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles, where they worked side by side in 1888. With 60 b&W reproductions.

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.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Passionate Eye

Author: Pascal Bonafoux

Description: From Paris to Asnieres, Amsterdam and Provence, this jewel of a book traces the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh, the spirited, self-destructive painter who celebrated the south of France. Engaging, compact and illustrated with hundreds of photographs.

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