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French Canal Voyage by Barge: Discover Alsace-Lorraine

Program Number: 21158RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/15/2014 - 4/24/2014; 4/19/2016 - 4/28/2016; 5/17/2016 - 5/26/2016; 9/6/2016 - 9/15/2016; 9/20/2016 - 9/29/2016; 10/4/2016 - 10/13/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,495.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Barge Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

The region of Alsace-Lorraine borders Germany and the proximity shows in its culture. But these two provinces are also deeply, proudly French. Beginning and ending in medieval Strasbourg, this voyage on the Marne-Rhine Canal introduces you to Alsace-Lorraine’s spectacular landscapes, magnificent castles and unique customs and cuisine.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; uneven terrain and cobblestones common. Embark and disembark the ship via ramp.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Strasbourg, 2 nights; aboard vessel, 6 nights.

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

Days 2-4: Arrival Strasbourg / embark MS Jeanine:

Spend a full day exploring the capital of Alsace including its famed Romanesque cathedral and the Palais Rohan, a magnificent baroque building now home to three museums. Journey through the Vosges Mountains to meet the ship. Lodging: Charming, ideally located city hotel.

Day 5: Lagarde and Xouaxange:

As the ship navigates the canal, learn about the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine in an onboard lecture. Go ashore to visit Sarrebourg’s church and examine its Chagall-crafted stained glass windows.

Day 6: Lutzelbourg, Arzviller and Niderviller:

Enjoy a unique day on the canals as the ship passes through darkened tunnels then is raised 144 feet by the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. Visit a crystal glassworks to meet the artisans.

Day 7: Lutzelbourg and Saverne:

Begin the day with a field trip to the Lutzelbourg Castle. Visit the Château de Hohbarr, often called “the Eye of Alsace”, and you will discover splendid view of the Alsatian plains.

Day 8: Saverne and Waltenheim:

Explore the off-the-beaten-path town of Saverne with its half-timbered houses. Pass through bucolic landscapes en route to Waltenheim and, if you like, disembark for a walk or bike ride on the canal-side path.

Day 9: Wingersheim and Strasbourg:

Learn about wine and beer making in Alsace. Walk through the hop fields of Wingersheim and enjoy a sampling of the local brew. Try Alsatian wines during an expert-led tasting back onboard the ship.

Day 10: Strasbourg / disembark / departure

MS Madeleine

The Madeleine is a comfortable barge with 12 cabins and can accommodate 22 Road Scholar participants. Each cabin has air-conditioning, central heating, a window or porthole, and a private bathroom with a shower. Common areas include a spacious lounge, dining area, and a sundeck. Bicycles are available on board.


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
   Hotel Hannong
  Strasbourg, France 2 nights
  Alsace Lorraine Canal, France 6 nights
 Hotel Hannong
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Hotel Hannong is located in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, within a 10 minute walk of la Petite France, Place Kleber and Strasbourg Cathedral. The hotel has modern furnishings throughout with charming public spaces decorated with an ecclectic mix of fine art.
  Contact info: 15, rue du 22 Novembre
Strasbourg,   France
phone: +33 3 88 22 63 87
  Room amenities: Rooms features a safe, cable TV, desser and closet, bathrooms have hair dryer and soap and shampoo.
  Facility amenities: 24-hour reception desk staff with fluent English. The hotel has a wine bar where participants can relax and talk about the day's activities. High speed Internet WIFI is free of charge throughout the hotel. Room-service and laundry service are available.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for reservations.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

Type: Barge
  Ship Information: The Madeleine is a deluxe newly built two-deck barge, completed in 2014, that can accommodate 24 passengers in its 12 cabins, all of which have windows.
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67080 France
phone: +33 (0)3 88 76 44 44
  Room amenities: Each cabin has a window and is equipped with private en-suite facilities (shower and WC), TV, radio, telephone (for internal calls only), and air-conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Amenities on board include a spacious lounge with bar, restaurant, sun deck with loungers and parasols, barbecue deck, Jacuzzi at the prow of the barge, bicycles on board available for use by passengers, and wifi (payable on board).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after:  Not applicable

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program starts with orientation at the hotel in Strasbourg at 5 p.m. You will be staying at Hotel Hannong that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast and disembarkation in Strasbourg at 9 a.m. You will be staying at Madeleine the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
NO parking available
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Strasbourg
  Transportation to site: A group transfer from the Strasbourg Airport to the hotel is organized on the arrival day, the time will be determined based on final flight schedule but is likely to be in the early afternoon. For those arriving a day or more earlier, a taxi from the airport to the hotel is the suggested or you can take a train into the city central train station. Please see
  From End of Program
  Location:  Alsace Lorraine Canal
  Nearest city or town:  Strasbourg
  Nearest airport:  SXB
  Transportation from site: A group transfer from the barge docking area to the Strasbourg Airport is organized on the departure day. The time will be determined based on final flight schedule but is likely to be in the early morning. For those extending their stay a taxi to the city center will be your best option.
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: U.S. Departure
(Tuesday, April 15)
 In Transit Overnight: International flight to Strasbourg, France.

Day 2: Arrival and Orientation in Strasbourg
(Wednesday, April 16)
 Afternoon: Flights arrive in Strasbourg and a coach will transfer participants from Strasbourg Airport to the hotel. Relax before meeting for orientation and dinner. We will gather in our private meeting room 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: Enjoy the welcome dinner near the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Hannong
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Discovering Strasbourg
(Thursday, April 17)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles in the morning over cobbled stone streets.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a morning Strasbourg city walk on which you discover the section called La Petite France and the beautiful famed cathedral.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, explore the Palais Rohan and Strasbourg City Museums. Enjoy a guided introduction followed by free time for individual explorations of the Fine Arts Museum, the Decorative Arts Museum, and the Archaeological Museum.
 Dinner: Near the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Hannong
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: From Strasbourg to Sarrebourg / Boarding of the Barge
(Friday, April 18)

Note: Today's activities include travel by coach.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning you will have free time in Strasbourg. Take this opportunity to explore at your own pace, check out some museums, or simply sit and people watch.
 Lunch: On your own.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, we will board the coach to explore the city of Sarrebourg: the gateway to the Vosges mountains. Rich in historical diversity, this city's church features unique stain glass windows done by Marc Chagall. We will then board the coach to continue on to Arzviller where we will board the Madeleine, your home for six nights.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner on board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: From the Inclined Plane of Arzviller to Lutzelbourg
(Saturday, April 19)

Note: Today's activities include walking over a mile on flat roadways and sidewalks.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: This morning enjoy a presentation where you will learn about navigating and the history of the Alsace Lorraine Canal. We will visit the crystal glassworks near the inclined plane. Located at the foot of the incline for over 25 years, the glassworks is a family-run business specializing in the art of cutting crystal. Encounter this old-time tradition and watch crystal blowing and cutting demonstrations.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, you will have a visit of the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. A fabulous structure, this transverse system boat "elevator" is one of a kind in Europe. The inclined plane replaces 17 successive locks over 4,000 meters that once needed a full day to navigate. The structure consists of a caisson (41.5 m x 5.5 m/136 ft x 18 ft) which is lifted or lowered over a 41% incline. You will understand how the plane works through an explanatory film and by visiting the museum and the machine room. In addition, you will be able to observe the three closest locks in Europe as well as the Arzviller Tunnel from the comfort of a miniature tourist train. Later in the afternoon, we will arrive in Lutzelbourg, which merits its reputation as the most beautiful village on the French canal banks. Here, we will explore the Château de Lutzelbourg. Perched over 900 feet above sea level, on a rocky, red sandstone spur, the ruins of the castle majestically dominate the village located below in the Zorn Valley.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
 Evening: Join in on an evening activity: French Trivia.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Lutzelbourg to Saverne
(Sunday, April 20)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles, including a short walk ascending 300 meters.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: Enjoy the morning sail to Saverne. The scenery is lovely and you will get a sense of what it was like to be a barge captain. There will be a presentation led by your study leader which will give a brief history of Alsace-Lorraine. You will learn about these two provinces which both have a very unique history.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, you will visit the Château de Hohbarr, nicknamed "The Eye of Alsace." From the château, you will marvel at the splendid view of the Alsatian plains. On the way back, stop at a Chappe telegraph tower, an old semaphore location and one of the first telecommunications systems.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Saverne to Waltenheim
(Monday, April 21)
 Breakfast: Onboard the Madeleine.
 Morning: This morning will be dedicated to a sightseeing visit of Saverne. Virtually unknown, Saverne offers a wide range of places to discover: The Grand Rue with its unicorn fountain (the city's symbol), Notre Dame Church with its 12th century steeple, various 18th century administrative buildings, and the Recollects Monastery founded in the 14th century.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a bucolic journey as we head for Waltenheim. We will pass by the towns of Schwindratzheim--nestled on a hillside--and Hochfelden, a typical village. As we sail, you have the option of staying on board or you can stroll through the trails or bike on the paved trails along the canal.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant featuring the very tasty local specialty "Tarte Flambée," a flat pie that resembles a thin pizza and is made most often with creme fraiche, onions and bacon.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Waltenheim to Strasbourg
(Tuesday, April 22)

Note: Today's activities include walking on uneven paths. Good walking shoes are needed.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: We start the morning exploring the hops footpath in Wingersheim (good walking shoes required). Alsace offers an attractive and unusual landscape. A province of wine-growing and beer-brewing, you will gain a new perspective on the region through learning about growing hops. Enjoy a pleasurable walk through the hop fields, followed by beer tasting.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: End the afternoon by enjoying the sail towards the historic city of Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Wine in Alsace
(Wednesday, April 23)

Note: Today's activities include walking on uneven paths. Good walking shoes are needed.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: Enjoy the cruise throughout the morning.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, enjoy an Alsace wine tasting. Learn about the vineyard while enjoying four different types of Alsatian wines and identifying the elements in each. Next, we will take an Alsatian Wine Route tour on which we will travel through picturesque villages with half-timbered houses, enchanting fountains, and of course, wine presses to discover the region's wines and seven grape varieties. Lastly, we will stop to taste the local wine at a winemaker's.
 Dinner: Gala dinner on board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Departure from Strasbourg to Return to the U.S.
(Thursday, April 24)
 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: This morning after breakfast we transfer to the airport. All passengers must disembark by 9 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 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 World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age

Author: William Manchester

Description: Organized into sections on the Renaissance, Reformation and Discovery, Manchester's popular history evokes in vivid detail the great figures and daily life of the 16th century, including Henry VIII, Magellan, Borgia, da Vinci and Martin Luther.

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.

Alsace, Lorraine Map 516

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: An up-to-date regional map at the very good scale of 1:200,000 published by Michelin.

Cathedrals and Castles, The Cathedral Builders of the Middle Ages

Author: Alain Erlande-Brandenburg

Description: This pocket-size encyclopedia of the art, architecture and culture of the Middle Ages features hundreds of drawings, color illustrations and a brief chronology.

Corkscrewed, Adventures in the New French Wine Country

Author: Robert V. Camuto

Description: An American journalist living in the south of France, Camuto travels far afield from Bordeaux visiting new winemakers from the Alsace to Mayonnaise, Corsica and Burgundy for this celebration of the culture and diversity of French wine.

Michelin Green Guide Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A guide to Alsace, Champagne and Vosges in the classic Michelin style.

Strasbourg Map

Author: IGN

Description: A city map of Strasbourg at a scale of 1:10,000.

The Age of the Cathedrals, Art and Society 980-1420

Author: Georges Duby

Description: French scholar Duby, writing very accessibly, describes both the great cathedrals and the philosophical, religious, and political climate that enabled them to be built in this classic.

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).

Wine and War, The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

Author: Donald Kladstrup

Description: This thrilling account of how the vintners of France saved their crops -- and their bottles -- as the Nazis approached, focuses on the activities of five winemaking families in Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.

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