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Blend of Cultures: A Walk-and-Barge Immersion in Alsace

Program Number: 21380RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/23/2014 - 10/2/2014; 10/6/2015 - 10/15/2015; 5/10/2016 - 5/19/2016; 9/13/2016 - 9/22/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,595.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Holidays, Festivals & Events; Walking/Hiking Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The smallest region in mainland France is also one of the most visually and historically fascinating. Put on your walking shoes and get ready to uncover the richness of this area aboard a brand-new canal barge and along the hiking trail. Experience the rich cultural blend at the border between France and Germany and soak up the exquisite natural beauty that abounds on both banks of the Marne-Rhine Canal.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to six miles on mostly flat terrain consisting of cobblestone streets, uneven paths, roadways, sidewalks, some stairs.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Strasbourg, 2 nights; aboard the ship, 6 nights.

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

Days 2-4: Arrival Strasbourg (France) / embark La Jeanine:

Enjoy a morning walk in Strasbourg’s la Petite France neighborhood and explore the Palais Rohan and Strasbourg City Museums. Before embarking the barge, float through the old town by small boat at night. Lodging: Modern hotel in medieval Strasbourg.

Day 5: Wingersheim:

Depart Strasbourg aboard the ship. Taste Alsacian wines while learning about the vineyards of the region. Explore the hops footpath in Wingersheim on a walk through the hops fields, followed by a beer tasting.

Days 6-7: Saverne / Alsace Canal / Lutzelbourg Castle / Hohbarr Castle:

En route to Waltzenheim, stop in the towns of Schwindratzheim and Hochfelden. In each, choose either to remain on board or to stroll or bike the trails along the canal. Explore little-known Saverne on foot and dine on local specialties such as tarte flambée. Join your study leader for a visit to Château de Hohbarr to enjoy splendid views of the Alsatian plains. Walk to Lutzelbourg Castle, perched high above a valley.

Day 8: Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane / Niderviller Tunnels:

Stop at a family-run crystal glassworks and meet with the artist, then watch from the deck as the barge is lowered 44 meters in just four minutes by the unique Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane. Dine by candlelight lunch as you sail the Niderviller and Arzviller tunnels. Walk through Lutzelbourg, considered the most beautiful village on the French canal banks.

Days 9-10: Sarre Canal / Sarrebourg / disembark / departure:

Explore Sarrebourg, gateway to the Vosges Mountains, including its church, which features stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall. Sail through an area called “the ponds” before reaching Xouaxange and enjoying a farewell dinner.

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
  Erstein, France
Strasbourg, France
Waltenheim, France
Saverne, France
Lutzelbourg, France
Arzviller, 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 free wifi.
  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 Lagarde at 7 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 Strasbourg to the hotel is organized on the arrival day and 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 suggested. Alternatively, you can take a train into the city's central train station. Please see for further information.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Arzviller
  Transportation from site: A group transfer from the barge docking area to Strasbourg 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. Independent travelers may join a transfer or take a taxi to Saverne and then the train to Strasbourg. Please visit for more details.
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
(Tuesday, September 23)
 In Transit Overnight: International flight to Strasbourg, France.

Day 2: Arrival Strasbourg and Orientation
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Afternoon: Arrivals and transfers to the hotel. Check-in upon arrival and take time to relax and freshen up before orientation. 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: Welcome dinner near the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Hannong
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Discovering Strasbourg
(Thursday, September 25)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to 3 or 4 miles in the morning over cobblestone streets, on flat terrain, and up a few stairs.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a walk in Strasbourg during which you will discover the section called La Petite France as well as the beautiful famed cathedral.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 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: Free Time in Strasbourg / Embark the Madeleine
(Friday, September 26)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy some leisure time to explore Strasbourg on your own. Check-out must be completed by 11:30 a.m. Luggage can be stored in the lobby.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: We will gather in the hotel lobby at 3 p.m. for the transfer to the barge.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner on board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Alsace Wine Route
(Saturday, September 27)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to 3 to 4 miles on uneven paths. Good walking shoes are needed.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: As the Madeleine sails toward Strasbourg, your study leader will give an on-board presentation.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: We will depart on an excursion of the Alsace wine route. You will discover the Alsace vineyards and its seven variety of wines while driving through small, charming, picturesque villages with half-timbering houses, fountains, and wine presses. We will also visit a winemaker where we will have a wine tasting.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Waltenheim-sur-Zorn
(Sunday, September 28)

Note: Today's activities include walking along the canal and in the city about 4 to 6 miles on a foot path and in town.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: We will cross the Zorn Valley, lanscaped with fields and also where the canal is wide and straight. We will also cross the Brumath Forest before reaching Waltenheim-sur-Zorn in the late afternoon.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a walk around Waltenheim. Used as a main route in Gallo-Roman times, the Zorn and its valley form a natural boundary between Kochersberg and Vosges du Nord. Our walk will lead us up above Waltenheim offering us a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.
 Dinner: At a restaurant featuring the local delicious specialty of "Tarte Flambee," 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 7: Château de Hohbarr
(Monday, September 29)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to 2 to 3 miles.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: Take delight in a bucolic journey that transports you to Saverne. We will pass by the towns of Schwindratzheim, nestled on a hillside and Hochfelden, a typical Alsatian village.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: The boat will be moored in front of Rohan Castle. Our walk will lead us to the Château de Hohbarr as well as Château du Grand-Geroldseck and Château du Petit-Geroldseck. On the way back, stop at the Chappe tower, an old semaphore location, for an interactive discovery of the ancestor of modern telecommunications.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Saverne / Lutzelbourg Castle
(Tuesday, September 30)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to 3 to 4 miles.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: We will depart on foot for a guided visit of Saverne with our mountain guide. Virtually unknown from the usual tourist routes, Saverne offers a wide range of places to discover such as: the main drag with its unicorn fountain (the symbol of the city), the Katz house, adorned with magnificent carved timbers, the Notre Dame Church with its 12th-century steeple, various 18th-century administrative buildings and the Récollets Monastery founded in the 14th century.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the scenery as the barge sails into the Vosges Mountains. Upon arrival in Lutzelbourg, we will take a short walk to Lutzelbourg Castle. Perched at over 980 feet above sea level on a red, rocky sandstone spur, the ruins of the castle majestically dominate the village down below in the Zorn Valley.
 Dinner: On board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Inclined Plane of Arzviller
(Wednesday, October 1)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to 2 to 3 miles.

 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: We will head off for the Arzviller inclined plane. On the way, we will stop at the crystal glassworks near the inclined plane. Located at the foot of the incline for over 25 years, the crystal workshop is a family-run business specializing in the art of cutting crystal. You will learn about this time-tested tradition, and watch crystal blowing and cutting demonstrations. We will return on board and continue our journey through the Artzviller inclined plane - an incredible experience. A fabulous structure, this transverse system boat “elevator” is one-of-a-kind in Europe. The inclined plane replaces 17 successive locks over 2.5 miles that once needed a full day to navigate. The structure consists of a steel caisson (136 ft. x 18 ft.) which is lifted or lowered on an over 41% incline. In only four minutes, the boat will have climbed or descended 144 feet in altitude.
 Lunch: On board the Madeleine.
 Afternoon: We will depart by coach to discover the city of Sarrebourg, the gateway to the Vosges mountains. The city has a rich historical diversity and its church features unique stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board the Madeleine.
Accommodations: Madeleine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Departure from Arzviller to Strasbourg / Return to the USA
(Thursday, October 2)
 Breakfast: On board the Madeleine.
 Morning: We will disembark by 7 a.m. for departure transfers. 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 vinters of France saved their crops -- and their bottles -- as the Nazis approached shows that to be French is not just to fight for your country but also for your wine. Kladtsrub, who writes for Wine Spectator, and his wife Peatie, the authors focus on the activities of five winemaking families in Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.

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