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Provence by Barge: Bountiful Markets, Medieval Towns and Bucolic Beauty

Program Number: 21425RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/4/2013 - 10/12/2013;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $2,499.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 16; 7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Lovely and bursting with life, Provence has enchanted artists, writers, even popes. Experience it for yourself on this village-to-village voyage by river barge. Attend traditional markets where colorful produce and flowers are on offer, discover Roman ruins and medieval châteaux, visit an abbey where monks have produced lavender and honey for centuries, see the “Camargue cowboys” at work and much more.




Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard Estello, 7 nights.



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


Day 2:
Arrival Marseille (France) / coach to Avignon / embark the Estello:

Board the barge in Avignon and meet your captain and crew, then join fellow participants for a welcome-aboard dinner.



Day 3:
Avignon:

On a field trip to the medieval Palace of the Popes, learn about the Papal Schism, a 39-year period when two competing men claimed leadership of the Catholic Church.



Day 4:
Gordes, Cavaillon & Carpentras:

Journey to the hill town of Gordes and the 12th-century Sénanque Abbey, surrounded by lavender fields. Discover the oldest synagogue in France.



Day 5:
Nimes:

Learn about the construction and operation of the magnificent Pont du Gard aqueduct, built by the Romans beginning in 19 BC. Continue to the Roman arena at the center of Nimes.



Day 6:
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence:

Delve further into the Roman history of Provence at the site of Glanum, where the ruins include a great triumphal arch. Visit Château des Baux, an imposing hilltop fortress.



Day 7:
Arles & the Camargue:

Experience Arles, the city that inspired van Gogh’s masterworks like Café Terrace at Night. Sail onward to the Camargue, a sprawling river delta home to horses, bulls and even flamingos.



Day 8:
Aigues-Mortes:

Discover a manade, a Camargue ranch where cowboys tend semi-feral herds. Explore the walled medieval town of Aigues-Mortes on the “Petit Train” and learn about the ancient industry of salt harvesting.



Day 9:
Disembark / coach to Marseille for departure


The Estello

Classic deluxe river barge, measuring 128’ long and 17’ wide. The barge offers 10 cabins for a total of 20 participants. The Estello was built in 1937, converted to a passenger barge in 1981 and refurbished in 2008.


Meals and Lodgings
   Estello
  Avignon, France
Vallabrègues, France
Arles, France
Gallician, France
Aigues-Mortes, France
7 nights
 Estello
Type: Barge
  Description: This barge is exclusively chartered for Road Scholar participants.
  Ship Information: The Estello: Classic deluxe river barge, measuring 128’ long and 17’ wide. The barge offers 10 cabins for a total of 20 participants. The Estello was built in 1937, converted to a passenger barge in 1981 and refurbished in 2008.
  Contact info: N/A
N/A,   France
phone: + N/A
  Room amenities: Each cabin has closet space, a hair dryer, adapter plug, alarm clock, bottled water, water glasses, wooden hangers, tissues, hand soap, shower gel, shampoo, towels, insect repellent, make-up mirror, full-length mirror and a fan. There is individual climate control (air conditioning/heat).
  Facility amenities: There are two decks: the upper deck has a saloon where meals are taken, a spacious sitting area, and a bar. There is also a sundeck with fixed awning, tables and chairs. All cabins are on the lower deck with heat, air-conditioning and private bathrooms.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Check out time: 9:30 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
12:30 PM group transfer from Marseille-Provence Airport by coach to the barge in Avignon You will be staying at Estello that night.
  End of Program:
8:00 AM group transfer to Marseille-Provence Airport for independent flight departures. You will be staying at Estello the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is not available.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: See above
To Start of Program
  Location:  Avignon
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date and time. On arrival at Marseille-Provence Airport, independent travelers may take the airport shuttle (navette) to the main train station in Marseille (Gare St-Charles). Departures are every 20-30 minutes at a cost of approximately €8 per person. The transfer takes 30 minutes. At the Marseille St-Charles train station, board an SNCF train for Avignon. On arrival in Avignon, take a taxi to the barge located at the quai de la Ligne along the boulevard de la Ligne. This transfer is about 10 minutes.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aigues-Mortes
  Transportation from site: Take a train from the rail station in Aigues-Mortes to the rail station in Nimes. The transfer time is approximately 45 minutes. Transfer to another train which departs the main rail station for Marseille St-Charles train station. The transfer takes 90 minutes. On arrival at the Marseille train station, take a shuttle (navette) to Marseille-Provence Airport. Departures are every 20-30 minutes at a cost of approximately €8 per person. The transfer takes 30 minutes. We strongly encourage participants to take the group transfer from Aigues-Mortes to Marseille-Provence Airport.
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: Board an overnight flight.
(Friday, October 4)
   
 Evening: Board an overnight flight to Marseille.

Day 2: Arrival Marseille/Coach to Avignon & Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, October 5)
   
 Afternoon: Join your fellow travelers at the Marseille-Provence Airport for the coach transfer to the barge moored in Avignon. Meet the crew and listen carefully to the safety instructions from the skipper.
 Dinner: Enjoy a welcome dinner with the other participants aboard the barge.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Avignon/Palais des Papes
(Sunday, October 6)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello
 Morning: Begin with a lecture aboard the barge about Vincent van Gogh and how Provence influenced his artwork.
 Lunch: Sample the local fare in Avignon on your own.
 Afternoon: Return to the medieval city of Avignon for a lecture and field trip to the Palace of the Popes, home to popes during the Papal Schism from 1378 to 1417. See the famous (and unfinished) Pont d'Avignon.
 Dinner: Aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Gordes/Cavaillon/Carpentras
(Monday, October 7)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Begin with a visit to the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque to learn about lavender production at a medieval monastery. Visit the Monday Market in Cavaillon.
 Lunch: Independent lunch in Carpentras
 Afternoon: Tour the medieval town of Carpentras and stop by the oldest synagogue in France.
 Dinner: Aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Pont du Gard/Nimes
(Tuesday, October 8)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Coach to the Pont du Gard, a well-preserved Roman aqueduct, dating from the 1st century CE. With three tiers of arches, this bridge provided millions of liters of water to citizens in nearby Nîmes. Become versed in the history of this architectural wonder through a lecture and field trip.
 Lunch: Independent lunch in Nimes
 Afternoon: Stop by the Nimes Tuesday Market before heading to Nimes Arena, built around 70 CE. Today, the arena is used for bullfights and other cultural events.
 Dinner: Aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: St-Rémy-de-Provence & Chateau-des-Baux-de-Provence
(Wednesday, October 9)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Learn about the Romans' influence in the region through a field trip to Glanum and Les Antiques. Visit the famous Wednesday Market in St-Rémy-de-Provence.
 Lunch: Sample local fare on own in St-Rémy-de-Provence.
 Afternoon: Visit Chateau-des-Baux-de-Provence, an imposing medieval chateau/fortress atop the Alpilles mountains.
 Dinner: Aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Arles Arena/Camargue
(Thursday, October 10)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Spend time in Arles with a field trip and lecture about the beautifully preserved Roman amphitheater. Today, bull fights are held there, but unlike in Spain, the bull is not killed. Board the barge for a morning and afternoon of barging. Van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889; see the city that inspired some of his most beloved artwork, such as Starry Night over the Rhone, The Yellow House and Café Terrace at Night.
 Lunch: Lunch aboard the Estello.
 Afternoon: Barge to the day's destination. Upon arrival in Gallician, enjoy a lecture aboard the Estello about the Camargue Nature Park and its wildlife.
 Dinner: Aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Aigues-Mortes
(Friday, October 11)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Coach to a local manade (similar to a ranch) to learn about the gardians (herders or cowboys) and see wildlife of the Camargue.
 Lunch: Lunch at a manade.
 Afternoon: Coach to Aigues-Mortes (old French for “dead waters”) in the Petite Camargue where there is a field trip and lecture aboard the Petit Train to view the walled medieval town. The village featured prominently during the Crusades of the 13th century as a point of embarkation.
 Dinner: Say au revoir to fellow passengers at the farewell dinner aboard the Estello.
   
Accommodations: Estello
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Departure
(Saturday, October 12)
   
 Breakfast: Aboard the Estello.
 Morning: Coach transfer to Marseille-Provence Airport for departure.
   
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 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.



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 Provence and the French Rivera


Author: -


Description: A practical guide in the popular series, saturated with valuable information on accommodation, shopping, sights, and dining.



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.



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.



Long Ago in France, The Years in Dijon


Author: M.F.K. Fisher


Description: A memoir of Fisher's years in France in the late '20s and early '30s, a time of exuberant discoveries of the glories of French food and French culture.



Michelin Green Guide Provence


Author: Michelin Travel Publications


Description: A comprehensive driving guide, organized alphabetically and featuring detailed maps of each region, city or village.



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).



Nostradamus, How an Obscure Renaissance Astrologer Became the Modern Prophet of Doom


Author: Stephane Gerson


Description: Gerson explores the life -- and afterlife -- of Michel de Nostredame, the seer whose Prophecies have been interpreted, adopted by successive media, and eventually transformed into the Gospel of Doom for the modern age. Born in the South of France, he settled in Salon-de-Provence, where you can still find his home and tomb.



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 and Camargue Map


Author: Michelin Travel Publications


Description: A detailed local map in Michelin's ZOOM series, featuring a place name index and insets of local cities and towns. Scale 1:160,000.



Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong


Author: Jean-Benoit Nadeau, Julie Barlow


Description: This lively, astute examination by two Canadian journalists tackles the contradictions and complexities of the French character, paying particular attention to the question of why the French resist globalization.



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.



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.



Vanished Kingdoms, How Nations Rise and Fall


Author: Norman Davies


Description: In this marvelously tale of lost civilizations and the shifting fate of nations, historian Norrman Davies presents the stories of 14 now all-but-forgotten European states, including Aragon, Etruria and the Two Burgundies. Not just an intiguing look at history, these tales will also incite wanderlust.





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