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France Along the Rhone: Provence to Paris

Program Number: 12417RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/12/2014 - 8/24/2014; 4/20/2016 - 5/2/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/16/2016; 9/15/2016 - 9/27/2016; 9/27/2016 - 10/9/2016; 10/4/2016 - 10/16/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 29; 11 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Combine Burgundy's charming countryside and Lyon's Roman and medieval past with Provence's picturesque villages and stunning natural beauty to experience the essence of the Rhone River. From Martigues to Avignon to Paris itself, discover the region's history and beauty and the world's greatest vineyards along the way.

Activity Particulars

Extensive walking along unpaved lanes and cobblestoned streets; some stairs without railings and/or uneven. Participants should be able to stand for at least one hour.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Paris, 2 nights; aboard vessel, 6 nights; Aix-en-Provence, 3 nights.

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

Days 2-3: Arrival Paris:

Explore medieval Paris and the Ile de la Cite.

Beaune / Embark Vessel

Visit the famous Hospices de Beaune.

Macon / Lyon

Travel to a family vineyard where you will taste the great wines of southern Burgundy.

Lyon / Tain L'Hermitage

Explore Lyon and enjoy an evening stroll in Tain L'Hermitage.

St. Etienne des Sorts

Discuss Provence through the ages while exploring the area.

Avignon / Arles

Discover Avignon on foot. Visit the austere Palais des Papes.

Camarges / Martigues

Get a glimpse of marine birds at the Ornithological Park. Have lunch at a manade and try local specialties. Learn about the traditions and wildlife of the Camargue.

Aix-en-Provence / Cassis / Departure

Day 10-13 Visit Cezanne's birthplace and his studio. Enjoy a walk around Aix-en-Provence. Discover the unique Calanques in Cassis.

MS Mistral

The ms Mistral is a deluxe two-deck river ship that was built in 1999. It is 110 meters long and can accommodate 158 passengers in its 78 cabins, all of which have windows. The library, restaurant, lounge-bar and sun deck can be accessed by stairs.


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
   Villa Montparnasse
  Paris, France 2 nights
   MS Camargue
  Macon, France
Lyon, France
Tain l'Hermitage, France
Avignon, France
Aix en Provence, France
Martigues, France
6 nights
   Hotel Artea
  Martigues, France
Aix en Provence, France
3 nights
 Villa Montparnasse
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Villa Montparnasse is a quaint hotel on the left bank of the Seine. The colonial-style residence is located in the 19th century intellectual elite neighborhood opposite the famed Montparnasse Cemetery and next to the apartment where Simone de Beauvoir lived. This hotel is both charming and comfortable and is one block from a pedestrian street featuring restaurants and shops. It is within walking distance of two different metro lines both with direct access to the main monuments of Paris.
  Contact info: 2, rue Boulard
Paris,  75014 France
phone: +33 (0)1 56 80 34 34
  Room amenities: In each room there is satellite TV, air conditioning, a mini-bar and a safe.
  Facility amenities: 24-hour front desk with English-speaking staff, bar / lounge, laundry service, smoke-free environment. Wifi is available in the lobby. Participants should be aware that hotel rooms in Paris are often considerably smaller than hotel rooms in the United States.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 MS Camargue
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: The MS Camargue is a deluxe two-deck river ship that was built in 1995 and renovated in 2006. It is 110 meters long and can accommodate 146 passengers in its 73 cabins, all of which have windows.
  Contact info: 12 rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67080 France
phone: +33 825 33 37 77
  Room amenities: Each cabin is equipped with a window, TV, radio, safe, and private bathroom with shower and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Dining room, lounge/bar with dance floor, TV and video in the lounge, shop, radiophone, radar, large sun deck, fully air-conditioned.
  Smoking allowed: No

 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 5 minute walk from the hotel.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: 4 Boulevard de la République
Aix-en-Provence,  13100 France
phone: +33 (0)4 42 27 36 00
  Room amenities: 50 rooms are spacious, simply furnished in traditional style and have air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, cable television with English language channels, direct-dial telephone, mini-fridge, soundproof windows, private bathroom with bathtub and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, Elevator, Soundproof Rooms, Heating, Baggage Storage, All Spaces Non-Smoking (Public and Private), Air Conditioning, Meeting Room, 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 reservations.
  Check out time: 11:30 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with orientation in the early evening at the group hotel in Paris. You will be staying at Villa Montparnasse that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast in Aix-en-Provence. You will be staying at Hotel Artea the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Trains, buses, and taxis are all available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest city or town:  Gonesse
  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. 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 departure in 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:  Aix en Provence
  Nearest city or town:  Marseille
  Nearest highway: A7
  Nearest airport:  Marseille-Provence Airport
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and depart on the group date. Independent travelers can take a taxi from the hotel to the airport or can ask the hotel for assistance in arranging a shuttle transfer.
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: Departure from the U.S.
(Tuesday, August 12)
 Depart From: International flights to France.

Day 2: Arrival and Orientation in Paris
(Wednesday, August 13)
 Arrive To: Arrivals and transfers from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Check-in at the hotel and take some time to rest 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 at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Villa Montparnasse
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Discovering Paris
(Thursday, August 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Accompanied by an expert lecturer and Paris resident, you will explore Medieval Paris and L'Île de la Cité.
 Lunch: Enjoy a chance to be a Parisian for a day. Choose to eat on a terrace, in a café, or just buy something from the local market and picnic along the Seine. Your Group Leader can assist you in making a good choice.
 Afternoon: Take some free time to explore Paris on your own. Your Group Leader will provide suggestions for activities and general information.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: Enjoy a bus ride around Paris to see the monuments in the "City of Light."
Accommodations: Villa Montparnasse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Hospices de Beaune
(Friday, August 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart Paris by coach with luggage to head toward Chalon via Beaune. We will drive though some of the world's most selective vineyards. During the drive, your Group Leader will talk about life as a French immigrant. We will stop in Beaune for an educational stroll through the fortified city, capital of the Burgundy wine trade.
 Lunch: On your own.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an on-site lecture at the famous Hospices de Beaune. We will then depart for Chalon where we will board the MS Camargue.
 Dinner: On board the MS Camargue. There will also be an orientation that will cover all safety aspects during the cruise, as well as drink cards and deposits for the T.V. remote.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Mâcon / Lyon
(Saturday, August 16)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: Enjoy a walking tour in the old town of Mâcon.
 Lunch: On board the MS Camargue.
 Afternoon: We will travel to a family vineyard where you will have the opportunity to taste the great wines of southern Burgundy and talk with a cellar master about his work.
 Dinner: On board the MS Camargue.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Lyon / Tain L'Hermitage
(Sunday, August 17)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: We will look ahead in time to examine urban development during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as we explore Lyon, a World UNESCO Heritage city. Lyon sits at the confluence of two great rivers: the Saône and Rhône. Long at the center of European trade because of its strategic location, the city serves as a midway point between the North and South.
 Lunch: On board the MS Camargue.
 Afternoon: Take part in an on-board discussion titled, "The Wine Regions Along the Rhône and the Origin of Wine."
 Dinner: On board the MS Camargue.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening stroll in Tain L'Hermitage with your Group Leader.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: St. Etienne des Sorts
(Monday, August 18)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: As we cruise toward Viviers, take delight in a discussion about Provence through the centuries, revealing a melting pot of civilizations.
 Lunch: On board the MS Camargue.
 Afternoon: In St. Etienne des Sorts, on the banks of the Rhône, discover an old stone quarry turned into a wine cellar and taste the southern Rhône Valley wines. Next, enjoy a peaceful and sweet moment in the shade, discovering life in a small rural village.
 Dinner: On board the MS Camargue.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Avignon / Arles
(Tuesday, August 19)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: We will explore the medieval city of Avignon on foot. There will be a field trip to the Palais des Papes, where you learn about the history of papacy in Avignon. If time allows, you can then individually visit the Saint Benezet Bridge, known as "Le Pont d'Avignon," made famous by the children's song.
 Lunch: On board the MS Camargue.
 Afternoon: A coach will transfer you to 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. You will then have some free time to explore the market or other sites of interest in Arles.
 Dinner: On board the MS Camargue.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Camargue / Martigues
(Wednesday, August 20)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: We will board the coach to transfer from Arles to Camargue where we will enjoy a field trip to the Ornithological Park. Here, you will have the chance to get a glimpse of the wealth of marine birds that call this area home. You may even spot the elusive pink flamingo!
 Lunch: At the Manade Cavallini, a typical ranch located in the heart of the Camargue serving local specialties.
 Afternoon: There will be a lecture titled, "The Mythical Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and the Camargue Landscapes and Traditions." You will learn about the traditions and the history of the Camargue: "France's Wild West." We will start in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer with her mythical church and proceed away from the coast to better understand the Camargue's landscape and wildlife.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board the MS Camargue.
Accommodations: MS Camargue
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Martigues / Cézanne
(Thursday, August 21)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Camargue.
 Morning: We will disembark this morning and visit Martigues. We will then board the coach to transfer to Aix-en-Provence.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We will make a photo stop at the Montagne Ste. Victoire. Afterward, we will go on a field trip to Cézanne's studio which includes an on-site lecture titled, "In the Footsteps of Cézanne." You will explore the artist's birthplace and the landscape that inspired many of his paintings. We will then depart to check-in at the hotel and later take a walking tour of the Cours Mirabeau.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Aix-en-Provence
(Friday, August 22)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a walking field trip around Aix-en-Provence to discover this historic city and heart of Provence. Discover the old religious and civil districts around the cathedral and the city hall, XVII and XVIII century mansion façades, and typical squares with their fountains.
 Lunch: At a local bistro.
 Afternoon: In the Durance river valley, enjoy a visit to Silvacane abbey, a jewel of the cistercian architecture. Take a stroll in a little village with the famous Luberon mountain in the background.
 Dinner: On your own to explore the cuisine of Provence.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Cassis
(Saturday, August 23)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The coach will depart for Cassis where you will discover the famous and unique Calanques (deep narrow bays). You will also learn about their geological history and how they determined the way of living in this little Provençal village.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant at the Old Port.
 Afternoon: The coach will take us back to Aix-en-Provence via the crest road. As you travel along, your guide will discuss the Mediterranean environment and the impact of civilization on the landscape. Later, enjoy some free time in Aix.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Artea
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Departure to U.S.
(Sunday, August 24)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 In Transit: Coach transfers from the hotel to Marseille airport for departures. 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.

Between Meals, An Appetite for Paris

Author: A.J. Liebling

Description: Liebling captures with stylish prose his coming-of-age in Paris in this elegant memoir, which is also a tribute to French cuisine.

Eyewitness Guide Paris

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Gorgeous, well illustrated and filled with maps, this compact book provides an excellent overview of the French capital, its history, traditions and sights.

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 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, 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.


Author: James Henry Rubin

Description: An excellent illustrated survey of Impressionism in the "Art and Ideas" series.

In a Dark Wood Wandering, A Novel of the Middle Ages

Author: Hella Haasse

Description: With a cast of thousands including Joan of Arc and the Dukes of Burgundy, this 1949 historical novel renders the political intrigue, people and texture of 15th-century Europe and of medieval court life during the Hundred Years War.

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.

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.

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).

Rhone Valley Map

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A colorful, detailed map of the Rhone Valley from Lyon to the Mediterranean at a scale of 1:200,000.

The Botanist and the Vintner, How Wine Was Saved for the World

Author: Christy Campbell

Description: In this witty book Campbell interweaves a dramatic tale of the devastation of vineyards in 1860's France with French cultural history and a tale of the mad scramble by scientists (along with witches, priests and mystics) to discover the cause and cure. The French were none too pleased that salvation (as well as the disease) came in the form of American root stock.

The Cook and the Gardener, A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside

Author: Amanda Hesser

Description: An American cook in Burgundy, the author records her recipes and growing fondness for a very French gardener, in this narrative cookbook. It includes 250 recipes and some fine observations on local people and places.

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 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.

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.

Wine Tours in the South of France

Author: Florence Hernandez

Description: With suggested itineraries, noteworthy wineries and estates and photographs throughout.

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