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Provence Canal Voyage: The Flavor of France by Barge

Program Number: 21556RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/8/2015 - 4/18/2015; 4/13/2016 - 4/23/2016; 5/11/2016 - 5/21/2016; 9/14/2016 - 9/24/2016; 10/12/2016 - 10/22/2016;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $4,099.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Barge Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 25; 9 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Experience the deep history, sun-splashed environments and local flavors of Provence on this voyage aboard a “hotel barge” exclusively chartered for a small Road Scholar group. Find Roman ruins, fortified medieval towns and cafe-lined streets that inspired artists like van Gogh. Absorb the rhythms of Provencal life along the canals and encounter wildlife from birds to wild horses in the Camargue.

Activity Particulars

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

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Avignon, 1 night; aboard Anne-Marie, 6 nights; Narbonne, 1 night, Toulouse 1 night.

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

Days 2-3: Arrival Marseille (France) / coach to Avignon / embark Anne-Marie:

At the imposing Papal Palace, learn the story of the Avignon Papacy, during which seven popes led the Catholic Church from France. Continue through Avignon on foot before boarding the barge. Lodging: Stylish hotel in the center of Avignon.

Day 4: Beaucaire:

Discover the picturesque mountain village Les Baux-de-Provence and the charming town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Then set sail down the Rhone to Beaucaire.

Day 5: Arles:

Explore the ancient ruins of this important Roman city including the Arles Amphitheater. Find city scenes that van Gogh captured in masterpieces like “Cafe Terrace at Night.”

Day 6: Saint-Gilles:

Today learn about the unique environment of the Camargue, a wetland region home to bulls, wild horses and 400 species of birds including flamingos.

Day 7: Aigues-Mortes / Palavas-les-Flots:

Follow the Canal du Rhone-a-Sète to the medieval walled town Aigues-Mortes. Learn about salt production in the Rhone Delta at a salt evaporation pond.

Day 8: Sète:

Absorb the beauty of your surroundings during your final day aboard the barge. Experience Sète, a lovely Mediterranean resort where many artists have found inspiration.

Days 9-10: Disembark / coach to Narbonne / coach to Toulouse:

Venture into the hills and vineyards of Languedoc. Visit a lovely Cistercian abbey en route to the fortified city of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend the day exploring Narbonne, home to one of the best covered market in France and whose fascinating history you discover as we explore the old city on the banks of the Canal du Midi. Lodging: Lovely canal-side hotel in Narbonne and airport hotel in Toulouse.

Day 11: Departure


This brand-new two-deck barge will set sail for the 2014 season. It can accommodate up to 22 Road Scholar participants on an exclusive sailing. Each cabin has a window, private bath with shower, TV and independent temperature control. Amenities include a spacious lounge with a bar, a sun deck and a Jacuzzi. Bicycles are available for you to borrow.


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
   Novotel Avignon Centre
  Avignon, France 1 night
   CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
  Avignon, France
At Sea - France, France
Aigues Mortes, France
Palavas les Flots, France
Sete, France
6 nights
   Clarion Narbonne
  Narbonne, France 2 nights
 Novotel Avignon Centre
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Hotel Novotel Avignon Centre is located near the central station and the center of Avignon, close to the Pope's Palace and the Pont d'Avignon, on the edge of the Luberon in the heart of Provence. The Hotel Novotel Avignon Centre is located among the Côtes du Rhônes, Tavel and Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: 20 BOULEVARD SAINT ROCH
AVIGNON,   France
phone: +33 )4/32747010
  Room amenities: Audible smoke alarms, safe deposit box, minibar, satellite/cable colour TV, RJ 11 outlet, 110/120 V AC, RJ 45 outlet, 220/240 V AC, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, bathtub, shower, and hairdryer in the bathroom.
  Facility amenities: The Novotel Avignon Centre offers a spa, fitness center, and a hotel restaurant and bar that opens onto a Mediterranean terrace.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Based on availability No

 CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Type: Barge
  Description: The Anne-Marie barge travels along the Canal of Provence. All cabins have a window, offer panoramic views of the scenery, and have cozy accommodations.
  Ship Information: Decks: 2 Total Cabins: 12 (11 cabins on the lower deck, 1 cabin on the upper deck) Total Passengers: 24
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +033 3 88 76 44 44
  Room amenities: All cabins have individual controls for AC and heat. Cabins are equipped with satellite television, a radio, a hairdryer and a safe for your valuables. The private en-suite facilities include a shower, toilet, sink, and include towels, but not washcloths.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include: lounge with bar, dining room, sun deck with loungers and umbrellas, barbecue deck, jacuzzi at the prow (front) of the barge, bicycles on board available for use by passengers, and free WiFi on board.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Clarion Narbonne
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Clarion Suites Narbonne Ile Du Gua offers a peaceful location along the canal and is only five minutes from the historical city center.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: 28 rue de l'Aude
Narbonne,   France
phone: +33468414414
  Room amenities: All the rooms have a private terrace, whirlpool, kitchen facilities, flat-screen television with cable, mini bar, desk, coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel has an on-site business center, which offers a computer with Internet and access to copy and fax services. There is free high-speed Internet access available in all rooms. The hotel also has a water garden, a sunbathing terrace and a bar.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Not recommended We do not recommend making additional night bookings since the airport is farther away.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program starts with orientation at the hotel in Avignon. You will be staying at Novotel Avignon Centre that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast on the last day and an early transfer to the Toulouse airport. You will be staying at Clarion Narbonne the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Driving during this program is not recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Avignon
  Nearest city or town:  Marseille
  Nearest highway: A7
  Nearest airport:  Marseille-Provence 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. Independent travelers are welcome to join this group transfer. Independent travelers may choose to take a shuttle to the Marseille train station and then take the train to Avignon. A taxi from the Marseille Airport to Avignon takes approximately one hour.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Narbonne
  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 may choose to take the train from Narbonne to Toulouse and then a taxi to the Toulouse 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: Departures from the U.S.
(Wednesday, April 8)
 In Transit Overnight: International flight to France.

Day 2: Arrival Avignon and Orientation
(Thursday, April 9)
 Afternoon: Afternoon transfer to the hotel and check-in. Take some time to unpack and to relax. 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 the hotel.
Accommodations: Novotel Avignon Centre
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Discover Avignon and Les Baux then Embark the MS Anne Marie.
(Friday, April 10)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles over cobblestone streets. Les-Baux-de-Provence does require some steeper incline.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a late morning. Check-out must be completed by 10:00 a.m. Luggage can be stored in the lobby. After checking out, we will head over on foot into the center of Avignon to explore le Palais des Papes, the Rocher des Doms and le Pont d'Avignon.
 Lunch: On your own to choose from one of the many cafés on Place de l'Horloge.
 Afternoon: This afternoon enjoy the highlights of Les-Baux-de-Provence. It offers picturesque sites and a great opportunity to learn more about Provençal culture and life.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner on board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Sail from Arles to Gallician
(Saturday, April 11)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning enjoy the highlights of Arles. Discover this cultural center and its Roman ruins, and then travel inland to find out about olive oil production in Provence. Tasting of some local products.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: The afternoon is spent cruising the Canal du Rhône heading towards Beaucaire. As we sail, enjoy a special presentation on the History of the Romans in the region by your Study Leader.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Join in on a game of French trivia.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Gallician to Aigues Mortes
(Sunday, April 12)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles over cobblestone streets.

 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: The morning learn about the Camargue as you explore the Rhone River Delta. Later enjoy some free time in Saintes Maries de la Mer.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: As we sail towards Aigues Mortes, learn about the great painters that called Provence home.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Enjoy the evening at leisure.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Sail from Aigues Mortes to Palavas-les-Flots
(Monday, April 13)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Tour of Aigues-Mortes. This old, fortified city with a rich heritage is located in the middle of the marshes and is one of the most beautiful sites in Provence.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: As we sail towards Palavas-les- Flots, learn about the Natural Park of the Camargue.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Enjoy the evening at leisure.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Palavas-les-Flots to Sète
(Tuesday, April 14)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles over cobblestone and dirt paths.

 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Discover a manade and the life of its herders during a visit by wagon. Take part in a bull sorting. Before returning to the boat, we'll have a delicious snack with products coming from the farm.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a presentation on the region's Cathar history.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Take delight in French and regional trivia.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Sète
(Wednesday, April 15)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Field trip of the Étang De Thau, famous for its shellfish. Visit of the Étang de Thau Museum, where you'll discover the shellfish farmers and fishermen. Taste some of the shellfish while taking in the beauty of the basin from a terrace.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: We will go on a field trip to explore Sète and the Mont Saint-Clair, and discover its exceptional panoramic view as well as its renowned cross and the Notre-Dame-De-La-Salette chapel.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Anne-Marie
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Disembarkment / Languedoc
(Thursday, April 16)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles over cobblestone streets.

 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: After disembarking, we will depart by coach to travel away from the coast, into the hills where we will visit a Cistercian Abbey that was part of the St. James pilgrimage route. Later, we will explore a small town in the heart of the Languedoc vineyards.
 Lunch: En route to Narbonne.
 Afternoon: We will continue exploring the countryside as we make our way to Narbonne.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Clarion Narbonne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Carcassonne / The Canal du Midi
(Friday, April 17)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles over cobblestone streets.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will explore the historic sites of Narbonne and sail the Canal du Midi on a small barge.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We will explore the fortified city of Carcassone and then you will have some free time to explore at your own pace.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner in Narbonne.
Accommodations: Clarion Narbonne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Departure from Toulouse
(Saturday, April 18)
 Depart From: We leave Narbonne in the morning and transfer for flights out of the Toulouse Airport. 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.
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Arles: Arlaten Museum
Housed in the former Laval-Castellane town house, dating back to the 15th century. The museum was created in 1896 by Frédéric Mistral, a Provençal regionalist writer, and contains costumes, furniture, tools, objects relating to religious and superstitious traditions, that illustrate life in Provence during the 19th century. For additional information, visit
  Arles: Réattu Museum
On the banks of the Rhone in the former Grand Priory of the Knights of Malta, the museum displays works by old masters (17th to 19th centuries), drawings and paintings by Picasso and contemporary art.
  Les Baux de Provence: Musée des Santons
Santons are traditionally handcrafted, miniature figures that populate the Nativity; however, all of the characters depict the typical residents of Provence. For additional information, visit
  Les-Baux-de-Provence: Musée Yves Brayer
The Musée Yves Brayer displays 100 or so canvas paintings, watercolors and drawings representative of the artists' work. For additional information, visit
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.

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-Rhone, 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.

Made in France, A Shopper's Guide

Author: Laura Morelli

Description: Both a fascinating history of France's artisanal legacy and an insider's shopping guide, the book includes illustrations, maps, a primer on French shopping culture and craft festivals.

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, A Cultural History

Author: Martin Garrett

Description: Through its architecture, literature and popular culture, Garrett analyzes and celebrates the identity of this beloved region.

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.

The Yellow House

Author: Martin Gayford

Description: Gayford chronicles three turbulent months in the daily lives of Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles, where the two worked side by side in 1888. With 60 black-and-white 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.

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