Road Scholar : Home
France Along the Rhone: Provence to Paris

Program Number: 12417RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/2/2015 - 10/14/2015; 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: $3,658.00 - 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; Low Fat; Low Salt    

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.

The 9/4/16 and 10/4/16 departures will sail on the MS Van Gogh. The 4/20/16, 9/15/16 and 9/27/16 departures will sail on the MS Mistral.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

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

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

Days 2-4: Arrival Marseille / coach to Aix-en-Provence:

Follow in the footsteps of Cezanne with a historian by exploring the sites that still exemplify his work today.Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Day 5: Embark vessel / Martiques:

At a working ranch, or manade, learn about the traditions and history of the Camargue.

Day 6: Arles / Avignon:

Discover Arles' Roman roots and explore the city's amphitheater. Learn about medieval history and the papacy in Avignon.

Day 7: Viviers:

Experience the essence of Provence in a small village along the Rhone. Learn about traditional rural values and the challenges of preserving Provencal history and culture.

Day 8: Tain-l'Hermitage:

Learn about the wine trade in the Rhone region from the time of the Romans to today, then taste some of the regional wines and local products.

Day 9: Lyon:

Marvel at the beauty and technology created more than 2,000 years ago at the Saint Romain en Gal settlement and the Chaponost Aquaduc.

Day 10: Macon:

Explore the monastic city of Tournus, then taste the great wines of Southern Burgundy.

Days 11-13: Chalon-sur-Saone / disembark / coach to Paris / departure:

Journey through the world’s most select vineyards en route to Paris. Walk the historic fortified city of Beaune and later take time to explore Paris. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

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
   Hotel Cezanne
  Aix en Provence, France 3 nights
   CroisiEurope MS Mistral
  Martigues, France
Avignon, France
Viviers, France
Tain l'Hermitage, France
Lyon, France
6 nights
   Villa Beaumarchais
  Paris, France 2 nights
 Hotel Cezanne
Type: Hotel
  Description: Hotel Cezanne is the first Boutique Hotel in Aix en Provence. The hotel is four stars rated and is exclusively non smoking.
  Contact info: 40, avenue Victor Hugo
Aix-en-Provence,  13100 France
phone: +33 442 911 111
  Room amenities: All 55 rooms are uniquely designed and equipped with a mini bar, national and international TV, an Italian shower, a safe, a professional hair dryer, and a charging station. Some rooms are adjoining, and once the external door is closed, they form a small apartment.
  Facility amenities: Hotel Cezanne includes the following amenities: a fitness room, massage room, two self service bars available in the lounge and on the terrace(summer only), free Wi-Fi is available across the whole hotel, business center with printer available,and laundry service available from Monday to Sunday. The hotel is renowned for its breakfast served daily from 6.30 am to noon, in the lounges and in the rooms. In summer it can be taken on the terrace.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The MS Mistral sails on the Rhone and the Saone.
  Ship Information: Year Built: 1999 Refurbished Year: 2007 Length: 361 feet Width: 37 feet Total Cabins: 79 Total Passengers: 158 Cabin Size: 118 sq. feet
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +0033 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 are provided with towels, but not washcloths.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include: dining room, lounge/bar with dance floor, TV and video in the lounge, shop, sun deck with deckchairs, and free WiFi on board. Also included: central heating, 220V electricity, air conditioning, radar, and radiophone.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Villa Beaumarchais
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Villa Beaumarchais is located in the heart of the Marais district and is just a short distance from the Carnavalet Museum.
  Ship Information: .
  Contact info: 5 rue des Arquebusiers
Paris,  75003 France
phone: +33 (#)1 40 29 14 00
  Room amenities: All the rooms include satellite television, air conditioning, a telephone, internet access, a minibar, a safe, and a private bathroom with a hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers free WiFi in public areas, a bar, a business center, and a fitness room.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after:  Road Scholar can reserve additional nights at a special rate at this program hotel. Please contact Road Scholar at 1-800-241-1404 for our special rate and to make a reservation. Please call at least 45 days prior to your program departure to ensure availability of the Road Scholar special rate which includes taxes and breakfast.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with orientation in the early evening at the group hotel in Aix-en-Provence. You will be staying at Hotel Cezanne that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast on the final program day in Paris. You will be staying at Villa Beaumarchais 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:  Aix en Provence
  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 may take a bus from the Marseille airport to Aix-en-Provence that leaves every 30 minutes on the hour. Taxis from Marseille Airport to Aix-en-Provence take 20 minutes.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest city or town:  Gonesse
  Nearest highway: A1
  Nearest airport:  Charles de Gaulle 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. 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.
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.
(Friday, October 2)
 In Transit: International flights to France.

Day 2: Arrival and Orientation in Aix-en-Provence
(Saturday, October 3)
 Arrive To: Arrive in Marseille and transfer to the program hotel in Aix-en-Provence.
 Afternoon: Check-in at the hotel and then 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 nearby restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Cezanne
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Cézanne in Aix
(Sunday, October 4)
 Breakfast: Buffet 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, 17th and 18th century mansions' façades, typical squares with their fountains and the Cours Mirabeau.
 Lunch: At a local bistro.
 Afternoon: This afternoon there will be an on-site lecture titled, "In the Footsteps of Cézanne." Explore the artist's birthplace and the landscape that inspired many of his paintings. We will then take the coach to return to the hotel.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Cezanne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: The Classic Coastal Village of Cassis
(Monday, October 5)
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, the coach will depart to Cassis where you will discover the famous and unique calanques (deep narrow bays). Learn about their geological history and how they determined the way of living in this little Provençal village.
 Lunch: At the old port.
 Afternoon: The coach will transfer you back to Aix via the crest road. As you travel along, your guide will discuss the Mediterannean environment and the impact of civilization on the landscape. Upon your return, take the rest of the afternoon to explore Aix.
 Dinner: On your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Cezanne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The Camargue Landscapes and Traditions
(Tuesday, October 6)
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning you will explore the manade and learn about daily life on the ranch, with its roots in the traditions and history of the Camargue.
 Lunch: At Manade Cavallini, a typical ranch or bull farm located in the heart of the Camargue serving local specialties.
 Afternoon: Our coach departs for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You will have an on-site lecture titled, "The Mythical Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer and the Camargue Landscapes and Traditions." You will learn about the traditions, wildlife and history of the Camargue: France's Wild West. Next, delight in a field trip to the Omithological Park where you will have a chance to get a glimpse of the marine birds that call this area home. Perhaps you will even spot the elusive pink flamingo! The coach will then transfer you to Martigues for boarding of the ship. Dinner and orientation will take place in the evening. Orientation will cover all safety aspects during the cruise, as well as drink cards, deposits for the TV remote, and a welcome dinner.
 Dinner: Welcome cocktail and leisurely dinner.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Arles' Roman Roots
(Wednesday, October 7)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning there will be a lecture on the coach titled, "Arles: France's Roman Roots in the South of France." The coach will transfer you to Arles to learn about the Roman 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 other sites of interest in Arles.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon you have time to explore Arles on your own and perhaps take a moment to appreciate the Romanesque architecture represented in Saint Trophime church. For those of you who prefer to remain with the group, you can join your expert local guide for a walking discovery of Arles, which includes some of the sites that inspired Van Gogh.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Avignon and the Palais des Papes
(Thursday, October 8)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning we will explore the medieval city of Avignon on foot. Enjoy a walking tour of the austere and imposing Palais des Papes, where we will learn about the history of papacy in Avignon. You may even get a chance to visit the Saint Benezet Bridge, known as "Le Pont d'Avignon," made famous by the children's song.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: As we cruise toward Viviers, enjoy a discussion about Provence through the centuries, revealing a melting pot of civilizations.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Enjoy an optional evening stroll in Viviers with your Group Leader.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Rural Villages and the Essence of Provence
(Friday, October 9)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning you will have the opportunity to visit a perched village upon the Rhône Valley, La Garde Adhémar, with it's beautiful rural architecture, aromatic plants garden, and local potter. Then rejoin the boat in La Voulte
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, there will be an on-board discussion titled, "The Wine Regions along the Rhone and the Origin of Wine." Later, we will take a field trip to a small wine cellar in Tain l'Hermitage where you will taste some of the regional wines paired with local specialties.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: The Northern Rhone and Historic Lyon
(Saturday, October 10)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning, we will take a short walk along the bridge that connects Vienne to visit the Roman Temple of Augustus. We will then take the coach to the Gallo Roman museum. Explore the Saint-Romain-en-Gal museum and archaeological site and learn about the everyday life of the ancient Romans. Then continue on to the Chaponost Aqueduct where you will marvel at the amazing beauty and technology created more than 2,000 years ago. Later on, the coach will depart for Lyon.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, go back in time and look at urban development in the Middle Ages and 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 due to its strategic location, the city serves as a midway point of France. Next, we will take the funicular down to Old Lyon for further exploration of the architecture, hidden traboules and alleyways of one of the greatest Renaissance sites in France. Later, enjoy some free time to explore Lyon.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Monastic Tournus and the Vineyards of Burgundy
(Sunday, October 11)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Your Group Leader will present a lecture on the history of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy and the history of France from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1477.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: You will explore the monastic city of Tournus and learn about the role of monasteries in the wine trade. Then 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: Farewell dinner and evening celebration on board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Mistral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: The Fortified City of Beaune
(Monday, October 12)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning, leave your ship behind and head towards Paris, driving past some of the world's most renowned vineyards. Stop in Beaune for an educational stroll of the fortified city, capital of the Burgundy wine trade, and enjoy an on-site lecture at the famous Hospices de Beaune.
 Lunch: On your own.
 Afternoon: As the coach travels to Paris, your group leader will talk about life as a French immigrant.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Medieval Paris and Île de la Cité
(Tuesday, October 13)
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, accompanied by an expert lecturer and Paris resident, you will explore medieval Paris and the Île de la Cité.
 Lunch: On your own.
 Afternoon: The coach will transfer those who wish to return to the hotel. Those who desire to continue exploring the city may do so, but must make their own way back for dinner.
 Dinner: The coach will transfer you to the farewell dinner a local restaurant.
 Evening: Enjoy a monument ride by bus around Paris after dinner to enjoy the "City of Light."
Accommodations: Villa Beaumarchais
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13: Departure from Paris
(Wednesday, October 14)
 Breakfast: Buffet at hotel.
 In Transit: Transfer to Charles de Gaulle airport for international flights. 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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