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The Best of Southern France: Provence and the Cote d'Azur

Program Number: 21096RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/7/2015 - 5/15/2015; 10/29/2015 - 11/6/2015; 2/19/2016 - 2/27/2016; 4/21/2016 - 4/29/2016; 5/5/2016 - 5/13/2016; 5/19/2016 - 5/27/2016; 9/8/2016 - 9/16/2016; 9/22/2016 - 9/30/2016; 10/6/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/13/2016 - 10/21/2016; 10/27/2016 - 11/4/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $2,456.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

From the green hills, sunbaked villages and lavender fields of Provence to the brilliant azure waters and billowing white sails of the French Riviera, absorb the colors — not to mention the sights, sounds and flavors — of Southern France on this journey that combines field trips led by top-notch Road Scholar experts with plenty of time for independent discoveries.


• Explore Provence’s lively open-air markets, medieval villages and natural environments.
• Discover the famed French Riviera resort of Cannes and the historic city of Nice on expert-led excursions.
• Enjoy independent time to experience this beautiful and unique region on your own.

Activity Particulars

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

Date Specific Information

5-7-2015, 10-29-2015, 2-19-2016, 4-21-2016, 5-5-2016, 5-19-2016, 9-8-2016, 9-22-2016, 10-6-2016, 10-13-2016, 10-27-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Marseille, coach to Aix-en-Provence, 4 nights; coach to Nice, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Marseille
Coach to Aix-en-Provence
4 nights

An expert-led walking excursion introduces you to Aix’s old town including the Cours Mirabeau thoroughfare, the 17th- and 18th-century mansions and the lively Provençal markets. Journey to the picturesque medieval town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to attend one of the largest open-air markets in Provence. Explore the villages of the Luberon, the hilly area made famous by the book “A Year in Provence.” Take a field trip to Arles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to examine its impressive Roman monuments. Continue to the spectacular hillside village Les Baux-de-Provence and step inside its historic fort.

Coach to Nice
3 nights

Venture to the famous French Riviera resort of Cannes for an expert-led walking excursion. Visit the Picasso Museum in Antibes, located in a historic chateau where the artist once lived. Explore Nice’s old town and the Cours Saleya square with its daily flower market. Discover the Roman ruins of Cimiez Hill. Delve into the works of two great French artists who were inspired by Nice, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, at the respective museums dedicated to them. Enjoy free time to soak up the sun and the history in this beautiful Mediterranean port city.


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.

Aix-en-Provence: Stylish hotel in the heart of old town. Nice: Four-star hotel in the city center.
Meals and Lodgings
   Aquabella Hotel
  Aix en Provence, France 4 nights
   Best Western New York
  Nice, France 3 nights
 Aquabella Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Ideally located in the heart of the old town of Aix-en-Provence, the Hotel Aquabella is situated at the foot of the ancient fortifications and in the centre of the markets of Provence. From your window, enjoy the brightness of the sun sparkling on the water of the swimming pool.
  Contact info: 2, rue des Etuves
Aix-en-Provence,  13100 France
phone: +33 4 42 99 15 00
  Room amenities: The guest rooms at the Aquabella are all air conditioned and equipped with free Wi-Fi access, a LCD television, a safe, a mini-bar, a hairdryer, and a bathrobe.
  Facility amenities: The hotel includes a restaurant and bar, 24-hour front desk, an elevator, baggage storage, air conditioning, a sauna, a fitness center, a solarium, a spa, a hot tub, Turkish bath/Steam bath, an outdoor swimming pool (Seasonal), room service, laundry and dry cleaning services, free WiFi, and fax/photocopying.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at 1-800-241-1404 for rates and bookings.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Best Western New York
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Best Western New York is a charming 3-star hotel in the heart of Nice. This elegant hotel lies near the main attractions, tourist sites, business centers, and public transport systems in Nice.
  Contact info: 44 Avenue Marechal Foch
Nice,   France
phone: +33 4 93851431
  Room amenities: All the rooms are soundproofed, equipped with air-conditioning, a LCD T.V., WiFi, a telephone, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel includes an elevator, cocktail lounge, fax/photocopy services, air conditioning, guest laundry services, and computers are available to use.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program starts with the orientation in Aix-en-Provence at 6 p.m. You will be staying at Aquabella Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends after breakfast at the hotel in Nice. You will be staying at Best Western New York the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. All U.S. citizens require a passport that is valid a minimum of 6 months after their return date to the US. If you must apply for a new passport, plan to allow six to eight weeks for this process. Please bring along a photocopy of the first page of your passport (the page that has your photograph and information); in the event that your passport is lost or stolen, a copy of it will be of great assistance.
  Parking availability:
Not available or recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: TGV is a great option to travel in France and both Nice and Aix-en-Provence are connected to Paris by TGV.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Aix en Provence
  Nearest highway: A7, A46, A54, A9 and A8
  Nearest airport:  Marseille-Provence International Airport
  Transportation to site: A transfer from the airport in Marseille to the hotel in Aix-en-Provence is provided for all participants who purchased air from Road Scholar and arrive on the program start date. If you arrive early or want to make your own way to the hotel, taxis from the Marseille (MRS) airport to the hotel in Aix-en-Provence are available and cost about 40 Euro. We do not recommend using buses. Taxis from the Aix-en-Provence TGV station into the city will cost about 20 to 25 Euro.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Nice
  Nearest airport:  NCE
  Transportation from site: A transfer from the hotel to the airport in Nice is provided for all participants who purchased air from Road Scholar and depart on the program end date. If you are departing later or want to make your own way to the airport, taxis from the hotel in Nice to the airport are available and cost about 25 Euro. We do not recommend using buses. Taxis from the Hotel to the TGV station will cost no more than 10 Euro.
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 for France
(Thursday, May 7)
 In Transit: International flight to Marseille.

Day 2: Arrival in Marseille / Transfer to Aix-en-Provence
(Friday, May 8)
 Morning: NOTE FOR PARTICIPANTS COMBINING THIS PROGRAM WITH PROGRAM 21095 ending in Paris CDG: Because these programs are designed to be taken together, your transportation to Aix-en-Provence from Paris has been arranged by Road Scholar and is complimentary. Please see details of program below for start time on this day. All other participants will have individual transfers from the airport to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Check in at the hotel in Aix-en-Provence and take some time to relax and to freshen up before orientation. We will gather in our private meeting room at 6 p.m. 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.
 Evening: Enjoy exploring the old city at night during a walking tour.
Accommodations: Aquabella Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Aix-en-Provence Old Town / The Local Provençal Market
(Saturday, May 9)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart on foot for a walking field trip around Aix-en-Provence. Discover the old religious and civil districts around the cathedral and the city hall, XVII and XVIII century mansions façades and typical squares with their fountains, as well as the Cours Mirabeau. In addition, we will explore the various Saturday markets; Saturday is the busiest market day and each square offers a different variety of stalls.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time to explore at your own pace. Saturday is the best day to check out the shops and to experience the Old Town on your own.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Aquabella Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Market / The Sights and Perched Villages of the Luberon
(Sunday, May 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore one of the largest markets in Provence and one of the largest antique markets in the world. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a picturesque Medieval town that offers a sumptuous setting for a Sunday market. Follow your guide as you learn the history of this small town and also sample some of the local specialties and learn about how they are made. Afterward, enjoy some time to explore the vendor stalls at your leisure.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: We will depart by coach to explore some of the lesser visited sites of the Luberon, a region made famous by Peter Mayle's book, "A Year in Provence." We will stop to see the outside of the Abbey of Senanque, walk the streets of Gorde and as we cross over the Luberon mountains, we will stop in the village of Lourmarin before making our way back to Aix-en-Provence.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Aquabella Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Arles / Roman History / Van Gogh / Les-Baux-de-Provence
(Monday, May 11)

Note: Today's activities include travel by coach, climbing of stairs, and walking on cobblestones.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach to take a tour of the Roman and art city of Arles. Eight of Arles' Roman and Romanesque Monuments and 65 acres of downtown are considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. As part of our visit, we explore the old town on foot and discover a few of these special sites. In addition, you will learn about the work and places that inspired Van Gogh while he lived in Arles. You will then have time to continue the morning at leisure to discover the city on your own.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: We will depart this afternoon for Les-Baux-de-Provence. This fortified village, with its interesting history, offers some of the most picturesque views of Provence. We will visit and learn about the sites of this fortress. Note: There are many stairs and some climbing involved on cobblestone streets to explore the fortress. Please wear comfy footwear!
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Aquabella Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Transfer to Nice / St. Paul de Vence
(Tuesday, May 12)

Note: Today's activities include over two hours of travel by coach and a walking tour.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach (with luggage) for Nice. We will drive through Cannes and along the beachfront before heading to Antibes. We will take a field trip to Chateau Grimaldi and the Picasso Museum where you will learn about Picasso, his work and his time in France. We will then take the coach from Antibes to St. Paul de Vence.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Explore the village of St. Paul de Vence on your own or visit the Maeght Foundation. We will then depart by coach from St. Paul de Vence to the Matisse Chapel in Vence. Afterwards, we will depart for the hotel in Nice.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Best Western New York
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: An Introduction to Nice: The Flower Market and the Old Town
(Wednesday, May 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Led by our local expert, drive by and explore the sites of Nice. We will see the Russian Orthodox church, stop at Castle Hill for a panoramic view of the city, and drive along the Promenade des Anglais before reaching the old town and the flower market. Later this morning, led by our local expert, discover and savor the flavors of Nice as you explore the famous local food and flower market and stop at artisan shops where local specialties are made.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a brief walking tour of the old town with your expert guide. Afterward, you may choose to join the coach to return to the hotel or to explore the old town or other sites on your own.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Best Western New York
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Nice's Ancient Past and Her Artists: Chagall, Matisse, and Cimiez Hill
(Thursday, May 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart by coach for the Cimiez neighborhood. We will begin with a brief walk around the Monastery Gardens that feature the old ruins of Nice's Roman past and the Matisse Museum. At the museum, you will see a comprehensive collection of Henri Matisse's artworks from all periods of his life: from the first paintings made in 1890 to the famous gouache cut outs, 236 drawings, 218 engravings and the complete presentation of the books illustrated by the artist. Later in the morning, we will travel down Cimiez Hill to the Chagall Museum. This museum features biblical scenes illustrated in 17 large paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries, 205 preparatory sketches, 39 gouaches (1930), 105 engravings (1956) and 215 lithographs. After the visit, we will transfer to the hotel. However, you may choose to stay in the area to explore on your own.
 Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.
 Afternoon: Take the afternoon to leisurely discover Nice's small streets and waterfront. We suggest visiting the Museum of Fine Arts that offers an excellent collection of French painters from all periods, or for the more contemporary art lover, the Nice Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is an excellent choice.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner.
Accommodations: Best Western New York
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Departure from Nice
(Friday, May 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Individual shuttle transfer to the Nice (NCE) airport. Transfer time is dependent on flight time and will happen between 6 a.m. and Noon. Check out is at 11:30 a.m. 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 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, this novel introduces Antoine Verlaque, the handsome and seductive chief magistrate, and his sometime love interest, law professor Marine Bonnet.

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.

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.

Lunch in Provence

Author: Rachael Mckenna

Description: A richly evocative blend of photographs, recipes, and literary and historical citations, this lovely book features thirty-five Mediterranean lunchtime recipes from Michelin three-star chef Jean-Andre Charial.

Matisse and Picasso, The Story of their Rivalry and Friendship

Author: Jack Flam

Description: Jack Flam explores the compelling, competitive, parallel lives of these two artists and their very different attitudes toward the idea of artistic greatness, toward the women they loved, and ultimately toward their confrontations with death.

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.

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, From Minstrels to the Machine

Author: Ford Madox Ford

Description: Madox Ford probes the history, attractions and pleasures of the region in this spirited classic, with illustrations by his companion Biala, written during their time on the Mediterranean coast.

The Dream of Scipio

Author: Iain Pears

Description: An unusually rich and illuminating historical novel, The Dream of Scipio interweaves stories from three separate centuries in the Rhone Valley, ancient Roman, Medieval and 20th century.

The Magic of Provence, Pleasures of Southern France

Author: Yvone Lenard

Description: The adventures and misadventures of a French woman and her American husband who leave L.A. for a home in the Luberon mountains.

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 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.

The Yellow House

Author: Martin Gayford

Description: Gayfor chronicles the turbulent three months and texture of the daily lives of Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles, where they worked side by side in 1888. With 60 b&W 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.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Passionate Eye

Author: Pascal Bonafoux

Description: From Paris to Asnieres, Amsterdam and Provence, this jewel of a book traces the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh, the spirited, self-destructive painter who celebrated the south of France. Engaging, compact and illustrated with hundreds of photographs.

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