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12417
France

The Best of the Rhône River From Provence to Paris

Alongside local scholars, explore the Rhône aboard a deluxe river ship, discovering ancient vineyards, Old World villages, Provençal history and the artistic legacy of Paul Cezanne.
Rating (5)
Program No. 12417RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
4,699
France

The Best of the Rhône River From Provence to Paris

Alongside local scholars, explore the Rhône aboard a deluxe river ship, discovering ancient vineyards, Old World villages, Provençal history and the artistic legacy of Paul Cezanne.
Length
12 days
Starts at
4,699
Program No. 12417 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

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 Rhône River. From Martigues to Avignon to Paris itself, discover the region’s history and beauty and the world’s greatest vineyards along the way.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn about the wine trade in the Rhône region from the time of the Romans to today, then taste some of the regional wines and local products.
  • Follow in the footsteps of Cezanne with a historian and visit sites reflected in his art.
  • Uncover the rich papal history of Avignon at the Palais des Papes, or Popes' Palace.

General Notes

Current Events in Paris: Due to the fire at Notre Dame, the cathedral is closed to visitors. Road Scholar programs that visit île de la Cité will be able to see the outside of the cathedral, but we will not be able to go inside.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Markets of Provence: Food, Antiques, Crafts, and More
by Marjorie Williams
An in-depth pocket guide to 30 of the best markets in Provence. Dive into the heart of Provencal culture and navigate the markets like a local with maps, tips, and handy phrases.
The New Paris
by Lindsey Tramuta
Move past the clichés and learn about what makes up Paris today. Explore the open-minded sensibility, diverse populations, and hidden corners of The New Paris.
The Secret Life of the Seine
by Mort Rosenblum
After losing his Paris apartment, Rosenblum, a born storyteller, takes to a houseboat moored on the Seine. The result is this entertaining tour of the places and people he encounters during his explorations along the river.
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
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 Paris
by Robert Coles
A fast-moving, short survey of French history with a focus on Paris from its foundation, through the heady days of revolution and up to modern times.
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
by Joan DeJean
A captivating history of the growth, design, and planning of Paris, telling the story of how the modern city came to be.
Murder in the Marais
by Cara Black
Literate and thrilling, with a strong sense of the geography and flavor of Paris, the first in a series of mysteries starring Aimee Ledoc shows off the French-American detective's wit and wile. The series continues with Murder in Belleville (FRN562), Murder in the Sentier (FRN563) and many more.
The Hotel Majestic
by Georges Simenon
The most famous fictional detective in France, Maigret, tackles a case in the heart of Paris.
Made in Marseille: Food and Flavors from France's Mediterranean Seaport
by Daniel Young
An enticing portrait of a historically mischievous town, followed by a robust collection of recipes.
The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile
by Edwin Mullins
Grounded in the architecture and papal legacy in 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.
F is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders
by Piu Eatwell
An alphabetized catalogue of quirky French culture and history tidbits.
The Food & Wine of France: Eating & Drinking from Champagne to Provence
by Edward Behr
Behr seeks out the best of French food, in encounters from Champagne to Provence, to tell the stories of French artisans and chefs who work at the highest level. He shares what he learns from these experts on French traditions and how to best enjoy this food.
The Yellow House
by Martin Gayford
Gayford 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.
Provence A-Z
by Peter Mayle
A companion to all things Provencal, from bouillabaisse to lavender and vinaigre, by the British expatriate and Francophile Peter Mayle.
Two Towns in Provence
by M. F. K. Fisher
Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking both with anecdote and loving description.
Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light
by Tyler Stovall
A history of black Americans who settled in Paris, France, from 1900 to the present.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris
by John Baxter
Australian critic and writer Baxter draws on his second career as a literary tour guide in his adopted city for this witty memoir, laced with terrific tales.
My Life in France
by Julia Child
The touching and famous story of Julia Child in France, where she learned to cook and fell in love with French cuisine, all in her own words.
The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris
by Edmund White
A 'flaneur' is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through city streets in search of adventure and fulfillment. Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians.
Provence: Food, Wine, Culture and Landscape
by Lars Boesgaard
A stunning portrait of an alluring, sun-drenched region. Whet your appetite for Provence with over 700 jaw-dropping images of the food, landscape, and local people.
Markets of Paris
by Dixon Long & Marjorie Williams
An in-depth guide to the best markets in Paris. Dive into the heart of French culture and navigate the markets like a local with maps, tips, and handy phrases.
A Year in Provence
by Peter Mayle
The original best-selling tale of an ex-pat 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.
Four Queens, the Provencal Sisters who Ruled Europe
by Nancy Goldstone
Transporting you back to back to the apogee of independent Provençal power in the Middle Ages, Goldstone captures the drama of 13th-century Europe in this history of the four daughters of the count of Provence -- future queens of France, England, Germany and Sicily.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook
by Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
Cezanne and Provence: The Painter in His Culture
by Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer
Cezanne departed from Paris in 1886 to permanently resettle in his native Aix-en-Provence. This book explores the importance of this place for the artist as well as the regionalist politics of his day.
Van Gogh in Arles
by Alfred Nemeczek
A study of Van Gogh in the stunning setting of Arles in Provence, the place of his death.
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12 days
11 nights
26 meals
10 B 7 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Marseille, Aix, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Aix en Provence
D
Adagio Aix-en-Provence Centre

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. On “Chartered Exclusively for Road Scholar” programs there will be other Road Scholar group(s) aboard the vessel. If another group is having a lecture during the voyage when your group does not have planned activities, please feel free to attend the lecture. When a program is not “Chartered Exclusively,” you are invited to take advantage of activities and events aboard ship that are separate from the Road Scholar program. All port stops and field trips are subject to change as weather and river conditions may affect the itinerary. River conditions could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and sometimes miss ports because it is not safe to dock. Therefore, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. Additionally, the time available in each port is set by the cruise line and the cruise line reserves the right change the itinerary without prior notice. When possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times. Road Scholar delivers a robust educational program in each port, and this may mean that free time in port is limited. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase. French restaurants take pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere where patrons expect to take their time, savor every bite, and set the pace of the meal, requesting “l’addition” — the check — only when they are ready. Meals are accompanied by complimentary “pain” (bread) and “eau” or “l’eau” (water), so you need not ask for them. When wine is offered, it is customary to fill your glass only half way so the wine can breathe and to be sure everyone has a share. Servers wait until everyone at the table has finished their dish before clearing and bringing the next course. To indicate that you have finished your meal, place your utensils together on the right hand side of your plate.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Historic Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne Studio
Aix en Provence
B,L,D
Adagio Aix-en-Provence Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 3 miles, approximately 1/2 hour over the course of the day. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 1.5 hours at a time during field trips; cobblestone streets; even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, fruit, cheese, breads, jam and butter, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our Group Leader is a licensed professional “Guide-Conférencier” in human and social sciences who will give lectures, accompany field trips, and provide expert commentary throughout the program. We will set out with our Group Leader on a walking field to explore Aix focusing on its history, culture, and architectural heritage. Once the provincial capital, it became known as the Florence of Provence for the nobility and grandeur of its public and private edifices. From the outside, we’ll see the Saint Sauveur Cathedral, the Musée du Viele Aix in the Estienne de Saint-Jean mansion, the Archbishop’s place, Town Hall, Albertas Square, and the Palace of Justice. This is also the birthplace of Paul Cézanne and the landscapes that inspired many of his paintings.

Lunch: At a local restaurant we'll enjoy a plated meal plus wine or soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach and ride to the atelier of Paul Cézanne. His house in Aix is one of the most remarkable artists’ studios in the world. Preserved as he left it, it is filled not just with the objects he painted but also — with his hat still sitting on its peg and a glass of wine on the table — a sense of the man himself. We will take the motorcoach back to the hotel after our field trip with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Cassis, Boat Ride, Mediterranean Environment & Civilization
Aix en Provence
B,L
Adagio Aix-en-Provence Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles (48 km), approximately 1.5 hours. Getting off/on a motorboat with steps in/out; depending on tide level, boat may be slightly lower or higher than the dock; ride will last about 45 minutes with potentially unsteady wave action. Walking up to 1 mile; inclined terrain, cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to the village of Cassis. Upon arrival, we will take a boat ride to see the famous and unique calanques (deep narrow bays) found along the coastline. We will learn about their geological history and how they shaped the way of living in this little Provençal village.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the Old Port of Cassis, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will return to Aix via the Crest Road. As we ride, our Group Leader will tell us about the Mediterranean environment and the impact of civilization on the landscape. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Aix independently or just relax.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Nature Park, Camargue, Embark Ship
Martigues
B,L,D
CroisiEurope MS Camargue

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 126 miles (202 km), approximately 2.5 hours throughout the day with several stops. Walking up to 3 miles, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; uneven ground, sandy terrain, cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and load our luggage onto the motorcoach before we depart for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer — Saint Marys of the Sea — a seaside village in the Camargue wildlife refuge. We will learn about the traditions and history of the Camargue, France’s “Wild West.” The “Marys” in the town name is plural, alluding to the local legend that Mary Magdalene, Mary-Salome, Mary-Jacob, Lazarus, and possibly other disciples landed here in 45 CE after being forced to flee the Holy Land. We will walk through the village and visit its Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer church. A primitive chapel was erected here some time before the 6th century CE. The fortified structure we see today dates from the 12th century, built as a fortress to protect relics of the saints from invading Saracens. Back aboard the motorcoach, we will ride to the Parc Ornithologique Pont de Gau, a nature park specializing in ornithology. We will have an opportunity to glimpse the wealth of marine birds that call this area home. Depending on the season, we might even sight an elusive pink flamingo. We’ll then ride to a manade.

Lunch: At a typical ranch or bull farm in the heart of the Camargue, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will explore the “manade” community. Manade is an old term used to refer to the semi-feral group of Camargue cattle or horses led by a guardian or herder. We will learn about daily life here, along with traditions and history of the Camargue. From the Camargue, we will ride to the port of Martigues to embark the ship and complete boarding procedures. After some time to get our cabins and freshen up, we’ll gather for a brief orientation led by the crew on ship and safety regulations.

Dinner: In the restaurant on the upper deck, there is open seating. We will have a 3-course plated set meal with beverage choices of table wine (red and white), beer, fruit juice, soft drinks, coffee, tea, mineral water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Spend time with fellow Road Scholars or just relax; complimentary Wi-Fi onboard.

DAY
6
Arles Old Town, Avignon, Palais des Papes
La Voulte
B,L,D
CroisiEurope MS Camargue

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 26 miles, approximately 3/4 hour. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain, unavoidable steps at certain historic sites, even and uneven ground.

Breakfast: Aboard ship in the restaurant, the self-serve buffet offers hot and cold choices with beverage choices of milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: With its Roman and Romanesque monuments, Arles is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest — the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) — date back to the 1st century BCE. During the 4th century, Arles experienced a second golden age as attested by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. A local expert will lead our exploration of the old town and point out a few of these special sites. We will also have some time for independent exploration. You might like to explore the market or other sites of interest. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. We will rendezvous with the ship in Arles.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: As we glide towards Avignon, we will gather for a lecture on the History of Avignon. We will then set out on a walking field trip into the center of Avignon and explore the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes). It was built during the so called “Babylonian Captivity” — the period from 1309-1376 when the seat of the papacy was transferred to France. The magnificent palace was constructed in only 20 years and was the largest Gothic palace in Europe. We will learn about its history from the days of grandeur to near destruction and restoration before returning to the ship. Returning to the ship, we’ll have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Grignan, chocolate, Wine Regions & Wine Tasting
Lyon
B,L,D
CroisiEurope MS Camargue

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 95 miles (150 km), approximately 2 hours with stops. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will set out by motorcoach on a field trip to the Chateau de Grignan. From a fortified castle in the 11th century, it developed into a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture but was severely damaged during the French Revolution. Restoration efforts began in the 19th century and continued into the 20th. En route to rejoin the boat, we will stop in at a chocolate factory to learn where cocoa comes from and how it becomes delicious chocolate. We will all get to taste the chocolate as well!

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: As we glide towards Lyon, we will gather with our Group Leader for a lecture on important people in the history of Lyon.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Historic Lyon
Macon
B,L,D
CroisiEurope MS Camargue

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to an hour at a time during field trips; cobblestone streets, even and uneven terrain, inclines. Much of Lyon is on a large hill.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will set out by motorcoach on a field trip of Lyon where we will learn about urban development in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Lyon, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, 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. We will take the funicular down to Old Lyon for further exploration of the architecture and traboules — hidden passageways — of one of the greatest Renaissance sites in France.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will gather for a lecture on the history of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy and the history of France from the fall of the Roman Empire until 1477, when the last duke was killed in battle and Burgundy was absorbed into France.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
The hospice de Beaune
Lyon
B,L,D
CroisiEurope MS Camargue

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 45 miles, approximately 1 hour from Macon to Beaune. Walking up to 1 mile; even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach for Beaune for a field trip in this fortified city that has taken the title of “capital” of the Burgundy wine trade. We will visit the Hospices de Beaune with its distinctive glazed tiles. Founded as a hospital in 1443, it became associated with wine when a devout winemaker contributed a gift of vineyards only a few years later. The tradition continued for centuries and today the Hospices de Beaune vineyards cover about 150 acres (60 hectares).

Lunch: Lunch in Beaune.

Afternoon: While we glide along the river, our Group Leader will talk about the different wine regions found on the Rhône, regional varieties, and practices. Later, we will have an onboard tasting of some of the regional Rhône wines from Tain l’Hermitage.

Dinner: We will celebrate our final evening together on the ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Disembark Ship, Lyon, TGV to Paris
Paris
B,D
Les Jardins du Marais

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Getting on/off TGV high speed train; climbing 3-12 steps with railings to reach reserved seat on train; restrooms aboard. Participants are responsible for handling their own luggage. Approximately 2 hours to Paris. Walking up to 2 miles; even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will disembark the ship at Lyon, board a TGV train to Paris. Upon arrival to Paris we will transfer to the hotel.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like in Paris.

Afternoon: Join the Group leader on a walking field trip of the Marais area.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Paris, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Île de la Cité, Medieval Paris, Free Time
Paris
B,D
Les Jardins du Marais

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles over the course of the day during field trips; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain; expect crowds. Standing for up to 1 hour in the morning on even and uneven ground.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, fruit, cheese, breads, jam and butter, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will set out with the Group Leader by motorcoach on a walking field trip to learn more about medieval history, art and architecture on the Île de la Cité — the historic heart of Paris — where we will see the exteriors of Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie, and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. L'Ile de la Cité was originally occupied by the Iron Age Parisii tribe. Legend says they claimed their name from Prince Paris of Troy. It became a prominent settlement in Roman Gaul as Lutetia and later capital of the Merovingian dynasty. Today, it is home to some of Paris’s most iconic sites. The Sainte-Chapelle, one of the glories of Gothic architecture, was begun in 1239 and completed less than a decade later, an achievement in itself almost miraculous given its structure and decoration. Originally part of the royal palace of Capetian monarchs, it was built by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house religious relics he acquired from the Holy Land — including the Crown of Thorns! The sense of other-worldliness in the upper church comes from amazing stained glass, held within slender columns in the flamboyant Rayonnant style of architecture, creating the sensation of being inside a jewel box. The Conciergerie rises out of the Île de la Cité’s western bank. The seat of the medieval kings of France, it was expanded and fortified under Louis IX and Philip IV in the 13th century. During the French Revolution, it became a prison where many spent their last days while awaiting the guillotine, including Marie Antoinette. Notre-Dame Cathedral was conceived in 1160 by the Bishop of Paris who wanted a much grander edifice than the existing Merovingian building. Construction began in 1163 and was not finally completed until 1345. Damaged and restored a number of times — including the disastrous fire of April 2019 — it remains one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere. We will be able to admire the exterior.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: We will take a motorcoach to a local restaurant and have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, soft drink, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We will take a ride around Paris to see some of the most famous monuments and sites in the “City of Lights.” Depending on the time of year, it will either be twilight (still light out) or night. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. See your program’s Transportation Information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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