France

French Canal Voyage by Barge: Discover Alsace-Lorraine

Program No. 21158RJ
Immerse yourself in culture as you sail the Marne-Rhine Canal on a modern river barge, discovering grand Châteaux, picturesque vineyards, cathedrals and world-class cuisine.

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At a Glance

The region of Grand-Est, formerly Alsace- Lorraine, borders Germany and the proximity shows in its culture. But this area is also deeply, proudly French. Beginning and ending in medieval Strasbourg, this voyage on the Marne-Rhine Canal introduces you to Alsace-Lorraine’s spectacular landscapes, magnificent castles and unique customs and cuisine.
Activity Level
Varies by date
Walking up to two miles per day; uneven terrain and cobblestones common. Embark and disembark the ship via ramp. Please note on day three there will be walking up to three miles in the morning in Strasbourg in addition to the afternoon activities.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Navigate the Marne-Rhine Canal’s tunnels and watch as your ship is lifted 144 feet by the Saint-Louis-Arzviller inclined plane.
  • Learn about the arts of wine and beer making in Alsace.
  • Explore medieval Strasbourg including its famed Romanesque and high Gothic cathedral and the Palais Rohan.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Alexandra Chambon
Alexandra Chambon has been working in the river/canal cruise field since the early 2000s. She likes to share her passion and enthusiasm about her homeland of France and its culture, traditions, history, art and architecture, and she strives to make it come alive for the participants. Outside of being a Group Leader, Alexandra is a foodie and wine connoisseur, and she enjoys playing sports. She loves having convivial moments with a good glass of wine and music.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Alexandra Chambon
Alexandra Chambon View biography
Alexandra Chambon has been working in the river/canal cruise field since the early 2000s. She likes to share her passion and enthusiasm about her homeland of France and its culture, traditions, history, art and architecture, and she strives to make it come alive for the participants. Outside of being a Group Leader, Alexandra is a foodie and wine connoisseur, and she enjoys playing sports. She loves having convivial moments with a good glass of wine and music.
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All itineraries and excursions are subject to change. Weather and water conditions may affect the progress of the ship, and we may miss ports if it is not safe to dock. The operators reserve the right to change the content and duration of excursions without prior notice and so the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. Whenever possible, Road Scholar’s published daily schedule will indicate port arrival and departure times. Prior to departure, if there is a major change, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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11 days
10 nights
23 meals
9 B 6 L 8 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Strasbourg, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Strasbourg
D
Hotel de l’Europe

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

Afternoon: After you check in to the hotel and get your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. 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 Chartered Exclusively for Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. There will only be Road Scholar participants aboard the vessel. 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 to change the itinerary without prior notice. Road Scholar delivers a robust educational program in each port, and this may mean that free time in port is limited. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will give lectures and provide expert commentary throughout the program. 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: We will walk to a local restaurant and order plated meals from a select menu with beverage choices of a glass of wine and water; other beverages available for purchase. In France, restaurants take pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere where patrons can take their time and enjoy every bite. It is customary for servers to wait until everyone has finished their dish before clearing the table and bringing out the next course. Meals are accompanied by complimentary bread (“pain”) and water (“eau” or “l’eau”) so you need not ask for them. It is customary to fill wine glasses no more than half full to allow the wine room to breathe. When you have finished your meal, you may indicate to the server by placing your utensils together on the right hand side of your plate.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Strasbourg Walking Field Trip, Palais Rohan & Museums
Strasbourg
B,L,D
Hotel de l’Europe

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles, standing up to 2 hours; cobbled stone streets, inclined terrain, even and uneven ground.

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

Morning: We will head out with a local expert on a walking field trip to explore this place where people have lived for thousands of years. We will focus on the section of Strasbourg called “La Petite France” and visit the cathedral famed for its beauty.

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

Afternoon: We will continue our exploration and walk to the Palais Rohan, former residence of the Prince-Bishops of Strasbourg. It was designed by the principal architect to the king of France and is regarded as one of the finest structures of the 18th century, virtually unchanged since its completion in 1742. Today, it houses the Archaeological Museum, Decorative Arts Museum, and Fine Arts Museum. After an introduction by our Group Leader, we will have time for a self-directed study to see what interests each of us most. We will return to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of a glass of wine, beer, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
The Alsace Wine route & Colmar
Strasbourg
B
Hotel de l’Europe

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 3 miles during scheduled activities; cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our morning filed trip will take us through the Alsace wine route. We will travel through picturesque villages and vineyards and have a wine tasting in one of the most famous vineyards.

Lunch: 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.

Afternoon: After arrival in Colmar, enjoy a walking field trip in the historic Old Town of Colmar including entrance to the Bartholdi Museum to explore the history and works of the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. We will then have some time for independent exploration before returning to the hotel.

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.

DAY
5
Struthof Concentration camp, Haut Koenigsbourg, Embark Barge
Lagarde
B,D
CroisiEurope’s Madeleine

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 70 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles during scheduled activities; cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge, the self-serve breakfast buffet offers a rotating variety of choices.

Morning: We will check out and then drive to the Struthof Concentration Camp.Opened in 1941, Struthof is the only structure of its type on French soil. 52,000 prisoners were forced to work in the quarry near the camp. 22,000 people died there, often of hunger and exhaustion. But some also died in an "experimental" gas chamber which makes this camp an essential place of remembrance.

Lunch: 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.

Afternoon: Next we will enjoy a filed trip to the imposing chateau of Haut Koenigsbourg with a local expert. Take in the impressive views over the Rhine Valley. We will have some time for independent exploration before transferring to the barge. We will regroup at a designated time and place, board a motorcoach, and ride to Lagarde where the barge is docked. After boarding and getting your cabin, take some time to freshen up and relax. We will gather when announced for the crew’s orientation on safety and ship regulations

Dinner: Aboard the barge, we will have a 3-course meal with beverage choices of select wines and beer, fruit juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. The barge will remain docked in Largarde overnight.

DAY
6
Lagarde to Xouaxange, Sarrebourg
Xouaxange
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Madeleine

Activity note: Stepping on/off the barge. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge, the self-serve breakfast buffet offers a rotating variety of choices

Morning: We will gather aboard the barge for a lecture by Group Leader on navigation and the history of the Alsace-Lorraine canal. As we continue our journey towards Xouaxange, we will pass through the Réchicourt lock, one of the largest in France, and on into lakes.

Lunch: Aboard the barge, we will have a 3-course meal with beverage choices of select wines and beer, fruit juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will stop en route to Xouaxange for a walking field trip with our Group Leader in Sarrebourg at the foot of the Vosges Mountains. It was once an imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire and has rich historical diversity. We will visit its church that features unique stained glass windows by Marc Chagall.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. The barge is scheduled to arrive in Xouaxange and dock after midnight.

DAY
7
Xouaxange to Lutzelbourg, Inclined Plane, Glass Works
Lutzelbourg
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Madeleine

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain. Standing for up to 2 hours; even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: As we glide towards Lutzelbourg, the Group Leader will give us a lecture on the people and history of Alsace-Lorraine that was settled thousands of years ago by Celts. It was later taken by the Romans who prized its agriculture. After the Roman Empire, the area was controlled by Germanic and Frankish tribes, then the Holy Roman Empire, then the Habsburgs, then France. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, the German empire annexed the region. After World War I, it reverted to France but Germany took control again during World War II before returning to the French fold. While such tumult was at times calamitous for the people who lived here, it resulted in a richly distinctive cultural heritage that lives on today.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: We will encounter the Saint-Louis-Arzviller “inclined plane” — a lift built in 1969 that moves boating traffic nearly 150 feet (45 meters) up or down the hill, thereby avoiding a series of 17 locks. This remarkable feat of engineering is the only transverse boat lift of its kind in Europe. We will step off the barge in Arzviller for a field trip to a local “cristallerie” — a crystal workshop specializing in the art of hand blowing and cutting crystal. This business, located at the foot of the incline, has been family operated for over 25 years. The tradition of glass works in the region goes back to the medieval period.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. The barge will remain docked in Lutzelbourg overnight.

DAY
8
Lutzelbourg to Saverne, Châteaux de Lutzelbourg & Haut Barr
Saverne
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Madeleine

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours; cobblestone streets, uneven and slightly inclined terrain, unavoidable steps at castle.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: After arriving in Lutzelbourg, we will join our Group leader and discover the village. If you prefer to go hiking, you will have the option to set out on a walking field trip to see the partly reclaimed ruins of a castle originally built in the 11th century. At an elevation of 980 feet (298 km), it has views of villages in the Zorn Valley. IMPORTANT: Please note that this is very steep and you will need hicking shoes as it could be slippery)

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: For our next field trip, we will visit the Château de Haut Barr (Hohbarr in German), situated at an altitude of more than 1,500 feet (460 meters). For this reason, it has often been called “the eye of Alsace.” The original structure dates from c. 1000 CE, but was abandoned in 1770.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. The barge will remain docked in Saverne overnight.

DAY
9
Saverne to Waltenheim, Kochersberg, Alsatian wines & beers
Waltenheim
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Madeleine

Activity note: Walking up to 2.5 miles, standing up to 2 hours; cobblestone streets, uneven and slightly inclined terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We will disembark the barge and enjoy a walking field trip of Saverne with a local expert to explore this relatively unknown but charming town. Among its highlights are the Grand Rue and Place de la Licorne (Place of the Unicorn) — the town’s emblem — Taverne Katz dating from 1605 with its façade of sculpted timbers, the 12th-century Notre Dame Church, and the Récollets Monastery founded in the 14th century.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: Free time on board. As we go along, we will see the charming villages of Hochfelden, and Schwindratzheim.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. The barge will remain docked in Waltenheim overnight.

DAY
10
Waltenheim to Strasbourg, Free Time
Strasbourg
B,L,D

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile, standing up to 1 hour; uneven and inclined paths.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge. .

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach and make our way through the beautiful Kochersberg region with its rolling hills, lush fields, and quaint villages with half-timbered homes. With an expert, we will explore the Maison du Kocherberg museum, where we will learn about local history and traditions, and have the chance to see antique and modern objects from the area. Continuing on by motorcoach, we will go to Hochfelden to visit the Villa Meteor. With an expert, we will uncover the family history of the Meteor’s and their brewery from 1640 to present day. Additionally, we will learn about beer making and even have a chance to taste some local brews.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: As we sail along, we will gather for a lecture by our Group Leader on the four different appellations of Alsatian wines and the vineyards they come from. Our lecture will culminate in an opportunity to taste the wines and learn how to differentiate among them.

Dinner: Aboard the barge, share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We will float through Strasbourg’s old town, centerpiece of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site known as the Grande-Île. At its heart is the renowned Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, more than a thousand years old. Prepare for disembarkation and departure in the morning.

DAY
11
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Disembarkation by 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge. 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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