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France

Provence Canal Voyage: The Flavor of France by Barge

Program No. 21556RJ
Find out why Provence has inspired artists, writers, poets and chefs as you explore the natural wonders, famed museums, grand architecture and agricultural riches of southern France.
Length
11 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
5,199
Flights start at
1,000

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To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Accommodation Details

A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.

Apr 12 - Apr 22, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 5,199
Sep 27 - Oct 7, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 5,199
Oct 11 - Oct 21, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 5,199

DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Accommodation Details

A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.

Apr 12 - Apr 22, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 7,199
Sep 27 - Oct 7, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 7,199
Oct 11 - Oct 21, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 7,199
Oct 25 - Nov 4, 2023
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 7,199

At a Glance

Experience the deep history, sun-splashed environments and local flavors of Provence on this voyage aboard a “hotel barge” exclusively chartered for a small Road Scholar group. Find Roman ruins, fortified medieval towns and cafe-lined streets that inspired artists like van Gogh. Absorb the rhythms of Provencal life along the canals and encounter wildlife from birds to wild horses in the Camargue.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to four miles per day; some uneven terrain and cobblestones.
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.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Discover the spectacular village of Les Baux-de-Provence, set atop a rocky outcrop topped with castle ruins.
  • Taste the flavors of Provence: sun-ripened vegetables, olives, seafood, fresh herbs, wine and more.
  • Explore the medieval streets of Avignon and the monumental 14th-century Palais des Papes, home to seven Popes.
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.
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.
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.
Edible French: Tasty Expressions and Cultural Bites
by Clotilde Dusolier
French food-related idioms are explained and delightfully illustrated in this playful meditation on the French language.
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.
F is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders
by Piu Eatwell
An alphabetized catalogue of quirky French culture and history tidbits.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Tasting French Terroir: The History of an Idea
by Thomas Parker
This book explores the origins and significance of the French concept of terroir (the specific taste of a particular place), demonstrating that the way the French eat their food and drink their wine today derives from a cultural mythology that developed between the Renaissance and the Revolution.
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.
Camembert: A National Myth
by Pierre Boisard
Camembert - delectably fragrant, creamy-centered, neatly boxed - is the most popular and most famous French cheese. Originally made by hand in the Norman countryside, it is now mass-produced internationally, yet Camembert remains a national symbol for France, emblematic of its cultural identity. In this witty and entertaining book, Pierre Boisard investigates the history of Camembert and its legend.
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11 days
10 nights
25 meals
9 B 7 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Marseille, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Avignon
D
Novotel Avignon 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. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will also serve as an educational resource, providing expert lectures and commentary throughout the program. This is a Chartered Exclusively for Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. On these programs 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 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. 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 have a plated meal with beverage choices of a glass 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. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Avignon, Les Baux-de-Provence, Embarkation
Avignon
B,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 31 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day, standing up to an hour at a time during field trips; cobblestone streets, gravel/dirt paths, inclined terrain at Les Baux-de-Provence.

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

Morning: We will check-out of the hotel in Avignon and store our luggage in a secure area of the hotel. With our Group Leader, we will 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.

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: We will return to the hotel at a designated time (our Group Leader will inform us of the meeting time at Orientation) to collect our luggage. We’ll then board a motorcoach for a field trip to Les Baux-de-Provence, officially classified as one of the “Plus beaux villages de France” — most beautiful villages in France. It has an interesting history and offers some of the most picturesque views in Provence. Next, we will go ride to Arles, embark the barge, 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 vessel and safety regulations.

Dinner: Aboard the barge, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of house wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, coffee, tea, bottled mineral water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Spend time with fellow Road Scholars in the lounge, enjoy the Jacuzzi, or just relax.

DAY
4
Arles, Canal du Rhône, Roman History
Gallician
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge, have what you like from the breakfast buffet with beverage choices of juices, 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. The Group Leader will take us through the Old Town and point out a few of these special sites. We will also learn about olive oil production in Provence, accompanied by a tasting of some local products.

Lunch: Aboard the barge, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of house wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, coffee, tea, bottled mineral water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: As we glide along the Canal du Rhône towards the village of Gallician, we’ll gather for a presentation by our Group Leader on the history of Romans in the region.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure. If you would like, participate in a game of French trivia with your Group Leader.

DAY
5
Camargue, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Aigues Mortes
Aigues Mortes
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 35 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, sandy walkways, even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: From Gallician, we will board a motorcoach and ride a short distance into the Camargue, our Group Leader will tell us about the Rhône River Delta and the local ecosystem. Moving on, we will reach Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. 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.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: The barge will head towards Aigues Mortes. Along the way, we will gather with our Group Leader for a lecture on great painters who called Provence home.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Aigues Mortes, Palavas-les-Flots
Palavas les Flots
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; standing for up to 2 hours; even and uneven ground.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We’ll set out on a walking field trip to explore Aigues-Mortes. This old fortified city — founded by King Louis IX in 1240 — is situated in a corner of the Camargue, separated from the sea by salt marshes and one of the most beautiful sites in Provence. Its medieval city walls are largely intact. We will also take a short train ride with our Group Leader to see the salt marshes and visit the Salin d’Aigues-Mortes — the Salt Museum.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: Next, the barge will head towards Palavas-les-Flots. We’ll learn about the Parc Naturel Regional de Camargue — Regional Nature Park of the Camargue — during a lecture by our Group Leader.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Camargue Manade, Cathar History, To Sète
Sete
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 32 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We’ll explore a manade — a Camargue ranch — by wagon and learn about the life of its herders. We’ll also take part in a bull sorting and have a tasty snack with products grown on the farm.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a presentation by our Group Leader on the region’s Cathar history. The Cathars — pure ones — were a religious sect that found fertile ground in the Languedoc region of southern France during the 12th century CE. They rejected the Roman Catholic Church and established their own churches, bishops, and congregations. Among their beliefs were dedication to a simple life without accumulating material possessions, equality among men and women, reincarnation, and an ongoing battle between good and evil. They were also known as Albigensians after the town of Albi, a center of Cathar activity. The church launched a brutal military campaign to destroy them (1209-1229) that became known as the Albigensian Crusade in which tens of thousands were killed. It failed to stamp out Cathar beliefs but succeeded in annexing Languedoc to the French crown.

Dinner: Aboard the barge.

Evening: We’ll have a lighthearted session on French and regional trivia as the barge heads towards Sète.

DAY
8
Sète, L’Étang de Thau, Musée de l’Étang de Thau
Sete
B,L,D
CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 19 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day; sandy walkways, cobblestone streets, even and uneven ground.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We’ll step off the barge in Sète and board a motorcoach for a field trip to l’Étang de Thau, a precious natural marine environment famed for seafood. We will visit the l’Étang de Thau Museum and learn about the history of fishing and shellfish farming in this community. We’ll also have a chance to taste some of the shellfish while taking in the beauty of the lagoon from a terrace.

Lunch: Aboard the barge.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride up to Mont Saint-Clair in Sète and enjoy the exceptional panoramic view over the city, canals, and lagoon. We’ll also see the small Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette Chapel, built of stone in 1861 and decorated with imaginative frescoes. The large white stone cross is a sign of devotion as well as a landmark for fishermen sailing home.

Dinner: We’ll have our last dinner aboard the barge with beverage choices of house wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea, bottled mineral water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Disembarkation, Cistercian Abbey, Languedoc, Narbonne
Narbonne
B,L,D
Clarion Suites Narbonne Ile du Gua

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 68 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, even and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the barge.

Morning: We will disembark and board a motorcoach to travel away from the coast, into the hills where we will visit the Abbaye de Fontfroide that was part of the St. James pilgrimage route. A local expert will lead us through this Cistercian abbey and its roserie, followed by time for independent exploration of the other gardens.

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

Afternoon: As we make our way to Narbonne, we will pass through countryside that is home to many small towns in the heart of the Languedoc vineyards. We will check in to our hotel upon arrival in Narbonne.

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

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

DAY
10
Narbonne, Halles, Carcassonne, Toulouse
Toulouse
B,L,D
Hotel NH Toulouse Airport

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 96 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 4 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, inclined, even and uneven terrain.

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

Morning: This area was inhabited during the Iron Age and developed into a trading center. Rome established a colony here in 118 BCE; it later became the capital of Roman Gaul. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was conquered successively by Visigoths, Moors (Umayyad Saracens), and finally Franks who invited Jewish settlement. In fact, Narbonne became a leading center of Jewish learning and culture during the 12th century. Today it is a thriving urban environment on both sides of the Canal de la Robine — an extension of the Canal du Midi — that bisects the city. We’ll set out on foot to explore historic sites and visit Les Halles. This amazing indoor market hosts bakers, bars, butchers, caterers, delicatessens, fishmongers, greengrocers, poultry merchants, and wine merchants.

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

Afternoon: We will set out by motorcoach to the majestic walled city of Carcassonne that was first fortified in the Gallo-Roman era, circa 100 BCE. It later became a Cathar stronghold. We will have time for independent exploration to see and do what interests each of us most in this beautiful city that inspired kings and writers. The upper “old” city is known as La Cité; the lower city — La Bastide — is also known as St. Louis. By the 19th century, it was on the verge of destruction, its stones and other materials being taken for local building projects. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) was a leading French architect who had restored a number of France’s most important monuments. With approval from Emperor Napoleon III, he began work in 1853 on saving and restoring Carcassonne, work that continued for 50 years. Carcassonne today is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, but it is thanks to Viollet-le-Duc that we see this most complete representation of a medieval fortified town. The walls extend nearly two miles (three kilometers) with 52 massive towers. Reboarding the motorcoach, we will ride to Toulouse and check in to our hotel at the airport with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel in Toulouse, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine, coffee, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

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

DAY
11
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. 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!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.