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Online Program

Adventures Online: A Journey Through the Many Faces of Provence

Program No. 24177RJ
Immerse yourself in the art and history of Provence from the comfort of your own home as local experts share their knowledge during virtual field trips and online presentations.
4 days
Rating (4.94)
Starts at

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At a Glance

Delight in the art de vivre — the art of living — during an online immersion into the best of Provence! From the masterpieces of great artists like Cezanne and Van Gogh to the architecture of the Aix en Provence Cathedral, get a first-hand look at some of the region’s greatest treasures as local experts share their vast knowledge during virtual field trips and presentations. Trace Provencal history from Roman and Medieval times until today, with online field trips to Roman theaters and arenas, the Aix en Provence Cathedral and Aigues Morte, where you’ll learn about King Saint Louis and the Crusades. Explore the varied landscapes of Provence and learn about the lives of famous artists that were inspired by the region. Throughout this educational adventure, enjoy exclusive access to our local experts, take part in informative Q&A sessions and bond with other Road Scholars like you.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Discover why so many artists were inspired by Provence as you learn about the life and works of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Chagall, Matisse, Renoir, Monet and more.
  • Trace the history of Roman influence in Provence during virtual field trips to the Gallo Roman wonders of Southern France, including Roman theaters in Orange and Arles, the arena in Nimes, and the Pont Du Gard.
  • Learn about the “art of living” during a virtual field trip to villages of the area to explore wines and lavender, local crafts, architecture, literature and famous landscapes in Gordes, Lourmarin, Lacoste and beyond.

General Notes

You’ll enjoy 2-3 hours of daily instruction, discussion and/or field trips, which includes sufficient breaks throughout the program. This online program is through Zoom, an easy-to-use web video service that includes closed captioning. All you need is an Internet connection and your computer. We’ll provide a how-to guide to make sure you’ll have a hassle-free experience. This session is offered live only and will not be available on demand. Please review the daily itinerary for start and end times to ensure you won’t miss a minute of this live experience. All times are listed in the EASTERN time zone. If you live in a different time zone, please adjust your schedule accordingly.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook
by Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
One of the classics of English literature, this famous play is set in Provence. Two characters await a third, Godot, who never arrives.
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.
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4 days
Provence & the Art of Living, Culture, Cuisine
The comfort of your own home

Activity note: All times noted are Eastern Time. Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. The day before each session, the instructors will send a handout by email that will accompany the lecture. They will also recommend any extra reading or background research that could complement the day’s themes.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. We will gather with our Study Leaders — Caroline Buizza and Martin Penicaud — for an Orientation session (one-half hour) to address technical matters and group introductions. Caroline & Martin are both from Lyon, capital city of the Roman Gauls and French cuisine. Caroline is a certified lecturer who studied art history at the Louvre School and who loves history and architecture. Martin has been going to Provence for more than 30 years and has explored its many wonders. 2:30 p.m. Lecture (one-half hour). Caroline and Martin will present Provence as a treat for all the senses, focusing on Provençal culture and art de vivre — the art of living. 3:00 p.m. On our first virtual field trip (one hour), we will journey from Aix to the back country. We will gain an appreciation for some of the many charms of Provence such as wines and cuisine, local markets, lavender, typical crafts, architecture, the Camargue, and distinctive sites including Lacoste, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Gordes, Roussillon, and Apt. We will conclude the afternoon with a Q&A and discussion session (one-half hour) focusing on Provençal literature. A handout for tomorrow will be sent via email after the session. Today’s program will end at 4:30 p.m.

Provence Roman Heritage, Orange, Nîmes, Arles, Pont du Gard
The comfort of your own home

Activity note: All times noted are Eastern Time. Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. Lecture (one-half hour). Caroline and Martin will address the Roman heritage. Is Provence a Roman invention? We will learn about the Romans in Gaul and the Gallic Wars. 2:30 p.m. We will then go on a virtual field trip (one hour) to explore the Gallo Roman wonders of southern France. Highlights will include the ancient Roman theatre of Orange, the best preserved in Europe and a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site; and Nîmes with its wonderfully well preserved Roman Arena/Amphitheatre still in use today and the exceptional Maison Carrée (Square House) temple. From Arles, we will see Roman monuments including the Amphitheatre, built not long after the Colosseum in Rome and far better preserved; the Baths of Constantine; the “cryptoportiques” that formed the base of the ancient Forum, constructed in the first century BCE; and the Alyscamps necropolis outside the old city walls. We will be able to appreciate the genius of Roman architects in the Pont Du Gard, also dating from the end of the first century BCE and considered a magnificent work of art. More than 31 miles (50 km) long, it carried water to the Roman colony of Nemausus, now known as Nîmes. We will conclude the afternoon with an interactive Q&A session (one-half hour) on the Roman legacy today. A handout for tomorrow will be sent via email after the session. Today’s program will end at 4:00 p.m.

Medieval Provence, Abbeys, Cathedrals, Crusades, Popes
The comfort of your own home

Activity note: All times noted are Eastern Time. Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 2:00 p.m. Our Study Leaders will give us a lecture on Provence in the era of medieval abbeys and cathedrals. 2:30 p.m. Our virtual field trip will begin with the abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque, founded in 1148. Today, it is the home of monks who cultivate lavender, olive trees, honey, and provide hospitality. We will then explore the Cathédrale Saint-Trophime and its cloister in Arles dating from the late 11th century, part of UNESCO’s designation of Arles’ Roman and Romanseque monuments as a World Heritage Site. Tradition says the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence was built on what had been a pagan sacred site and replaced by a temple to Apollo. Its construction stretched over seven centuries with styles encompassing Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque. Our virtual field trip will continue to the walled city of Aigues-Morte in the Camargue. It was the starting point for the Seventh Crusade led by King Louis IX, later Saint Louis, in 1248. Aigues-Morte became an important center of salt mining and its massive ramparts remain in place. The so-called “Babylonian Captivity” took place in the 14th century when King Philip IV of France succeeded in moving the Holy See to Avignon. We will see the amazing Palais des Papes — Palace of the Popes. Finally for today, we will see beautiful Les Baux de Provence and Tarascon. Archaeologists estimate that human settlement here began around 6000 BCE. Different monarchs fought for control over the centuries. Fortified Les Baux was eventually brought into the Kingdom of France. Tarascon on the Rhône River has an equally complicated history as well as crenelated walls. We will have a Q&A session and discussion about Provence as a land of myths and legends. Today’s program will end at 4:00 p.m.

Art & Painters in Provence
The comfort of your own home

Activity note: All times noted are Eastern Time. Today’s session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.

Evening: 2:00 p.m. We’ll have a lecture (one-half hour) on painting in Provence, a world of light and colors. Its extraordinary natural beauty, varied landscapes, characteristic villages, architecture, and fascinating people have attracted artists since the 15th century. 2:30 p.m. Our virtual field trip (one hour) will take us in the footsteps of some of the most notable painters who have created great art such as Cézanne in Aix en Provence and Van Gogh in Arles, as well as those who favored the French Riviera including Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Duffy, Braque, Monet, and Renoir. To wrap up, we will have a Q&A and discussion session (one-half hour) focusing on the artistic revolution at the turn of the 20th century. This concludes our on-line journey through the many faces of Provence.

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.