Discover France with Road Scholar

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Road Scholar is sponsoring this look at how to discover France

The 75th anniversary of D-day has focused the world’s attention on France. Baby boomers, especially, experience a special bond with the idea of a trip to France as we remember the WWII stories from our parents, family and friends.

Road Scholar has declared France their 2019 campus of the year. With 50 trips to choose from, boomers will experience the country’s cuisine, architecture and history on learning journeys from the Normandy beaches to cosmopolitan Paris and beyond.

Start your travel planning with the Road Scholar France travel guide

Although I’ve experienced many French ports while cruising the Mediterranean, I’ve yet to truly explore the country.

Can you believe that Alan and I have never visited Paris? Shamefully, it’s true.

After browsing through the 50 trips to France offered by Road Scholar, I’ve added some intriguing ideas to my travel list. Here are 7 of my favorites:

Brittany and Normandy: Distinctive Beauty/Proud Ways of Life 

People standing at a stone outcropping overlooking Omaha Beach in France.
Visit Omaha Beach in Normandy. Photo courtesy Road Scholar.

Are you intrigued by destinations that celebrate their history and way of life? Spend 16 days on a small group tour (10 to 24 participants) exploring two very distinct regions in France: Brittany and Normandy.

Discover the cultural charms of Brittany through Celtic music and dance. Or indulge in a savory buckwheat galette. You’ll visit Locmariaquer megaliths, some of the most significant Neolithic remains in Europe as well as not-to-be-missed Mont Saint Michel.

The Normandy portion of the trip pays tribute to WWII history, including Omaha Beach, Caen Memorial, and Arromanches. The journey comes to a beautiful end on a visit to Monet’s gardens in Givenchy.

Discover Strasbourg Christmas Market by barge

Stone house in Strasbourg with Christmas wreaths hanging over the windows.
Elaborate decorations hang on every building in Strasbourg at Christmas.

Strasbourg is known as the Capital of Christmas, and with good reason. When I visited, I was charmed by the city’s elaborate decorations. You can experience it, too, on an 8-day Christmas extravaganza for up to 22 Road Scholars.

This active trip explores Paris for 2 days before joining the barge, Madeline, in Strasbourg. Of course there’s an in-depth exploration of the Strasbourg Christmas market, the oldest in France.

While cruising on the barge, you’ll stop at Riquewihr to sample local delicacies. In Colmar, admire the medieval and renaissance half-timber buildings, and another Christmas market, of course.

Hiking chateaux, vineyards and prehistoric caves of the Loire & Dordogne

White bridge crosses a river in France.
A bridge in the Loire Valley. Photo courtesy Road Scholar.

Are your travel feet itching for a walking tour? This French experience is for you.

For 13 days, active travelers will explore the Loire River Valley and the Dordogne. Walking up to 9 miles-a-day, the small group (10-24 participants) walks over occasional rocky terrain through rustic valleys on the way to charming French villages. You’ll stop in Domme to sample foie gras and visit Cave of Cognac to see prehistoric paintings dating to the upper Paleolithic era. There’s a daylong walk in the forest of Campagne. Plus you’ll explore majestic Loire Valley chateaus.

Provence, the art of living

People walking down a wide sidewalk shaded by trees on both sides.
Walking through Aix-en-Provence is like strolling through a painting.

What is it about the lure of Provence? I certainly felt it on a cruise excursion to Aix-en-Provence. But one day is definitely not enough. How about 13 days?

This active small group tour to Provence (10-24 participants) includes a French language workshop at Aix-en-Provence. You’ll also stop in Cassis, explore Marseilles, designated a Cultural Capital of Europe, and attend art lectures on Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Moving on, you’ll visit Arles, the red village, and the remains of a Roman Circus arena. Nature enthusiasts will delight in exploring Camargue, Europe’s largest river delta to see flamingos, white horses, black bulls and egrets. Seeing the Palace of the Popes in Avignon is the piece de resistance. This trip sounds like an ooh-la-la to me.

Odyssey at Sea: South of France

Stone house with red tile roof sits in a valley in Corsica surrounded by mountains and greenery.
A rustic home in the Corsican countryside.

After many Mediterranean cruises, I can attest to the beauty and charm of the French Riviera. From the looks of it, Road Scholar’s Odyssey at Sea to the South of France covers all the bases.

Spend 12 days on Cote d’Azur plus Genoa, Barcelona. You’ll join 350 like-minded passengers as you experience Nice, Ajaccio (Corsica) and Monaco. In Toulon, learn about historical Naval sites and a little-known Allied landing for Operation Dragoon in WWII.

There are rich, cultural opportunities to explore in Marseilles. And a cruise excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne introduces you to pre-Roman history. The cruise is bookended by Genoa, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain. That’s a nice itinerary, folks.

A walk and barge immersion in Alsace

Vineyards and fields stretch across the landscape looking like a patchwork quilt.
Visiting Alsace is a delight to the senses. Photo courtesy Road Scholar.

I’m fascinated with the mix of French and German culture in Alsace. While I’ve visited Strasbourg, I could see so much more on a 10-day walk and barge trip through the region along the Marne-Rhine Canal. This spirited small group adventure in Alsace (10 – 24 participants) includes walking up to six miles per day.  

Besides enjoying Strasbourg, you’ll learn about Alsacian wines, hike the hops trail in Wingersheim (of course there will be beer), and explore off-the-beaten-tourist-path Saverene. At Artzviller, the barge climbs an inclined plane. It’s like a boat elevator that navigates 17 locks over 2.5 miles. Don’t miss the Marc Chagall stained glass window at Sarrebourg.

Teenagers in Paris: A City of Light With Your Grandchild

Kids sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
Bond with your teenage grandchildren on a trip to Paris. Photo courtesy Road Scholar.

A grandparent’s privilege is introducing the world to their grandchildren. There’s no better bonding experience than accompanying them on a a first time visit to Paris.

If you’re looking for an adventure with your teen, why not Paris? This small, very active Road Scholar tour (10 – 24 participants) explores Paris for 9 days and is for teens 14 to 17—and their grandparents.  

Learn the basics of the French language from an experienced teacher, then practice over dinner with a Parisian family. From the highest point in Paris, La Tour Montparnasse, see the iconic Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and more. After visiting the Musée d’Orsay, have a portrait of you and your grandchild painted by an artist in Montmartre. You’ll both return home with special memories of your time together.

And, now, I’ve made my travel feet itchy for a trip to France. There are so many great choices that I may have to visit more than once. Which French Road Scholar adventure would you choose?

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Discover France with Road Scholar


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