I’ve worked out the details with my favorite tour operators, vineyards, attractions and my barge operator CroisiEurope for my first-ever hosted trip:
- Six nights/Seven days of all-inclusive barging from Arles to Sete*
- Tours included everyday of the barge trip.
- PLUS two pre-hotel nights in a five-star hotel in Arles, including breakfast**
- PLUS one post-hotel night in a four-star hotel in Montpellier, including breakfast**
- PLUS three additional exclusive tours: Avignon, Pont du Gard & Chateauneuf du Pape, Sete Gourmet Markets Tour & Montpellier Tour
- For only $3,995 per person ***
* Transfers to Arles at the beginning of the trip and from Montpellier at the end of the trip are not included
** Note that a few lunches and dinners are not included for the pre/post days
See Terms & Conditions
I believe this trip offers an exceptional value. Barge trips nearly always start at more than $4,000 per person. And those are the beginning prices for the barge portion only. We’re adding three extra nights at four- and five-star hotels, plus we’re also adding special tours. All for $3,995 per person. CroisiEurope’s price for the barge cruise alone is $2,824.
Here’s what you will get:
- An evening stroll through Arles. See my story, In Search of Van Gogh, Ashore In Arles
- A special all-day tour of Avignon, Chateauneuf du Pape and Pont du Gard with tastings and lunch in a vineyard restaurant See my story, Pont du Gard, A Must See
- Seven days of barge cruising with all meals and beverages included (with the exception of a few premium-brand beverages). Fine wines, French ones, of course, are included as are cocktails, beer, speciality coffees, mineral water and more.
- Free WiFi on board the barge
- Tours and other activities are included each day of the barge cruise.
- Plus, a special just-for-our-group Gourmet Markets Walking Tour in Sete. I’ve done it, it’s great. National Geopraphic featured it in “Best of the World” and the tour was awarded a “Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.”
- Plus, we’re adding a Mediterranean Lunch Workshop so that all of us can have fun while learning to cook up a Mediterranean lunch.
Our Mediterranean Lunch Workshop on June 25 can only accommodate 16 people. In case it fills, we have arranged an INCLUDED alternate tour. Here are the details of the alternate tour on June 25.
- Alternate Tour on June 25: Our favorite Montpellier guide will be waiting to take us for a historical tour of the Montpellier city center. The New York Times listed Montpellier as one of the top destinations to visit in 2014. We’re only a year late! The tour includes a private visit to a 13th-century Mikve, a ritual bath used for the Jewish rite of purification. The tour will end in a private mansion overlooking Montpellier. We will be given a private tour by the owner who is an aristocrat (a friend of ours) and then will head to the rooftop for a glass of champagne. The guide will then take us to our hotel after the tour or we can arrange a group lunch (optional) and then head back to the hotel.
On board the barge, we will have bikes, jacuzzi, sun deck, free WiFi, great service, fine French cuisine – and lots of fun.
I’m excited about taking you along and showing you some of my favorite places in one of my favorite regions of the world – and via a mode of travel that I think you’ll find particularly appealing, barging.
Bon voyage, Ralph Grizzle
- June 17 (pre-cruise) – overnight Arles with evening walk through Arles (dinner & drinks on your own) Our hotel: Hôtel Jules César MGallery Collection, a five-star property, with WiFi and breakfast included
- June 18 (pre-cruise) – relax, get over your jet lag, then explore Arles on your own or with me (dinner & drinks on your own) Our hotel: Hôtel Jules César MGallery Collection, a five-star property, with WiFi and breakfast included
- June 19 – Special included tour: Avignon, Chateauneuf du Pape, Pont du Gard with lunch in a vineyard restaurant. Boarding late afternoon. Overnight on barge.
- June 20: ARLES – GALLICIAN. Special tour of Arles. Discover this cultural center and its Roman ruins, and then travel inland to find out about olive oil production in Provence. Tasting of some local products. Return to the ship. Afternoon: cruising to Gallician, along the Rhône River and the Rhône à Sète Canal.
- June 21: GALLICIAN – AIGUES-MORTES. Excursion to the Camargue. Free time in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer, where you may visit a fortified church. Afternoon devoted to cruising toward Aigues-Mortes, arriving in the early evening.
- June 22: AIGUES MORTES – PALAVAS-LES-FLOTS. Tour of Aigues-Mortes. This old, fortified city with a rich heritage is located in the middle of the marshes and is one of the most beautiful sites in Provence. Return to the ship. Afternoon: cruising to Palavas-Les-Flots. Spend some free time discovering the spa resort of Palavas-Les-Flots.
- June 23: PALAVAS-LES-FLOTES – SETE. Tour to discover a manade and the life of herders on a visit by wagon. Take part in a bull sorting. Before returning to the boat, we’ll have a delicious snack with products coming from the farm. Cruise towards Sète, arriving in the early evening. NOTE: Depending on mooring availability and weather conditions, the stopover in Sète could be replaced by a stopover in Frontignan.
- June 24: SETE. Special included tour: Gourmet Walking Tour in Sete #1 tour in Sete on TripAdvisor. Afternoon cxcursion of the Étang De Thau, famous for its shellfish. Visit of the Étang de Thau Museum, where you’ll discover the shellfish farmers and fishermen. Taste some of the shellfish while taking in the beauty of the basin from a terrace. Return to the ship. Gala evening. See my story, All Sete, Ready To Go, ‘The Most Fascinating Town On The French Mediterranean Coast’
- June 25 (post-cruise) SETE. Buffet breakfast on board. Disembark. Mediterranean Lunch Workshop or the alternate tour described above with an overnight in Montpellier: (meals on your own) Our hotel: Pullman Montpellier Centre, a four-star property in Montpellier, with breakfast and WiFi included.
- June 26 – Final farewells
We’ll be staying in Hôtel Jules César MGallery Collection, a five-star property in Arles, and the Pullman Montpellier Centre, a four-star property.
About transfers. We can provide transfers for a fee, but trains and other modes of public transport are cheaper – and more fun. You can fly into Marseille and take a train from the airport to Arles for less than $20 per person (my recommendation). Or you can take the train from Paris (CDG airport) to Avignon, then transfer by a railroad bus to Arles. Of course, you can also reach Arles by taxi for about €100. We may be able to arrange other options that we can let you know about closer to the trip date.
From Montpellier, you can take a train back to the airport for around $30 per person.
Video Highlighting The Barge & Itinerary
The photo above? That’s our living room for the six nights that we’ll spend together barging along the Canal du Rhone à Sète.
Adventurous? Most certainly.
Memorable? You bet.
I’m excited to be hosting this trip in one of my favorite regions of the world on CroisiEurope’s new Anne-Marie, a 24-guest barge.
We’ll sip the delicious rosé wines of Provence and enjoy dishes inspired by Michelin-starred chef Paul Bocuse. Curator of CroisiEurope’s cuisine, Bocuse has collected no fewer than three Michelin stars.
Cabin Size: Anne-Marie’s 12 nearly identical cabins measure 97 square feet each. That’s small for river cruise vessels, but not small for barges. Because the new Anne-Marie was custom built for passengers and not converted from a cargo voyage (as many barges are), space has been optimized for storage and living.
Beds & Fabrics: The cabins feature bright Missoni fabrics, including cushions, bedspreads and drapes as well as contemporary prints on the walls. Bed configurations are twins that can be configured as double.
Location & Windows: All cabins are air-conditioned, independently controlled in each cabin, and all cabins are on the lower deck, with public rooms on the upper deck. Wide windows are partially below the water line, which I personally enjoy, especially when geese or ducks are floating by. The windows can be opened from the top to let in fresh air.
Storage: Cabins feature a half-length wardrobe, with a safe and fixed hair dryer inside. There is also a mirrored door. Four shelves are above the bed alongside one cabin wall, and there is a window shelf occupying the full width of the cabin. Luggage of reasonable size will fit underneath the bed. There’s also a small dressing table/desk with two electrical sockets, a drawer and mirror, and a round stool that tucks beneath it. There are four 220-volt European-style sockets altogether, so bring adapters.
Bathroom: The bathroom has a toilet, shower and a mirrored sink with storage around the basin and in the cupboard below. The shower is separated from the rest of the facilities by a curtain, with a dip in the floor to allow water to drain away. CroisiEurope branded soap and individual bottles of shampoo and shower gel are provided. There is no conditioner or lotion.
Television, but do you need it? The flat-screen television folds up into the ceiling and is raised and lowered by a switch at the head of the bed. Reception may not always be great, but it’s there if you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How To Book Your Air. If you have them, use airline points. You can redeposit points if you have a change of plans. Refunding a purchased ticket is more challenging. If you don’t have points, do what I do: Buy them. I purchase points, whenever they are on sale, from US Airways, Lifemiles, UAL and others. Or sign up for credit cards that offer points bonuses.
- How do I get there? There are many options described earlier in this post. You may want to book your trip roundtrip Marseille. Or fly into Paris and take the train. Lyon could be another option. Getting around in France simply is not that difficult. The barge departs Arles (near Marseille) on June 19 and ends in Sete on June 25. However, our pre-barge-experience begins June 17, meaning you need to arrive on June 17. We finish our trip in Montpellier on June 26.
- Triple occupancy rates? There are no triple occupancy. You’ll need two cabins.
- Single Supplements? You’d be better off, pricewise, to find a roommate. You can certainly book a cabin for one, but the price will be double. The barge is too small and the markup too little to not fill the barge double occupancy. That said, there are others asking about single supplements if you’re okay with meeting online and determining if you can be roommates. So far, about six people have asked for single supplements. I’d be glad to connect you all with your mutual consent. Reply to this email if you’re single and looking for a roommate.
- Will there be excessive walking? It’s up to you. There will be tours, included in the fare, but you can simply sit on the barge if you wish and enjoy the scenery of Provence.
- Are there bicycles? Yes, for you to use at no charge.
- Are there any insect problems in France in late June? Yes, someone asked me this question, and the answer is that there is no significant insect problem in this part of France in late June.
- Will the euro lose even more value to the dollar? I hope so! More champagne for everyone if it does.
I’m sure you will have many more questions. Feel free to start a discussion at the bottom of this page.
Full payment due upon booking
More than 90 days prior, 100%
Because we’re within 90 days, this is a non-refundable trip. I recommend travel insurance if you’re concerned about something happening that would keep you from traveling.