Travel-Learn Program

Languedoc, France

When: October 14, 2017 - October 22, 2017 (iCal)



“...extraordinary learning experience, outstanding guide, an extremely beautiful section of France that we would not otherwise have visited.”


We will journey through Languedoc-Roussillon, a region of unspoiled landscapes and villages, Cathar fortresses, and legends of the Holy Grail. Our home is the sixteenth century Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse in the foothills of the Pyrénées. We’ll stroll the medieval Cité de Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site; we will explore Peyrepertuse, a fortress occupied during Roman times; in the département of Aude a stop at lush olive groves and vineyards will be followed by a tasting of crisp Blanquette, a sparkling wine, first produced by medieval monks. As we cruise the UNESCO World Heritage Canal du Midi, accompanied by expert-guides, we will pass the natural wonders of the Corbières region - the Pyrénées Mountains and the Gorges of Galamus. Toulouse pre-program and Cathar post-program options are available.


Activity Level: Very Active


Brochure & Registration Form



Price From: $3,895
Includes land only; per person, based on double occupancy.
Itinerary and price are tentative and subject to change.

To avoid the disappointment of a sold out program, Register Now!



Day 1: U.S.
We depart the U.S.

Day 2: Toulouse, France/Couiza
We arrive in Toulouse and journey into the rolling green foothills of the Pyréneés Mountains to the charming village of Couiza. We will check into the medieval Chateau Des Ducs De Joyeuse, a sixteenth century Renaissance castle recently converted into a hotel. This evening we will attend the welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: Couiza/Mirepoix/Vals
Named after the Ariège River, the bucolic Ariège département is one of France’s least populated and loveliest regions. In the medieval bastide of Mirepoix, a fortified town, we will walk through Les Couverts, an arcaded market square, lined with half-timbered houses, followed by a lunch of regional cuisine. We will experience the nearby village of Vals and its unusual rock-hewn troglodyte Church of Sainte-Marie; this Romanesque church features Byzantine-influenced frescos, which direct the ceiling of its apse.

Day 4: Couiza/Montazels/Rennes-le-Château/Alet-les-Bains
Not far from Couiza, we will experience the quaint village of Montazels, which is located at the confluence of the Salz and Aude rivers. We will see Rennes-le-Château, a hilltop village that is a prehistoric site and was once a Roman colony. Its centuries-old legends - of the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar and the mysterious fortune of priest Bérenger Saunière - have seeped into contemporary lore and literature, including Dan Brown’s best-selling mystery, The Da Vinci Code. In the nearby village of Alet-les-Bains, built on a natural hot spring and known for its mineral water, we will have a lunch of regional specialties at the Hostellerie de l’Eveche, once the site of an ancient bishop’s palace. We will stroll through the village’s cobblestoned streets and see its ninth century abbey, twelfth century cathedral, and fourteenth century Chapter House, once used for meetings and religious ceremonies.

Day 5: Couiza/Carcassonne/Canal du Midi
Situated along ancient trade routes linking the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula, and occupied since the sixth century B.C., Carcassonne is the largest walled city in Europe. An extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage site, la Cité de Carcassone was fortified by the Romans, conquered by the Visigoths, captured by Persians, and later invaded by Franks and overrun by Barbarians. Our visit there will include a walking tour during which we will explore the Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, and the archaeological museum of the Château Comtal. In the morning, we will cruise the Canal du Midi, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, from our traditional flat-bottomed boat. In the evening, at a specially arranged village forum with local residents of Couiza, we will discuss daily life in the south of France.

Day 6: Couiza/Peyrepertuse/Cucugnan/Gorge de Galamus
From Couiza we are afforded spectacular views of the largest Cathar castle, Peyrepertuse, perched atop a 2,300 foot outcropping and considered the Languedoc region’s finest medieval architecture. In the medieval village of Cucugnan, we will enjoy a specially arranged lunch of regional cuisine. We will take a scenic drive into the rugged wine region of Corbières and along the Gorges of Galamus. Our destination will be the awe-inspiring Ermitage Saint Antoine, a twelfth century Roman Catholic chapel built into the cliff face of the gorge.

Day 7: Couiza/Collioure
Located near the southern French border, the coastal town of Collioure has served as inspiration to artists such as Henri Matisse, André Derain and Pablo Picasso, and today has a strongly evident Catalan culture. We will explore the town’s medieval Royal Castle, built by the Knights Templar in 1207 and have lunch at a seaside restaurant.

Day 8: Couiza/Abbey of Fontfroide
We will travel into the Corbières Mountains to visit the well-preserved Cistercian Abbey of Fontfroide dating from 1093. We will stroll its Gothic arched chapter hall and cloisters and the abbey’s gardens, filled with more than 3,000 rose bushes. We will join a tasting of the region’s famous Blanquette, the world’s first sparkling wine. After our return to Couiza, the rest of the afternoon is at our leisure. This evening, we will have a farewell dinner in the hotel.

Day 9: Couiza/Toulouse/Return to the U.S. or Canada
Following breakfast, we check out of the hotel and continue to Albi for the post-program option, or transfer to Toulouse for the return flight home.


*Price and Itinerary are tentative and subject to change|617-627-0633