Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

Provincial French Countryside

with Catherine Lafarge
September 30 - October 14, 2015

Experience the beauty, allure, and hospitality of Provincial France, at an easy pace and in a unique style. Anchored by stays in vibrant Toulouse and enchanting Paris, the journey features diverse Languedoc, the remote Dordogne, the lovely Loire Valley, and historic Normandy as we stay in charming rural inns and small country hotels. It’s a small group tour de force!

Back to the top »

Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


Day 1: Depart US

Depart US for Toulouse, France

Day 2: Arrive Toulouse

After arriving in Toulouse today, our time is at leisure until we meet out tour director this evening for a welcome dinner and a briefing about the journey ahead. D

Day 3:Toulouse/Carcassonne

Today we tour nearby Carcassonne, the quintessential medieval town with the longest city walls in Europe. Sitting atop a hill overlooking vast green plains that stretch all the way to the Pyrenees, Carcassonne boasts battlements and ramparts dating to the 1st century Romans. We return to Toulouse mid-afternoon. B

Day 4: Toulouse/Albi/Sarlat

We travel today to the historic market town of Albi in the Midi- Pyrenees. Hometown of Belle Epoque artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi was built with rose-colored bricks that cast a warm glow over the city’s medieval streets and ramparts. Our city tour here includes the Palais de la Berbie, an ancient fortress housing museum devoted to the works of Toulouse-Lautrec; and the huge 13th century Caathedrale Ste-Cecile. Leaving Albi, we continue to the rugged unspoiled countryside of the Perigord region and the Dordogone Valley. We travel on to Sarlat-la-Caneda, one of France’s prettiest villages and one of Europe’s best preserved medieval gems, with more registered historic sites than anywhere else on the continent. We’re in the land of the truffle and foie gras, so bon appetite! B,D

Day 5: Sarlat/Lascaux ll

This morning we tour Caves at Lascaux ll, the reproductions of the original pre-historic cave paintings found nearby. After lunch at a charming local inn, we spend the afternoon on a leisurely cruise along the Dordogone River, life-blood of this fertile region and redolent with history. As we pass cliff-top castles and and fortified medieval towns., the historic regionof Aquitaine comes to life- this is where beloved Eleanor of Aquitaine reigned in the 12th century. We return to Sarlat where we enjoy a walking tour. Dinner tonight is on our own. B,L

Day 6: Sarlaat/Rocamadour

This morning is at leisure to visit one of Sarlat’s museums or art galleries on your own – or simply to wander the atmospheric cobblestone streets. After lunch on our own this afternoon, our explorations continue in nearby Rocamadour, a revered pilgrimage site and medieval village whose three tiers cling almost impossibly to a sheer limestone cliff. We take a guided walking tour than enjoy some free time before we return to Sarlat mid-afternoon. We dine together tonight at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 7: Sarlat/Le Dorat/Saumur

This morning we depart for the Loire Valley, stopping in the small market town of Le Dorat for a typical country lunch at a local restaurant. From here we travel on to picturesque Saumur and our hotel, a converted 18th century mansion on the banks of the Loire River. B,L

Day 8: Saumur

Today is at leisure to enjoy this town of half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets as we wish. Options include exploring the town’s old quarter; visiting the Calvary museum; or tasting the renowned locally made sparkling wine – method champenoise- at Maison du vin. B,D

Day 9: Saumur/Chenonceaux

We’re in Chateaux country, where England battled for control of France; where Joan of Arc triumphed; and where a great opulence reigned during the 16th century. Originally built as fortresses to keep intruders out, the Loire Valley’s grand chateaux now welcomes visitors from around the world. We tour the most impressive one today: Chenonceau, the Renaissance masterpiece considered the most romantic chateau of all. Lunch today is at La Cave in MontLouis. B,L

Day 10: Saumur/Mont-St-Michel/Crepon

Travelling north this morning, we stop at Mont-St-Michel, Normandy’s famed Gothic abbey that sits atop a 264-ft high rock formation at the edge of the sea and was constructed between 1017-1521 of granite hauled stone by stone from Brittany. After a guided tour and some free time for lunch and to explore on our own, we continue on to our lodgings in Crepon: a restored but rustic 35-room farmhouse dating to the 13th century. B,D

Day 11: Crepon/Bayeux/Caen

Miraculously spared wartime bombing, medieval Bayeux is our first stop today. Here we visit the tapestry Museum, home of the 1,000 year-old Bayeux Tapestry depicting the exploits of William the Conqueror. Later we visit the British Cemetery then continue on to Caen’s Memorial Museum devoted to “history for peace.” Time permitting; we may visit Arromanches late this afternoon. B,D

Day 12 D-Day Landing Beaches

A poignant, inspiring day is ahead as we travel to the very places where allied forces overcame overwhelming odds to alter the course of World War ll. We visit Pointe du Hoc, where American Rangers scaled towering cliffs to establish a beachhead; Utah Beach; and Ste-Mere-Eglise, where the 82nd Airborne Division successfully parachuted on June 5th, 1944. We end the day at the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach in Colleville. It’s a particularly moving site; row upon endless row of white marble crosses and Stars of David honor the nearly 10,000 soldiers buried here. B,L,D

Day 13: Crepon/Honfleur/Giverny/Paris

This morning we visit the picturesque port of Honfleur before continuing on to the village of Giverny and the home gardens of impressionist artist Claude Monet. Here we see the familiar lily pond and Japanese footbridge of Monet’s paintings, as well as his home, now restored to its original design. Then we travel to Paris, reaching our hotel late afternoon. B

Day 14: Paris

Today we get acquainted with one of the world’s great cities, including an inside visit to the Louvre, one of the world’s great museums. This afternoon is free for independent exploration; tonight we gather for a farewell dinner. B,D

Day 15: Depart for U.S.

A morning departure for the airport and our connecting flights

Back to the top »

Cost and program Inclusions

Price . . . . TBD

Program Inclusions
  • Round trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 13 nights’ accommodations in Superior First Class, First Class and unrated hotels
  • 25 meals: 13 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private Motor-coach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
Back to the top »

Faculty Study Leader

Catherine Lafarge
Catherine Lafarge

Leading your trip will be Catherine Lafarge, Professor Emerita of French at Bryn Mawr College. A native of France, Lafarge came to the United States in 1957 as a Fulbright scholar at Mt. Holyoke College, where she earned her bachelor's degree. She began teaching at Bryn Mawr in 1966, immediately upon earning her doctorate from Yale University. She chaired the French Department from 1979 to 1984 and also from 1996 to 1991; she served as dean of the GSAS from 1985 to 1995. In October, 2004 Professor Lafarge was awarded France's Ordre des Palmes Academiques in a ceremony in the Ely Room of Wyndham House. The order, instituted in 1808 by Napoleon I, honors those who have made significant contributions to the understanding of French culture throughout the world. Throughout her career, Lafarge has been active in numerous professional societies, particularly the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, which she served as treasurer. Among the honors she has won are grants from the American Philosophical Society and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as the Mt. Holyoke Alumnae Association's prestigious Sesquicentennial Award

Back to the top »