Village Life in Languedoc

Bask in natural splendor of the South of France from October 13 - 21, 2018, during les beaux jours de l'automne (the beautiful days of autumn). 

CarcassonneTravel with alumni, friends and participants from cosponsoring associations on this specially designed, nine-day sojourn amid the unspoiled landscapes, traditional French villages, and lofty Cathar fortresses of the rich historical provinces of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées-a well-kept secret of allure and intrigue-recently redesignated the Occitania region. Immerse yourself in the customary way of life and vivid local culture, while you delve into the complex history, tradition, and legends of its many past inhabitants, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Occitans and the Cathars.

During this comprehensive itinerary, experience a unique combination of both town and country, from the UNESCO World Heritage-designated medieval Cité de Carcassonne with its two concentric stone walls and 53 towers to the impossibly picturesque hilltop village of Cordes-sur-Ciel, built in the 13th century by the Count of Toulouse, and the rarely ventured département of Aude's ample vineyards, where medieval monks first produced crisp Blanquette, a sparkling wine that predates Champagne. Enjoy two specially arranged wine tastings and a private cruise on the breathtaking Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site and historic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Marvel at the natural wonders of the Corbières region and the Pyrénées Mountains and walk the storybook cobblestone lanes amidst the Southern Gothic-style architecture and distinctive red-brick buildings of the UNESCO-designated episcopal city of Albi. Interact with local residents who will share insights into their daily lives in the Occitania region during the exclusive Town & Country Life® Forum.

Enjoy accommodations in the comfortable Hotel Mercure Albi Bastides, ideally located overlooking the River Tarn with terrace views of the medieval heart of Albi, and in the charming Château de Floure, an authentic 16th-century French country estate. Golden Age of Toulouse pre-program and Medieval Cathar Mystique post-program opportunities are available to enhance your exploration of France's best-kept secret.

This one-of-a-kind program invites you to explore le coeur (the heart) of France's most fascinating region. Please contact the CAA Travel Study Program office at 866-325-8664 or for more details and to make your reservations today!

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: October 13 - 21, 2018

Prices: $3,895 per person based upon double occupancy

Single space is limited. If available, single reservations are subject to a $900 single supplement. Please contact us to check availability prior to sending in reservations, and to inquire about possible roommate/share opportunities.

Program Itinerary:

October 13, 2018 - Depart the U.S.
Depart the US on individually scheduled flights for Toulouse, France

October 14, 2018 - Toulouse, France/Albi
Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel Mercure Albi Bastides. Join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner this evening.
Meals: D

October 15, 2018 - Albi
After breakfast this morning, take a walking tour of medieval Albi with visits to the Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile and Collégiale Saint-Salvi. Known as “la rouge” by locals for the town’s signature red‑brick architecture, the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated old city of Albi became a powerful episcopal center and market town following a crusade against the Cathars in the 13th century.

Today, beautiful Renaissance maisons (houses) and iconic crimson brick buildings line the cobblestone streets, built with the wealth of 15th‑ and 16th‑century textile and dye industries. Stroll across the River Tarn along the 10th‑century Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) for a spectacular view of the city, and visit the 13th‑century Cathédrale Sainte‑Cécile, a masterpiece of French Southern Gothic‑style architecture with elaborate ceiling frescoes—the largest and oldest Italian Renaissance paintings in France. Visit the Collégiale Saint‑Salvi, which impeccably merges 10th‑century Roman and 13th‑century Gothic architectural styles.

Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch continue to the superb Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Museum located in the former archibishop’s palace, Palais de la Berbie, dating from the 13th century. The museum contains the largest collection of Toulouse-Lautrec to be found anywhere. It includes his childhood drawings and paintings to his first magazine illustrations, posters, lithographs, and late works of art. Visit the verdant gardens of Palais de la Berbie, overlooking the River Tarn.
Meals: B, L D

October 16, 2018 - Albi/Gaillac/Noailles/Cordes-sur-Ciel
Today includes a Full-day excursion to Gaillac and Cordes-sur-Ciel with a visit to the Abbaye Saint-Michel de Gaillac. Commence the day with a short drive from Albi to the nearby market town of Gaillac. Upon arrival enjoy a walking tour where the Tarn River runs along its border and boasts the spectacular 10th century Abbey Saint-Michael. Stop to visit the Abbey and museum.

Continue from Gaillac to Cordes sur Ciel - regarded as the most outstanding medieval town in all of France. Established in 1222 and named after the Spanish city of Cordoba, Cordes is acclaimed for its lofty fortified site and Gothic sculpted façades. The entire countryside is one of breathtaking natural beauty and a fascinating history.

You’re free to enjoy lunch on your own and some free time in Cordes de Ciel before continuing on to visit Château Bouscaillous in the village of Nouailles for a tour of the vineyards and cellar with the owners. After the tour, enjoy a tasting of 5 Gaillac wines with bread.

Later today, experience a special Town & Country Life® Forum with local residents, who will discuss daily life in the South of France.
Meals: B, wine-tasting

October 17, 2018 - Albi/Castres/Castelnaudary/ Château de Floure
After breakfast this morning, deaprt Albi and drive to Castres for a visit to the Goya
Museum. Tour the largest collection of Spanish artwork in France in this fascinating museum, located in the original Archbishop’s Palace and designed by one of the architects of Versailles.

By special arrangement, lunch in a local restaurant includes an exclusive cooking demonstration illuminating the history of the region’s famous le cassoulet. After lunch, transfer to Floure and heck-in to the Château de Floure. Dinner is included at the the hotel this evening.
Meals: B,L, D

October 18, 2018 - Château de Floure/ Carcassonne/Canal du Midi
After breakfast today, visit Carcassonne. This former frontier between France and
Spain has been occupied since the sixth century B.C. and is the largest walled city in Europe. Carcassonne was fortified by the Romans, conquered by Visigoths, captured by Persians, invaded by Franks and overrun by Barbarians, each leaving an indelible influence on the city’s architectural and artistic heritage. The medieval core of Carcassonne, La Cité, is a UNESCO World Heritage site characterized by cobblestone streets and fairy‑tale turrets. Visit the Romanesque‑Gothic‑style Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, and the medieval Château Comtal, a former Cathar castle.

Enjoy time on your own for lunch in storybook Carcassonne before the specially arranged cruise aboard a traditional flat‑bottomed boat in the shade of picturesque plane trees, which canopy the grand, 17th‑century Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site that features unique oval locks and stone bridges. Return to Chateau de Floure late this afternoon. You’re free this evening and there will be a shuttle to/from Carcassonne for any who who would like to enjoy dinner or time in town this evening.
Meals: B

October 19, 2018 - Château de Floure/Corbières Wine Region/Abbaye de Fontfroide
Depart hotel for full-day Full day excursion of the Corbieres Wine Region and Abbaye de Fontfroide. Travel into the scenic, rugged Corbières Mountains to the characteristically Southern French Narbonne to tour the city’s historic center, quartier de Cité, and the incredibly well‑preserved Cistercian Abbaye de Fontfroide, founded in 1093. Walk through the abbey’s Gothic arched chapter hall and cloisters, and stroll its rose‑filled gardens with more than 3000 fragrant bushes.

This afternoon, Enjoy a private tour of a renowned family‑owned château and wine cellar and enjoy a tasting of four regional wines—an indelible program highlight.
You’re free this evening and there will be a shuttle to/from Carcassonne for any who who would like to enjoy dinner or time in town this evening.
Meals: B,L

October 20, 2018 - Château de Floure/ Caunes‑Minervois/Minerve
The renowned Minervois wine region—whose appellation produces rich red wines from the Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grapes, and white wines including Viognier, Clairette Blanche and Muscat—was named for the Roman goddess Minerve and is comprised of sweeping scenery, fortified medieval villages and rolling vineyards.

In Caunes‑Minervois, see the Châteaux de Lastours and visit the Benedictine abbaye, featuring a mélange of architectural periods, from an eighth‑century foundation to early southern‑Romanesque art to 18th‑century stained glass. Inhabited since prehistoric times and fortified in the Middle Ages, the village of Minerve overlooks the French countryside from atop a lofty gorge. Visit the Église Saint‑Étienne, the village’s austere Romanesque church consecrated by the Bishop of Narbonne in A.D. 456, and its museum devoted to the region’s prehistoric archaeology.  

Enjoy time on your own to explore the enchanting, medieval hillock of Minerve before returning to Floure. Join fellow travelers for a Farewell Reception and dinner at the hotel this evening.
Meals: B,R,D

October 21, 2018 - Floure/Toulouse
After breakfast at the hotel this morning, transfer to the Toulouse Airport for flights home.
Meals: B

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, R=Reception

Many of the cities and towns being visited were founded centuries ago, and the terrain is rugged.  Therefore, a fair amount of walking along narrow cobblestone streets, stone floors or uneven and/or slippery terrain and climbing several flights of stairs (some without railings) is to be expected.  Walking excursions often cover distances of at least one mile/1.6 km and are approximately three hours in length. 


  • Three nights in Albi in the comfortable Hotel Mercure Albi Bastides, ideally located overlooking the River Tarn and with views of the medieval old city of Albi.
  • Private Welcome Reception in the hotel.
  • Breakfast each day and one dinner with wine in the hotel. In the Château de Floure
  • Four nights in this charming and authentic château in the countryside near historic Carcassonne.
  • Breakfast each day and two dinners with wine.
  • Private Farewell Reception.
  • Two tastings of local wines—at a family‑owned estate in the village of Noailles near Cordes-sur-Ciel and at a winery amid the beautifully rugged Corbières Mountains.
  • Three lunches featuring regional cuisine and wine, including a C’estBon!CULINARY TRADITIONS™demonstration of traditional cassoulet.
  • Tour of the acclaimed Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in the 13th‑century Palais de la Berbie, exhibiting the world’s largest collection of the artist’s work.
  • Full‑day excursion to the historic town of Gaillac to visit the imposing Abbaye Saint-Michel de Gaillac and the well‑preserved, picturesque village of Cordes‑sur‑Ciel.
  • Tour of the comprehensive Goya Museum in Castres, housing the largest collection of Spanish artwork in France.
  • Visit to the extensively restored Romanesque former Cistercian Abbaye de Fontfroide, including its church, cloister, chapter hall and rose garden.
  • Walking tour to the well‑preserved medieval town of Caunes-Minervois and to Minerve, one of the most beautiful villages of France, with visits to the Abbaye de Caunes‑Minervois and the Église Saint‑Étienne.
  • Special Town & Country Life® Forum with local residents who will discuss life in southern France.
  • Time at leisure to experience the rhythms of daily life in Carcassonne and Minerve
  • French language introduction.
  • Walking tour of provincial Albi, once a stronghold of the Cathars, including a visit to the impressive, 14th‑century Cathédrale Sainte‑Cécile and Collégiale Saint‑Salvi.
  • Guided tour of Carcassonne, including visits to the Romanesque‑Gothic‑style Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, and the impressive archaeological museum in the restored Château Comtal, a former Cathar castle.
  • Cruise aboard a traditional flat‑bottomed boat on the Canal du Midi.
  • Experienced, local guides for included excursions.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on included excursions.
  • Complimentary bottled water on excursions.
  • Hospitality desk in the hotel and château.
  • Experienced Professional Program Director at your service.
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad, for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s).
  • All excursions and visits, as outlined above, with experienced, English-speaking local guides.
  • Complimentary use of a state-of-the-art audio headset for each participant during guided excursions.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.

Not included:
Airfare; Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at for more details.