Jefferson in France

Join Clay Jenkinson on a guided tour through Jefferson’s France. After exploring Jefferson’s Paris, we’ll visit Bordeaux, where Jefferson devised a wine classification system that was adopted by the region fifty years later. Enjoy tastings at vineyards with a family memory of Jefferson’s visit in 1787 and a visit to Montaigne’s castle, where the first great essays of modern history were written. Then to Nimes to see the Maison Quarree, what Jefferson called “the most precious morsel of antiguity,” the building that served as the model for the new state capitol in Richmond. We’ll visit Arles for time among Roman antiquities and make a brief stop at Aix-en-Provence, where Jefferson took the mineral waters to ease the pain in his wrist, damaged in a romantic escapade with Maria Cosway in Paris.

Canal du Midi Add-on Tour

For those who wish it, spend five additional days afloat on the Canal du Midi (Canal Languedoc), where Jefferson in 1787 spent more than a week in his quest to learn the best technologies for canal development in America. Space for this canal trip is very limited!

Clay’s Notes

I have done this trip twice before, with my friend Michele Basta of the University of Nevada libraries. It’s a fabulous trip. We know a great deal about Jefferson’s time in France, and it’s possible to visit sites that were important to him. Don’t let your lack of French intimidate you. We’ll have good local interpreters to smooth our way. Jefferson said every man’s first country is of course his own, but every rational man’s second country must be France. If you are interested in the aesthetic side of Jefferson, this is your trip: music, architecture, painting, sculpture, gardens, and French salon culture. We’ll also talk about Jefferson and the French Revolution, which he (at first) thought of as the next logical step in the liberation of the world after the American Revolution. The Hotel de Salm in Paris became the template for Jefferson’s rebuild of Monticello (with the dome), and the Maison Quarree became the template for the capitol at Richmond. We’ll spend a good deal of time discussing Jefferson’s last love affair, with Maria Cosway, and visit places where their platonic romance unfolded.

I did the canal trip many years ago. It’s pure magic. It’s maybe the finest canal trip in Europe. You can walk along the tow path or ride a bicycle. The French essentially invented the farm to table movement. This is pure Enlightenment luxury.

 
 

Day 1 – October 27

Guests are met in Beziers and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Athos. A full-crew Welcome Aboard follows, with champagne and Mediterranean canapés. Once you are settled into your cabin, you will be invited to your first 4-course dinner on board, prepared by the highly skilled chef.

Day 2 – October 28

Enjoy breakfast in a comfortable chair on the upper deck of the hotel barge, before we drive to the famous medieval double-walled city of Carcassonne. Your knowledgeable guide will provide a full tour of this historical place and ensure that you also have time to browse the shops. Return to the barge for a gourmet lunch (perhaps including the famous duck confit stew, cassoulet) and an afternoon's cruise to La Croisade, with plenty of opportunity to walk or bicycle along the towpath. Dinner on board.

Day 3 – October 29

After breakfast, we enjoy a tasting at “L'Oulibo”, the local olive oil press. After tasting those organic and wholesome olives accompanied by a glass of rosé, we take a short drive up the Gorge de la Cesse and into the hilltop village of Minerve. Your guide will regale you with the harrowing tale of the Cathar siege launched at Minerve during the 13th century. Relax after lunch on board, whilst we cruise to Capestang, or you canenjoy a wine tasting at a local château, such as Château Cabezac. Return to the hotel barge for dinner on board and admire the floodlit Collegiale St. Etienne.

Day 4 - October 30

After breakfast, we take a trip to the weekly morning market in Narbonne. Even for non-shoppers, Narbonne offers much entertainment. Explore an excavated portion of the original Roman road, the Via Domitia, browse through the Roman Museum, discover the beauty of St. Juste Cathedral, or simply relax at one of the many cafés. After lunch in the atmospheric market, we return to Athos and cruise to Fonserannes. From our mooring tonightyou will have a glorious view of the town of Beziers and the Cathedral St.Nazaire. Dinner on board.

Day 5 – October 31

This morning we drive to the old market town of Pezenas, which was the first seat of the Languedoc court. The architecture is unique within this region because of the “Hotels Particuliers” or mansions belonging to the noble families who followed the Court. It is filled with artisans’ shops,including painters, hat makers, and costume designers. Once again, your guide makes sure that there is time to browse, as well as learning about the history. After lunch we begin our negotiation of a 17th century feat of engineering, the Fonserannes Staircase Locks. Then we traverse the 18th century aqueduct over the River Orb. The paved towpath and the many locks leading to our mooring make it an ideal afternoon for walking or bicycling alongside the barge. Dinner on board.

Day 6 - November 1

This morning, we get underway earlier than usual, cruising through the area known as the “Petit Camargue”. Bird watchers should look out for the local species such as pink flamingos, African Rollers and Bee Eaters. After crossing through the exceptional “round lock” at Agde, a spectacular and appropriate seafood lunch awaits you, as you enter the open-waters of the Etang de Thau, which boasts Europe's largest mussel and oyster beds. As we moor in the port at Marseillan, you will notice the enclosure of the Noilly Prat vermouth distillery. End a perfect day with a fascinatingtour of the distillery and if you choose, a tasting of Noilly Prat before the Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.

Day 7 - November 2

After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to their choice of location in Beziers.

 

Jefferson in France Land Tour
October 17-26, 2019
All-Inclusive
$5,995/person

Add-On Canal du Midi River Tour
October 27-November 2, 2019
All-Inclusive
$5,995/person

Your journey begins and ends at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Your package includes pickup and transportation from and back to the airport (airfare is not included).

Also included: a professional tour director; interpretations by nationally-acclaimed humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson; all activities; lodging; meals unless otherwise noted in itinerary; transportation throughout your tour; museum fees; journals; gifts; hotel baggage handling; and taxes. Alcoholic beverages are not included. A $1,500 non-refundable deposit will secure your reservation. Price is per-person based on double occupancy. Traveling single? No problem. Please inquire about our single supplemental fee.