Undiscovered France

Trip Highlights

Spend 7 nights in Albi, France, at the first-class Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel. Visit 5 local towns and immerse yourself in their culture, heritage, and history. Sample authentic cuisine and local flavors of France. Enjoy some free time to explore at your leisure. Take this opportunity to absorb the beautiful scenery of southern France!

Exclusive departure: This departure is considered exclusive. The participants are U-M travelers, consisting of alumni, family, and friends.


Day 1 – Depart Gateway City

Depart for Toulouse, France.

Day 2 – Albi, France

Arrive at Toulouse airport. Transfer to the Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel.

Meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception, followed by a Welcome Dinner tonight.

Meals – Dinner

Day 3 – Albi

The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade

Join a local expert to learn about the turbulent relationship between the Catholic Church and the Cathars.

Exploring the Musée Toulouse Lautrec

Step inside the Berbie Palace to visit the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, home to the world’s largest collection of art by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a native of Albi. The collection features many of Toulouse-Lautrec’s world-famous posters depicting Montmartre’s working-class neighborhoods and unconventional lifestyles.

Walking Tour of Albi

Perched along the Tarn River, Albi offers a remarkable trove of Gothic architecture. Revel in the vastness of St. Cecilia’s cathedral, built between 1280 and 1492. Dominating the city center, the cathedral features elaborate carvings, a unique brick facade and an exquisitely painted interior.

Enjoy an authentic lunch featuring regional cuisine.

Cruising the Tarn River

Board a gabare, a traditional flat-bottomed wooden boat, for a relaxing cruise along the Tarn River.

Meals – Breakfast and lunch

Day 4 – Montauban

Encounters in the Country

Meet the gracious owners of a family-run dairy farm. Managed by two sisters who have a passion for animal welfare, the farm is home to sheep, cows, chickens and rabbits and uses both innovative and traditional milking methods. Tour the farm and taste the delicious cheese made on the property. Next, journey through the hills to a winery that produces a variety of delectable red, rose and white wines. Learn how the owners create bold, rich flavors through a combination of old and modern techniques. Then sample their wine varietals and tour the winery. Continue to the Degan family farm and settle in for a lunch of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

Tour of Montauban

Enjoy a visit to Montauban’s historic center with its 14th-century bridge, medieval lanes, neoclassical buildings, graceful architecture and the Place Nationale, an inviting central square bordered with pretty arcades and blush-hued buildings. Step inside a local chocolate shop for a sweet sample; then visit the newly renovated Musée Ingres to see collections by Montauban native Jean- Auguste-Dominique Ingres and other artists.

Meals – Breakfast and lunch

Day 5 – Castres | Carcassonne

Tour of Castres

Visit Castres, viewing the half-timbered craftsmen houses along the Agout River. Once home to tanners, paper and parchment makers, and dyers, these colorful houses stand tribute to the town’s storied success in the trade and textile industries.

Canal du Midi Cruise

Glide on Europe’s oldest canal during this leisurely boat trip. With its amazing mechanical and engineering advancements, the canal snakes its way through the land’s natural contours.

Welcome to Carcassonne!

Join your guide for an introduction to this walled, medieval citadel, which boasts over 1.5 miles of defensive ramparts as well as draw bridges, towers, spires and fountains.

Free Time: Enjoy time at leisure amid the fairy-tale atmosphere of Carcassonne. You may wish to visit the Château Comtal, a medieval fortress with over 31 towers, or see the Saint-Nazaire Basilica, home to stunning stained-glass windows, rose windows and gargoyles.

Meals – Breakfast and dinner

Day 6 – Toulouse

Walking Tour of Toulouse

Explore “La Ville Rose,” France’s fourth-largest city. Located in the heart of France, many of the city’s facades are constructed of pretty red brick, creating a delightful vision of harmonious rosy hues throughout the town. Begin your walking tour in the Place du Capitole, a vast plaza anchored by classic 18th and 19th-century buildings, including the Capitole, a grand building with eight columns. Visit St. Sernin Basilica, the largest surviving Romanesque church in Europe. It is considered by many to be the most glorious of all churches along the way of St. James. Stroll along the waterfront and wend through the city’s old quarter, a blend of elegant restaurants, shady squares, trendy cafes and quaint shops. Then relax over lunch at a local establishment.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Delve into the intriguing life of this brilliant 19th-century French artist whose art revealed the atmosphere of Paris’ bohemian era.

Meals – Breakfast and lunch

Day 7 – Cordes-sur-Ciel

Cordes-sur-Ciel and Wine

Journey through the stunning Midi-Pyrenees countryside to Cordes-sur-Ciel, a village built high on a hill by the Cathars to protect themselves from papal crusaders. Meander along the cobbled lanes, viewing Gothic buildings constructed between 1280 and 1350, and marvel at sweeping views of the Cérou valley below.

Enjoy a delicious lunch in Cordes-sur-Ciel.

Gaillac Wines

Continue traveling through France’s oldest wine-producing region. Visit a local winery for a tasting of Gaillac wines. Often characterized by delicate, dry whites and rich, fruity reds, Gaillac wines are sure to delight your palate.

Meals – Breakfast and lunch

Day 8 – Albi

Contemporary France

Examine France’s modern-day political, economic and social status.

Free Time: Craft your own adventure in Albi today. Perhaps search for treasures along the village’s narrow pedestrian streets or find a special riverside viewpoint to revel in splendid views of Albi’s architecture and bridges.

Toast to your French adventure tonight as you gather for a Farewell Reception, followed by a Farewell Dinner.

Meals – Breakfast and dinner

Day 9 – Depart for Gateway City

After breakfast, bid farewell to Albi. Depart for Toulouse airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast


Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

Undiscovered France

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

(9 days)
Starting price: $2,995
No Single Supplement
Deposit per person: $600
Type: Land, Exclusive U-M Departure

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Email Michigan Alumni Travel at alumnitravel@umich.edu.

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