As euro plummets, we offer an exceptional value for my June barge cruise

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As Euro Plummets, We Offer An Exceptional Value For My June Barge Cruise

As Euro Plummets, We Offer An Even More Exceptional Value For My June Barge Cruise

I nearly fell out of my chair when I looked at today's dollar-to-euro exchange rates. For the past few weeks, I've been writing about the plunging euro and the value that it presents for travelers to Europe. Today's low, however, caught even me by surprise: A euro is now worth a measly US$1.07. I had predicted that we'd reach parity with the euro by the end of April, but parity is much closer at hand, and that is good news for U.S. travelers to Europe.

The euro's weakness (or perhaps it's the U.S. dollar's strength) has produced some bargains in Europe. The lower rates also have allowed me to bring an even better value for those joining me on my June barge cruise from Arles, France (where Vincent Van Gogh lived) to Sete, France.

Our base price for the barge trip is $3,625 per person. We're now adding two pre-cruise hotel nights in a five-star hotel in Arles and one post-cruise hotel night in a four-star property in Montpelier for $3,990 per person.

The total 9-night/10-day package now includes:

• Six nights/Seven days of all-inclusive barging from Arles to Sete*

• Tours included each day of the barge trip.

• PLUS two pre-hotel nights in a five-star hotel in Arles, including breakfast**

• PLUS one post-hotel night in a four-star hotel in Montpelier, including breakfast**

• PLUS three additional exclusive tours: (1) Avignon, Pont du Gard & Chateauneuf du Pape, (2) Sete Gourmet Markets Tour & (3) Montpelier Tour

• For only $3,990  per person ***

* Transfers to Arles at the beginning of the trip and from Montpelier at the end of the trip are not included
** Note that a few lunches and dinners are not included for the pre/post days
*** If you choose to book your own hotel nights, the rate is $3,625 per person

Compare that to any other barge trips, which nearly always start at more than $4,000 per person. And those are the beginning prices for the barge portion only. We're on an all-inclusive barge and adding three extra nights at four- and five-star hotels, plus special tours. All for $3,990 per person.

Here's what you will get:

• An evening stroll through Arles, all 24 of us! See my story, In Search of Van Gogh, Ashore In Arles

• A special all-day tour of Avignon, Chateauneuf du Pape and Pont du Gard with tastings and lunch in a vineyard restaurant See my story, Pont du Gard, A Must See

• Seven days of barge cruising with all meals and beverages included (with the exception of a few premium-brand beverages). Fine wines, French ones, of course, are included as are cocktails, beer, speciality coffees, mineral water and more.

• Free WiFi on board the barge

• Tours and other activities are included each day of the barge cruise.

• Plus, a special just-for-our-group Gourmet Markets Walking Tour in Sete. I've done it, it's great. National Geopraphic featured it in "Best of the World" and the tour was awarded a "Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor."

• SOLD OUT. Plus, we're adding a Mediterranean Lunch Workshop so that all of us can have fun while learning to cook up a Mediterranean lunch. 

Our Mediterranean Lunch Workshop on June 25 has sold out! The tour can only accommodate eight people, and those eight spots have been spoken for already. We have arranged an INCLUDED alternate tour. Here are the details of the alternate tour on June 25.

• Alternate Tour on June 25: Our favorite Montpelier guide will be waiting to take us for a  historical tour of the Montpelier city center. The New York Times listed Montpelier as one of the top destinations to visit in 2014. We're only a year late! The tour includes a private visit to a 13th-century Mikve, a ritual bath used for the Jewish rite of purification. The tour will end in a private mansion overlooking Montpellier. We will be given a private tour by the owner who is an aristocrat (a friend of ours) and then will head to the rooftop for a glass of champagne. The guide will then take us to our hotel after the tour or we can arrange a group lunch (optional) and then head back to the hotel.

On board the barge, we will have bikes, jacuzzi, sun deck, free WiFI, great service, fine French cuisine. It is going to be a lot of fun.

I’ve chosen All-Travel to handle bookings for me. If you’re ready to book now, call 1-866-347-3033 or request more information online.

We only have a few spots left, so if you want to travel with me through one of my favorite parts of France via one of my favorite modes of travel, please let me know as quickly as possible.

I hope to see you there during a year when we can leverage the strength of the dollar to get the most from our experience in France. — Ralph Grizzle

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Six Tips To Extract More Joy From Your Cruise

In this free special report, I’ve put together a half dozen actionable items that can make the difference between cruise vacations that are memorable and others that fail to measure up to all you had hoped they would be. I’ve cruised on hundreds of ships, as a solo traveler and with family and friends.  — Ralph Grizzle, The Avid Cruiser

Click to download the report.

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Avignon carousel

Shore Excursions From Marseille: Avignon, The Pont d'Avignon & The Pope's Palace

Not far from Marseille, Avignon is a beautiful city on the Rhone river. Spanning the river (well, almost) is the Pont d'Avignon, the bridge that inspired the French song, Sur le Pont d'Avignon. I recommend taking a walk on the bridge and venturing into the walled city.

Avignon’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval walled city practically pulses with life inside the walls. While Avignon is a city that's full of life, it also has a fascinating story to tell, from its impressive Pope’s Palace that was once the seat of Catholicism to a bridge that has captured the imagination of millions of people over the ages.

Have tips that you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments box below.

Also be sure to see Ten Aspirational Ports: Shore Excursions From Marseille Reveal The Beauty Of Provence & UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read more.

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Notre Dame de la Garde

Shore Excursions From Marseille: Visit Notre Dame de la Garde For Panoramic Photos & A Striking Interior

The magnificent Notre Dame de la Garde is situated at the highest point in the city, and it dominates the Marseille skyline. There isn't a better place in the city to take beautiful photos of Marseille and its Old Port. But it's the inside that caught my attention.

The church’s Byzantine interior is striking. Built on an ancient fortress the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and consecrated in 1864. Giant arches frame the ornate ceiling and the beautiful domes. This is a seafarer’s church with paintings and votives depicting the dangers of the sea and the desire for loved ones to return safely from their world journeys. The church is part lighthouse, part fortress and part a sacred place of pilgrimage, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting Marseille.

Have tips that you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments box below.

Also be sure to see Ten Aspirational Ports: Shore Excursions From Marseille Reveal The Beauty Of Provence & UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read more.

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All-Inclusive Barge Trip: Come Experience 'The Good Life' In The South Of France

I've chartered a barge for an adventure in the south of France beginning June 17, 2015. There'll be French wines, bicycle rides, wonderful food and lots of fun with friends. If you're interested in joining me, enter your email address in the form at this link, and I'll send you more information about the trip or click here.

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