Excursions

Each Veritas program includes several excursions designed to help students gain a more in-depth cultural and historical understanding of the host country and region. Excursions are included in the program cost and cover ground transportation, entrance fees, and guided tours. Accommodations and breakfast are included on all overnight excursions. Some excursions may not be available for all terms. Optional excursions may be provided at an extra cost.

Select a photo below to see more information about the specific excursion.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Optional for some or all sessions
Aix-en-Provence (or simply "Aix") is the historic capital of Provence, originally called Aquae Sextiae, from the name of the Roman general who conquered the town in 123 BC. The name also makes reference to the presence of natural hot springs, which later brought important thermal activity to the  area. The city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995, and the Roman ruins are still visible today.
 

BORDEAUX

Optional for some or all sessions
The first thing that comes to mind for most individuals when speaking about Bordeaux is wine, and with good reason! Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital and is home to the "Vinexpo", the world's most popular wine fair. Half of this port city is registered as a UNESCO World  Heritage Site, with over 362 historical monuments; the only city in France with more monuments is Paris. Students will explore the beautifully sculpted facades of "Vieux Bordeaux", with its endless array of markets, boutiques, and lively quartiers. The excursion also includes a walk along the Great Dune of Pyla and a sampling of some of the region's best wines at a local winery.
 

BRUGES

Optional for some or all sessions
The historic center of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Students will discover the city during a guided walking tour highlighting such sights as the Beguinage, medieval almshouses and hospitals, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Students will gain familiarity with pertinent facts about the history of the city and the enduring legacy of its former rulers, the Dukes of Burgundy. The Bruges belfry is possibly the most famous landmark in the city. The most important of Bruges' towers, it stands 83 meters tall. It houses a treasure-chamber, an impressive clock mechanism and a carillon with 47 silver-toned bells. Students can climb up the tower's 366 stairs to take in a breathtaking and unforgettable panoramic view of Bruges.
 

CASSIS

Optional for some or all sessions
Students will enjoy the seaside charm of Cassis, a scenic little town known for its beautiful sheltered inlets (calanques), which can be explored by boat. Students will enjoy the pastel-colored houses and the exquisite seafood served in the numerous restaurants of this area. Cassis is part of a National Natural Park protected for its luxuriant vegetation (garrigue). By the end of this excursion, students will be familiar with the concept of "regional cultural identity" and will be able to list some examples of this region's many claims to cultural distinction: for instance, Provence-labeled products such as calisson, nougat candies, lavender based products, olive oil, fine herbs, pastis and rosé wine. Students may even have the chance to see locals playing the beloved sport of pétanque (the regional bocce game).
 

FRANCE DISCOVERY DAY TRIP

Students are taken on a day trip to explore outside Paris' city limits. This change of scenery, from the bustle of the city to the calm of the countryside, allows students a different perspective on French culture. Visits can include nearby castles or famous sites, such as Versailles, Château de Malmaison, Giverny, Vaux le Vicomte, Van Gogh's home in Auvers-sur-Oise, Fontainebleau, Chartres, or Reims.
 

GHENT

Optional for some or all sessions
One writer has described the city as "historical without being fossilized, small without being provincial and lively without being boisterous". It is formerly the second largest and most important city in Belgium; it was the home of Holy Roman Emperor and Hapsburg Spanish King Charles V who ruled the Spanish empire with an iron fist - at least until the citizens of Ghent revolted against him. Ghent became prosperous in the Middle Ages thanks in large part to the textile industry as well as the lucrative custom of taxing all ships using the Scheldt River to trade further inland with Paris and, in turn, the rest of Europe. Today, Ghent is a lively student city, which has still maintained its medieval charm, and is dominated by its imposing medieval towers along with the 12th century Gravensteen Castle.
 

MONT SAINT MICHEL

Optional for some or all sessions
This spectacular site remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of France, second only to Paris. Students will perform "La Traversée", the crossing of the Bay between San Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel to get to the Mont Saint Michel Abbey and surrpounding areas. The tidal range of the Bay of MontSaint-Michel is the greatest in Europe, with incoming tides covering over 15 miles at the rate of a galloping horse. From a distance, one can see the "pre-sale" sheep (a gastronomic specialty thanks to their naturally salty meat) grazing on the salt marshes. the Mont St Michel Abbey is connected to the mainland by an improbably thin stretch of land. The rocky island was first inhabited and fortified in the 5th century, and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. Since its construction, which was supposedly ordered by the archangel Michael himself, the island has been a monastery, a wartime fort and prison. One of France's most recognizable landmarks, Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and more than 3 million people pay their respects by visiting each year.
 

MOROCCAN CITIES AND DESERT

Optional for some or all sessions
During this multi-day optional excursion, students will be introduced to another continent (Africa) via a multi-stop five night itinerary across Morocco, one of the world's most colorful, diverse, and -- for reasons we ll have occasion to explore -- pro-American countries. Our trip encompasses direct cultural encounters with locals, guided tours through medinas and monuments, opportunities to shop and to learn the ins and outs of haggling with Moroccan vendors, and some unforgettable desert experiences that include rides on camelback and spectacular views of the sunrise. We also visit the Imperial City of Meknes, site of our first ISA program on the Africa continent.

Students will come away from the trip with a more nuanced sense of a complex country, knowing that Moroccan civilization is very old, very diverse, and not merely "Islamic". They will be exposed to different styles of dress and food and different inflections of gender relations than may have been anticipated.

 

NORMANDY

Optional for some or all sessions
Normandy is in the Northwest part of France, just under 3 hours from Paris. Made up of "Haut Normandie" and "Basse Normandie" (Upper and Lower Normandy), this area accounts for approximately 5% of France's territory. This excursion gives an in-depth look into the D-day landings and the roles played by the different countries involved. Students will visit the Caen Memorial (Museum for the Peace), the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Point du Hoc, and a Cider Farm. The evening is spent in Caen where students enjoy some free time. The blend of these activities allows students to get a glimpse into the far-reaching effects of WWII and develops in them a greater appreciation of European history and the role played by the U.S. in the war efforts.
 

SAINT MALO

Optional for some or all sessions
Located at the mouth of the Rance River in the Bretagne region, Saint-Malo was a fortified island during the Middle Ages. Its proud, defiant townsfolk once declared themselves an independent republic with the motto "not French, not Breton, but Malouins." The walled port city was notorious for piracy and a haven for mercenaries throughout much of modern history. Today it is a major tourist destination, with many ancient buildings and accessible ramparts. It also has the highest concentration of seafood restaurants in Europe and is famous for serving delicious local oysters from the nearby village of Cancale.

This excursion allows students to discover the French history of another important town. Since the Middle Ages Saint Malo has played a key role in maritime trading. Famous sailors, such as Jacques Cartier, sailed in and out of this
port, which was often controlled by privateers who forced foreign ships to pay tribute. Today the town is a popular tourist destination with many people flocking there to take advantage of the excellent seafood and beaches during the summer months.

 

THE LOIRE VALLEY

Optional for some or all sessions
Come away to the Valley of the Kings for a weekend where Châteaux decorate the landscape. Wander the never ending halls of the royal residence of Blois where 7 kings and 10 queens spent their days surrounded by their courts. Take in the sumptuous decorations of the Château de Chenonceau  fashioned and cared for by queens and mistresses alike. This "Châteaux des Dames" exudes majestic beauty with its arched bridge spanning the river Cher and its well-tended flower gardens. Or, tour the intriguing Chateau d'Amboise where Leonardo Da Vinci visited François the 1st. Another option, is the famous Château de Chambord – a feat of architectural prowess. Roam its vast hunting ground or take a short row along the canal. With two full days of sightseeing, take a break to visit a local vineyard! After learning the secrets of wine making, taste some regional wines while sampling the local specialties of goat cheese and rillettes. In the evening, see all that the town of Tours has to offer! Gaze upon the lovely half-timbered houses in the historical center then unwind with dinner under the starts at the lovely Place Plumereau.