At the beginning of the 12th century, a large part of Provence was incorporated into Catalonia, bringing Provençal scholars into contact with those of Barcelona. It was home to an unusual Jewish culture, combining features of northern European Talmudism, Arabic philosophy and science, and a homegrown mysticism that became the kabbalah. The result was a greater spirit of enlightenment in Provence and the broadening of its intellectual horizon to include interest in the sciences and language.
That development was speeded up with the invasion of Spain by the Almohads in the mid-12th century and the consequent flight of many Spanish thinkers to Provence when Jewish centers in Spain were destroyed. The cultural life of Provence was considerably enriched as a result. Protected by the popes, Jews continued to live in parts of Provence even after they were expelled from France and Spain, up until modern times; there was even a special Jewish version of the local language, known as Judeo-Provençal.
With five-star, deluxe accommodations all along the way, we invite you to join accompanying scholar Professor Ray Scheindlin as we will travel through magnificent countryside from Catalonia to Provence and immerse ourselves in the culture and heritage of this unique area. Along the way, we will hear exciting lectures, visit medieval castles, mikvehs, synagogues, dynamic art museums, and, of course, experience the fascinating and unique architecture of Barcelona.
Check into the five-star Majestic Hotel-located just steps from Las Ramblas and situated on one of Barcelona’s most prestigious boulevards—known for it’s famous architecture and upscale boutiques. Rest and relax from our journey.
Evening: Opening presentation by Dr. Raymond Scheindlin, orientation, and an opportunity to get to know one another before ending the day with dinner at our hotel (included).
Our day will start with a guided tour to Montjuic (said to be named for a Jewish cemetery once located on its hill) and visit the Shoah Memorial (dedicated in 1995). Return to Barcelona’s “Old City” for a walking tour through what was the Jewish Quarter in the Middle Ages and visit the small, unique Jewish Museum.
Break for lunch (included) before visiting the historic Gothic Quarter. Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. From the Gothic Quarter we will visit the Picasso Museum for a private guided tour. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces and houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.
Evening: Shabbat dinner at our hotel (included).
Morning: Free to rest or explore Barcelona on our own.
Afternoon: (optional) walking tour, focusing on local “Catalan Architecture,” where we will hear about the elements of this style and see examples of Barcelona’s best-known architects of this period, including Antoni Gaudi.
Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin before dinner on our own.
Depart for Girona (birthplace of Rabbi Moses ben Nachman—Nachmanides, also known as the “Ramban”) and one time center of Jewish mystics and Kabbalists. Spend the day in Girona, where we will visit the Bonastrucça Porta Centre (housing the Jewish Museum and Nachmanides Center); the restored medieval Jewish Quarter; Alfama of Girona and Girona’s medieval, 11th century Cathedral.
After lunch on our own, depart for Besalú, designated as a “historical national property.” Here, we will see some of the town’s most significant features, including its 12th-century Romanesque bridge; a restored 12th century mikveh and the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river.
Evening free, dinner on our own.
We will start our day with a private guided tour of Gaudi’s famous church, Sagrada Familia. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The rest of this afternoon and evening will be free for last minute shopping, relaxing or strolling about Barcelona on our own, or afternoon (optional) visit to Gaudi’s “Parc Güell.”
Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin, followed by dinner on our own.
Today, we leave Barcelona and head for Provence, stopping en-route in Figueras to visit the Salvadore Dali Museum, with its comprehensive collection of works by the late Spanish surrealist.
Break for lunch on our own before we continue to Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest walled city in Europe.
Late afternoon check in to the magnificent 5 star Hotel de la Cité located within the walls of Carcassonne’s medieval citadel. Following check in, time permitting, a stroll around the ramparts of the Fortress before dinner at our hotel (included).
Depart for Avignon stopping en-route in Montpelier to see its former Jewish Ghetto. The University of Montpelier is one of the oldest universities in the world (c. 1160) and the Jews of Montpelier contributed to the development of its school of medicine (established in the twelfth century).
After breaking for lunch (included), continue to Avignon and check into the charming La Mirande hotel, our home for the next four nights.
Dinner at our hotel (included).
Morning visit to the Avignon Synagogue, a short walk from our hotel. From there, we will depart Avignon with our local, expert guide, Laurence Minard-Amalou, for Carpentras to visit its 18th century Synagogue and through whose southern side, “Porte Juive,” Jews were forcibly taken to be baptized. From Carpentras, we will head for L’isle sur la Sorgue for lunch (included) and then continue to Cavaillon to see a Synagogue originally built in the 15th century which is now a Jewish Museum, the “Musee Judeo-Comtadin.”
Evening: Presentation by Ray Scheindlin followed by dinner on our own.
Walking tour of Avignon, including a visit to Rocher des Doms (a hilltop park with panoramic views over looking the famous Pont D’Avignon) and the Pope’s Palace.
Evening: Shabbat dinner (included).
Morning: free to rest, relax or wander about Avignon on our own or participate in Services at the Synagogue in Avignon.
2:00 p.m.: (optional) tour of the Museum Calvet, known for its beauty and rich collection of art-within walking distance of our hotel.
Evening: Festive closing dinner (included).
Departures for Avignon train station or Marseilles airport.
Majestic Hotel and Spa, Barcelona
A symbol of excellence and 5-star hospitality since 1918, the Majestic Hotel is located on Paseo de Gracia and provides guests with an ideal opportunity to visit Gaudi ́s famous buildings, the exclusive shops and restaurants within a few steps. With luxury and comfort in the historical center of Modernist Barcelona, in an impressive building with a magnificent Neo-Classical façade, the fully refurbished (queen size or twin bedded) rooms are decorated in a new classic, elegant style with a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and views over the traditional Eixample District courtyard or the Pasaje de Campos Eliseos.
The Hotel de la Cité is an integral part of the history of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the very heart of the medieval city and built on the site of the former bishop’s palace, our 5-star hotel stands next to the Saint-Nazaire Basilica and overlooks the lower town from the ramparts, offering an enchanting view over the city, its gardens, its walls and its stones that have been there for centuries. The hotel’s foyer and lounges are an enchanting mix of Neo-Gothic and 1920s Art Deco styles.
An historic 5-star Boutique Hotel and Restaurant in the romantic heart of Avignon, Hotel La Mirande is famous for its intricately renovated interiors. No expenses were spared to carefully restore what has survived from the past and to replenish, where necessary, the features of the age of enlightenment for the revival of a nobleman’s townhouse in the 18th century. In a brilliant endeavor, a secret private place was converted into a luxurious 5-star hotel without intruding on the soul of the building. Each guestroom has all the luxury and amenities one would expect.