Novotel Les Halles Our Base in Paris

Howard – We will be staying at the Novotel Les Halles Hotel in Paris. Its is a four-star hotel, very centrally located for all of our excursions.

I’ve been meaning to post this video which gives you a look at the hotel and also shows these people know hospitality and how to have a little fun!

There is a major construction project just across the street but the hotel gets very favorable reviews on websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet. The immediate area is loaded with shops and small restaurants as well.


A Grand Chateau & Iconic Wine Figure

Howard W. Hewitt – With our roster set, flight, train, and hotel plans complete, it’s time to turn our attention to trip details. I was able to confirm this morning the participation of one of the iconic names in Southern France winemaking as part of out trip. We also made arrangements to complete our first full day.

Jacques Frelin and his wife will join us for dinner.

Jacques Frelin, a negociant and owner/general manager of Terroir Vivants, will join us for our welcoming dinner. Frelin is a former president of France’s organic wine organization. The Frelin family has long been recognized as pioneers in the organic wine movement..

Jacques, who is a charming and delightful gentleman, will give us a brief welcome to the Languedoc and speak briefly about organic wines during our welcoming dinner. Here is a link to a story I wrote about my trip to the Languedoc. (Perhaps a bit wine geeky for some but you’ll get the idea). About two-thirds down the story is a short video with Jacques talking about the importance of the ogranic movement.

The next day, Sunday, will begin our adventure. We’ll start with a walking tour of Montpellier and learn about its history.

Just before noon we’ll board our chartered bus for Saint Saturnin, about a 40-minute journey. We’ll have a light lunch in the small village and meet Virgile Joly, one of the real rising stars of the Languedoc. Virgile will lead us to his small winery and our first real¬† introduction into Languedoc winemaking.

The Sunday experience couldn’t be more different. Because after we leave the Languedoc countryside we’ll return to Montpellier for a visit to Chateau Flaugergues on the outskirts of the city. We will tour the 18th century chateau which is a grand example of the great architecture of the old French aristocracy. We’ll taste the wines and then give you a bit of time to walk the incredible gardens. You can check out photos on the website linked above!

Wine Adventure to Start with Virgile Joly

Today, Friday, April 12, is the final day to join our June 7-17 Alumni and Friends of the College trip to Southern France and Paris.

Call or write today and we can hold you a spot then work out the paper work and payment. Howard Hewitt at 765-361-6087 or

Virgile Joly at aMontpellier  trade wine show in 2012

Our first full day in Montpellier, in Southern France, will include a walking tour of our historic host city and then our first visit out into the Languedoc countryside.

One of Southern France’s most recognizable and honored young winemakers will be our host. Virgile Joly worked in Chile and France before establishing his Domaine in 2000. His white Joly Blanc has been widely praised and award-winning in his home country. It’s also available in the United States.

We’ll have a light lunch in Joly’s small village of Saint Saturnin de Lucian and then visit Virgile’s winery and learn about Languedoc wines. We’ll taste his honored whites and full line of wines.

Joly is a gregarious and welcoming host. I had the opportunity to meet him twice during a previous visit to the Languedoc and interview him about his winemaking.

Domaine Joly first gained wide recognition through British author Patrick Moon’s book Virgile’s Vineyard. The 2003 publication is out of print but copies can be found on sites like Amazon. Moon inherited property in Saint Saturnin and spent a year writing about the locals and following Joly through a year at the winery and vineyard.

Eight Spots Open for France Trip

Howard W. Hewitt – With just under two weeks until the April 12 registration deadline, we have up to eight spots open for Wabash alums or friends of the College to join us for the France trip.

As of today, April 3, we have 10 people registered for the trip along with the three trip leaders. That’s a nice size group. We are at a comfortable number to know we will be making the excursion. We’d love to have a few more join us for our exploration of Southern France and Paris.

All of the information, costs, what’s included, and such can be found on our Alumni Travel page in the alumni site.

We’ll continue to update trip details here. In the coming weeks those updates will come fast and furious as we lock in our various stops and plans for the trip.

Trip to Montpellier Just Got Shortened

Howard W. Hewitt – Good news yesterday from the travel agency that helps arrange our alumni trips.

During initial booking for the June 7-17 France trip we could not get a flight from Paris to Montpellier. We had a three-hour layover at Charles de Gaulle Airport then would have taken the high-speed train to Montpellier. That would have meant the overnight flight, three hours in an airport and three hours on the train before arriving around 3:30 p.m. local time.

Yesterday we found a connecting flight so we can book straight through Paris to Montpellier. We’ll still have about a three-hour layover before the flight but save two hours. The flight is about an hour down to the Mediterranean coastal city. The good news is we’ll arrive early afternoon with nothing scheduled until our evening dinner.

But we wanted to include a high-speed journey on our trip so Wednesday, June 12 we’ll hop aboard the TGV train in Montpellier for the three-hour trip back to Central Paris. The TGV can hit up to top speeds of 200 mph.

Here is a fun little video on the history of high-speed trains in France.

Plenty of Spots Still Available for France

We’re getting lots of questions about the France trip and a couple of reservations have been made. As of 1/31/13 we have three reservations but lots of conversations with interested alumni and friends of the College.

Probably the most frequently asked question has been about group size and make up of the group. The trip is planned for 20 people, including two leaders. We can fluctuate by a couple in each direction but total group size will not exceed 24.

On previous trips we have had alums, spouses, and friends of the college. This is not a student trip, though younger people are certainly welcome. We may well have a young alum, fluent in French, along with us if our plans pan out.

Again, all travel and accomodations are covered by the registration fee. Entrance fees and tours are also covered. There are some meals provided, but most evenings will be open for you to explore French cuisine. And frankly, that is a cost control measure.

Restaurants in Montpellier are comparable in cost to a nice restaurant in any major U.S. city. For anyone who has been to Paris, you’ll know the nicer restaurants there can range from expensive to very expensive. But there are plenty of options in the affordable range. We will have a list of restaurant recommendations for both cities upon arrival.

Write me with any questions:


Time to Start Thinking About France Trip

We’ll be posting updates on this blog now that we’re into 2013 as we finalize details for the alumni and friends travel trip to France.

Today’s update is that our first reservations are in! We’re excited to get the ball rolling but want to encourage any and everyone interested to look over the details and consider the trip.

One big advantage of a Wabash trip is cost. The double-occupany cost of less than $4000, including airfare and hotels, is much less than a private excursion! And, you’ll be in the company of Wabash people!

We’ll update the trip itinerary in coming days and weeks in this space. We’ll also be offering reading suggestions for those making the trip along with some optional sight seeing, cultural experiences, and even restaurant recommendations for the free evenings on the itinerary.

Montpellier Hotel: Mercure Antigone

Howard W. Hewitt – Just one day after locking in our hotel for Paris, we’ve secured our lodging for Montpellier as well.

I stayed in the Mercure Antigone during the 2012 Millesime Bio – an organic wine trade show. It is well situated on a couple of major streets just outside the old city center. It will be easy for our transportation purposes.

It’s also a short 10-minute walk, or less, to the Place de Comedie – the heart of the old city. The website linked above has more information and photos.


Novotel Hotel Will Be Our Paris Home

Howard Hewitt – It’s exciting to announce we’ll be staying at the beautiful Novotel Paris Les Halles for our five nights in Paris

The 3-Star hotel is a beautiful home base for our travels. It’s located just minutes from Notre Dame, Pompidou Cultural Centre, Siene River, and much more.

Check out the hotel website for lots of photos,  a couple of fun videos at the bottom of their home pages, and more about the fabulous location.

We hope to have our Montpellier hotel secured in the next week or so.

Explore Southern France, Paris With Us

Howard W. Hewitt – This will be the third Wabash Alumni Travel Trip. The first two were Bill Cook’s deep immersions into Italian Renaissance art in Siena, Assisi, and Florence.

Montpellier is a city rich in history.

Michelle Rhoades and I wanted to build a different kind of trip to France. Oh, you will learn plenty about French history and culture. But we also wanted a tip that had more cultural opportunities and some scheduled free time to explore on your own.

We’ll start off in Montpellier, near the Mediterranean coast. From our arrival on Saturday, June 8 until departure Wednesday morning June 12, our focus will be on the wine and food of Southern France. We will go to wineries, meet and dine with winemakers, and explore the nearby Languedoc countryside. But we will also explore historical Montpellier and spend a day at a World Heritage Site – the famed walled city of Carcassone.

In Paris, Michelle will introduce us to the city upon our Wednesday arrival. That evening we will have a fabulous meal while cruising on the Seine River. It should make for spectacular sights seeing the city at night.

We’ll do a full day to Versailles, and on Saturday head out to Giverny to see the home and beautiful gardens which inspired Claude Monet. Bring your camera!

We’ll visit museums, and continue our exploration of French food and wine. But near the end of the trip there will be built in time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for you to explore Paris. Michelle will shape Friday afternoon’s exploration for you with some parameters but the other two afternoons will be all yours. We will have some optional programs available those days for you to consider as well.

Check back for frequent updates. We are finalizing our travel, hotel, and visit plans every day now. When we have something new we’ll add it to the itinerary and make note of the update in this space.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send an email.