SEPT. 2014: SPAIN & FRANCE With KPLU’s Nancy Leson – SOLD OUT


Flavors of Spain & France

With KPLU Food for Thought

With Friends of KPLU & Host Nancy Leson

A Food, Wine & Art Lovers’ Journey to Barcelona and the South of France
September 27 – October 8, 2014

SOLD OUT, please call our office
to be placed on the wait list, 800-723-8454!



Join friends of KPLU and special host Nancy Leson, for a food, wine and art lovers’ journey to Barcelona and the South of France.   Your culinary arts adventure is set to commence in Barcelona, where organic food and wine are still lovingly prepared by families who have a passion for fresh ingredients.  In addition you’ll be treated to a guided tour of the Picasso museum, dine in Pablo’s favorite cafés and discover works by Gaudí, Miró and Dalí. Then we are off to the south of France, where you’ll walk in Picasso’s footsteps and stay in the charming seaside village of Collioure.  The lush vineyards, the gorgeous light and scenery found in the South of France lured artists to the area.  Some of the more famous artists who came here included Signac, Matisse, Chagall, Dufy, Mackintosh and Picasso.  Continuing our hunt, we head deep into Provence and visit markets, cheese mongers and renowned wineries.  In Provence you’ll also admire the works by the only painter Pablo considered his personal master: Paul Cézanne. Our journey culminates as we tip our hat to Marc Chagall and Picasso’s life-long competitor, Henri Matisse. Wine & cheese tastings, outings to country markets, world class art, towering hill towns and Roman ruins are all included as together we discover the secrets of the Mediterranean Kitchen.




Private tours of the Picasso Museums of Barcelona, Arles and Antibes ♦ Additional outings to the Gaudí, Dalí, Matisse & Miró Museums ♦ Wine tastings with the producers in Spain and the Rhone Valley ♦ Dine in cafés and restaurants frequented by Picasso ♦ A tour of Provençal towns where Pablo spent his later years ♦ A farewell lunch in a Michelin-rated restaurant ♦ Outings to village markets ♦ Excursions to stunning Provençal hill towns ♦ The Roman ruins of Arles and the Pont du Gard ♦ Historic walks with local experts ♦ Time for personal discovery




1 Overnight flight to Spain (optional group flight available for $1295)
3 Nights Barcelona, Catalonia
2 Nights Collioure, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
3 Nights Arles, Provence
2 Nights Nice, Cote d’Azur




  • Transport by luxury coach (private group airport shuttle included)
  • All breakfasts and ten additional multi-course meals (with a farewell lunch at a renowned Michelin-starred restaurant)
  • A pre-tour wine and cheese gathering
  • Numerous private museum entrances & tours with entertaining docents
  • All entrances as listed in your itinerary
  • Outings to village markets, Roman ruins, monasteries, vineyards, hill towns
  • Wine tastings with the producers in Spain and France
  • Gratuities for your driver and guides
  • A donation made to the CarbonFund on your behalf so you’ll travel carbon neutral
  • An optional cooking class in Provence or Barcelona



TRIP FACTS - SOLD OUT – Please call to be placed on our wait list, 1-800-723-8454!

12 Days/ 11 Nights (including overnight flight)
$4,495 Dbl Occupancy Land (based on 24-32 guests)
$875 Single Supplement
Departing Seattle on Saturday, September 27, 2014
Journey begins in Barcelona on Sunday, September 28
Journey ends in Nice on Wednesday, October 8
Based on an exchange rate of 74.5 Euro to $1 USD


GROUP AIR: American Airlines/ British Airways $1,295.00



KPLU travel alumni save $100 ♦ Make your deposit before June 15 and pay your final balance by check to save $200


“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
Ernest Hemingway





DAY 1: Depart Seattle for Picasso’s Barcelona
Your journey begins as you board your flight for Spain!


DAY 2: “Buenos Dias y Bon Dia”- Arrive in Barcelona,  Food & Wine Capital of Catalonia
The life and works of Pablo Picasso are inextricably linked to the Mediterranean and Provence. It is therefore fitting that our journey begins in Barcelona where the young Pablo spent much of his youth.

Today, Barcelona is exciting, modern and one of the world’s premier cultural and culinary centers. Cutting edge artists, intellectuals and architects such as Dalí, Picasso and Gaudí have long been attracted to the city’s Mediterranean climate, charm and cuisine.

Make yourself comfortable for this fascinating city will be your home for the next three nights. Enjoy Barcelona’s vibrant Gothic Quarter and the famous pedestrian shopping street “La Rambla,” of which Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said “it’s the only street in the world which I wish would never end.” While in Barcelona you’ll enjoy colorful markets and Gaudí’s dreamlike architecture. You’ll dine in Picasso’s old haunts and enjoy a private tour of the world-renowned Picasso Museum. This evening you’ll be treated to a welcome glass of cava, a trip orientation and a dinner hosted by your Earthbound Expeditions program director and KPLU host Nancy Leson.  Sleep in Barcelona (D)


BARCELONA: In the footsteps of Pablo Ruiz Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) was born in Malaga in the south of Spain on 25 October 1881. In 1885 the Ruiz Picasso family moved to Barcelona, where arguably the world’s greatest painter spent his formative years and began his professional career as an artist. Picasso’s time in Barcelona is well documented. For the next three days you’ll be discovering the many places where Picasso lived, studied, dined and socialized with friends from 1895 to 1904.


DAY 3: La Boqueria Market and Gaudi’s Towering Sagrada Familia
Your day begins at La Boqueria, the most famous market in the city, located on the lively Rambla Avenue. Accompanied by your guide, you’ll explore this bustling market, with fresh fruits and vegetables, and a unique display of fish and seafood stalls.

Next, your walk continues to a nearby neighborhood bursting with early 20th century architecture designed by the world famous architect and Picasso contemporary, Antoni Gaudí. Situated on an asymmetrical corner lot, lies a large apartment building that was immediately dubbed “La Pedrera” or “the quarry” because of its cliff-like walls. This imaginative building was designed by Antoni Gaudí and built between 1906 and 1910 for the Milà family. This is one of the main Gaudí residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in the history of the architecture. Then discover La Sagrada Familia, considered Antoni Gaudí’s most impressive work. This enormous church, as yet unfinished, is a summary of everything that Gaudí designed before. The structural difficulties he faced and errors he committed in other projects are revisited and resolved in La Sagrada Familia. The architectural style of La Sagrada Familia has been called “warped Gothic,” and it’s easy to see why. The rippling contours of the stone façade make it look as though La Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun, while the towers are topped with brightly-colored mosaics which look like bowls of fruit. Gaudí believed that color is life, and, knowing that he would not live to see completion of his masterpiece, left colored drawings of his vision for future architects to follow.

Enjoy a delicious progressive tapas lunch with your host Nancy Leson and Catalan guide.

You’ll have the late afternoon free to further explore this dynamic city, take a siesta like the locals, or pull up a chair in a cozy café and watch the world go by. Sleep in Barcelona


DAY 4: A Day with Picasso and Lunch at the Four Cats
This morning we set out to discover Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. In doing so, we’ll also explore the world of Picasso’s youth. He dined here with friends and took evening strolls with family. We’ll see the Cathedral of Barcelona, known as La Seu, and go underground to view a well-preserved Roman temple.

Then we are off to the world-renowned Picasso Museum, which is a perfect expression of his time in Barcelona. Today the museum houses the world’s most important collection of his early work.

Lunch will be in the Els Quatre Gats café. Opened in 1897, the café and restaurant on Carrer de Montsió 3 became a popular hang-out for Picasso and his friends. In fact, one of his first exhibitions was in Els Quatre Gats and Picasso’s design for the menu is still in use today.

After lunch Miró enthusiasts will set out to explore the Joan Miró Foundation which was designed by Josep Lluís Sert. The great architect created a space which offers visitors a moment of calm where light and beauty interact in perfect harmony. Upon entering the museum you’ll discover the work of another Picasso contemporary, Joan Miró, who throughout his life took a particular interest in the diversity of materials, forms and colors. It led him to explore and experiment with different art forms such as painting, sculpture, printing techniques, ceramics, theatre and tapestry. For those with a bit of energy, we suggest a visit to the Ceramics Museum of Barcelona where you’ll find 16 ceramic works by Picasso. Or you may wish to visit the National Art Museum of Catalonia or the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona.

The late afternoon and evening is free for you to discover the many charms of Barcelona at your own leisurely pace. Optional concerts this evening are available at the Palau de la Musica. Your guide will provide suggestions for events this evening. Sleep in Barcelona (B, L)


DAY 5: The Dalí Museum & Seaside Villages
After breakfast we depart on a lovely drive to the town of Figueres. Located on the Costa Brava, Figueres houses the Fundacio-Gala Salvador Dalí, a museum and mausoleum where much of Salvador Dalí’s most important and dramatic art is found. You’ll have plenty of time to experience the full breadth of Dalí’s works before setting off for lunch at a restaurant frequented by Dali himself. Then we cross into Languedoc, France and drive to the quaint seaside village of Collioure. Tonight, let’s toast to France and feast on local specialties at a nearby bistro.
Sleep in Collioure (B, L, D)


DAY 6: Relax in the Artful Seaside Village of Collioure
In the early 1900’s Collioure became a centre of artistic activity, with several Fauvist artists selecting it as their favorite place to paint. Other artists were attracted too. Among them were André Derain, Georges Braque, Othon Friesz, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Tsuguharu Fujita and Salvador Dalí. Collioure became the home of the Fauvist Movement because of the rare quality of the light.  As Matisse, said “no sky in all France is more blue than that of Collioure.” In 1994 “Le Chemin du Fauvisme” Art Walk was created with works by Matisse and Derain placed around town in locations from which the originals were painted, allowing viewers to compare the painting to the present view. Today the town remains a popular destination for inspiring artists.

Enjoy a restful morning or go on an energetic hike—it’s up to you. We’ve intentionally left this morning unplanned so you can stroll the village of Collioure and soak up the French atmosphere. In the late morning, we’ll embark on leisurely cruise (weather-permitting) to a nearby coastal village, where we will enjoy lunch and wine-tasting. Sleep in Collioure (B, D)


DAY 7: West to Arles
A gem of Provençal history, ancient Arles, with its seven UNESCO World Heritage monuments and sites, roused the passion of Picasso. Reminding him of his Spanish roots, Arles inspired him with its arenas and corridas. His works, including his famous “Arlésienne,” focused on the town starting in 1960. A series of portraits followed. Before he died, he bequeathed 57 drawings to the Réattu museum, all of which illustrate his attachment to Arles. Today we’ll head straight to Arles where we’ll enjoy lunch, a tour of the old town and Réattu museum.  Sleep in Arles (B, L)


DAY 8: To Market- To Market!  Saint Rémy-de-Provence & Les Baux
This morning we make our way to the village of Saint Rémy-de-Provence. Our first stop will be the Saint Paul-de-Mausole, the asylum that Vincent Van Gogh voluntarily entered once he left Arles and the place where he painted his famous Irises.

It’s market day in Saint Rémy-de-Provence and this is not one to miss! Stretching through the old town you’ll see antiques, clothing, tools, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese mongers and baked goods, sometimes even animals for sale! You’ll have plenty of time to wander and shop in the market.

Enjoy a wine tasting and then continue on to the quaint hill town of “Les Baux” with gorgeous views of the olive groves and vineyards of the Luberon valley. Return to Arles for dinner. Sleep in Arles (B)


The French and their Food

“French food culture” has particularly deep cultural roots. Great food is synonymous with a good life. For example, King Henry IV (1553-1610) famously stated, that his goal was for all French people to have a “poule au pot” (a type of meal with poultry) on their table every Sunday! The transmission of those eating habits and of cooking are strongly linked to family values. Half of French people have learned to cook with their family (mother, father, grand-mother…). All these cultural habits are gathered at one point, the meal. (excerpt from an article on


DAY 9: Le Pont du Gard, Avignon, the Wines of the Côtes du Rhône
This morning we make our way to Europe’s best preserved Roman ruin, the 2,000-year-old aqueduct, le Pont du Gard. Admire this feat of Roman engineering and beauty before continuing on to Avignon.  Enjoy an independent lunch and see the summer palace of the Popes.  Time permitting we’ll take in the “Angladon”, a museum which houses works by Picasso, Modigliani and Van Gogh.

After our visit we are off to the Rhône Valley. This stunning area was the first region to produce wine in France. It is said that the first vine was planted by wine growers from Marseille, known then as “Massilia.” Using the nearby Rhône River, the bottles of wine could then be easily transferred to the harbor of Marseille. The Romans were next to further develop the vineyards, with the oldest remaining vineyards being “Côte Rôtie” and “Hermitage.” During the Middle Ages, monasteries began to manage vineyards such as “Châteauneuf,” which was renamed “Châteauneuf du Pape” when the Popes began spending their holidays there. Sleep in Arles (B, D)


Wine, Food and Terroir in France

The French word “terroir” (from terre, “land”) is the set of special characteristics of geography, geology and climate of a certain place, that interact with a plant’s genetics, and is now often found mentioned on packaging of many agricultural products such as wine, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, heritage wheat, and tea. The concept has also crossed to other Protected Appellations of Origin (PDOs a form of geographical indication), products such as cheeses.

Terroir can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.

The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site. The amount of influence and the scope that falls under the description of terroir has been a controversial topic in the wine industry. 


DAY 10:  Cézanne and Picasso!
Aix-en-Provence, birthplace of Paul Cézanne, bursts with Baroque architecture, sparkling fountains and lively terraces. Cézanne, who spent most of his life in Provence, was 42 years older than Picasso, and never met his disciple. It was Cézanne’s work that inspired Picasso and his Fauvist contemporary, Georges Braque, to focus on the substance of things rather than their appearance from a single viewpoint — and in doing so, they invented cubism. Picasso made no secret of the debt. “Cézanne is the father of us all,” he said soon after the French painter’s death, in 1906. It was a relationship that revolutionized modern art.

In 1959, Picasso, then in his 70’s, moved to Provence. It was partly to escape the glare of public life in Cannes, but mostly to be closer to Mont Saint-Victoire, the mountain near Aix-en-Provence that served as the subject of more than 40 paintings by Paul Cézanne, whom Picasso called “my one and only master.” After buying Château de Vauvenargues, at the base of the mountain, Picasso contacted his dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. “I have just bought Cézanne’s St.-Victoire,” he boasted. “Which one?” the dealer asked, assuming Picasso was referring to a painting. “The original!” the artist replied. This was an essential acquisition for Picasso, who bought the site in 1958. Pablo and his wife, Jacqueline, rest here today under a statue of a curvaceous bronze nude by the artist.

Our tour of Aix will include the market, gorgeous back alleys and, time-permitting, a visit to “Atelier Cézanne,” the artist’s studio. In the late afternoon we’ll make the drive down the stunning Côte D’Azur to Nice. Sleep in Nice (B, D)


Matisse and Picasso

By Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian magazine, February 2003- If Henri Matisse was regarded as the father of modern art at the dawn of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was sleeping with the same muse. Matisse and Picasso didn’t like each other’s paintings at first, but they seemed to sense at once the power each had to challenge and stimulate the other. For the rest of their lives each would keep a keen eye on the other’s new work, provoking each other to paint the same subjects, sometimes even with the same title. There are many ways to describe their relationship. It could be called a rivalry, a dialogue, a chess game—Matisse himself once compared it to a boxing match. But it also became the abiding friendship of two titans who, daring to paint the ugly, transformed our sense of beauty in art. 


DAY 11: Colorful Markets, A Michelin Star Lunch and Picasso Museum of Antibes
Our morning begins with an outing to the seaside town of Antibes. We’ll tour the colorful market, then step back into the world of Picasso. Chateau Grimaldi became the “Picasso Museum” on 27 December 1966. Picasso stayed here from mid-September to mid-November 1946 and produced a great deal of work: 23 paintings and 44 drawings which he donated to the town of Antibes. Beginning in 1952, many donations and purchases, including donations from Jacqueline Picasso in 1991, have greatly enriched the Picasso collection in the museum.

We have the perfect place to enjoy a gala farewell luncheon together, so we’ll make a toast to Pablo, art, food, love and life and the fabulous artistic journey we’ve made together!
Sleep in Nice, Côte d’Azur (B, L)


DAY 12: Your Journey Concludes
There is a group transfer to Nice Airport this morning. Have a bit of extra time?  Spend a few more days on the Cote d’Azur or catch a high speed train for Paris.

Bon Voyage!


Meet Your KPLU host Nancy Leson

Seattle Times food writer and KPLU commentator Nancy Leson serves up a bounty of information and culinary tips on Pacific Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants. A native Philadelphian, she spent nearly 20 years waiting tables before trading her apron and corkscrew for a writer’s notebook and keyboard. Nancy joined the Seattle Times as lead restaurant critic in 1998 and today keeps her finger on the pulse of the local food scene on her blog, All You Can Eat!


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