By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – More than a hundred survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings, along with family members and first responders, left Boston’s Logan airport Wednesday night on an all-expenses-paid vacation to the south of France.

The gift was the idea of Vantage Deluxe World Travel, a Boston agency that organized the 10-day French river cruise for those intimately connected to April’s events.

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“It’s going to be amazing,” said bombing survivor Jeff Bauman after he checked in for his flight at Terminal E.

Bauman says he was thrilled to get the invitation to take the vacation, as if fits right into his optimistic attitude.

“You gotta keep on trucking, keep on going and can’t let anything slow you down,” he explains. “You only have one life, right? So keep on going.”

Also on the trip will be Bauman’s rescuer-turned-friend Carlos Arredondo and his wife Melida, who described being “honored to be among an amazing group of people.”

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Carlos Arredondo looked forward to relaxing on the trip and spending some quiet time with other people who shared such a difficult time in their lives.

“It’s going to be very therapeutic for everyone and it’s going to be fun going there together,” he says.

For Bauman’s part, he says the spotlight thrust on him over these past seven months has been “pretty overwhelming, but it’s not too bad.”

If nothing else, the attention has offered Bauman the chance to express his gratitude to all the people, many of them strangers, who have gone out of their way to support him.

“It’s amazing, you know,” Bauman says. “I just thank them as much as I can and I just want them to know that it helps. It helps to know that people care a lot. It’s sweet. Thank you very much.”

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