Vistas In Education
is a student travel company that focuses solely on France, much like student exchange programs. We are a small company of passionate, knowledgeable Francophiles who take a personal interest in the success of your student travel program to France. Our Family Stay™ component is a ‘home stay’ taken to the next level for immersion into the language and culture by French peers. VIE is proud to feature government certified bi-lingual guides and our permanently staffed Paris office which delivers unique access to special events and locations.
France Student Travel
We wanted to share the following message sent to us by a mother in Ohio whose daughter traveled with her teacher and VIE this past summer.
I was a bit apprehensive to have my daughter travel to France. First of all I hate to fly and the thought of her flying over the ocean freaked me out. And secondly, with the crazy stuff going on in the world, I was concerned and had second and even third thoughts about if she should really go. I cannot believe how many people were less than positive about her traveling to France.
Nevertheless, she went. I only got the brief highlights at first but I understood right away that this was a first rate tour. The transportation was very nice, the hotels were nice, the tours were very good. The number of places the kids got to visit in France was incredible.
We were nervous for her stay with a French family and our daughter was concerned about speaking French. However, throughout the six-day family stay, she had an incredible experience.
About Vistas In Education – France Student Travel
VIE is a student travel organization, incorporated in Minnesota, which was created by educators with a personal background in teaching and overseas travel. Since 1976 VIE has been dedicated to providing American students with more than a whirlwind tour of France. Through our programs, students are offered the exceptional experience of bringing to life what they have studied in the classroom. This is an unforgettable teaching tool, as well as an invaluable investment in the students’ futures. The quality of our programs has given us a reputation for excellence among French teachers, many of whom travel with their students through VIE year after year.
About Michel Wolf – Founder of VIE
Since 1974, when he was a teaching assistant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, he has been fascinated by the differences between the French and American ways of life. When his American mentor, French teacher Anne Collins, asked Michel for his help with her student trip to France, he agreed on the spot. Motivated to show American students an authentic side of France, he pursued a diplome cadre supérieur du tourisme at the University of Paris and served as the Tour Guide for VIE’s first programs in France! The work of crafting customized itineraries, organizing guided tours of museums, châteaux and the French countryside, and coordinating family stays throughout France was so rewarding that Michel set aside his legal studies for good and committed whole-heartedly to the pursuit of educational travel exchange programs to France.
He created Vistas in Education, a student tour organization for travel and family stay programs in France, incorporated in Minnesota in 1976. His life-long goal has been to promote exchanges between French and American students and their families, through travel programs and Family Stay opportunities. Michel, and the dedicated staff in the Minneapolis office, have seen first-hand how the opportunity to host a French student and then later travel to France on one of VIE’s educational travel programs, has inspired a life-long love of the French language and culture for thousands of middle school and high school students.
Michel prides himself on being part of every program from the beginning to the end and getting to know the Organizing Teachers who travel with VIE.
Often, he can be found meeting groups at the airport, checking in with groups at the hotels, meeting them for dinner in Paris or busy working out program details at the office in Paris. In the pursuit of supporting teachers and offering each group a culturally enriching experience, Michel and the Paris office established the tradition of a dinner at the Eiffel Tower dinner for groups who register early, a stipend for teachers and free hotel accommodations for the Organizing Teacher during the Family Stay so that they can make the most of their “mini-sabbatical.” Michel has also been closely involved with the creation of VIE’s brochure for many years, incorporating his love of photography and savoir-faire for design.
While VIE’s standard programs are designed for students, VIE and APEC have also offered a variety of custom programs for adult groups throughout the years. These travel programs have ranged from a university tour of gardens of France, a family trip through the sites of WWI, an artists’ tour of museums and artistic sites throughout France and Italy, and a teacher-led bicycle adventure in France’s Bordeaux wine region. Many parents and other adult chaperons have accompanied student groups and loved the opportunity to immerse themselves in French culture, enjoy authentic regional cuisine, and brush up on their French language skills.
While much can be learned in a classroom, at a museum or from a professional tour guide, the chance to become part of a family in another country is invaluable.
In addition to travel and family stay programs in France, Michel and VIE offer Family Stay programs throughout the U.S. and Canada for French students. These host programs give French students the chance to spend a few weeks with a host family, immerse themselves in the English language and make life-long friendships. Michel’s own children took part in many of these host programs and can attest to how beneficial they are for language learning and personal growth. It is no wonder that many host families then send their children to France to stay with their French student’s family.
Michel is also the founder and director of APEC, l’Association pour la Promotion des Echanges interCulturels, VIE’s sister office in Paris. They oversee all reservations for hotels, dinners, tour guides, excursions, museum visits and so much more.
More importantly, they are a 24/7 source of on-site support for groups while they’re in France, helping groups navigate everything from a delayed flight to a lost passport.
The APEC office also works directly with the local Family Stay Organizers in their work to recruit and screen French host families.
With French students’ strong interest and commitment to studying English, teachers throughout France work with APEC to provide their students with more opportunities to travel to the U.S. and stay with a Host Family. VIE and APEC have a long history of supporting French schools that partner with an American school for direct exchange programs. With six weeks of vacation factored into the French academic calendar every year, there are plenty of opportunities for French student groups to stay with host families, attend school and learn about the American way of life!