Student Tour Company

30 Tips to Choosing the Best Student Tour Company

Are you taking a student group on a trip to Europe? There’s so many things to consider that it can be confusing at first. Logistics can be a nightmare when it comes to traveling internationally, especially with a group of teenagers. From finding a reasonable cost of tour packages, hunting down the most educational destinations, and preparing students to travel internationally, there’s no shortage of things you need to prepare for.

Whether you’ve received a recommendation from a fellow teacher or you’re just starting from scratch, you need to make sure you do your research. To assist you in answering your questions about student travel companies, we created this guide. Here are 30 tips for finding the best student tour company to Europe.

1) What is included in the starting-at price?

A starting-at price will include some sort of package that includes a number of different offerings such as activities, meals, travel insurance, accommodations and airfare.

2) What isn’t included in the starting-at price?

What will you be paying extra for that isn’t included in the initial starting-at price? This could include optional excursions, drinks with meals or local transportation when you arrive at your destination.

3) Does the program handle flying arrangements?

Flying to Europe with a group of students can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. When a travel company handles the flying arrangements, you won’t have to worry about the finer details. For example, you don’t have to collect payments from students, you’ll have more flexibility with the itinerary, and support when there’s a delay or flight cancellation.

4) Will your group be met at the airport upon arrival?

With so many things happening after you land, and in a foreign environment nonetheless, it’s easy to get lost or confused. It’s best if your tour company has someone that meets you at the airport to help you find proper transportation and take you wherever it is you’re going.

5) Does the tour company provide a finalized itinerary before departure?

Will the tour company plan out everything beforehand? Having a tour company that plans for all transfers, reservations and guided visits will help you avoid uncertainty when leading a group of teens.

6) Is your itinerary flexible?

Understanding if you can tailor your itinerary to your group’s interests will make everyone’s trip much more enjoyable. If it is flexible, will it cost extra? Plan on budgeting ahead of time for additional excursions or experiences, such as a visit to Versailles when your group is staying in Paris.

7) Where will you stay?

This is very important, especially when traveling with a student group. You need to have some form of oversight to keep track of your students. Make sure that wherever you’re staying is in a safe area for tourists.

8) Will your group be staying in youth hostels?

If a student tour company is offering accommodations at youth hostels, you might want to think twice about signing up. Youth hostels are loaded with noisy coeds that might cause trouble amongst the youngsters in your group.

9) Where will you eat?

If meals aren’t included in your travel package, what will you do to feed you and your group? Are there affordable restaurants at your destination? Research the area you’re visiting to understand prices and availability.

10) Who is your tour guide?

Finding out as much as possible about your tour guide is paramount for a successful student trip to Europe. How many years of experience does he or she have? Are they fluent in the language of the country you’re visiting? Will they stay with the group or have separate accommodations? What services are provided by the tour director?

11) Does the company employ certified tour guides?

This could mean the difference between a great experience and a poor one. A guide that’s certified is much more qualified to talk about the history and culture of your country of destination.

12) Which destinations does the travel company have the most experience with?

You undoubtedly have a few desired destinations in mind. How many years of experience does the travel company have at those locations?

13) Are membership fees applicable?

Does the student tour company charge membership or registration fees? These fees can sneak up on you and quickly suck up extra cash that you’ll want for your trip.

14) What type of support does the tour consultant provide?

If you’re traveling to Europe with students, your tour company should provide support to you and your group. This will keep your mind at ease in case something unfortunate happens.

15) Is there permanent bilingual staff in Europe, 24/7, to support you on your trip?

If you don’t speak a foreign language, make sure that the student tour company is bilingual so you can actually communicate with your support system should an emergency arise.

16) Will your student group be combined with another tour group?

If your group combines with another group, will they be compatible? Two different groups could have opposing opinions on preferred activities when traveling abroad, meaning your students might not see all of the attractions that they want to.

17) Does the program price include fuel surcharges and airport taxes?

Along with hidden fees, fuel surcharges and airport taxes will really cut into your budget, leaving you with less money to explore Europe.

18) Will members in your group be participating in an exchange program?

If you’re participating in a student exchange program, how are the host families qualified? Many times, these families are not paid by the tour company and host an American student out of their desire to learn more about U.S. culture as they teach the young students about their own.

19) How are host families chosen?

Host families normally fill out an application that is sent to the tour company for approval. The tour company then conducts interviews with the potential host families to determine if they are suitable candidates to host an American student. Make sure there’s a given process when searching for a host family.

20) What will students do during their exchange program?

Students that want an immersive experience should try to do an exchange program during the school year so they can visit a European school during their stay. This gives the student a taste of day-to-day life and expands their cultural awareness.

21) Is there a plan in place should a problem arise with the host family?

Should a problem arise, ensure that the tour company has a plan in place to diffuse the issue. Find out whether or not there is a backup plan in place for the potential student that faces a problem.

22) What language skills are necessary when travelling abroad?

Having a good background in the language of the country you’re visiting is helpful, but not a requirement in most cases. Regardless, it’s very helpful if your tour guide is bilingual so he can better guide you.

23) What is the tour company’s cancellation policy?

There are a number of different scenarios in which your trip may be cancelled. A tour company should have policies in place for both a normal cancellation, such as someone changing their mind, and a forced cancellation, such as a terrorist threat. Trips to Europe can be quite pricey, so if something happens, it’s nice knowing that you’re covered from any major losses.

24) How much extra money should students budget for the trip?

It’s recommended that students plan on a minimum of $40 (£37) of spending money per day. This money will go towards meals or snacks, ground transportation, souvenirs and other miscellaneous costs not included in the program price.

25) Can students call home from Europe and can parents contact their children?

Although it detracts from the immersion experience, students should be able to call home if the need arises. All you do is dial 001 before the area code. If a parent needs to contact their child from the United States, they dial 0 – 11 – 33 and the last nine digits of the number.

26) Does the program include medical and trip insurance?

There’s always risk involved when traveling to Europe with students. Finding a program that offers full insurance coverage will help should a medical emergency arise or your trip be interrupted.

27) Does the program offer a payment schedule?

Many families might not have the necessary funds to pay for their child’s trip all at once. That’s where a payment plan comes in handy. This gives the family more flexibility with their finances, while ensuring the child can participate in the trip of a lifetime.

28) Does the student travel program offer a teacher’s grant?

A teacher’s grant can drastically reduce the price the teacher has to pay out-of-pocket. Check with the program about what they offer before you agree to anything.

29) Are there positive testimonials about the tour company on their website or the Internet?

If the student tour is legit, they should feature a number of positive testimonials, from both students and teachers, on their website. But do a little more research on the web to see if any reviews counter those testimonials published by the company.

30) Does the student tour group offer a truly educational experience?

After all, the students are there to learn as much as they can about European culture, history and lifestyle – so, what kind of educational experiences do they provide?

 

While planning a student trip to Europe seems daunting, you don’t want to miss out on the trip of a lifetime and the educational benefits for your young group. Follow these tips when choosing the best student tour company for your needs and all should go smoothly – safe travels!

Bienvenue Ismaïl !

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Meet Ismaïl, VIE’s 2017 Intern from France!

Ismail

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF…

I am a 22-year-old business student. I was born in Morocco and grew up in a suburb south of Paris.

During the last year of my bachelor’s degree, I had the opportunity to study and live in London for 6 months. It was truly a life-changing experience. I particularly enjoyed sharing an apartment with 7 roommates from all over the world. This experience made me realize how important it is to discover other cultures and languages.

 

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So here I am, starting my 6-month internship at Vistas In Education, living in the United States for the first time and more importantly, taking part in this amazing project aiming at bringing different cultures closer together.

LET’S TALK TRAVEL!

You have spent a big part of your life traveling, what keeps drawing you towards travel?
I enjoy experiencing different ways of life. Traveling enriches my own lifestyle because it allows me to develop new habits, to see the world from a new perspective and to challenge my own way of thinking.

Which region in France is your favorite and why?

C215 - Vitry - Avenue Guy Moquet - Octobre 2010I would definitely say Paris and especially the Parisian suburbs where I grew up. The suburbs have
a very multicultural identity and street art is everywhere. Vitry sur Seine, my home town, is called ‘la capitale du street art’. The municipality offers spots to young artists to express their talent in the streets and to contribute to the beauty of the city they live in. One of them is the internationally renowned stencil artist C215.

C215 – Vitry – Avenue Guy Moquet – Octobre 2010

What is one of your fondest travel memories?stencil3
It was 2 years ago, when I went to a small city in Germany called Karlsruhe. It is not a famous city, people were very simple yet particularly welcoming and therefore made my trip unforgettable.

What area do you consider the world’s “best hidden gem”?
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco for the incredible landscapes.

 

c215

FUN FACTS COUNTDOWN

5 words to describe you?
Curious, foodie, calm, accommodating, ambitious

4 hobbies?
Cinema, photography, traveling, writing

3 obsessions?
YouTube videos, lasagna, chinese collar shirts

2 favorite places?
Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris for the architecture and La Croix Valmer in the south of France for its beautiful beaches.

1 secret?
I am shy… but shhh, it is a secret. 


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Ismaïl with his Host Family upon arriving in Minnesota. He had the double good luck of arriving on a Friday the 13th and the coldest day of the year — bienvenue !

 

 

Gluten-free Chocolate and Coconut Bûche de Noël !

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Compliments of Béatrice PELTRE and her blog, La Tartine Gourmande

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At this time of year, walk in the streets of any French city, town or village, and you will be able to admire beautiful bûches displayed in the windows of pastry stores. Every bakery makes their own. When I was a kid, I was longing for Christmas day to come, just to discover and eat as many bûches de Noël as I could. They can be simple, like mine, or elegant and fancy, like many made by great pastry chefs, or talented home cooks.

Traditional bûches use a génoise, a thin sponge cake that is rolled tight, so that it takes the shape, and looks like a wooden roll. They are filled with a flavored butter cream, like vanilla, chocolate, or chestnut, to only name of few common choices, and garnished with a thick coat of ganache or cream icing or powdered sugar.

 

For the chocolate génoise:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour*, sifted
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour*, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
  • 1.5 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled

*Note: You can substitute quinoa and brown rice flours with all-purpose, or baking flour.

  • 3.5 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp
  • 1 gelatin sheet**
  • 1 oz green shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream, whipped

** Generally speaking, assume that 4 gelatin sheets equal 1 envelope powdered gelatin, although the strength in gelatin varies according to brand. A few tests may be required. Use whichever you feel more comfortable with. I am personally more comfortable with sheets, which can be found online in the United States.

To prepare the sponge cake:

  1. Preheat the oven at 400 F.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Place the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl and beat until white in color.
  4. Then add the melted butter, and the sifted flours, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  5. Whip your egg whites firm with a pinch of salt. One min before they are ready, add 1 Tbsp sugar, and continue to beat for 1 min.
  6. Fold the white eggs in the previous preparation, adding 1 Tbsp first to make the dough more relaxed.
  7. Pour on a baking sheet (15” x 10” x 0.5”) covered with parchment paper, and cook for 10 min.
  8. Remove and flip the top part on a wet cloth.
  9. Carefully remove the parchment paper, and roll the sponge cake in the wet towel, to give it the shape of a “bûche.” Let cool.

To prepare the cream:

  1. Place the mascarpone in a bowl. Mix and add the grated coconut, coconut milk and sugar.
  2. Soak the gelatin sheet in a large volume of cold water for 5 min, then squeeze the water out.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut milk and add the gelatin to dissolve.
  4. Mix in the mascarpone cream, with the pistachios.
  5. Whip the cold heavy cream firm, until it forms peaks. Fold in the coconut-flavored mascarpone.
  6. When the cake is cooled, unroll and spread this cream on all the surface. Roll into shape again, removing the towel this time. Wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate for 12 hours minimum.
  7. When you are ready to serve, cut the two ends to show the pattern (you can nibble on these later), and sprinkle the bûche generously with confectioner’s sugar, and grated coconut.

Bon appétit !

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Noël, les bûches photo courtesy of Isabelle BUSSY

Bûche de Noël au chocolat et noix de coco (sans gluten)

Ingrédients

    • 4 gros œufs
    • 50 g de farine de quinoa*, tamisée
    • 50 g de farine de riz complet*, tamisée
    • 3 càs de cacao en poudre non sucré, tamisé
    • 100 g de sucre de canne blond
    • 1/2 càc de levure chimique, tamisée
    • 20 g de beurre, fondu et refroidi

*Remarque : vous pouvez substituer les farines de quinoa et de riz complet par de la farine blanche T45.

    • 100 g de mascarpone
    • 50 g de noix de coco râpée
    • 30 g de sucre glace
    • 60 ml lait de coco + 1 càs
    • 1 feuille de gélatine
    • 25 g de pistaches vertes non salées et décortiquées, hachées grossièrement
    • 240 ml de crème liquide froide, battue en chantilly

Pour préparer la génoise

  1. Préchauffez votre four à 200 C.
  2. Séparez les blancs des jaunes d’œuf.
  3. Dans un saladier, battez les jaunes avec le sucre jusqu’à blanchiment.
  4. Ajoutez le beurre fondu, les farines, le cacao et la levure.
  5. Battez vos blancs d’œuf en neige ferme avec une pincée de sel, et 1 min avant la fin, ajoutez 1 càs de sucre pour les raffermir. Battez encore pendant 1 min.
  6. Incorporez-les délicatement à la préparation précédente ; ajoutez d’abord 1 càs de neige ferme pour détendre la masse.
  7. Versez cette pâte sur une plaque de cuisson rectangulaire (38 x 25,5 x 1,25 cm) recouverte de papier sulfurisé, et étalez-la uniformément. Cuisez au four pendant 10 min.
  8. Retournez la génoise sur un torchon humidifié.
  9. Enlevez doucement le papier sulfurisé, et roulez votre génoise pour la donner la forme d’une bûche, avec le torchon. Laissez refroidir.

Pour préparer la crème

  1. mettez le mascarpone dans une jatte. Mélangez bien avec la noix de coco râpée, le sucre et le lait de coco.
  2. Faites tremper la gélatine dans un grand volume d’eau froide pendant 5 min, puis essorez-la.
  3. Faites chauffer 1 càs de lait de coco et mettez-y la gélatine, pour la dissoudre.
  4. Ajoutez à la crème de mascarpone avec les pistaches.
  5. Battez la crème froide en chantilly et ajoutez-la délicatement, en faisant attention à ne pas faire tomber la masse.
  6. Une fois que le gâteau est refroidi, déroulez-le et étalez la crème dessus. Roulez à nouveau pour former une bûche (sans le torchon cette fois). Enveloppez dans un film plastique, et mettez au frigidaire pendant au moins 12 heures.vie_logo_2718

Au moment de servir, coupez une tranche à chaque bout pour montrer le dessin (vous pourrez les grignoter plus tard), et saupoudrez la bûche généreusement de sucre glace et de noix de coco râpée.  Dégustez et régalez-vous !

How a Séjour en France Can Change Your Life

Meet our guest blogger, Elise!  We asked her to share her story of French adventures, which all started with a Family Stay as a teenager.

« Douce France                                                                  “Sweet France
Cher pays de mon enfance                                              Dear country of my childhood
Bercée de tendre insouciance                                         Cradled in tender carelessness
Je t’ai gardée dans mon cœur »                                       I have kept you in my heart”

Charles Tenet, 1943

I didn’t actually spend my childhood in France, but in high school I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and spent my junior year in a lycée in Brittany, France. Staying with a family was an incredible experience, which I will discuss more in a future blog post, on its own; it also motivated me to study abroad in France, an experience that changed my life.

Like a master key that unlocks all doors, learning French revealed for me cultures and peoples all around the globe. 

French is the official language of 29 countries.  Its romantic overtures have been weaved into music and works of art for centuries. As a language of diplomacy, luxury, love, and fashion, knowing French has considerably broadened my horizons and deepened my understanding of the world around me. At university, I studied Political Science but was interested in expanding the scope of my studies beyond the political status quo in “the West.”

Because I had learned French, I was able to spend 6 months in West Africa analyzing international development in the country of Mali.

I was fortunate to spend several weeks with a club of mothers in the town of Segu where I faced the realities of colonialism and global poverty. Working alongside the mothers, I experienced the triumphs and pitfalls of women’s empowerment projects.

Halloween: l’histoire d’une fête Celte

Sources: france.aulumni.columbia.edu, allofamille.fr; lefigaro.fr; frenchculture.org; tailsofwonders.com

Halloween, l’histoire d’une fête Celte

C’est une fête celte extrêmement ancienne, qui portait le nom de “Samain”. Elle annonçait le début de l’hiver et représentait le moment où le monde surnaturel et le monde rationnel se rejoignaient. Les êtres fantastiques étaient donc tout proches des hommes.

Elle se déroulait à peu près dans la nuit du 31 octobre au 1er novembre – les Celtes utilisaient un calendrier différent du nôtre et dépendant de la lune. Vers le 9e siècle en Europe, cette fête a pris le nom de “All Hallow’s even”, littéralement : “la veille de tous les saints”. C’est de là que vient le nom “Halloween”.

Cette fête était légèrement différente de la fête d’Halloween que nous connaissons aujourd’hui aux États-Unis. Elle n’était pas aussi macabre, même si elle était liée aux êtres surnaturels.

Elle accordait une grande place aux processions d’enfants, qui portaient au bout d’un bâton des lanternes faites dans des cucurbitacées légères. Lors des tournées d’enfants, les gens qui leur ouvraient leur porte leur faisaient des cadeaux, de crainte de la malédiction des enfants. L’ancêtre du “trick or treat“, en somme..


Photo Credit: Meredith Mullins, oh-i-see.com

Pour les enfants, la fête connaît un certain succès en France, notamment en province. Les enfants continuent à se déguiser et à aller frapper aux portes pour demander des bonbons.

Au lieu de dire “Trick or Treat”, on dirait:

  • Des bonbons ou un sort ! = Candies or a spell
  • bêtises ou friandises = Mischief or sweets

Halloween Vocabulary:

  • La Toussaint – All Saints Day
  • Le trente et un octobre – October 31st
  • Un déguisement – A costume
  • Un cimetière – A cemetery
  • Une citrouille – A pumpkin
  • Les araignées – Spiders
  • Les hiboux – Owls
  • Les corbeaux – Crows
  • Des bonbons – Candies
  • Une sorcière – Witch

Sources: week-people.com; paris-friendly.fr; evous.fr

Halloween au Manoir de Paris : S’il y a bien un lieu de la capitale qui se devait de fêter dignement la fête de l’horreur, c’est le Manoir de Paris, dédié aux légendes parisiennes les plus effrayantes. A partir de la mi-octobre, tout le Manoir de Paris passe en mode Halloween. Il s’agit d’un spectacle inédit, dont le niveau de peur est fortement revu à la hausse ! Nouveaux décors, personnages, effets, scènes, sons… le Manoir est totalement changé pendant la période d’Halloween. Préparez-vous à une expérience effrayante et intense !

Meet Jordi! VIE’s Newest Team Member!

fromagerie-sardieres-haute-maurienne-vanoise    haute-maurienne-vanoise

MEET JORDI — VISTA’S IN EDUCATION’S NEWEST TEAM MEMBER! 

Welcome Jordi, Vistas in Education’s newest Program Coordinator! Jordi joined our team this Fall. After traveling to many places throughout the world – including South Pacific, Europe, Africa and Asia – he is excited to share his knowledge. Jordi is looking forward to helping teachers, students and families throughout the U.S. discover French culture through hosting and séjours d’immersion in France. His love of travel is a perfect complement to VIE’s dedication to French-American exchanges where every traveler has the chance to meet new people, discover something new, and dive into another culture!

Find out what he considers the world’s best “hidden gem,” his favorite place in France and the one secret he’s willing to share…

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF…la-cote-dazur-ste-maxime
I was born in New Caledonia, did my University studies in France and have lived in the U.S. for the last 10 years. I have close friends and family in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Dax, Nantes, Toulon, Biarritz, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Brussels. I’ve also been lucky to spend some summer vacations in the French Alps, Brittany, the French Basque Country, the Piedmont region and Rome.

FUN FACTS COUNTDOWN
5 words to describe you? Flexible, resilient, courageous, open-minded, and adventurous!
4 hobbies? Hiking, swimming, photography, cooking
3 obsessions? Cannelés de Bordeaux, strong coffee and exploring Chinese culture
2 favorite places? Minnesota for the nature and creative atmosphere, and France for the people, history and cuisine.
1 secret? I once went to a wedding at a French château with 400 guests at the reception. It felt like we were entering a garden party at Versailles!

la-corse   les-olives

LET’S TALK TRAVEL!
You have spent a big part of your life traveling, what keeps drawing you towards travel?
Every time you travel you learn something new, get better at some aspects, find out more what you like and dislike and you get more relaxed. France has so many different regions, towns and cities to see and things to do, I still have a long list of places to explore.

Which region in France is your favorite and why?
My favorite region in France is Bretagne and Normandie, especially the medieval village of Dinan. My favorite way to travel in France is to visit small towns in the provinces. It gives you the best impression of what France is really like.

What is one of your fondest travel memories?
Some of my fondest travel memories are of the superior seafood restaurants I’ve been to in Western France, such as in Brittany, the Loire Valley and in Basque Country . Bar en croûte de sel (wild sea bass in a crust of salt from the Guérande) is a must!

What area do you consider the world’s “best hidden gem”? 
I would say my home country, the island of New Caledonia. It’s a special collectivity of France located in the South Pacific. It’s perched on one of the world’s largest lagoons, surrounded by the clearest and cleanest water you’ve ever seen.


Vistas in Education: The Perfect Balance of Exploration & Immersion

VIE is a small company of passionate, knowledgeable Francophiles who take a personal interest in the success of your travel program.Creating memorable Travel and Family Stay Programs in France has been the hallmark of VIE since our incorporation in Minnesota in 1976.

Contactez-nous au 800-343-4690 pour discuter vos idées et souhaits pour un séjour en France !

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Safe Travels in France, A Parent’s Perspective

A Daughter’s Travels to France

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.
host-sisters
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. Her French host sister was super sweet. They were extremely well matched and when they parted, she gave my daughter a journal with all kinds of information about what they had done during the visit. She had photos of the two of them, brochures from visits, and things written in both English and French about their time together as well as notes from all family members. She also included a CD of pictures and videos. My daughter said she had several “favorite” experiences and the home stay was definitely at the top of the list. 

 

French Flower

Due to my apprehension going in, I wanted to write a note about the trip as I’m sure there are other parents who may have apprehensions too.  This was such a wonderful opportunity and experience for my daughter. I’m so thankful I didn’t change my mind about letting her go.  Great trip!!! Thank you!

Family Stays

You can learn more about Family Stays  at Vistas In Education! VIE has organized Family Stays throughout France for school groups of all sizes.  Students consistently tell us that learning about French family life and making a French friend their own age is the most valuable part of the trip!

Learn More Today! 

Vive les Vacances!

Paris plages

 Vive les vacances !

A brief history of vacations in France

Les grandes vacances in France were implemented before the Second World War for elementary, middle and high school students and lasted for 10 weeks. Back then, 49% of the population was still rural and parents needed their children’s help to harvest crops in August and September. In 1955, the economic situation in France allowed the government to extend vacation time and many families began to leave on vacation in early July. Thus, today’s summer vacation, which people associate with taking time off to relax and spend time with their families, was in fact created in order to sustain the French agricultural sector.

What do French people do during their summer vacation?

French people like to travel in their own country, et pourquoi pas? France has a very rich cultural heritage and diverse landscapes: three coasts, two mountain chains bordering Switzerland and Spain, expansive farmland, and many historic cities. There is something for everyone! Some families like to spend one or two months camping either in trailers or in tents. Others enjoy spending time at their summer home.

Over the past few years, tourism abroad, especially to nearby European countries like Spain or Italy, has grown since the début of the European Union. For those who cannot afford to go on vacation, French regions and cities have developed activities and sponsored camps for low-income families. A good example is the creation of the Paris Plage, a man-made beach on the Seine, offering the chance for families to enjoy beautiful Parisian weather during the summer months.

Alors, bonne route!

 

Non à la grève !

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What’s going on in France? Why have so many people been taking to the streets since April?  

Striking is a national pastime and longstanding tradition in France. It is hard to compete with the French in that category! French people, especially those living in Paris, are accustomed to strikes and would rather complain than worry about them.

Among other age-old traditions in France, such as baguettes, wine, and cheese, strikes are ranked in the top 5 must-do experiences. The right to demonstrate was decriminalized at the end of the 19th century and is protected by the French Constitution. Following the Revolution in 1789, major uprisings have included a massive resistance movement during the Second World War and tremendous students’ strikes in May 1968. The French people view protesting as an inalienable right and are not shy about voicing that opinion.


What are the impacts on the everyday life?

The Société National des Chemins de Fer (SNCF) employees are the champions of striking. Many people rely on SNCF routes to travel for work or vacation since it has a monopoly on train travel in France. When the SNCF is on strike, fewer trains are running and those that do run tend to be late. When unions call for strikes, employees take to the streets and set up banners and occasionally blockades. While it can become more difficult to get around, big French cities have great transportation systems and offer alternatives modes of transit. It is also rare that an entire company or public services employees stop working. In hospitals for instance, less than half of the doctors or nurses would strike to ensure patient safety and care is unaffected.

In general, strikes are scheduled a week in advance and largely relayed in the media. Being in France while people are demonstrating is then only a matter of organization and patience!


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