Travel FAQs

Who can participate in a VIE program?

VIE’s Travel and Family Stay programs to France are designed for student groups led by teachers. VIE organizes spring and summer trips for both middle school and high school groups.

What language skills are necessary?

A good background in French is very helpful; however, all students (even beginning) will benefit greatly from the exposure to the spoken and written language. A commitment to speaking French is necessary.

Can adults join a VIE program?

Adults may join the group at the discretion of the Organizing Teacher. Adults pay the regular student price plus a surcharge to cover additional hotel expenses during the tour and Family Stay.

As an adult member of a student travel group, there are special considerations that they must make.

The objective of the tours is primarily educational. The tours promote learning and usage of the French language and understanding of the French culture.

All arrangements for VIE travel programs to France are designed for the group as a whole. We are not able to make the kind of individual travel arrangements for participants that one might expect of a travel agency.

The accommodations will be in tourist class hotels. Participants will be required to carry their own luggage. During the students’ Family Stay, adults will stay in a hotel. There is a substantial surcharge for hotel rooms during this time and adults are responsible for their own activities during the Family Stay period.

As participants in a travel group, adults will take part in all activities for the group which are selected by the Organizing Teacher. The Organizing Teachers are responsible for all decision-making for the entire group.

What financial security do participants have when they enroll in a VIE program?

Student payments are held in a separate account. These funds are segregated and are used to pay the group’s airlines and travel expenses in France such as hotels, buses and tour guides.

What are the terms of cancellation for worldwide events?

VIE has instated a security policy protecting families against major financial loss in case of unforeseen world events. Students will receive a full refund (less a $100 administrative fee) if ALL of the following events occur:

  1. The U.S. State Department establishes that there has been a terrorist act against U.S. interests in France;
  2. The U.S. State Department issues an official Travel Warning (Public Announcements and Worldwide Cautions do not apply) against travel to France;
  3. And this Travel Warning is issued or in effect during the time the student’s program is to take place in France.

In the event that VIE activates the Financial Security Plan, refunds will be issued within 60 days.

What type of hotels are used and meals are served?

VIE uses centrally located, two or three star hotels. Students will usually share triple or quadruple rooms.

Breakfasts are always provided with hotel accommodations. Students are responsible for all of their lunches, except during the Family Stay. Dinners while touring outside of Paris will be included.  Note:  The “Family Stay in Provinces & Parisian Discovery” and the “Intensive Family Stay” programs include 3 dinners in Paris.

Can special meal requests be accommodated (e.g. kosher, vegetarian)?

Students should indicate any specific dietary needs on the Special Diet section of the Family Stay Application. It can be difficult to place students with special dietary needs or allergies, so VIE cannot guarantee placement for students who cannot manage their dietary needs or allergies on their own.

Vegetarians should know that there are few vegetarians in France and therefore the vegetarian options at restaurants will probably not be as varied as the group dinners. While touring outside of Paris, the Organizing Teacher and guide will inform each restaurant of any special meals that are required for participants in the group.

How much spending money should students budget?

We recommend that students plan on a minimum of $40 per day for spending money. This money is intended to pay for meals, metro tickets and entrance fees not included in the program price, as well as incidental expenses like snacks. Students planning to shop or bring home souvenirs will have to budget additional money.

See the section on Money & Budgeting for more information.

What types of airlines are used?

We only use regularly scheduled airlines, such as Air France, United, Delta, American Airlines and Iceland Air for our programs. Groups will be informed well before departure as to their flight times.

What is the airline responsible for in the event of a delay or cancellation?

If your group’s flight is delayed or cancelled due to problems with the airline (mechanical issues, etc.), then the airline should take responsibility and offer your group either food vouchers or hotel vouchers for an overnight delay. However, if the delays or cancellations are due to weather conditions or decisions made by air traffic control, airlines are not responsible for the delay because these are circumstances beyond their control. The airline will still help to make alternate arrangements for your group; however, according to most airlines’ policies, this means that they will not provide accommodations for food and/or hotels. If such circumstances arise for your group, VIE will do our best to advise you in this situation.

Can a participant make alternative flight arrangements?

Please speak to the Organizing Teacher about the options for flight deviations and then contact VIE to see if it is possible for someone in your group to alter his/her air arrangements. Flight deviations are due in our office by December 1 for spring programs & January 15 for summer programs.

How can students call home from France?

To call the U.S., you must first dial 001 before the area code. Remind students when calling home, that it is 6 to 9 hours earlier in the United States than it is in France. They will need to plan accordingly.

VIE strongly discourages calling the states while in France, as it significantly detracts from the immersion experience into French culture, especially during the Family Stay. Parents will be given all the necessary phone numbers and address information to be able to contact their child in case of an emergency during the trip and Family Stay.

How can parents call their child in France?

Parents can reach their child at the hotel or with their host family by dialing 0 – 11 – 33 and the last nine digits of the number.

Instructions for making international calls are also given on the Hotel List. Parents should keep a copy of the Hotel List with addresses and phone numbers of the hotels and the French host family, as well as emergency contacts.