2022 Southington France Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2022 Southington France Cultural Journey! We have created two webpages dedicated to this exciting program so that travelers are as informed as possible throughout the process. The first page, Pre-Enrollment, is meant to share exciting details, highlights and pertinent info that participants will want to know before enrolling. Once enrolled, the Post-Enrollment page, is meant to prepare travelers for participation on the adventure ahead. Please be sure to review the information on the appropriate page thoroughly and we can't wait to start our enriching adventure!
Travel Dates: April 6, 2022 - April 15, 2022
Dates are tentative
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,590 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $700
Deadline(s): Deadline is forthcoming

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers and given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DayLocationActivityLodging
1USA & AirplaneToday we'll fly across the pond from Boston to Paris, France. Because of the time change, we will spend the night on the plane and arrive early the next day (day 2).Airplane
2Paris & VichyWe will arrive Paris in the late morning and depart immediate for Vichy. Upon arrival, we will explore Vichy on foot - visiting the historic town center, the opera, and local market. We'll enjoy a dinner in town before heading home for an early evening.Cavilam
3VichyMorning of classes, lunch on campus followed by an afternoon atelier. Today we will go deep into the wings of the Vichy Opera and learn about its art nouveau structure. Upon returning to CAVILAM, we will have some outdoor sports and free time. After dinner, we will have an evening of outdoor French cinema in the nearby amphitheater.Cavilam
4VichyDay of lessons, afternoon excursion to Clermont-Ferrand. We'll take detours off of the main roads of this capital of Auvergne and discover its cobblestone streets and history through a walking tour. This evening, we will sample some of the amazing regional specialities. We will also learn by tasting how cheese is an essential element of the local heritage in Auvergne.Cavilam
5VichyDay trip to Lyon, a commercial and cultural crossroads. We will explore its rich architecture and arts; the Old Lyon quarter, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site; the impressive Notre Dame de Fourviere; the roman theater; murals. We will eat lunch together at a restaurant, and there will be some free time in the afternoon to explore the city in smaller groups.Cavilam
6VichyLast day of classes and lunch on campus followed by an afternoon excursion into Vichy one last time to check out the central market and practice our newly refined French skills. After our group dinner, we will either have a night of dancing or go see a move in French! Make sure your bags are packed - in the morning we depart for Paris!Cavilam
7Vichy & ParisToday we'll train back to Paris and drop our things at our hotel before we head out for a day of exploration. We will begin our travels with the Ile de la cite and the Quartier Latin. This is the cradle of old Paris - we will also visit Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle with its extraordinary 13th-century stained glass as well as remark upon the Pont Neuf, too. Afterwards we will take a relaxing and scenic boat ride along the Seine. Of course, this evening, we will enjoy some tasty French cuisine for dinner, followed by a group reflection at our hostel recapping our time thus far.Hostel
8ParisThe adventure continues as we tour the famed Louvre Museum, Paris' biggest museum and home to some of the most important works of art in the history of the world. We will then enjoy a stroll through the nearby Tuileries Garden headed towards the Place de la Concorde. Crossing over the river Seine we will make our way to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn overlooking this iconic world wonder. Later, we will have some free time on the renowned Champs Elysees. For our final evening in Paris we will have a fun dinner as a group and play games until we call the night for our departure the following day.Hostel
9ParisOn our last full day in Paris, after breakfast, we will head over to the Jardin des Plantes. We'll enjoy the beautiful gardens and greenhouses and then break for a picnic lunch. After the gardens, we will have the opportunity to visit the Grand Mosque of Paris, built in the 1920s, and have tea on the tiled terrace. We'll walk over to the bustling Rue Mouffetard, stopping to see the Arenes de Lutece (Roman ruins) on the way. We'll have a festive farewell dinner where we can taste traditional French cuisine: frog legs, escargot and steak frites. We'll head back to our accommodations early so that we can pack and rest up for the journey home.Hostel
10Paris & USAEnjoy our last traditional french breakfast then make our way to the airport and fly home!Your own bed, eventually!

Fundraising

Need to Raise Money? We Have You Covered.

Walking Tree Travel is proud to team up with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that distributes organic coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, chocolate bars, and more.  There is no limit to the amount you can earn, so the sooner you can start, the better!

Learn more here.

WTT coffee

Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe.  We vet and inspect the accommodations to ensure they uphold the ethos of our programs, are great values for our travelers and nice places to rest after enriching days of travel.  

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
Auberge de Jeunesse les Camélias

The Nice Youth Hostel Les Camélias is a beautiful traditional villa located in the heart of the city, with a patio, terrace and veranda, it is very close to the Promenade des Anglais and the beaches of Nice. Inside, the beautiful fresco made by a local painter makes the place warm and welcoming. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Ferme Auberge

A locally owned and operated welcoming countryside accommodation with modern amenities. We have chosen to work with Ferme Auberge de la Maison Nueve for its warm atmosphere, home cooked meals, and genuine French hospitality. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the building keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Les Gîtes de la Barbotine

Les Gîtes de la Barbotine is a welcoming little village comprised of spacious cottages between Angers and Nantes. A wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature and the vegetation of the French countryside. Free Wi-Fi access throughout the premises keeps everyone feeling connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been confirmed, the itinerary will appear here.

Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, and travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION, DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel can be unpredictable.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list but you know yourself better than we do so please adjust accordingly. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on daily outings, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The list below should cover everything you would need, but know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with.  We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

Finally, we recommend consulting a weather forecast for your destination. 

Most importantly, be sure to remember your PASSPORT!

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks (a mixture of good active socks and casual socks)
  • T-shirts (some quick dry)
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts
  • Underwear
  • Shorts
  • Rain jacket
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable, everyday pants
  • Nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners (girls might want a skirt or something a little nicer for such occasions)
  • Durable athletic/walking shoes
  • Sandals (optional)
  • Hat

TOILETRIES: BRING THE BASIC TOILETRIES YOU NEED PLUS:

  • Sunscreen (you will use a lot)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Band Aids and Neosporin
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Power Converter
  • Alarm Clock and watch
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $50-$150, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • 1 quick-dry towel
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Batteries
  • Deck of cards or other portable games
  • Host family gift
  • STUDENT ID
  • French/English Dictionary

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Sarah Hofmann
Sarah Hofmann
France Country Director


Carnegie Mellon University – B.A. Francophone Studies and Anthropology
Columbia University – M.A. Cultural Studies

Born in Tokyo, Sarah was raised in an Ecuadorian-American family in Singapore, Paris and the D.C. suburbs. Basically, she had no choice: she was going to be an implicated world citizen whether she liked it or not. After finishing a self-defined undergraduate major in Francophone literature, Anthropology and Painting – with a semester-long stint in Bamako, Mali squeezed in – she continued to study, travel and work in the francophone world. Since completing her undergraduate studies she has lived in the French antilles, worked in Haiti, completed a Masters in Paris, braved the mean streets of NYC, and taught French in Dakar, Senegal. She has now landed in Bordeaux in the south of France where she has learned that biking along the Garonne River can, in fact, give a person a whole other take on life.

Nicole Kirchner
Nicole Kirchner
Educational Partnerships - Denver, CO


West Chester University-B.S. Elementary Education  
School for International Training (SIT)-M.A. International Education

Nicole grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Amish country, and has always been accustomed to seeing a culture unlike her own. Since her first international experience at 4 years old, she has been intrigued by exploring foreign places. However, it was a study abroad program when she felt the power of international travel. After working 2-years for an inner-city, public school she felt something was missing. Nicole moved to Cusco, Peru, obtained her TEFL Certification, and taught English. Recognizing the value and impact of intercultural experiences, she returned stateside to obtain her Master Degree. After interning with an NGO in Haiti, she backpacked through Central America and fell in love with Guatemala. A life-changing 4 years later of living and working abroad at a private school, she returned to the States with her adopted dog Timo. Nicole is thrilled to call Denver home, and looks forward to hiking with her dog and the changing seasons.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1.  Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of, or are consuming, or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety.
  4. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Threatening physical or emotional harm, or brandishing a weapon.
  4. Possessing, consuming, or distributing tobacco or nicotine, including vape pens.
  5. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  6. Being out of designated area or accommodations after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC France website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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