2024 Ralston Valley France Program

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2024 Ralston Valley France Program! You are currently on the Pre-Enrollment page, the purpose of which is to share exciting highlights and important info that participants will want to know before signing up. If you enroll, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment page which offers a greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for France! 
Travel Dates: March 16, 2024 - March 25, 2024
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $2,990 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Confirmed Airfare: $1,355

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. 

DayLocationDescriptionLodging
March 16USA - ParisToday the group will travel from the US to Paris, France.Airplane
March 17ParisArrive in Paris and meet your Walking Tree Program Leader at the airport and head to our hotel to drop our bags and have our orientation meeing. With so much to see in Paris, we'll spend most of the day visiting monuments and amazing sites. We'll start the day at The Orsay Museum followed by a quick trip to the beautiful Tuileries Garden where we will have a picnic. Next we'll continue on to the Place de la Concorde and the Place Vendome , a square dominated by a decorated column dedicated to the famous Napoleonic battle of Austerlitz. We'll move on to the home of the current French President - the Palais de l'Élysée , where we'll enjoy the beautiful view from outside. The afternoon will be an excellent chance to do some (window) shopping at one of the most exclusive shopping districts in the world; Champs-Élysées . We'll finish up the day up at the Arc de Triomphe followed by dinner nearby our hotel. We will then head back to our hotel for a good night of sleep. Citadines Montmartre Paris
March 18ParisToday, we will have a wonderful walking tour of Paris. We'll start on the Left Bank or Rive Gauche where we will see the Luxembourg Gardens , the Pantheon , and the famous Latin Quarter , followed by the Holy Chapel. We will walk by Notre Dame Cathedral and admire it from outside . We'll stop for a picnic lunch in the nearby park and explore the Ile de St. Louis , too. Then we will continue up to the Pompidou Center , where we will see an exhibition. After the museum we will walk over to the Les Halles area and explore Rue Montorgueil , the oldest market street in Paris, and the Church of St. Eustache . We will eat dinner at a restaurant in the neighborhood and then head back to our accommodations for some rest.Citadines Montmartre Paris
March 19ParisToday we will take the RER just outside of Paris to see the palace of Versailles , one of the most opulent palaces in the world, with gardens equally as beautiful. We'll enjoy a nice picnic in the gardens and you'll also get the chance to visit the historic Hall of Mirrors - the treaty of Versailles was signed here, ending World War I. We'll take the RER back into Paris and get out at the Champs de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower up close. If scheduling allows, we will go all the way to the top! When we get back down to ground level, we'll walk over to see Invalides . After dinner, we'll head to the Palais du Tokyo, Paris' exciting contemporary art museum (open until midnight!). Here we'll see an exhibition and have an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower before heading back to our hotels for tonight. Citadines Montmartre Paris
March 20ParisIn the morning, we'll visit the Louvre and you will have your chance to see the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and many other amazing works of art. After our visit to the Louvre, we will walk to the gardens of the Palais Royal. We will take the metro and will be walking to one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris, Montmartre, also known as the painter's corner. Its small, steep streets constitute a network that connects the city's oldest cabarets. We'll check out some of the most well-known corners of the neighborhood, including the the Bateau Lavoir and the Cafe au Deux Molins - famous for the movie Amelie-, Moulin Rouge and Place de Clichy, Place du Tertre. If time allows we will go in the Basilica of Sacre Couer. We will have dinner at the area before heading back to hotel.Citadines Montmartre Paris
March 21Paris - Normandy (Caen - Bayeux)In the morning we'll depart by bus for Caen, Normandy, arriving at the Atlantic coast by late morning. Once on the beach, we’ll have a few hours through the countryside with a local guide to discover coastlines viewpoints to one of the major trace of the Atlantic Wall and the impressive Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches.
We will take a break at Longues sur Mer & Gold Beach. We'll have a picnic along the way. Later in the afternoon, we’ll return the bikes and head to the medieval city of Bayeux for the evening. We’ll have dinner and check into our lodging.
Hotel De Brunville
March 22Normandy - NantesAfter breakfast, we're off to the Loire Valley. We'll stop at Rochemenier and visit the Village Troglodytique, a strange 13th-century town built into stone. Then, we will drive a bit further along the Loire River and go to Saumur where will have lunch. After, we will go inside a mushroom museums a site dedicated to the fascinating world of wild and cultivated mushrooms. We will board the bus and go to Montsoreau and visit the river cliff of Saut aux Loups. We will head further east, towards Amboise. Finally we'll drive to our accommodations, check in, and have dinner.Hotel Le Blason
March 23Loire ValleyAfter breakfast, we will check out from our hotel and hop on the bus to make a visit to the Amboise Castle famous for being Leonardo Da Vinci's burial site and also the palace of the kings of France during the renaissance. Afterwards, we will tour some more of chateau country and we'll see the beautiful castle of Chambord. After lunch, we will return to Paris where we'll check in at our final hotel. This evening, we will have dinner at the Passage Brady. We'll head back to the hotel and have a quick meeting before bed.ibis Paris Gare De L'Est
March 24ParisOn our last full day in Paris, we will head over to the Jardin des Plantes after breakfast. We'll take in the beautiful gardens and greenhouses and then break for a picnic lunch. After the gardens, we will have the opportunity to visit the Grand Mosquée 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 final dinner where you will get to try traditional French cuisine: Frog legs, Escargot and Steak Frites. We'll head back to our accommodations early enough so that we can pack and rest up for the journey home.ibis Paris Gare De L'Est
March 25Paris - USAToday we will head to the airport for the flight home. Bon Voyage!You own bed, eventually!

Fundraising

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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. 
Citadines Montmartre Paris

The Citadines Montmartre Paris is located in a residential area in Paris near Place de Clichy at the foot of the Butte Montmartre. It offer furnished studios and rooms, just a 10-minute metro ride from the Champs Elysées. Its apartments are equipped with private bathrooms area and some of them have balconies. Citadines Montmartre Paris has a rooftop terrace that provides a view of the city. Citadines Montmartre Paris is just 200 metres from the Moulin Rouge and 1 km from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. The property is a 15-minute metro ride from the Gare du Nord and Saint Lazare Station.

Hotel De Brunville

Hotel De Brunville offers comfortable and well-equipped rooms with modern amenities. A continental buffet breakfast is available every morning at Hôtel De Brunville. It is ideally located in the centre of Bayeux, near the Museum of the Bayeux Tapestry, and few kilometers away from the D-Day’s beaches.  It offers an outdoor heated pool, a jacuzzi and a sauna which are accessible all year round.

Hotel Le Blason

Set in a 15th-century house in the heart of Amboise, Hôtel Le Blason offers a 24-hour reception and a patio. It is the perfect base to visit the Loire Valley. Decorated in a traditional style, all rooms feature a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi access and a desk. The private bathroom is complete with a hairdryer. A continental breakfast serving homemade bread, pastries, yogurt, cheese and juice is offered every morning.

ibis Paris Gare De L’Est

Located in the 10th district of Paris, in front of Gare de l’Est Train Station, ibis Paris Gare De l’Est offers a 24-hour reception, free Wi-Fi access throughout and luggage storage. All rooms are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a wardrobe, desk and telephone. The private bathroom includes a hairdryer. A buffet breakfast composed of sweet and savory dishes such as eggs, fruit salad, yogurts and juices is served every day. Pastries baked on site and fresh French Madeleine cakes are also on offer, as well as a hot beverage and a piece of fruit to take away.

Group Flight

Type Carrier Name Carrier Code Flight Number Departure Airport & City Departure Date and Time  Arrival Airport & City Arrival Date and Time 
Outbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
2132
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
March 16, 2024 at 11:44 AM
MSP – Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, St. Paul, United States
March 16, 2024 at 02:43 PM
Outbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
152
MSP – Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, St. Paul, United States
March 16, 2024 at 05:25 PM
CDG – Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France
March 17, 2024 at 07:55 AM
Inbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
97
CDG – Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France
March 25, 2024 at 10:30 AM
DTW – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Detroit, United States
March 25, 2024 at 02:40 PM
Inbound
Delta Air Lines
DL
1279
DTW – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Detroit, United States
March 25, 2024 at 04:15 PM
DEN – Denver International Airport, Denver, United States
March 25, 2024 at 05:34 PM

 

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. 

CLOTHES (quantities depend on your trip length) :

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts
  • Shorts
  • Rain jacket
  • Travel/athletic shorts that are breathable and light
  • Comfortable, everyday pants
  • Nice shirt/top to be worn to more formal dinners
  • Durable athletic/walking shoes
  • Sandals (optional)
  • Hat/s

TOILETRIES: 

  • Your basics
  • Sunscreen
  • Band Aids and Neosporin, basic first aid
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Medication in properly marked original container

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Passport
  • Sunglasses
  • Journal and pen
  • Book/s
  • Camera (digital, disposable, waterproof)
  • Debit card/US Dollars (we recommend about $100-$200, depending on amount of desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
  • Durable water bottle
  • Deck of cards or other portable games

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.

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Harriet Docena
Harriet Docena
France Country Director


Harriet caught the travel bug early in her life. Born in the Philippines, with 7,107 islands, both of her parents are avid travelers. Most of their weekends and holidays were spent roadtripping and traveling to new places. After finishing her degree in Fashion design and merchandising, she realized that the fashion world was not for her. That’s why in 2006, she left her job and worked as a photographer on cruise ships. For years, she traveled the world to places such as the Caribbean, Alaska, South America, Europe, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and Asia. After working and traveling nonstop, she decided to choose a place where she can stay put and have a “normal life”.  In 2010 she was lucky to be awarded a “skills and talents” visa in France and chose Paris to be her new home. Harriet is also an avid surfer which brought her to different surf spots and exotic locations around the world. As of this moment, she has visited 80+ countries and around 500+ cities. She doesn’t think she will ever stop traveling. Nowadays, you can find Harriet traveling around Europe, obsessed with her chihuahua and surfing when the European waters are not that cold.

Malaïka Nikiema
Malaïka Nikiema
Program Leader


University of Montpellier, France. Health Biology/ Molecular and Cellular Biology

Malaïka, hailing from a background split between Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and the outskirts of Paris, has woven a global narrative since her graduation. Her journey includes a two-year stint in Norway for the United World College program, followed by seven transformative months in Brazil with Global Citizen Year. After a brief interlude in the US, she settled in the south of France, dedicating herself to studies for the past three and a half years. For Malaïka, travel serves as the ultimate classroom, offering insights into both herself and others. A passionate advocate for social justice, her interests and hobbies span the realms of cooking, reading, exploring new languages, delving into history, and championing social justice causes. With a goal of discovering at least two new countries every year, Malaïka finds solace in the enriching tapestry of diverse cultures. Fluent in both French and English, she adeptly navigates conversations in Portuguese, Spanish, and Bassa—a language spoken in Cameroon. Beyond her cultural pursuits, Malaïka proudly wears the badge of a geek, being a devoted Potterhead and anime enthusiast.

Group Roster

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

  • 1 Zayne Yeager
  • 2 Willie Leslie
  • 3 Ainsley Miller
  • 4 Andrea Leslie
  • 5 Justin Brooks
  • 6 Lyndsey McGinnis
  • 7 Rowan Bowers
  • 8 Kadence Landis
  • 9 Keira Broderick
  • 10 Madeleine Knight
  • 11 Sarah Temu
  • 12 Ava Beatty
  • 13 Madeleine Weiser
  • 14 Alicia Waldrep
  • 15 Justin Brooks
  • 16 Isaac Ousterhout
  • 17 Tess Jennings
  • 18 Dean Gunther
18 Travelers

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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