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14 July: how is the national day celebrated in France?

14 July: how is the national day celebrated in France?

It’s been more than 130 years since France made July 14 its national holiday!

It is an opportunity for all the French people, and for foreign visitors to enjoy a large popular gathering around numerous official and festive events,… This holiday is one of the symbols of France, just like La Marseillaise or the blue-white-red flag. Let’s see how we celebrate the national holiday in France and what are the events to celebrate this occasion, everywhere in the country.

Why is the French National Day celebrated on July 14?

Each country has its own history and its symbolic date to celebrate it. France chose July 14 in commemoration of 2 successive events of the 18th century. In France, we first celebrate the storming of the Bastille (prison symbol of absolute power) in 1789, a popular insurrection interpreted as “the awakening of freedom” by Victor Hugo. Then, July 14, 1790 is also the feast of the National Federation, the day when King Louis XVI made the promise to the people to respect the Constitution. In short, these two dates mark the adherence of the French Republic to Human Rights. The three ideas of the Republic represented on the tricolor flag took on meaning that day: liberty, equality and fraternity.

How to celebrate July 14 in Paris: the unmissable events!

Attend the military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées

July 14 is always a great success and attracts crowds, both French and foreign. Visiting Paris at this time, is an opportunity to experience a unique moment in the year: the traditional military parade on the Champs-Elysées. This is the oldest and largest military parade in Europe! After careful preparation, on the morning of July 14 in Paris, the spectacular military parade brings together up to 4,000 soldiers and civilians on foot, as well as hundreds of horsemen, vehicles and aircraft. The event ends with a demonstration of the patrol of France, always impressive. For more than a century, this parade, both solemn and popular, has taken place on the Champs-Elysées so that every citizen can attend it freely.

So welcome to foreign travelers and learners of French who want to fully experience the French National Day in Paris!

Take advantage of free entry to some cultural spaces

For July 14, strolling around Paris is a good idea! Because many cultural spaces and museums are open to the public and free of charge. It’s time to mingle with the French who take advantage of this holiday and free admission to visit museums and exhibitions… For example, you can take a tour to the Louvre, which opens its doors free of charge to all public that day, or even to the Grévin Museum, to the Invalides, … and why not keep cool by visiting the Catacombs even without a penny in your pocket!

The operation is also set up in other cities, which decide to give free entry to their visitors for this great national holiday. It is therefore necessary to find out about the opportunities in each city.

Listen to the great concert at the Eiffel Tower

After a visit to the museum, head to the Champs de Mars, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This is where a big popular concert will be held. It brings together French and international singers and groups! It’s time to plan a picnic and reserve your place at the foot of the Grand Dame de Fer.

Admire the fireworks at 11pm

Don’t move from your seat because after the concert, you can watch the long-awaited July 14 fireworks. From the Jardins du Trocadéro and the Eiffel Tower, a spectacular fireworks display is fired before the astonished eyes of all the spectators. Always magical, innovative, it tells a new story every year in colour, sound and light. A must to celebrate July 14 in Paris.

How to celebrate July 14 in French cities?

Everywhere in France, July 14 is actively celebrated! In every town and village in France, fireworks, parades and popular balls are always guaranteed as a rule.

Celebrate July 14 in Bordeaux

In the wine capital, the national holiday is celebrated on the banks of the Garonne. Bordeaux residents gather on the right and left banks, between the historic Pont de Pierre and the modern Pont Chaban Delmas, to admire a fireworks display from the river. Accompanied by sound and light, the magic operates thanks to the splendid colours of the sky which are reflected in the water of the Garonne. In 2022, Bordeaux celebrates July 14 with a huge popular picnic on the banks of the Garonne, followed by a surprise event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Pont de Pierre, a historic monument built by order of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Celebrating July 14 in Lyon

Lyons inhabitants are not left out when it comes to celebrating and offering entertainment to locals and passing visitors. Lyons also presents a morning military parade organized on the heights of the city, as well as various lively popular balls on the banks of the Saône and the Rhône.

The big show starts in the evening with a high-rise fireworks display from the Colline de Fourvière. An unparalleled and dazzling pyrotechnic show, which blends with the illuminations of the monument overlooking the city. Something to amaze young and old! It’s up to you to find the best spot to admire the fireworks!

Celebrate July 14 in Marseilles

Start the national holiday in Marseilles with the military parade, accompanied by traditional serenades! The highlight of the celebrations is obviously the famous fireworks display from the Old Port. Tens of thousands of people gather in the streets and on the forecourt of this emblematic place of the Phocaean City, to admire the pyrotechnic show. The rockets, launched from various pontoons, are reflected in the water of the port with a mirror effect of great beauty. A vibrant moment, out of time to live according to the clanking of the masts of the boats moored in the Old Port.

The National Day in the villages

Everywhere in France, the National Day is celebrated, including in the small villages. Wherever you are to visit the country, in town or in the countryside, festivities take place to mark this event of national fervour. There will therefore be a popular ball and fireworks to discover but beware! Most villages organize their celebrations on July 13, to let the population admire the big events of the major cities the next day, D-Day.

How to enjoy 100% of your holidays in France for July 14? Trust Vacances Actives to organize your stay and offer you the best visits and activities to celebrate the National Day in France in the best conditions!

Visiting the Braderie de Lille

Visiting the Braderie de Lille

Want to visit France while taking advantage of the country’s major popular events?

The Braderie de Lille is an opportunity not to be missed!

Go to Lille for a trip to the North of France, to the largest flea market in Europe. For a weekend, Lille becomes a vast bazaar of flea markets and mussels and chips!

A unique festive event that gives travellers the opportunity to learn the basics of flea markets and negotiation, and to discover the cultural and culinary traditions shared by thousands of visitors from France and around the world.

The Braderie de Lille in a few figures:

  • 10000 slots, totally free!
  • 100 km of stalls
  • 2.5 million visitors, bargain hunters, strollers, street vendors in 2019
  • 33 hours of non-stop clearance sale
  • Every 1st weekend of September

What is the origin of the Braderie de Lille?

The history of the Braderie de Lille goes back to the Middle Ages (first mentioned in 1127), we then spoke of “frank fair” when the town council of Lille authorised merchants from outside to come and sell without paying tax.

In the 16th century, the braderie became a large garage sale when servants were authorised to sell the objects accumulated in their master’s attics, once a year between sunset and sunrise.

This popular event in Lille has been represented several times by various artists, including the romantic painter Watteau, who devoted a now cult work to it: La Braderie de Lille in 1800.

How to prepare for the Braderie de Lille?

The Braderie de Lille can be summed up in 3 components: antiquing, popular festival and mussels and chips. Travel advice: a well-prepared bargain hunter is armed with patience, good shoes, an umbrella, and a shopping cart! Because the Lille weather in September can be capricious and disrupt the party.

At the clearance sale, you can find absolutely everything, from small everyday objects at 1 euro, to rare pearls, furniture and works of art not necessarily recognized, which are the delight of professional antique dealers and collectors. So much so that the event attracts curious people and experts from all over the world.

Lille, a city where the art of negotiation reigns

Negotiating the price of objects is part of the game at the Lille sale. The price is “indicative”! So you have to arm yourself with audacity and a gift of the gab, and engage in haggling in order to conclude the best transaction. As the people of Lille say: We speak the language of the banknote here!

The culture of commerce is anchored in the history of Lille, which has developed thanks to its function as a market place and trade since the Middle Ages.

Find the right way to buy well at the Braderie de Lille

The Braderie takes up the whole city, the linear stands cover kilometres of streets in the centre of Lille. So you have to be a strategist when you are a buyer and know the geography of the clearance sale well. You should know that each neighbourhood has its own “style” of objects and sellers. For example, for furniture lovers, it is better to go to the boulevards Louis XIV and de la Liberté; for toys, the appointment is mainly at Saint Sauveur station; in the realm of second-hand clothing, the Lebas park and the Foch and Dutilleul squares are transformed into a vast empty dressing room!

You inevitably find your favourite neighbourhood at the Braderie de Lille, and you always find something to bring back! Better to anticipate the space in the suitcase!

Traditions and attractions of the Braderie de Lille

One-upmanship on mussels and chips.

This is the essential dish for any participant in the Braderie de Lille. Traditional and fast, the favourite dish of bargain hunters and vendors is prepared by all the restaurants in the city, and is served on banquet tables. Sharing, feasting together at the same table: this is the soul of this popular festival.

The marinière mussels are number 1 in sales, but the Maroilles sauce holds its own, and delights the most seasoned palates. On average, 500 tons of mussels are cooked during the sale.

So what to do with the leftovers?

The people of Lille definitely like to outbid everyone else! Instead of being thrown away, the shells are carefully piled up to form the highest mound possible, setting new records every year. Head to Place Rihour to see the most spectacular piles of mussels.

And after ?

The mussel shells are finally collected and processed to be transformed into slabs of tiling… Nothing is thrown away, everything is recycled!

An extraordinary banquet at the Natural History Museum

La Braderie is synonymous with convivial banquets for bargain hunters and vendors… as well as for animals! Visitors can come for free to visit the toucan, bear cub, emu and other gorillas, positioned around a table in the main room of the Natural History Museum, an original way to discover animals in an unusual environment, seated to honour the tradition of the Braderie de Lille banquet.

Meet at La Vieille Bourse, for the book sale

Welcome to booksellers’ paradise! What an impression of grandeur on entering the Vieille Bourse de Lille, a remarkable building made up of 24 merchant houses. Its majestic and colourful facades, its lion heads and garlands, its Flemish mannerist architecture, combining Renaissance and Baroque, reveal all the wealth of 17th century merchants.

During this weekend of clearance sale, bulk paperbacks and beautiful books of all kinds cover the stalls arranged in this prestigious place. Our travellers and learners of French will be able to make great finds and slip a souvenir book into their luggage, perfect for continuing to work on the language of Molière…

Ready to take a trip to the country of the flea market?

The Vacances Actives agency offers the best welcome (and the best tables to devour local mussels and chips!) to travellers learning French. In Lille, we speak French, ch’ti, and the language of the nego! But travellers will not be the only ones to decipher the dialogues of Lille, as the Braderie attracts visitors from all over the world!

Write to contact@vacancesactiveslinguistiques  to prepare a colourful stay in Hauts de France!

A day in Fontainebleau and Barbizon

A day in Fontainebleau and Barbizon

Vacances Actives Linguistiques proposes you to spend a “royal” day with a first stop at the medieval castle of Blandy-Les -Tours, then at the Château of Vaux le Vicomte (which served as a model for Versailles!), a lunch break in the centre of the Ville impériale© (imperial town) of Fontainebleau, a visit to the Château de Fontainebleau and finally an inspiring walk in the village of painters: Barbizon.

Are you ready for our royal day ?

chateau-vaux-le-vicomte
barbizon et glycine
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1st step : Château of Blandy-les-Tours

château fort Blandy-les-Tours

Let’s start the day with an immersion in the medieval French military architecture: the Château of Blandy-les-Tours has changed of face and vocation over the centuries and according to the ambitions of the prestigious families who have owned it. 20 km from the Fontainebleau Forest, this fortified castle, a rare example in Ile-de-France, still displays proudly its keep and its rampart walkway. Our driver-guide stops there, the visit is optional. The Château de Blandy Les Tours was originally a fortified manor house, built in 1220 with a first enclosure. This one, still visible today, has 4 towers: the square tower, the cylindrical tower, the justice tower and a square main tower, all underlined by ditches.

 

château Blandy-les-Tours-

At the beginning of the 14th century, this enclosure evolves and the castle takes the form of a fortress as we know it today. A drawbridge with spires and three large towers are built at the south. Blandy becomes an emblematic military defence structure and the residence of illustrious families of the kingdom who will also enrich its interiors. 

However, in 1707, the castle of Blandy was transformed into a simple agricultural farm, causing the disappearance of many buildings. The building is gradually abandoned, until the ruin…

 His last destiny?  Sold to the town, it was listed as a Historic Monument in 1889, and restoration work was launched only in 1992. 

2nd step at the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte

chateau-vaux-le-vicomte-dome

Vaux-le-Vicomte, here is a name that makes an impact! The Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte is the second stop (without a visit) of our excursion to Fontainebleau: it was inaugurated by the Sun King himself, during expensive celebrations in 1661. This masterpiece built by Louis Le Vau for Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, inspired by its splendor the construction of the unmissable Château of Versailles… 

The Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte is also famous for the anecdotes which surround it, and in particular the sad fate of Nicolas Fouquet, who, too ambitious, was arrested by order of the king three weeks after the inauguration, and imprisoned for life. 

In Vaux-le-Vicomte resonate the biggest names of the masters of French arts and techniques: Charles Le Brun for the decoration of the interiors, Vatel excelling in the sumptuous kitchens, or even Le Nôtre, landscape artist of the splendid French gardens which adorn the fore-stage of the castle moat. A magical atmosphere emerges: the flowerbeds designed to perfection, the waterfalls, caves and sculptures invite walkers to daydream. 

3rd step : Discovery of the town of Fontainebleau

For lunch, a relaxing and pleasant stroll awaits us in the historic centre of the Cité Impériale© (Imperial Town) of Fontainebleau, famous for its protected green setting: its park, its exceptional forests, the site of the Grand Parquet, the racecourse… A resort town very popular with Napoleon I and Napoleon III, a well-to-do court liked to stay there. Elegance and refinement reign in this shopping town, punctuated by opulent buildings, private hotels such as the Hotel de Pompadour or l’Aigle Noir.

Religious buildings, often remodelled under the Second Empire in a monumental style and majestic decorations, dot the city such as the Church of Saint Louis or the Chapel of the Virgin. A curiosity in the heart of the historic centre: the Italian-style theatre of Fontainebleau, built in 1905 in a sumptuous architecture of Louis II style.

fontainebleau-hotel aigle noir
ville-de-fontainebleau

4th step : Visit of the Château of Fontainebleau and its gardens

The time has come to visit the famous Château of Fontainebleau, a royal building in Renaissance and Classic styles, which has crossed the history of France since the 12th century. The monument was the main residence of the Kings of France from François I to Louis XIV until 1682, then the secondary residence of Louis XIV to Napoleon III.

“The House of the Centuries”, so nicknamed by Napoleon I, testifies to the passage during eight centuries of successive kings who ordered their own arrangements and decoration there, according to the styles of their time, medieval, Renaissance, Classical…Our guided tour will reveal to you the splendour and secrets of this architectural masterpiece listed as a Historic Monument in 1862 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

chateau-de-fontainebleau
chateau-de-fontainebleau

Château and royal apartements

The Château of Fontainebleau was set apart by François I, who chose it as his hunting ground and his residence, and had the original feudal building transformed into a modern palace which he wished to establish as the new centre of Renaissance art, a “new Rome”. At that time, the monument became a veritable art gallery, bringing together collections of objects brought back from travels by the sovereigns or offered by other personalities. During our guided tour, we discover the Furniture Gallery, displaying the furniture of the disappeared or refurbished apartments, the Small Apartments of Napoleon I, the Turkish Boudoir, the Imperial Theatre of Napoleon III… The castle with 1,500 rooms conceals many surprises… 

chateau-de-fontainebleau galerie

Area and gardens

The area of Fontainebleau has as many beauties outdoors: on an area of 130 hectares, the castle is surrounded by four main courses, three gardens and a park which styles are as diverse as the buildings. The classic Grand Parterre by André Le Nôtre (1660-1664), made up of formal gardens, is extended beyond the Cascades basin by a long park crossed by the Grand Canal of Henri IV. From one plant scene to another, we move on from landscape style to 19th century English style compositions, with the Diane’s Garden and the English Garden. 

jardins-de-fontainebleau

5th step : Walk in Barbizon, the “Village of painters”

barbizon

At the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, we will end this day with a walk in Barbizon, well known as the Village of Painters… In 1827, when Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot discovered this village, he invited a whole generation of young artists, including Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet, to come and paint nature “on the ground”, in situ. Many painters then moved away from the capital and the Parisian salons to settle in this charming village with its exceptional light and refreshing nature. The Ganne’s grocery store-inn became the rallying point for a whole cheery outfit, « les peint’à Ganne » (painters in Ganne), transforming the destiny of the hamlet of Barbizon. 

From 1830 to 1875, hundreds of painters, sculptors (French and foreign), writers, journalists, actors, even politicians, met and shared part of their time and their creation in Barbizon! In 1867, the Ganne Auberge gave way to the Villa des Artistes and the Hôtel de l’Exposition, marking the beginning of a new era of creativity and residency by renowned artists of all disciplines: Rosa Bonheur, Charles -François Daubigny, Karl Larsson, Camille Paris, Alfred Sisley, Robert-Louis Stevenson and Lady Osbourne, Constant Troyon… 

Today, we walk with pleasure in this village where the sources of inspiration and the soul of many artists of the impressionist era remain.

barbizon-©francois-xavier-dubo

We organise language stays in France and cultural tours to discover French culture and heritage.  

Visit Giverny and Claude Monet’s house

Visit Giverny and Claude Monet’s house

“I am delighted, Giverny is a splendid countryside for me. “

Painting lovers, nature lovers, city dwellers in need of the countryside, we offer you a day trip to another world. A world apart in the Vexin Normand, 1h30 from Paris, to breathe the pastoral and refreshing air of Giverny, where the artist Claude Monet has laid down his hat, his palette and his brushes for 30 years. For a day, you will live there at your own pace, and discover the beauty of the landscapes that inspired the father of Impressionism.

Leave Paris, direction Normandy with Vacances Actives Linguistiques.

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Le Vexin in Normandy, escape and change of scenery

château fort Blandy-les-Tours

From Vétheuil to Giverny: itinerary of an artist in search of inspiration and serenity

Before settling in Giverny, Claude Monet found his first haven of peace in the village of Vétheuil, in the Normandy region of Vexin, where he resided with his first wife Camille. The disturbing bustle of Parisian life and financial difficulties pushed him to escape the capital in the midst of the industrial revolution, and to seek a place of inspiration and withdrawal with his family. 

At the time, Vétheuil was a village in a loop of the Seine, inaccessible by train, an artistic refuge in a pastoral atmosphere which awakened the inspiration and productivity of Claude Monet. He needed to paint quickly and well to earn a living and feed his family. 

chateau-vaux-le-vicomte-dome

The choice of Giverny

After the death of his wife Camille, he left Vétheuil and moved away from the banks of the Seine to reach Giverny, a hamlet with only a few souls. In the heart of rural landscapes and far from the damp mists of the river, he bought an old building that he decorated to his liking and settled there permanently. His room overlooks the Norman Clos, a garden that the master himself has shaped in his image, colourful and composed of hundreds of varieties of flowers. 

The artist will never leave the region again and will exercise his art there until the end of his life. The Vexin is his home port. This region bathed in light allowed him to create his own aesthetic universe, Impressionism, on the banks of the Seine, in the middle of fields and gardens changing with the seasons and the sunshine. 

Normandy and the emblematic motifs of Monet’s painting

Crossing the Vexin, you will observe the nature that Claude Monet represented in his works, a hilly nature, a countryside shaped by agriculture, whose colours change according to the whims of the sky (let’s not forget, we are in Normandy…).

The Seine, the water

Monet often takes refuge on the banks of the Seine, and crosses it freely and slowly, thanks to his workshop boat. The river becomes the central character of many of his works. 

Fascinated by water, its perpetual movement, reflections, and the depth of the water, he distinguishes several images, perpetually changing according to the colour of the sky and the patterns of the season. He even freezes the canvas on a Siberian day: this day when the Seine is taken by snow and ice all in shades of white.

fontainebleau-hotel aigle noir
chateau-de-fontainebleau

Haystacks, the rolling hills of Normandy

Le Vexin was made famous by Claude Monet who painted the agricultural decorations and in particular the haystacks which punctuate the open fields. He portrayed them season after season, hour after hour, in the changing light of morning or evening, before and after the rain. 

Monet’s house: a work in its own right

A house of light and colour

Visiting Claude Monet’s house in Giverny is a journey into the artist’s universe. He put down his palette and brushes there at the age of 43, and painted there for the last 30 years of his life. In this country house, the master seeks to bring in light and create a space open to nature. He paints the shutters green (instead of gray), and the dining room a vibrant yellow – chrome yellow. The room is dazzling with light, and absorbs the south-facing sun. 

The decoration associates Japanese prints with the works of his colleagues and friends: Mirebeau, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Rodin…

Le Clos Normand

The House of Giverny and its garden, the Clos Normand, were fashioned from scratch by Claude Monet so that he has under his eyes all the motifs that inspire him for his painting. 

The garden is treated like a painting and vice versa. The plantings are studied according to the blooms: from one season to another, from morning to evening, the garden changes from a dominant of flowers to warm and then cold colours, from yellow to purple, from irises to suns….

Today it is maintained in accordance with the intentions of the master, by an English gardener.

The water lily pond

In 1893, Claude Monet obtained authorization from the prefect to divert a stream and create a pond. The artist discovers a new aquatic plant, the water lilies, at the Universal Exhibition in Paris and decides to decorate the pond. 

A lover of Japanese prints, Claude Monet draws on Japanese art to create a landscape of bridges, flowers, water, and reflections.

The pond of Giverny became the almost exclusive motif of his painting and gave birth to more than 250 paintings!

barbizon
barbizon

“It took me a long time to understand my water lilies. I cultivated them for fun without thinking of painting them. A landscape does not permeate you overnight. And then all of a sudden I had the revelation of the magic of my pond. I took my palette. Since that time, I have hardly had other models. “

barbizon-©francois-xavier-dubo

Monet’s workshops

The artist will finally have 3 separate workshops in Giverny. As soon as he arrived, Monet set up his first workshop in a barn adjoining the house. This was transformed into a salon-gallery a few years later, while a second workshop was created at the end of the lime tree alley.

Finally, in front of the water lilies, Claude Monet switched to another dimension. He abandoned small canvases to devote himself to huge ornamental panels. In 1915, when Europe collapsed and plunged into war, Monet had a third workshop built, with a vast skylight. He exhibited the Great Decorations there.

The artist liked to contemplate his latest creations, to look at the differences in techniques, the treatment of light. Its collection makes art dealers dream! 

No black for Monet.

Suffering from a cataract, his right eye barely sees anymore and his colour vision is affected. The result is canvases bordering on abstract.
In 1926, Monet died in his house in Giverny.

Clemenceau, his greatest friend and neighbour, attends his last moments. It is said that the statesman removed the black fabric placed on the master’s catafalque, and replaced it with a large flowered fabric, declaring: “No black for Monet”. 

“(Claude Monet) created this place so that the world became aware of its beauty.”  – Gaston Bachelard

With our expert guides, the visit of the Giverny house will be a delight, an immersion in the real and pictorial landscapes of Monet. The decor of daily life is brought back to life, with the greatest respect for interior fittings and gardens. It is not just a place of memory or a museum, but a real piece of his work to discover absolutely! An exotic and soothing getaway, perfect for getting away from Paris.

Find all our excursions from Paris, to book online!

Vacances Actives Linguistiques organizes language stays in French to discover French culture and heritage. 

5 steps to organize a language stay in France with a pro

5 steps to organize a language stay in France with a pro

Before setting foot on the land of Marion Cotillard and Coco Chanel, or coming to bite into a delicious macaroon after a visit to the Louvre, there are certain preliminary steps to follow … And a French language travel agency like Vacances Actives Linguistiques is here to guide you. 

Planning a language study trip requires time and anticipation, in order to concoct an ad hoc program, corresponding to your objectives, whether you are students, learners, adults, or organizing teachers. What is the purpose of your French speaking holiday? School or university project, development for a professional project, linguistic immersion, thematic trip, observation internship in a company… etc… Once you know why, Vacances Actives can tell you how

First step : Defining the duration of the language or cultural stay

Estimate the duration of the trip

Determining the duration of the language stay is the first logical step in its preparation. For this trip to be effective, in terms of “educational” benefits, it is recommended to leave for 10 days or even 2 weeks. The program of a language stay is balanced between FLE (French as a foreign language) courses and visits or cultural activities: so to save time for discovery, it is better to commit to at least 2 weeks. In any case, a week is a minimum! 

This recommended duration is well suited to European travellers, who will have little administrative formalities and little travel time.

For learners from across the Atlantic, for example, the travel time and the procedures to enter French territory justify an extended language stay, over 3 or 4 weeks. Time for a successful Summer Camp!

For a long-term immersion, with a view to being hired for example, or to carry out an internship in a French company, a stay of 3 to 6 months is advisable, provided that the preliminary administrative procedures are respected. 

Anticipate your trip!

There are many requests for language stays, and administrative formalities such as obtaining visas – for certain countries outside the European Union – involve significant delays to be taken into account. An advance of 3 months is appropriate for a group of travellers coming from the Schengen area; while a minimum semester will be necessary for an American or Russian group for example.

In some cases, your travel agent can adapt to your deadlines and work in a hurry!

American partners such as French high schools generally anticipate planning their school trip a year in advance. 

Do you know the number of participants in the trip? Do you have precise specifications? Then your agency will be able to plan your stay with all the more speed and relevance! 

Step 2: Choosing the right destination

Your travel advisor within the VAL team will be a source of suggestions to help you choose the best destination in France for your language study trip, depending on the season, your goals and your affinities. And if you have a particular appetite for 20th century history, for oceanic landscapes, wine culture or gastronomy, if you have a need for a beach or a large capital, then your advisor will direct you to the most judicious French destination for your French speaking vacations! From Paris to Nice, from Alsace to Normandy, the accents vary but the French language is always a pleasure to learn with our certified teachers and our guides!!  

Step 3: The logistics stage: transport and accommodation

Organize moves and transports

Your travel agency plans and books transport services in order to provide all types of moves during your stay: transfers, trips, activities, journeys between cities – by public or private transport, coach, train or minibus. Travel management respects precise specifications, in terms of quality, safety and reliability, and adapts to groups. 

What about the booking of air transport? 

This is the first budget item: strong anticipation is required, especially when travelling as a group! The more you reserve in advance, the more you can lower the overall budget, without compromising the quality or safety of the project. Your travel agency can help you make the right choices, seize opportunities and lower costs!

Choose your accommodation

An agency specializing in language stays such as our agency offers several types of accommodation suitable for families and groups, depending on their objective and their budget: 

  • hotel (2 or 3 stars), 
  • residences / youth hostels,
  • host families

If you opt for an accommodation in a hotel, residence, youth hostel, all these establishments are previously checked, validated and regularly visited by your travel agency. It is then a question of choosing the type of room: single, double or dormitory, according to the profile and the budget. In this context, you have the assurance of reliable, comfortable and clean accommodation, the location of which is optimal for all the activities of the program, and the price of which is negotiated as accurately as possible by your travel agent.

If you opt for a host family accommodation, then the benefits of the language stay will be maximized! The families welcoming FLE travellers are carefully selected by your travel agent according to the place of residence, accessibility, accommodation capacity and their interpersonal skills. Home Sweet Home! Foreign learners are warmly received by families and in optimal material and sanitary conditions. Accommodation in language immersion is certainly more restrictive, but less expensive and brings real benefits from a human, social and educational point of view. 

Step 4: The fun stage: preparing the language study program

Choosing the pace of language courses

A specialized agency has experienced and qualified partners: French-language schools or associations, certified teachers, FLE guides, etc. Thanks to these trusted providers, it is possible to offer quality individual or group lessons adapted to the level of each traveller. Depending on the objective and the level targeted, you can choose a sustained 50/50 teaching pace: French lessons in the morning and activities in the afternoon. Or reduce the number of hours of lessons, especially if you have opted for accommodation with a host family. 

The VAL agency cooperates with FLE schools ideally located in the main French destinations, with very comfortable educational and material conditions.

Choose the activities of the language stay: ask for the program!

Two options are available to you and your group:

  • a stay pre-established by your travel agent, an itinerary and activities optimized for your stay, at a lower cost
  • a tailor-made program, fully customizable, according to your objectives, your affinities, and your specific requests. 

Having a perfect knowledge of the destination and its secrets, your travel advisor will guide you and compose the travel diary which brings together the activities and experiences that best suit you. Classics : museums, must-see monuments, or unusual : craft workshops, treasure hunts, photo challenges,… so many activities to immediately reuse French language skills and develop knowledge. Our agency likes to diversify its offers to respond as closely as possible to the demand of learning travellers: 

  • purely language or culture-oriented stays
  • thematic trips, 
  • Or “French exception” stays with a selection of unique experiences around icons and emblematic activities of the destination.

Step 5 : the administrative procedures before arriving in France

Before the celebration of the journey, it must go through the stage of administrative formalities to enter French territory, which differ depending on the country.

For a short stay (less than 3 months), travellers from the EU must bring a valid identity document. If you come from another foreign country outside Schengen, your travel agent will help you collect all the necessary supporting documents (repatriation guarantee, medical and hospital expenses insurance, visa of less than 3 months, etc.).

Each stage of the organization of your language stay is guided by your advisor to anticipate, think of everything, and plan the trip that corresponds to the expectations and affinities of your group. The language travel agency is here to help you plan, reassure you and simplify the organization of a language stay in the best sanitary and material conditions. 

So, let’s choose a destination?