France Summer Program Overview
France is the very first country Travel For Teens began running programs in and – thanks to our local knowledge and insider connections – there is no better way to discover this European gem than with us! We’ll begin our voyage in the City of Light, where you’ll explore this city from the heights of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of its intricate subway system! This legendary city is home to artists and emperors, writers and composers, and the site of some of the most important events in history. Come to know it like a local with us by biking through its historical neighborhoods, taking a sunset cruise down the Seine, learning to cook with a French chef, and eating your way through the 20 arrondissements.
Stroll through Marie Antoinette’s gardens at the spectacular Chateau de Versailles and shop ’til you drop on the Champs-Élysées, Paris’ version of 5th Avenue.
From Paris, we’ll explore the Normandy Coast, from the dramatic white cliffs of Etretat to the island city of Mont St. Michel. Then we’re off to the Loire Valley, full of stunning châteaux and one of France’s favorite holiday destinations.
Then we’ll head down to Provence, famous for being the gateway to the French Alps and the rolling hills of lavender. Enjoy the quaint village of Aix-en-Provence, home of the painter Cézanne. Take a day trip to the Mediterranean city of Marseille before going for a swim at the spectacular Calanques National Park in Cassis. Head up into the foothills of the Alps as we drive into the heart of Provence’s lavender fields.
No summer vacation to France would be complete without visiting the gem of the French Riviera, the glittering city of Nice! Stroll the Promenade des Anglais and watch the street performers at dusk, gelato in hand. Peruse the traditional Cours Saleya marketplace for treasures, and climb to the top of the hill to visit a hidden waterfall and get the best view of the Mediterranean Sea from above. Satisfy your inner explorer by wandering the cobblestone streets of Èze, a clifftop village that has been here since medieval times, before relaxing on one of France’s best beaches. Plus, experience Bastille Day–the biggest French national holiday–by attending the parades, joining the celebrations, and watching the fireworks!
This summer program is designed for any high school student seeking a global perspective, so join Travel For Teens this summer to learn about French culture straight from the source!
During this program, you will…
- Celebrate Bastille Day, France’s biggest national holiday, with fireworks along the French Riviera
- Hunt for treasures at flea markets and attend a traditional marketplace
- See Paris from the heights of the Eiffel Tower
- Go on a bike tour with a local guide to explore off-the-beaten-path Paris
- Try your hand at becoming a professional French pastry chef in our favorite cooking class
- Go to the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre, and see works like the Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and so many more
- Visit the most iconic Parisian sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Champs-Elysées
- Explore the Royal Palace of Versailles, learn about the Sun King’s lavish parties, and stroll through the stunning gardens
- Enjoy fondue in the Latin Quarter, escargot at a classic bistro, and crêpes along the Seine
- See where Van Gogh and Picasso frequented in the hip artistic neighborhood of Montmartre
- Relax on secluded Mediterranean beaches in the French Riviera
- Have some retail therapy in the hip boutiques of Vieux Nice
- Cross another country off your list on our day trip to Monaco
- Discover the luxurious Loire Valley and live like France’s royalty with a stay in our own castle!
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-5: PARIS > VERSAILLES
Bienvenue en France! The City of Light welcomes us with open arms, and we’ll come to know it like locals during our time here. We stay at a lovely Parisian hotel in the 9th Arrondissement, one of the most exciting and historically rich districts of the city. Here, you’ll be just minutes from Paris’s most sought-after attractions. We’ll take you from the heights of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the creepy Catacombs. You’ll shop in posh boutiques along the Champs-Élysées and scour the flea markets for bargains. Take in some of France’s best art at the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, go for relaxing walks in the Luxembourg Gardens and Père Lachaise Cemetery, and see Quasimodo’s home at Notre Dame. If you want, you can even take a French cooking class! Of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
During our time in Paris, we’ll also take several day trips outside the city. We’ll first visit the spectacular Chateau de Versailles, seat of the French monarchy and the home of Marie Antoinette. Go for a rowboat ride on the lake, learn about the world-changing events that took place in the Hall of Mirrors, and stroll around the beautiful gardens!
DAY 6: NORMANDY COAST / MONT ST MICHEL
Then we’re off to visit the stunning Normandy coast. Our first stop will be at the spectacular chalk white cliffs of Etretat, featured in some of Claude Monet’s works. We’ll enjoy lunch in the stunning old port of Honfleur and spend the evening in the UNESCO site of Mont St Michel, one of France’s most famous towns perched in the middle of the sea.
We’ll wander the narrow alleyways, visit the rock-topped abbey, celebrate France’s Bastille Day, and discover the hidden gems the Normandy Coast has to offer!
DAYS 7-8: THE LOIRE VALLEY / LYON
Then we’re off to the garden of France, the Loire Valley. This river valley is filled with incredible châteaux of France’s kings, queens, dukes and nobles, and it’s no wonder that the whole region is a UNESCO site! Discover the city of Amboise, home to King Charles VIII’s grandiose 15th-century residence, and we’ll live like royalty for the night in our own 18th-century castle!
DAYS 9-10: AIX-EN-PROVENCE
The southern French region of Provence is perhaps most famous for its stunning beaches, breathtaking fields of purple lavender, and quaint villages. You’ll get to experience all this and more during our time there. We’ll begin in the beautiful village of Aix-en-Provence, with its quintessential farmer’s market and chic boutiques. Spend a day in one of the gems of southern France, Cassis, and relax at a pristine beach that is protected as a national park.
Days 11-13: NICE > ÈZE > MONACO
Our final destination in France is the glittering French Riviera city of Nice! Stroll around Vieux Nice’s Boulevard Anglaise and poke around the quaint shops here, climb to the hilltop castle for an unparalleled view of the Cote d’Azur, and belt your heart out at Karaoke night! We’ll spend a morning exploring the impeccably-preserved medieval village of Èze–we’re sure you’ve never seen anything like it. Relax on some of the best beaches the Mediterranean has to offer and enjoy a homemade gelato. Plus, you can choose to go on our optional excursion to Monaco, where you’ll cross another country off your bucket list, rub elbows with the rich and famous at Monte Carlo, and admire all the yachts in the harbor. To top off our trip, we’ll enjoy an upscale final dinner at an elegant brasserie right on the beach beside the Mediterranean, gentle breezes wafting, while candles and music give a fitting end to a trip that encompasses much of the best that French culture has to offer.
DAY 14: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.
"I wanted to let you know I have rarely seen my daughter so consistently happy. She was very nervous about going on this trip and has had some bad summer experiences in the past. She looked so joyful in all the photos and sounded so happy in the messages she sent me. Thank you for creating an environment that felt secure for her to relax and had so much fun."
"Thank you for a wonderful trip and an amazing experience! We all made it home safe and sound on Friday and it was back to reality (for me anyway) today...France was wayyyy more fun than work!"
"You guys are amazing!!! Thank you so much!! I can’t wait to talk with Dawson in person and hear all about it!!!! He already wants to travel more so I can’t thank you and Travel For Teens enough for providing and guiding this fabulous opportunity!!! Thank you for the incredible updates!!"
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Paris, we will be staying in a modern hotel in the heart of the 9th Arrondissement, right next to the Opera House.
In Nice, we stay right in the heart of Old Nice, close by the Boulevard Anglais and of course the beach!
In Aix-En-Provence, we stay in a charming hotel with a beautiful rooftop terrace offering views of the bustling old town.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about the France Explorer trip?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the sunset cruise on the Seine, the sublime French food, being in France for Bastille Day, and the sheer variety of activities we offer make the France Explorer program one of our most popular trips!
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old within the calendar year and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In France, we’ll enjoy classic French café fare, including the world-famous croissants, French bread, and a classic fondue dinner. And for the brave, escargot of course!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
What is unique about the France Explorer trip?
The France Explorer program provides the best combination of dynamic cities and outdoor adventures. We combine touring and sightseeing in large cities with fun activities to keep the trip engaging and exciting! Whether it’s strolling through Marie Antoinette’s gardens or visiting the French Riviera, each day is sure to leave you inspired and having a blast!