Frequently Asked Questions

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If you have a question you don't see here, please feel free to call the Lifelong Learning office at 800-277-4648.

Does each participant make his own travel plans and reservations?
Yes, each participant must get his/her own plane ticket to Paris, preferably to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport.

Do we meet at Charles de Gaulle airport and transfer to Paris together by bus or train?
Although we might be able to meet some participants who really need help at the CDG airport, we would expect most participants to meet at the hotel. We will recommend the most practical way to get to the hotel  (via RER metro or AIR FRANCE bus). Three people could share a taxi for about 70 euros. The Air France Bus drops passengers near a Metro station, from there you take the Metro to get to the hotel. Air France bus + one Metro ticket will cost about 18 euros.

What time should we arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport on May 18?
We would expect all participants to be at the hotel by 12 pm, so that the group can have a first lunch together. So a flight arrival by 10:00 am would work best. Most flights from the U.S. arrive in the early morning hours in Paris. Exceptions can be made, but those participants might miss the first group lunch.

In the French language classes at Alpha Langue Center, will we be grouped by our level of proficiency? How is this handled?
Yes, the level of proficiency will be determined before departure, orally and/or in writing or via email if needed, and classes will be formed based on the number and level of students. Classes will last two hours in the morning, for six days. The minimum number of students in a class is 4, the maximum 6. The price of about $290 per person depends having the minimum number of participants in each class.

I've been to some of these places before. Do we always have to stick together as a group?
There will be some bus excursions, where participants are traveling together. Once arrived at our destination, after I have given all the necessary historical/cultural explanations, participants will be given their own entrance ticket and/or a time and place to meet, and would be able to proceed on their own, or those who want to stay near the guide, for whatever reason, could do the visit as a group. So the bus or train will be used as means of transportation, and people should be able to get their own concrete experience in each excursion. For those of you who have been to some of these places in the past, it may not be a repeat at all, for several reasons.  One is that these places have changed or are changing. That is particularly true of Bordeaux, if you have not been there in the last 3-5 years. Also, I can say that I visit these places almost yearly, some every year, some every other year, and I am originally from one of these places. Yet, my visits are different all the time, because I am constantly studying the history of these places, and this renewed knowledge changes my views on everything. A place is not a finite entity, the experience of it is infinitely renewed by all the ideas associated with the place, and the more one learns about a place, the deeper the understanding about it, and the richer/newer the experience. Also, you are not the same person as the one who visited this place 3, 5 or 10 years ago, or even last year. Finally, interaction with people locally or within the group makes for a different experience. So there is the France you have been to before, and there is ìthe other France.

How many participants do you anticipate?
Minimum 12, maximum 25, expected: about 20.

On the bus trips will you be encouraging conversation in French?
Yes, participants who can already speak French will be encouraged to use French as much as they can, among themselves and with me. On most days, participants will have lunch on their own, and will order on their own. Those who prefer to stay with me, and have my help, can do so, as well. I will be there to provide help if needed, but there is no requirement to stay with me for lunch every day. The same is true for excursions: I will be there to provide help, guidance, and cultural/historical explanations in English, but participants will be free to tour as they wish to do so, and to get guidance in French as well.

How many days are the home stays?
May 21-29,except on May 24th (hotel). Home stays begin in Pau: May 21,22, 23, 25,26, 27, 28, 29.

Does each participant stay with a separate family?
That is usually the case. But if you would like to be with a friend in the same host family, we should be able to arrange that. If you want to be with another participant, please specify this early on. Some families speak a little English, so do specify if you want your family to speak English. Otherwise, the home stay is planned to give you extra practice with your French.

Are the families Christian Scientists?
Some maybe, most will not be. Our coordinator in Pau is a Christian Scientist, and has worked with Principia groups. He knows all the families personally.

Is there an adequate number of families who want us?
There is no problem finding families for our participants.

Will our meals during those days be with the families?
Families usually provide breakfast and dinner, while lunch is on your own, on most days, or planned for the group.

Friday, May 24 is our overnight trip to Sare, returning to Pau on Saturday. Will we return to the same family? Can we leave luggage in their homes (or in hotel if we opt for hotel) and only take what is necessary for overnight?
Yes, we expect that participants can leave most of their luggage with their families.  Those not having a home stay will need to take all their luggage along.