Putney Student Travel: Language Learning France (Grades 9-12)

Putney, VT


Immerse yourself in French language and culture as you explore the cities and off-the-beaten-track villages of France. Work alongside traditional Breton shopkeepers in a coastal village, learn to make truffles from a French chocolatier, go zip-lining and canyoning in the Alps, and spend a week with a French family.


  • Discuss famous works of art at the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou — en Français!
  • Enjoy a crêpe or a pain au chocolat as you relax at a Parisian café once frequented by Hemingway.
  • Practice your French as you work alongside a local Breton baker, shop owner, or farmer.
  • Celebrate Bastille Day with your homestay siblings and their friends.
  • With the help of professional guides, learn to windsurf or sail on the Mediterranean, and go canyoning or rock climbing in the Alps.


Adventure & French Language Immersion

Delve into la vie française and improve your language skills as you explore the world’s most renowned museums, hike across fields of summer snow in the Alps, and enjoy the rituals of daily life with a French family. In vibrant cosmopolitan cities and charming rural towns, get to know local culture and history. Find your own favorite bakery in a Paris neighborhood, follow in the footsteps of Impressionist painters, go swimming, hiking, biking, canyoning, and canoeing, and become a part of local communities as you build friendships with French people.

Each day, your leaders create conversational French exercises designed to help you communicate more easily with the many French people you meet. Language lessons are fun, interactive, vocabulary-based, and relate directly to our experiences each day. Other language-learning activities include scavenger hunts, games, and informal interviews with local people. Our goal is to improve your conversational fluency by building your vocabulary and speaking confidence.  The best way to do this is by talking with French people, so we provide you with every opportunity to connect and build friendships with locals. You must have completed at least two years of French instruction to participate in this program.

Brittany, the Northern Coast, and Paris

We begin in a traditional Breton fishing village on the remote coast of Brittany. Explore by bike and warm up your speaking skills by working alongside local people in cafés, boutiques, and local farms. Board a train to Paris, where we spend six days savoring the pleasures of Parisian life and taking in the high culture. Discover your favorite boulangerie, visit the world’s most renowned art collections, tasteescargots at grand Art Deco brasseries once frequented by Picasso and Sartre, and cruise down the Seine River to see the city illuminated by night.  

Homestay and Aix-en-Provence

Next, board a train for Alsace, where we are welcomed by local host families in Colmar, near the border with Germany. spend one week immersed in everyday French family life, exploring the region with your host brothers or sisters and on group excursions. After saying goodbye to your French family, head south to Aix-en-Provence. Stay in the heart of this chic university town, walk to Cézanne’s hallowed studio and favorite vistas, and discover the exquisite light, colors, tastes, and smells that have inspired artists and writers for ages. Take day trips to hike through olive groves in the surrounding hills and meet with producers of olive oil, lavender, and Champignons de Paris.

French Riviera and Chamonix

Then it’s on to Saint-Rapha?l for four days on the Riviera, where we spend our days on the glittering Mediterranean: sail, surf, and tube in the warm waters, sample seafood, and peruse the waterfront night markets. Our final stop is Chamonix, home of the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924, which is nestled at the foot of Europe’s tallest peak, Mont Blanc. Putney’s friends host us in their 18th-century mountain home, and we spend five days hiking, canyoning, and rafting with the spectacular backdrop of snow-capped Alps.


Group accommodations are carefully selected by Putney Student Travel to emphasize convenience, a positive group environment, and wholesome interaction with local people and fellow travelers. Accommodations in France are varied, ranging from comfortable old world-style hotels to a simple dormitory-style mountain chalet. Residences are often run by wonderful families or individuals who help set the tone for our experience and facilitate interaction with local people. We start out each day with a French breakfast at our residence. For other meals, we generally eat in restaurants, or bring a picnic with us on excursions.

During the homestay week in Alsace, you live with a French family who has a child of a similar age. This is a unique opportunity to experience everyday French life, and often is highlight of the trip. The families are carefully selected by our local homestay representative, a trusted longtime friend of Putney, who chooses them from among her friends and contacts in the community. The group gets together for excursions several times during the week, and both leaders stay in town for the duration of the homestay.

Physical Challenge Level

Our programs are active. Days are filled with movement — we explore cities and towns on foot and by bike, go on hikes, swim, and we have the opportunity to kayak, learn to surf and sail, and go rafting or canyoning. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

A Typical Day

Our daily activities will vary significantly depending our location, but we generally divide our time as follows: We eat breakfast together in our residence, and discuss the plan for the day. We start out with a short, fun vocabulary lesson relating to our activities ahead, then set off on a morning adventure. For example, in Brittany you may bike into town to spend the morning working with the fishmonger, in Aix-en-Provence we may walk to Cézanne’s studio and chat with a local art historian, in Paris we may pick up a croissant at the corner bakery and walk to Notre Dame cathedral. At lunchtime we often buy ingredients from local markets, and make picnics from regional specialties. In the afternoon we get outside — we may have a scavenger hunt in an old town center, head to the beach for surfing lessons with local friends, or take a group hike. In the late afternoon we set aside time to relax, sit in a café and write in your journal, or go for a jog. We typically eat dinner together in a restaurant, and use our evenings to take in cultural events such as local music, theatre, and night markets.

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