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La France et les Voisins

DAY 1: OVERNIGHT FLIGHT   Depart from the USA.
DAY 2: BRUGES   Welcome to Brussels, the capital of Belgium, and enjoy a walking tour of this cosmopolitan city. This country is partitioned by the Flemish speakers in the northern region of Flanders and the French speaking Walloons in the south. Continue to Bruges, the charming capital of Flanders.
DAY 3: BRUGES   Your morning walking tour of Bruges highlights the best preserved Renaissance architecture in all of Europe. This afternoon visit Waterloo, site of the famous battle. You will climb the Lion Mound for a spectacular view of the fields where Napoléon was defeated and explore the Wellington Museum. Return to Bruges this evening and put your new knowledge of the city to the test during a Culture Quest.
DAY 4: PARIS   Journey through the French speaking Walloon region to Paris via Reims, most famous for its royal coronations, particularly of Charles VII, whom Joan of Arc led there in 1429. This evening start exploring the City of Light, perhaps with a visit to Montmartre to see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and a breathtaking view.
DAY 5: PARIS   This morning enjoy the highlights of Paris with a local guide. See the Arc de Triomphe and visit Notre Dame. In the afternoon discover the famous Louvre. Tonight you may want to take advantage of an optional Le Train Bleu dinner followed by an illumination drive of Paris.
DAY 6: PARIS   Today begins at the École Boulangerie where you will assist experienced bakers in creating delicious breads and baked goods. Your adventure ends with a fresh brioche and creamy café. This afternoon discover Versailles, where Louis XIV, the Sun King, kept a watchful eye over more than a thousand petty nobles.
DAY 7: LAUSANNE   Board one of the fastest trains in the world, the TGV, and head for Geneva, Switzerland. Enjoy a walking tour of Geneva, which is the headquarters of many international organizations. Continue on to the glittering lakeside town of Lausanne.
DAY 8: LAUSANNE   Drive along the shores of the Lake Léman to see the Château de Chillon. Visit the dungeons made famous by Lord Byron's poem, "The Prisoner of Chillon." Then continue to the picturesque town of Gruyères, renowned for its cheese, and enjoy a fondue lunch. Return to Lausanne this evening.
DAY 9: DEPARTURE   Depart for the USA.

This is one of the best trips that I've been on in a very long time. ACIS surpassed itself.

Kathryn Elizabeth K.
Group Leader 2011


The highlight of my trip was eating the amazing food in Belgium. The fries, waffles, mussels, and chocolate became my favorite foods.

Alexander K.
Participant 2010


What to See

Shopping
PARIS

Le Bon Marché, Métro: Sevres Babylon
First opened in 1838, this shopping center is considered to be the first department store in the world!

Les Halles, Métro: Les Halles and Châtelet
Since the 12th century, this large, central wholesale marketplace has been a popular shopping destination.  The area has been rebuilt since the 1970s and now features beautiful sculptures, fountains, and mosaics.

The Saint Ouen Flea Market, Porte de Clignancourt, 18th arrondissement
On the outskirts of the city, you'll find this popular flea market.  With over 2,000 stalls filling 17 acres of shopping heaven, Parisians and travelers alike browse the market every weekend.  Here you can find antique furniture, art, glassware and jewelry, as well as books, records and vintage clothing.  You're guaranteed to find something rare and beautiful.

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Museums
PARIS

La Conciergerie, Métro: Cité
Eighteenth century prison held Danton, Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette during her final hours. Open daily.

National Museum of the Middle Ages - The Baths and Hôtel de Cluny, Métro: Cluny La Sorbonne
Built on the site of former Roman baths. Holdings include Dame à la Licorne tapestry and the oldest sculpture in Paris. Open daily, closed Tuesday.

Le Musée Carnavalet, Métro: St.Paul
Occupying two adjoining mansions, the Hôtel Carnavalet and the Hôtel le Peletier, this museum's holdings include fascinating pieces of Parisian and French history. Open daily, closed Monday.

Musée d'Orsay, Métro: Solférino
Housed within an old train station, this museum contains an impressive collection of sculpture and impressionist work, sure to be a favorite. It houses works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse,  and Degas. Open daily, closed Monday.

Musée Marmottan, Métro: La Muette
Begun with Paul Marmottan's donation to the Académie des Beaux-Arts and augmented by a large bequest of his father's art to the little museum by Monet's son Michael, the Musée Marmottan houses Monet's late Waterlilies and impressions as well as works by Sisley, Renoir, and Pisarro. Open daily, closed Monday.

Musée Rodin, Métro: Varenne/Invalides
Housed in the magnificent Hotel Biron, which was once Auguste Rodin's residence, this museum boasts impressive gardens of over 2,000 rose bushes as well as some of Rodin's most famous works: The Thinker and The Kiss are among them. Open daily, closed Monday.

Musée National Picasso, Métro: Chemin Vert/St. Paul
The largest collection of his works in the world. It is housed in a beautiful 17th century hotel, the Hôtel Salé. Open daily, closed Tuesday.

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Outdoors
PARIS

L'Arc de Triomphe, Métro: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile
Commissioned in 1806 for Napoléon, although he died without ever seeing this edifice in its finished state. Incredible views of Paris and down the Champs-Elysées from the top. Beneath the Arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Open daily.

La Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Métro: Bibliothéque-François Mitterand
This incredible structure, in the form of four enormous glass books, houses the French National Library, also known as the La Grande Bibliothéque, the last of Mitterand's Grand Projects. Open daily.

Le Pont Neuf, Métro: Pont Neuf
Despite its name, this bridge is actually the oldest in Paris, and features turret-shaped recesses. Construction began in 1578 with Henri III and finished in 1604 with Henri IV.

Café de la Paix, Métro: Opéra, 12, Boulevard des Capucines
Most beautiful and expensive café in the city of lights, this societal landmark is adjacent to the Opéra building and was designed by the very same Garnier.

L'Hôtel de Ville, Métro: Hôtel de Ville
This has been the site of Paris city halls since 1260. The current structure, completed in 1882, is a néo-Renaissance marvel. Information center is open Monday through Saturday. Free admission.

Les Deux Magots, Métro: St. Germain des Prés, 6, Place St. Germain des Prés
The place to see and be seen in the Quartier Latin. 1950s haunt of intellectuals and philosophers. 

Les Buttes de Chaumont, Métro: Buttes-Chaumont
With 5 kilometers of walking paths, this park is full of beautiful panoramic opportunities.

La Tour Montparnasse, Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe
The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol of Paris, but lines to go to the top can be long and tiresome.  A great alternative that gets you a better view of the city skyline is the Tour Montparnasse, the only skyscraper in Paris. Although the tower is considered an eye sore for many Parisians, it is open everyday and offers a 360 degree open-air view of Paris.  There is no pre-booking needed and the tour can take less than an hour.  It is sometimes said by the French that the view from the top is the most beautiful in Paris, as this is the only place from which you cannot see the tower!

The Château de Vincennes, Métro: Château de Vincennes
Since its construction in the 14th century by Charles V, the Château has been, along with the Louvre, one of the most importat castles in French history.  Now after a 10-year rennovation, the Château has opened its doors for the public to explore.

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Restaurants
PARIS

Café de la Paix, Métro: Opéra, 12, Boulevard des Capucines
Most beautiful and expensive café in the city of lights, this societal landmark is adjacent to the Opéra building and was designed by the very same Garnier.

Chez Omar, Métro: République/Temple
A trendy, Moroccan restaurant with nice outdoor seating.

Le Vaudeville, Métro: Bourse
Known to be an incredible (and hip) dining experience,this bistro retains its marble walls and Art Deco carvings from 1918.

Le Train Bleu, Métro: Gare de Lyon
In the heart of the Gare de Lyon train station, this restaurant was built to impress foreign visitors in 1900.  With gilded archways and beautiful murals painted on the ceilings, it is truly an elegant dining experience.

La MediterraneeMétro: Odéon
A favorite of Hollywood stars, be sure to make reservations early for this upscale seafood restaurant!

Café Marly, Métro:  Palais--Royal Musee du Louvre
Tired after you're trek through the Lourve?  Be sure to stop at this quaint bistro for a light lunch and a glass of champagne.

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Curious about travel with ACIS? Find out answers to your burning questions below.

For Group Leaders and Teachers:

see all FAQs
Can I bring my family members or colleagues along?

Certainly. You have three different options:

1.      Assistants
Family members or colleagues may travel as assistants (even if minors, though children must be five years or older to travel in an ACIS group), according to the terms of the Group Leader Stipend Chart.* Assistants must be 21 years old and have at least five participants to their name to be eligible for the Experience Bonus.

2.      Family/Colleague Discount
Family members or colleagues may take a 20% discount from the program fee. These participants will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. Like all paying participants, they are subject to mandatory fees (registration, tax, etc.) as well as full payment deadlines.

3.      $150 Child Discount
For children under the age of 12, you may take a flat $150 Child Discount (plus the 20% Family/Colleague Discount) off their program fee, but they will still be subject to mandatory fees. The child's registration will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. The minimum age to travel with an ACIS group is five years old.

*Anyone can become an assistant to the group, provided they have at least one full-paying participant to their credit.


Can a paying participant become an assistant?

Yes. This must be done no later than 65 days before departure and an ACIS Assistant Registration Form must be submitted. Assistants added or canceled within 90 days of departure will be charged a $100 late fee payable either by the applicable assistant or the group leader. Please inform us immediately of these changes in writing.


What if my assistant must cancel?

Please inform ACIS immediately. We regret that if the cancellation occurs within 65 days of departure, we will charge the canceling assistant a $150 late cancellation fee and may not be able to accommodate a substitute assistant. If the cancellation is within 45 days of departure, the assistant must pay a $250 late cancellation fee (see ACIS Assistant Registration Form for policy) and their stipend credits are not transferable. Please always alert us in writing as soon as possible when an assistant cancels.


Do I receive travel insurance as a group leader?

Every ACIS Group Leader receives coverage under our most enhanced protection plan, the Ultimate Protection Plan complimentary for any tour they lead.


What if the group leader must cancel?

A mutual effort is made to find a qualified substitute teacher or other adult who will assume full group leader responsibilities. Participants who choose not to travel with the replacement group leader are subject to the standard cancellation/refund policy


Can I stay on after my group returns home?

Yes. An Alternate Return Request Form must be completed and returned to ACIS no later than 90 days before departure. You will be responsible for any additional flight costs, and must arrange for a responsible adult (preferably an assistant) to take charge of your group on the flight home. You must obtain written permission from a parent/guardian of each participant, naming the adult in charge. There will be a $150 charge for any change made within 90 days of departure, and no changes are possible within 65 days.


Can I stay in a single room?

Single accommodations are provided free of charge for group leaders who have eight or more paying participants counted to their credit AND who do not travel with a spouse or an assistant of the same sex. For those traveling in 2010/2011, see our Service Guarantee. In the unlikely event that a single room is not available, ACIS will reimburse you $20 per hotel night. Eligibility for the single room is based on the standard 1:6 prorate and is non-transferable. If the above does not apply, you may also elect to pay a surcharge of $40 per hotel night for a single room. Single rooms are not available aboard cruise ships, overnight ferries or trains, in China, Africa, Russia and most residence programs.



For Students and Parents:

see all FAQs
What airline do we fly?

ACIS groups travel on scheduled flights, using all the major carriers. These include American Airlines, Air France, Aerolineas Argentinas, Alitalia, Finnair, British Airways, British Midland Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Iberia, Spanair, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines Ltd., Northwest, Air New Zealand, Olympic Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Taca International Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, United Airlines, US Airways, Air Europa, and Virgin Atlantic. You'll receive flight information as your departure date approaches.


How many people travel in a group?

ACIS groups average anywhere from 35 to 45 participants traveling together on a bus, led by an ACIS Tour Manager. Small groups are often combined to create one bus group. This is the group with whom you share your travel experience. You eat your meals together, stay in the same accommodations, and travel together on the bus. It's an opportunity to make lifelong friendships!


Tell us more about the tour manager.

"Tour manager" is an important term in educational travel. It refers to your bus group leader, who is rigorously trained and specially selected to assist your group while overseas. ACIS Tour Managers are famous for their multifaceted roles, both educational and logistical. An ACIS Tour Manager is part commentator, counselor, troubleshooter, advocate, and stopwatch! He or she supervises hotel check-ins, directs the bus driver and leads educational activities.

Most importantly, ACIS Tour Managers are travel gurus. They thrive on sharing their passion and love for the cultures of the world, giving you the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of those who live and work there. Over the years, we've employed university professors, film directors, journalists, musicians, business professionals, and other creative achievers. Our tour managers are consistently recognized as top in the industry. You'll receive more information about your tour manager as your departure date approaches.

Your ACIS Tour Manager maintains a professional relationship with the group but is not directly responsible for enforcing discipline or the ACIS behavior guidelines. That is the responsibility of the your group leader. It is your tour manager's responsibility, however, to report to your group leader any infractions and to be sure that ACIS behavior guidelines are adhered to.


Where do we stay?

ACIS groups stay in three- and four-star conveniently located hotels. We place a priority on booking hotels in good locations and safe areas, with convenient access to both local attractions and public transportation.

Students generally stay in rooms with two or three beds. During peak travel periods, hotels sometimes add an extra bed to accommodate heavy bookings. ACIS attempts to prevent this but cannot guarantee that it will never happen. Some hotel rooms in France have a Grand Lit (an oversize double bed for two) instead of twin beds. Those who have paid the adult surcharge stay in double rooms in hotels but not on overnight ferries or trains.

An ACIS bus group is typically made up of two, three, or four groups from around the U.S. who quickly get to know each other and feel part of one overall group. Depending on the mix of male and female students in the bus group, students may be rooming with participants from other groups. Don't worry, this is a great way to meet new people and make some new friends!

The group leader will create a variety of rooming combinations before you leave, in order to make it easier for your tour manager to work out the rooming when you check in to your hotel.

Check-in time at most hotels is early to mid-afternoon. If you arrive overseas early in the morning, you likely have time to change money and do some exploring before you check in.


What will we have to eat?

You will enjoy a variety of meals en route, mixing both native and familiar cuisines depending on your area of travel. Keep an open mind and be willing to sample everything—that's what travel is all about!

Most days you will be served a continental breakfast that includes a variety of fresh rolls, cereal, pastry, butter and jam, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. In Australia and China, you will be served an American-style hot buffet breakfast. On trips to the Americas you may be served the traditional rice and beans. In some hotels in Britain, eggs or other items may be included. In Europe, the larger hotels sometimes serve eggs and other American-style breakfast items for an extra charge.

On most ACIS trips, you will enjoy lunch on your own. Be adventurous and experiment. Many travelers do what the locals do; instead of having an expensive restaurant meal, they buy fresh ingredients at a local market, then put together a sandwich and have a picnic lunch in a city park.

On most tours, beverages at dinner are not included. The are included on tours to China, Costa Rica, Peru, and occasionally other destinations. Sometimes your waiter may put soda or mineral water down on the table without being asked. Be aware that you will be charged for any beverages you consume.

Although ACIS will try to accommodate special-needs meals including kosher, vegetarian and low salt, we cannot guarantee all requests.


How much spending money will I need?

Spending needs vary depending on personal habits, but a typical allowance is $50 per day. This allows for lunch, snacks, soft drinks, postage, souvenirs, local transportation during free time, free-time activities, and optional excursions not already included in your itinerary. Most ACIS participants carry ATM cards, travelers checks and credit cards. ACIS has compiled all the information you need to know in Money Matters.


What should I pack?

Our advice is to pack light—you won't regret it! You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage on and off the bus, in and out of your hotel, and onto trains. Bring comfortable, practical clothes that you can wear more than once, with a few nice pieces thrown in.

Remember to pack clothes that you can layer as the weather can be unpredictable. Lastly, try to avoid bringing new shoes. New shoes can be tough to break in and you’ll want to make sure your shoes are comfortable and reliable. For more information specific to your trip, log into My Account for a detailed packing list.


What about calling home?

Calling home from overseas can be expensive and obtaining local phone cards can be complicated and time consuming. The best way to call is with an ACIS eKit Global Phonecard or Global Mobile Phone. Using the eKit card can save you up to 70% on international and U.S. long distance calls compared to pay phones and hotel phones. Simply charge up your eKit card with the credit card of your choice and it will be ready for use. In addition to cheap calls home, the ACIS eKit Global Phonecard offers you email, Voicemail, the ability to listen to email over the phone and much more!

Another option is the ACIS eKit Global Mobile phone. With a variety of pre-paid plans available, this mobile phone can save you up to 70% on global roaming rates.


Do I have travel insurance?

Yes. Your ACIS Registration Fee includes coverage under our Basic Protection Plan. ACIS recommends you upgrade your insurance coverage by purchasing the Ultimate Protection Plan designed specifically for you travel needs. With the Ultimate Protection Plan, you may cancel for any reason up to the day of departure and receive a cash refund. You will also receive expanded travel protection while on tour.


I am signed up for an ACIS tour. How do I access my account?

You can get your latest account information online—any time, any day. To view your most up-to-date itinerary and account status, just, log in to My Account with your Account ID and password, which can be found in the upper-right hand corner of your invoice. If you have forgotten your password or have additional questions about your account, contact ACIS Client Services at accounts@acis.com.



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If you have any additional questions about this specific tour or about ACIS travel in general, please feel free to ask by filling out the form below.

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