Dates of the Program

The program is FULL!!! Please get in touch by email at

September 29 – October 7, 2017

We will host a Provence “social” on May 19th. Please check out the details here.

Program Overview

Balade d’automne en Provence is a French language and cultural immersion program designed for a small group of adult learners who want to discover or rediscover this beautiful part of France densely packed with cultural and historical delights while strengthening and enhancing their knowledge of the French language and deepening their sense of French history, amidst a serene and peaceful country-living experience… à la française.

While students should not expect to sit in a classroom with a white board, hi-tech equipment, and grammar lessons, what they can expect is to draw a lesson out of every moment of the day, out of every new encounter and attempt at fluent communication. They will learn by doing, listening, meeting native speakers, and interacting with classmates, roommates, teachers, guides, hosts, and everyone else delighted to have a conversation about contemporary life in France, culture, history, or any other topic. Even the subjunctive can be taught while observing the uncertainty of a Roman ruin, the joyful atmosphere of a Sunday morning market, or a mouth drooling daube Provençale in the making!


Advanced Beginning through Advanced level of spoken French
A strong desire to embrace “Vive la difference!”

Course objectives

Students can expect to:

Speak French at all times and ONLY French
Improve their ability to communicate in the French language regardless of level
Learn about the history, language, geography, and people of Provence
Explore the mysteries of Provençal cuisine with a local chef
Visit local artisans to understand their work methods and way of life
Meet local wine, oil, lavender, aromatic herbs producers and sample their delicious products
Discover many of Provence’s most beautiful villages

Program Details Including Accommodations

If you dream of a learning vacation in an enchanted place, perhaps to prolong the wondrous feelings of summer before another Maine winter, look no further!

Autumn in Provence, with its crimson and ochre tones, is a beautiful and unique time of year. Straw hats have been replaced by softly flowing foulards but the mesmeric atmosphere along the streets of perched villages continues to seduce. The season’s warmth is accompanied by a delicately faded sun that rather than diminish the vibrancy to its landscapes, enhances its golden shades. The grape harvests, les fameuses vendanges, are nearly complete perfuming the air with notes of green sweetness and wood smoke. The locals recapture their beloved Provençal ways far from the hustle and bustle of summer months indulging in the region’s newly restored peace.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a long-time aficionado of the area, an advanced beginner or a fluent speaker of French, this program is your opportunity to combine your love of and commitment to the French language with time in an astoundingly beautiful part of the world. This exciting program will take place in one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages, Venasque, perched atop a steep hill near the Luberon Mountains.

Our linguistic adventure will pass through History – modern or ancient, follow the footsteps of the popes in Avignon and “les Juifs du Pape”, explore the traditional wine and oil making processes of local producers, unveil medicinal secrets of Provence herbs, demystify Provence cuisine, introduce us to the literary world of Mistral or Pagnol and the artistic treasures of van Gogh, and so much more…

Students will share their time between “classroom” activities and learning excursions through markets, museum, towns and villages, the Provence countryside, visits to local artisans, etc

They will stay at a small maison d’hôtes, La Maison aux Volets Bleus, a charming, character-filled, and authentic 18th century provençal house overlooking the plains of the Comtat venaissin and the Mont Ventoux. This intimate setting makes for an ideal, genuine immersion in the French language and culture.

La Maison aux Volets Bleus is owned by Martine and Jérôme Maret who purchased the house in the early 70s and through their work of love turned it into the charming maison d’hôtes it is today. It has been featured in many travel and cooking magazines including the April 1994 issue of Gourmet magazine where I first caught a glimpse of Venasque. All the Provence style decorated rooms have private or semi-private baths and are located on the first, second and third floors of the residence with views either on the intimate courtyard (where I first stayed 22 years ago!) or on the majestic Mont Ventoux and the surrounding plains. Martine et Jérôme, in addition to their talents as interior decorators, are excellent chefs and will delight us with succulent four-course provençal dinners by the roaring fire to conclude each day.

Lunch – when not picnicking on the road – will be at the village house where staff will be staying. They will be prepared as a group — whenever possible — with fresh vegetables and produce from nearby markets. The village also has a small “épicerie” and, of course, a boulangerie!

Sample Schedule of Activities

(Please note that the definitive schedule will be developed over the next few months based on our hosts’ availability in early October and as much as possible, on what I know of my participants. The following is a general idea to give you the gist of what I am concocting.)

The program will begin in Avignon where we will organize a pickup on Friday afternoon at the TGV train station. We recommend that you fly to Paris (CDG) and catch a train directly from the airport to Avignon. For added comfort and relaxation, some of you may choose to spend the previous day in Paris or Avignon to recuperate from your trip as the week promises to be high intensity. Therefore, because all of you will have slightly different itineraries, our pick-up will be in one place only, at a specific time.

While I mention a “high intensity” week please rest assured that you can always opt out of any day’s activities and rest at the inn should you need a resting day. More likely you will choose to take a nap during your free time to not miss out on any of the wonderful things we have in store for you!

From Avignon, we will go to Venasque, our home for the week, where you will settle in your rooms before we gather again for an Apéritif de Bienvenue, an overall presentation of the week’s activities, and our first dinner together.

The rest of our week will be organized around visits to neighboring cultural attractions and discoveries of the local flavors. We will travel through history from the Roman empire to modern days by way of archeological sites, museums, and ochre-colored village houses with rich tiled roofs, shimmering vineyards, and mysterious châteaux; in Lourmarin we will discover what hides behind the reputation of the famous “herbes de provence” through a long walk and lunch with Paula, la gardienne des secrets des plantes; in Séguret, we will visit Alain in his workshop to learn about his work as a potter and that of artisans in the region; we will join the locals for Sunday morning market and brocante in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and after strolling through one of the most stunning high top villages, Gordes, we will try to catch les vêpres at the Sénanque abbaye; in van Gogh’s footsteps, we will indulge in the beauty of the landscapes he painted and learn about the genius and his most prolific years; but a visit to the area would not be complete if we didn’t become acquainted with the region’s wines – and sip a few, just to make sure they are as good as they claim to be!

You will speak French at all times and our “class time” will be devoted to preparing our visits from a linguistic point of view (historical perspective, vocabulary, etc.) and will be held in multiple venues to accommodate our schedule — in our classroom, at the terrace of a Roussillon café, in the Gigondas vineyards or wherever we will be at the moment. Each one of our guides will also become your teachers giving Valérie a spot in the back seat for a few hours and her voice a well-deserved pause!

This will be an enriching week where lifelong friendships will begin and new doors will open onto new goals, opportunities, dreams, and possibilities. Take the leap and bring your French to a greater level of fluency and satisfaction!

Instructors and Staff


Valérie Guillet has been running immersion programs since 1995. She was born in France in a small town located between Annecy (Haute-Savoie) and Genève (Switzerland) where she lived until 1989. She holds a master’s degree in business and languages from the Université Lyon III and a master’s degree from the Department of Education of SUNY Binghamton, in social sciences and translation. Valérie moved to Maine in 1991 and soon after founded The Language Exchange. Although her main responsibilities lie in the management of the business, she is still very involved in teaching and translating, and does not miss an opportunity to return to France several times a year with groups of students to share a little bit of her country.

Several other native French speakers are present during the immersion program either as faculty or staff members, ensuring that each attendee has maximum personal attention and exposure to the unique teaching techniques of the Language Exchange.

Cost Estimate and Timeline

Schedule: 8 nights (Friday September 29th, 2017 to Friday October 7th, 2017), 9 days (starting in the afternoon of Friday September 29th, 2017 and ending after breakfast on Saturday October 7th, 2017)

Cost: The cost of the program is estimated at $2500 per person (double occupancy). Although there are different types of bedrooms and types of bed, the price per person remains the same regardless (a $500 single-supplement ($515 online) will only guaranty you a single room if available, based on our numbers). The price is based on a current exchange rate of 1 euro to 1.10 US dollars. Only a significant exchange rate difference would lead to a price increase. Such increase will only occur up until the due date of July 20th, 2017. Registration along with a non-refundable $500 deposit is due by May 20th, 2017 and payment in full is required by July 20th, 2017.

Please note that payments made by check will be assessed a 3% discount (Deposit: $500; Final Payment: $2000; Single Supplement: $500 vs. Deposit: $515; Final Payment $2060 and Single Supplement: $515 by credit card)

Price Includes

  • Lodging (8 nights)
  • 8 Breakfasts: French style breakfast — fresh bread and Viennoiserie items
  • 5 or 6 picnic style lunches
  • 8 four-course gourmet dinners
  • Ground transportation for our group excursion once we pick you up in Avignon and until Friday night (10/6)
  • Organized group visits – guides, entrance fees, and cultural events
  • All instruction

Price Does not Include

  • Air fare
  • Transfers from Venasque to wherever you will be going after the immersion program. We will arrange group taxi pickups for which you will need to share the cost
  • Lunch during our day in Avignon and perhaps one other lunch (this will depend on the final schedule)
  • Personal expenses
  • Beverages

Registration and Release Forms

To sign up and make a deposit by check, please click here to access the Registration, Health, and Release Forms for the 2017 program.

To sign up and make a deposit by credit card, please click on the “Register Online” button below to make your payment and also click here to access the Registration, Health, and Release Forms for the 2017 program.

A registration consists of both a payment and the completion of all forms.

Important: please email me before signing up for the “balance with single supplement” to ensure I can have a room for you. Thank you.

Contact Us

Please get in touch with us by email: or phone 207 772 0405

Go to Top