The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.
Frances Philip Wernig
Details & FAQs
What's included in the cost of the trip?
All local transportation
All breakfasts and some meals
Anything that requires a reservation or advance purchase
Gratuity to local guides
Paris Museum and Cultural Pass
Hotel (single, discount applied for double occupancy)
What's NOT included in the cost of the trip?
International airfare, although you can work with The Balade Factory to arrange it as consolidated airfare can be more cost effective. All tours start on the day of check-in at our hotel, and airport-hotel transfers can be arranged for you as well.
Some meals as noted on the itinerary and alcohol
Various fees: passport, visa, baggage, etc.
Various hotel charges: phone, spa, room service, etc.
What is a travel concierge and language guide?
A travel concierge is typically a service offered through boutique and luxury travel. Travel concierges - me, in this case - plan and manage all details of your experience so that all you need to do is follow an itinerary and enjoy your vacation. Not only do I plan all aspects of the itinerary, I accompany your group to ensure everything runs smoothly. I am very detailed oriented and enjoy the planning process, but I also know that travel can presented unexpected situations - both positive and negative - and will navigate the group in the right direction at all times. I also act as a French-language guide and point person for all of your needs and questions before and during travel.
Do I have to participate in all of the group activities while on tour?
Solo travel is a way for you to take time for yourself, to be on YOUR vacation. While on tour, there is time built in the itinerary for quiet, self reflection, and solo exploration of the destination. I also want you to make fabulous new friends and have shared experiences, so participation in planned group activities is encouraged. It's important to remain respectful of travelers and leaders by showing up on time and going about our day as planned. However, if you would like to skip out, please provide sufficient notice; you can definitely do something different. In that case, I will be happy to help you make other arrangements within my means and time constraints and without altering the group dynamic.
The beauty of your balade in France is that it's just the right balance of planned activities and unexpected pleasures. However, sometimes during travel there are events that are beyond anyone's control: inclement weather, strikes or protests, illness, broken down tour buses, you name it. The itinerary, although carefully researched and planned, allows for adaption to unexpected circumstances. With The Balade Factory, you will always have a travel escort and language guide moi! I will use my best judgment should decisions for the group be necessary. I will always try to honor group consensus on decisions that will serve the best interest of the group. Obviously, the goal is to have minimal changes to our plans, but hey, sometimes the changes turn out to be better than one could imagine. Bottom line, I ask that you be adaptable during travel. Furthermore, travelers agree to pay any additional expense(s) incurred by any such change(s) and will receive a refund of any savings due to a change in the itinerary.
What level of physicality is expected for a balade in France?
Chances are I don't know you yet, but I'll hopefully get to know you well during an upcoming balade. For this reason, it is each traveler's responsibility to choose an itinerary that meets her physical abilities. You should be in good health - I am not a nurse, and you don't want to spend your vacation in a French hôpital. The majority of our balades will include walking, stairs, and cobblestone streets - this is the nature of an ancient, European city - in addition to travel by métro. My advice is to carefully read the itinerary and the requirements for physical activity included; we can discuss that aspect further if needed. Also, it's a good idea to take prescription medications in the labeled bottle from your pharmacy which is required by TSA but also very useful should you need to visit a French pharmacie during our tour.
When should I purchase airfare?
Please do not make any airfare purchases or reservations until the departure date is confirmed. Most trips will require a minimum of 6 travelers, and I will do my best to ensure departure. If you need to make arrangements before the departure and travel dates are confirmed, any change/cancelation fees will be your responsibility. In the event that the minimum number of travelers has not been met, you will have the option to pay a supplement to ensure travel. I will also advise the group of my own travel plans should there be any changes, delays, etc. Otherwise, I'll see you in PARIS! If you would like for The Balade Factory to help you with airfare purchases and/or airport transfers, please communicate that on your inquiry form.
What if I want to stay longer or arrive earlier?
Not a problem! This is the beauty of you arranging your own flight instead of traveling with a large group where flexibility is more limited. Please contact me if your travel dates vary from the tour dates, and I can assist you - most of the time - in managing hotels and/or transportation during personal travels that put you in the city outside of our scheduled itinerary dates.
What do I pack? Do I need to bring money?
With each itinerary and balade, I'll provide a suggested packing list. Generally, we all overpack. The key to packing a bag that you can carry, on your own (and not feel like you are going to fall out after carrying it) is to pack and re-pack several times, each time eliminating about 1/3 of what you had in the luggage. Using packing cubes can also help limit the number of items you pack. You can use laundry service in France, or wash delicates out in your sink. You will most likely come home with some extra additions to your wardrobe, so you may want to bring along an extra, collapsible bag. There will be an occasion to dress up, but casual and comfortable dress is what you will wear most frequently. Layers usually work well, and comfortable walking shoes that you have worn in before departure are a must-have. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about packing in your suitcase or day-pack.
If you prefer to arrive in France with local currency (the euro), I recommend exchanging dollars through AAA or your bank before departure. You can also exchange currency in the airport or at an ATM when you arrive. Many small shops and cafés may not accept a credit card (thankfully, we all have chips in our credit cards now - if you don't, please talk to your bank or institution about how to get one before travel), so yes, I do think it's a good idea to have some cash on you upon arrival. You can always retrieve more from an ATM once at your destination, just be aware of fees and let your institution know you are traveling to avoid a hold on your card. Mastercard or Visa are recommended as many places in Europe do not accept American Express.
I have tried to include most of the expenses in the cost of the trip. However, when on your own, you will need money for some lunches, dinners, shopping, additional spa services, alcohol, laundry, telephone, and other fees as appropriate. Your itinerary will indicate any meals that are not included in the cost of your balade.
Do I really need to buy travel insurance?
For reasons mentioned in #5 above, travel insurance is for the unexpected. It is there to protect against non-refundable costs such as medical emergencies, a cancelled trip, lost bags, or any other trip related expense. There are many travel insurance products, so read the fine print. As a traveler with The Balade Factory, you will be provided with suggestions from me. If something does happen and you cannot be whisked off to Paris, you will thank me 1000 times later for sharing travel insurance options with you, I promise (travel insurance offerings will be sent to you via email after your deposit confirmation; exceptions cannot be made to refund policies). Also important: please confirm that your medical insurance covers expenses while traveling (especially outside the country) and/or arrange for supplemental and/or alternate medical insurance.
Is The Balade Factory a travel agency? Can I work with you on a personalized itinerary?
When starting The Balade Factory, I have always kept my passion at the forefront: travel to the most beautiful city in the world for women - this is where I consecrate most of my efforts. The Balade Factory is part of a Host Agency and affiliated with Travel Leaders (click to view profile). What does that mean? Simply put, I can assist you with airfare, personal travel, and other travel products. If you are interested in additional services, please use either the contact form at the bottom of this page or complete this more detailed form to make an inquiry.
If you are thinking of planning a trip and want to consult The Balade Factory about personalized travel, I offer two levels of assistance:
FIT Travel = Free Independent Traveler or Free Independent Tourist. FIT travel is for individuals or small groups (less than 10) who are traveling and vacationing with a self-booked itinerary. FIT travel is not for those who want a traditional, guided tour and is not marketed as a package, but as a personalized itinerary that I will create for you - then it's up to you to execute it :)
Customized FIT Travel experience plus my services as an escort and language guide
The Balade Factory retains specialist certificates from Uniworld River Cruises and Spain 360 Expert (region of Catalonia) as other countries in Europe are easily accessible once you are in Paris. There is a $25 Plan-to-Go fee per traveler for all FIT services unless otherwise noted; the fee(s) will be applied to your trip costs at the time of booking. Should you decide not to pursue the booking after a personalized itinerary has been created and delivered to you, the Plan-to-Go fee is non-refundable and will be retained by The Balade Factory.
Anything else your heart may desire to know is provided in our Terms and Conditions. If your question is not answered there, always reach out via the contact form at the bottom of the page, and I'll be happy to assist you.