May 2018

 

 
About Intimate France — We travel every spring and fall to Europe's most beautiful destinations. Our small groups (usually eight travelers, never more than 16) guarantee you the utmost in personal service and attention to detail. Learn more about us or contact Intimate France.
 

 ALL 2018 TOURS ARE FULL —

BUT SEE OUR 2019 LINEUP HERE

 

Intimate France is fortunate to have filled all spring and fall 2018 tours. We're taking a total of 40 travelers to Europe this year — mostly American travelers but also three Canadians and a New Zealander who somehow heard about our tours.

 

But fear not — we've finalized our 2019 tour lineup and you can see details below. Although 2019 may seem long time away, it will get here eventually, and travelers who act early will be assured of seats.

 

Because of the popularity of our 2018 offerings, we are repeating three of the four tours: Italian Lakes & Alps, French & Spanish Basque, and Dordogne, France. Our fourth 2019 offering, Dalmatian Coast & Croatia, is a repeat of a tour last operated in 2009.

 

So ... check out what's in store for next year. We will open enrollment on July 1, 2018. If you want to join one of our small groups, early action is advised — both of our fall 2018 tours (Basque and Dordogne) filled in November 2017, roughly 10 months out. See our site for details of 2019 tours: www.intimatefrance.com.

 

Exterior, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.

 

French & Spanish Basque,
April 28-May 10, 2019

 

 

      Pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, France.

 

Dordogne, France,

May 12-24, 2019

 

 

High peaks, Dolomite Alps, Italy.

 

Italian Lakes & Alps, Sept. 1-13, 2019

 

Harbor and village, Rovinj, Croatia.

 

Dalmatian Coast & Croatia,

Sept. 15-27, 2019

 

We at Intimate France are particularly excited to be  returning to the Dalmatian Coast & Croatia in 2019, after an absence of 10 years.

 

Though increasingly popular, Croatia retains the feeling of an undiscovered gem. The sights are venerable (many coastal towns were built under the rule of Venice in the 1400s) while feeling new.

 

Besides gorgeous and unspoiled villages (cobbled or marble-clad streets, ports chock-a-block with bobbing boats, walled cities), Croatia boasts a world-class natural site: Plitvička Lakes National Park, inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Think of a mountain canyon, sloping steeply downhill, with 16 lakes of emerald-colored water, linked by plunging waterfalls. That's Plitvička.

 

Wikimedia Commons

Plitvička Lakes National Park, Croatia.

 

We also make short excursions into three neighboring countries that formerly formed Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro) and spend four glorious days in Dubrovnik, the "pearl of the Adriatic."

 

We will limit this group to eight, so think about joining us in September 2019. Information here.

 

'It's the exchange rate, stupid'

CURRENCY CONVERSION AND
TIPS ON 
SPENDING IN EUROPE

 

Wikimedia Commons

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

At Intimate France, we are big fans of the Oregon-based company Gemüt.com, which provides car rental services in Europe and has more recently branched out into the cruise business.

 

Having used Gemüt (derived from the German word gemütlichkeit, meaning "a feeling of warmth, friendliness or good cheer") for car rentals over the years, we can attest to their good pricing, excellent customer service and, especially, their sound advice on many aspects of European travel.

 

You can find articles on their site about car rentals, insurance while abroad and general travel guides — carefully considered and full of real-world advice.

 

Here's an example: Gemüt's take on how to handle money matters while abroad. What follows is a condensation of an article from their website on the matter. Their advice largely mirrors what I tell my Intimate France travelers in pre-tour materials.

 

The simple answer to the question of how to change U.S. dollars into foreign currency is: use your ATM/debit card to withdraw cash from bank ATM machines while abroad.

 

For larger amounts such as hotel bills or expensive meals while traveling, use a credit card that does not charge a foreign-transaction fee. (In previous years, Capital One was one of the few card issuers that did not tack on a conversion fee, but more recently, other banks have begun to follow suit.)

 

For your ATM/debit card, make sure you have a four-digit PIN and that you notify your bank you will be traveling. It's also a good idea to tell your credit card company you'll be abroad — many card issuers now make it possible to inform them of your travel plans via their website.

 

I add the following advice to my Intimate France  travelers: make sure your trip funds are in your "primary" bank account, because foreign ATMs will not give you the choice of accessing multiple accounts. If you're not clear on which is your primary account, check with your bank.

 

Gemüt talks about encountering travelers who advocate exchanging dollars for euros here in North America, then carrying them to Europe. "Still others rely on traveler's checks or debit cards pre-loaded with euros," Gemüt says.

 

Referencing Bill Clinton's campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," Gemüt says, "When it comes to changing money, it's the exchange rate, stupid."

 

The bottom line — the best exchange rates are via your ATM/debit card, and your credit card. Always.

 

Gemüt relates two stories about ill-advised currency propositions:

 

• A first-time traveler to Europe considered buying a card preloaded with €2,000, at a cost of around $3,000 in U.S. dollars. But by comparing exchange rates for the pre-loaded card (around $1.50 to the euro) and the  ATM/debit card (about $1.30), Gemüt pointed out that the man would spend an unnecessary $400. "At the end of our conversation he agreed that buying euros in this way is a very bad idea," Gemüt reports.

 

• A woman who regularly travels to Europe told of buying €3,000 in cash for about $4,650 for use on an extended trip to Venice. She believed that by locking in the then-current exchange rate, she insulated herself from the inevitable (in her opinion) weakening of the dollar vs. the euro.

 

But in the months after her purchase, the dollar actually strengthened against the euro. Her purchase ended up costing her an extra $900. And, as Gemüt noted, "Of course the elephant in the room in this discussion is the incredible naivete of traveling in airports and foreign countries with large amounts of currency … of any denomination."

 

Gemüt ends its article with this sound advice: "You should never, ever swap money at a currency exchange booth in an airport, rail station or on the street."

 

USE CREDIT CARDS
FOR INTIMATE FRANCE TOURS

 

New for 2018: use Visa-Mastercard-Discover to make tour deposits and final payments. Go to this page for complete signup options. If you would rather just ask us about using a card, please call us at (800 676-1247) or email
intimatefrance@gmail.com.

 

NOW FEATURED ON TRIPADVISOR

Intimate France Tours has a presence on TripAdvisor. See us here.

 

Our listing is still quite new, but we already have several positive and upbeat reviews. 

 

Read what they're saying about us, and add your own review. Many thanks.