About your guides
Your EN FRANCE guides are all ardent francophiles, all bilingual and bicultural, all have years of experience planning and guiding groups in France. They have lived, worked, hiked trails and studied in France, know the country well and have many French friends who join our groups whenever possible. Two guides accompany most tours.
Billie Williams founded En France Tours in 1987 after years of teaching French and organizing student tours to France. Her love of France began long ago when she was a Fulbright scholar in Paris and took advantage of every vacation to explore different regions of the country. She delighted in the beauty of the countryside and was fascinated to realize that the people she met in each region brought a different history and culture, often a different language, to the country. This first glance of the complexity of France set the course of future years: regular return visits to renew old friendships and favorite places, to make new discoveries of special sites, and to enjoy the warm hospitality of the French. Soon she was introducing her favorite regions to others--first to family and friends, then to students. Finally, when she saw what fun it was, she began to organize small-group visits. Now she spends part of every year in France, exploring country roads and villages, checking out new B&Bs and small hotels, and talking to local people in each area about their favorite places to spend a few hours, dine out, see the wildlife, or take an afternoon drive.
Alain Lemennicier, born and raised in the French province of Normandy, has been part of En France Tours since 1993. He came to Olympia, Washington, in 1991 to study English and decided to make his home there after meeting his wife Judie. Living in the states inspired him to take a renewed interest in the culture of his native country and to rediscover its richness and diversity. He delighted in crisscrossing the country with Judie to find those hidden corners that still retain the flavor and charm of traditional French culture. These treasures have become featured stops in the tours they designed together for En France Tours.
Besides his experience guiding groups throughout France, Alain brings other special talents to our tours: he is a professional wine expert, having to his credit a diploma in viticulture/oenologie, and as a mountaineering instructor he has led numerous outdoor adventure trips. On our tours we can always count on Alain's French wit to keep us smiling and his insider's knowledge to help us find our way to and from the back roads.
Judith Gabriele's contagious enthusiasm and passion for France come from many years studying French, living with French families and traveling throughout the country. Years ago she began to host French exchange students, and through these close friendships was able to join French friends on long vacations in many different areas of the country, sharing all aspects of daily life. These strong personal bonds and her experience of the warmth and friendliness of the people inspired her to resume to her French studies and complete a Master's in French studying in Paris with Middlebury College.
On her return to the states, she expanded her teaching responsibilities of French at a local university. She joined En France in 1994, and she and her husband Alain together have explored the French countryside and designed several of our most popular itineraries. Judie's sense of humor, unquenchable enthusiasm, her warmth and love of France make the En France tours she guides memorable. As she says: "One of my greatest joys is meeting new people and helping them discover this extraordinary culture, language and landscape."