Tag: France

Another type of unconventional accommodation option that we fell in love with is Hospitality Exchange. Where there are plenty of sites to go to for home exchange, hospitality exchange is rather new. Often these types of options have come to us from other travels we’ve done and people we meet. When you open yourself up and talk to locals and find people of like mind, they will invite you to be their guests. 

We had friends invite us to stay with them in their Villa in Sorrento, Italy. This is the view from the roof…. simply heaven. As this is being written I can almost feel the relaxed atmosphere mixed with the aroma of Italian cooking coming from all corners of this beautiful little courtyard. This simply took my breath away!

We have also invited and hosted kids from all over the world to stay with us for the summer to have a cultural exchange and often those have naturally evolved in replicating offers from their family to come stay with them. One summer traveling through France and Germany we were able to stay with 5 families all for free and our experience was out of this world.


Here we eating with our friends, the Kluths on an excursion to the Black Forest in Germany. They hosted us at their home with a few excursions along the way. Not only to the Black Forest but to the fresh crisp air of the Swiss Alps. 


Here is Brianne helping to fix dinner during our hospitality exchange.

You will never experience different cultures and traditions of countries in the world better than by living with people of that country. We have made lifelong friends around the world through hospitality exchange. The idea here is that you open your home up to singles, couples and families if you have the room for a few days or for however long you want. You become their host. You don’t have to feed them, be their constant guide or stray from your daily routine – if you don’t want to. All they are usually looking for is a comfortable place to sleep and call a base camp. Now, it has been our experience that if you do this right, they will become like family. You will share meals, stories, laugh and show them what your region of the world is all about. 

Remember this is all called “exchange” and if you just do your own thing you really aren’t exchanging much. Once in Germany we stayed with this incredible family, the Kluths, who opened their home up to us. When we arrived, they showed us to our room, the house was small and so to accommodate our family of 6 was quite the juggling act. We soon learned that the room they put us in was their master bedroom. They made the camper their room while we were there. We insisted that we take the camper but they argued that we were the guests and insisted we allow them to do this for us. Such was the graciousness of our host.


The Kluth family not only had little German Chocolates… Yummyness, on our pillows when we arrived but they cooked some of the most amazing meals, including this beautiful cake above.


Marissa is just hanging out with Milena’s Brother at their home in Germany.


We visited Switzerland with the Kluths and here we are contemplating our jump off the bridge for a little swim!

This type of exchange can often be easy to arrange and fit within your normal travel schedule. You don’t need to be as flexible, just make sure you are understanding to the needs of your host and always bring a gift of thanks, usually something unique from your country or region. I’m sure if you give this a try you will fall in love with it as much as we have. Keep your options open and you will be surprised at what comes your way. On the trip through France and Germany, one of our French families who invited us to stay with them gave us the most incredible surprise when we pulled up to their address. As we drove into their drive, right in front of us was their summer home.


To the right of us was a 14th century full blown French castle with a proper mote, we might add. When we had finished the most incredible dinner they prepared for us, they asked, “Do you want to sleep in the farmhouse with us or would you prefer to sleep in the castle?” They didn’t have to ask twice, how many times do you get the chance to sleep in a castle?

If you are going to look for sites for hospitality exchange here are a few to start with, www.couchsurfing.com is the one that most people think of but keep in mind they are more geared to the single or couple travelers. Others are www.staydu.com. www.warmshowers.com, www.hospitalityclub.org, www.globalfreeloaders.com and for those who are Latter-day Saints there is a sight that caters to you, www.mormonexplorer.com

We just returned on Sunday and had visitors coming the next day….. we could hardly stand waiting to see them! Axelle was our first exchange student over the 16+ years we have hosted (check out: Nacelopendoor.org). 

Our family has also been to France to see her and Bri stayed there a few times on subsequent summers. She brought her friend Is Ma En which we enjoyed getting to know…..we hope Axelle warned her about the crazy Bartlett’s!

Michelle, Marissa, Bri and Nate, Is Ma En, Axelle
Nate really loves Marissa… who wouldn’t?
We ventured out to see a few sites in downtown Salt Lake City… but mostly have time to spend together.
Park City here we come! The Olympic venues are always interesting to see and perhaps we will participate in a few. You will have to wait and see…….






Do you think they won? It is a good thing they don’t look scared!


Where were these two when Marissa called the police while we were in Australia because she thought someone was in our house. So brave! 




A close family friend, Lizzy Lambert, who has been studying French and LOVES to cook … did we mention that she loves to cook, was invited to come practice her French and cook with these two lovely French ladies. There was definitely some cooking magic going on in the kitchen and lots of laughs.
On the weekend we headed up to Cache Valley which is where we lived the two summers Axelle spent with us. On the way we stopped for some ‘wholesome’ American food from “Wingers”. Fried chicken wings and fries – no calories there!
We ended up with a fantastic waiter (with a mullet) who talked a lot with us that evening.  The ‘girls’ had never heard the term for mullets as:    Business in the Front, Party in the Back
They could not stop laughing, even for this photo. Although it didn’t help that he took his mullet and flipped it over his shoulder just to take the photo with them.




If you want to get up-close and personal with a few hundred elk, Hardware Ranch in Hyrum, Utah is a great place to explore. They take you out in their sleighs for a small fee. We were hoping to do a lot of snow sledding but unfortunately this year has been too warm. There was a bit of snow mixed with lots of rocks….not a fabulous combination for sledding. 

After sledding our family and many guests came over for some treats and hot cocoa (for the ‘suppose to be COLD day’). Michelle is showing off the French pastries made by Axelle and Is Ma En.
We know…. you wish you could try them…. delectable!


For their last night at our home they planned a French Fondue dinner. Before heading off on their world wind USA tour (they were in NYC for a week, a week in Utah, then a week in LA) they sent us the Raclette machine with some french cheese for the gourmet meal. We actually received it the day they arrived at our home. 
They worked all day (after attending church together) cooking for us, including an apple tart for dinner.  Everyone left feeling happily full from their delicious French dishes. We wished that they would stay longer so that we could get fed like this all the time! Actually we really would have loved to have them stay longer because we had such a wonderful time visiting with them!!
Check out Axelle and Is Ma En’s blog… which tells the real story of their visit with us:)