French Escapade Team

Jackie Grandchamps, PhD; Founder and Owner

“I wanted to make my dream come true by sharing my love of traveling and giving people the opportunity to really experience a different culture. Instead of the traditional ‘tourist’ sightseeing trips, I wanted to immerse very small groups of people in the culture, and make them experience another way of life. That’s how French Escapade was born in 2003.

I was then approached by art teachers who wanted such an experience incorporated in a painting workshop so that their students could discover a different culture and paint on the same tour. Our first painting tour took place in 2005.

I have welcomed about 100 teachers, 2,000 guests, and run more than 200 tours. When traveling with French Escapade, you are not a tourist, you are our guest. That is why I have  made over many new friends since 2003.”

With a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, Jacqueline Grandchamps came from Belgium to the United States in 1995 to conduct cancer research at Stanford University. But her heart has always been in traveling — in Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia. She created French Escapade with Valerie Sans in 2003 and now splits her time between living in the San Francisco Bay Area and leading the tours in Europe.

Her passions: socializing/ dancing/ gardening

Valerie Sans, Co-Founder

“Traveling has always been essential in my life and when Jackie and I felt ready for a career change, designing authentic travel experiences seemed the right thing to do. French Escapade was then born to propose an alternative to regular tourist routines. Passion has always been at the core of our business adventure, and when we later on added painting holidays to our tour offers, I couldn’t be happier being an art lover myself.

I am very proud to offer the best travel experience to our guests. How? By welcoming our guests as friends, pampering them as much as I can, hosting wonderful artists and selecting memorable painting sites. Each workshop nourishes me as another wonderful human experience.”

Valerie Sans is a French native who lives in California, but still spends a few months a year in Europe. With a master’s degree in British & American History and Literature and being a former Fulbright teacher in the US, she is equally comfortable with American and European ways of life.

Valerie is our tour manager who makes sure your stay is an authentic experience. She mainly acts behind the scene, but she also attends a few tours for general organization purposes.

Her passions: books/ history/ cooking

Natalia Verges, Tour Leader

Natalia“I was born in Catalonia, Spain and I opened my own guide business in Besalu, my hometown in 2010. I am keen on history and art, and love to share this passion with people. I live in Hamburg, Germany at the moment with my husband and two kids, but I have also lived in Belgium and France, so I regard myself as a true European. I can speak Catalan, Spanish, English, French, German and Italian.

I have always worked as a tour guide but I think it is important to have new challenges. So when Jackie offered me to join the French Escapade team in 2015, I gladly jumped in to take a step further. I like to meet new people so this job is a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world and show them a new culture.”

Natalia Verges has a master degree in Art History and also in Visual Arts and Education from Spain. She is a very talented tour guide eager to share her knowledge of European history and art. She leads groups with energy, confidence and a big smile. She is much appreciated by our guests. We are very fortunate to have her in our team.

Her passions: history/ food/ cats

Marie Ginier-Gillet, Tour Leader

“When I got the opportunity to work with French Escapade as a tour leader in 2016, I was delighted as I love travelling and meeting new people.  My previous career was in law and I was happy to leave my office work to be outside with painters in amazing places. I love meeting people from different part of the world so we can exchange about the culture. I am looking forward to adding new locations to my palette!”

Marie was born in the French Alps near Grenoble where she still lives with her husband. She has been a lawyer for over 25 years. Marie has been working with French Escapade for 8 years. French native, she also speaks English and is perfectly fluent in Italian, having spent years in Italy during her college years. Always eager to make your trip a wonderful adventure, Marie is a very attentive tour leader who is much appreciated by all, especially for her professional skills as well as a great sense of humor.

Her passions: reading, hiking, volunteering in local events (such as the Berlioz Festival or local historical shows). 

Heather Daines, Tour Leader

“Adventures are the best way to learn.”

“I attended my first French Escapade workshop in 2019 as a participant. I thought the combination of travel and painting tour made for a perfect adventure. Subsequently, I went on to take several more trips with French Escapade and found my passion for art, people and cultures around the world. I was ecstatic when Jackie and Valerie gave me the opportunity to become a guide for the company. Since I began working for French Escapade I have become even more impressed with the business and the care the staff has for each and every customer. Their desire to make every trip the perfect trip is unmatched. I’m happy to be associated with French Escapade and look forward to being a guide for years to come.”

Heather Daines has Associates degrees in Horticulture and Floral Design Management as well as Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. In addition to raising 4 children with her husband, Rex, she also worked independently as a Landscape Architect for many years. Heather has lived in Oregon for 30 years and currently resides in beautiful Bend, Oregon. She enjoys being a de facto tour guide for friends and family and sharing with them the natural beauty of Central Oregon.

Her passions: gardening/ painting/ the outdoors/photography.

Dana Battaglia, Tour Leader

“I love nature, the outdoors and all elements that foster inspiration and growth (creatively & personally).  After my first French Escapade tour in Costa Brava, Spain with Jackie & Valerie, I was overjoyed with the opportunity to mesh the things I love while at work….travel, nature, art, leadership, organization, and most importantly, new encounters and experiences with fellow art lovers! To sum it up, whether it be in the form of actual artworks of my own, handling “behind the scenes” logistics or leading groups of artists on adventures… I love being around creative people! So, when I was introduced to the idea of leading painting tours with French Escapade, it was a dream come true!”

A California native, now living in France, Dana has a long history with the Arts.  She began drawing and painting at an early age, and nurtured her creative spirit throughout her years at school.  She continued on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001, as well as, completed a semester abroad at an art academy, Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy. Dana has also worked in relative creative fields, such as: Product Development/Fashion, Photo Shoot Production, Styling, Art Direction and Art Instruction.

Her passions: hiking/jewelry making/art

Vicky Dangerfield, Tour Leader

My passion in life are people. From a young age, I was always curious about people and saw them as an open book I wanted to read. Born to a Catalan mother and English father, I was fortunately and immediately subjected to languages. The perfect marriage between people and languages, was to study tourism and public relations. Attracted to the world of travel, I relocated to London after my first twenty-five years in beautiful Barcelona. In 2009, I took a leap of faith and joined my now beloved husband on the other side of the pond, in San Francisco where I became a city guide.

I have had the pleasure to know Jackie and Valerie since 2019. When Jackie reached out to me to join this team of Super ladies, I had no hesitation in doing so. Being a new member of this venture, I will have the opportunity to travel and to experience a more profound and meaningful relationship with the travellers. Very much looking forward to it!!”

Vicky has a degree from a private Barcelona college in Tourism and Public Relations. She graduated from ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) in 2009. She has also been a member of the San Francisco Tour Guide Guild since 2012.

She is fluent in English, Catalan, Spanish, French and Italian.

Her passions: cinema/sharing Health & Wellness products (little side hustle my husband & I have), and our pet turtle.

French Escapade LLC | 2389 Blackpool Place | San Leandro, CA 94577 | 510-483-5713 |
California Seller of Travel Licence-CST #: 2091909-40
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