Home exchange stories

Swap between France and Belgium during Covid-19

Summer exchange, late July/ early August 2020, with Huguette et Albert Lemort (BE065)

Actually our exchange prospects started very early, as early as the autumn of 2019 and the exchange was to take place in the summer of 2020. Of course it was shaken by the coronavirus pandemic and by June 2020 we still didn’t know whether it would be possible.

With Huguette and Albert, who have become our « Belgian Friends » since then, we have very regularly shared some news from home as well as our personal experience of the lockdown both in France and Belgium. When we finally met them for the exchange of keys, they came along with armloads of delicious local produce and we felt we already had known them for a long time. It was like seeing old friends again while chatting eagerly.

This stay in Belgium was particularly enjoyable, not just because of the beautiful house and huge garden, but because after the lockdown we could enjoy some freedom again, though partially.

Moreover I like cooking special dishes from other countries and we have exchanged some culinary mails. Thanks to Huguette the « boulets liégeois » (meat balls typical of Liège) are now part of our favourite traditional recipes.

Last but not least, what I find extraordinary about it, is going on sending news. The coronavirus crisis is far from over but it is easier to live when you share it with friends beyond the national borders and I say to myself, that’s also what INTERVAC is about : friends with whom we come together to share a common destiny.

Home exchange stories

Taking the girls to see the Netherlands

Testimonial from Maria vanHarten

Our first home exchange was in 2008.
We wanted to bring our two young girls to see the Netherlands where my husband’s grandparents emigrated from after WWII. In the one photo, my husband is standing in front of a home formerly owned by his ancestors in Holland.

In the other photo, the girls and I are in front of the Batavia ship in Lelystad, Flevoland.

We chose to arrange a home exchange because living out of suitcases and always searching for restaurant food appealing to young children didn’t sound like much fun. An exchange allowed us to settle in (baby gear and all) to much roomier accommodation, enjoy private gardens and do our own cooking. We included cars in the exchange which allowed us to see parts of the country not easily accessible by train or bus, especially if you’re pushing baby strollers. The family we exchanged with even had the same kids cutlery and plates from Ikea that we had back at home in Canada!  We are still friends with the family we did the home exchange with – we visit them every time we go back.

Home exchange stories

Swap between London & Provence during Covid-19

Carine L. is one of our most loyal members. She’s had a good 40 exchanges since 1988 and she shares with us today her latest British adventures!

In August 2019, we were thinking of spending a few days in London the following Autumn. As we are retired now, we can travel whenever we want. And we take advantage of that.
As our house is big enough, and as each floor is totally self-contained, we suggest in case of short stays, a simultaneous or non-simultaneous exchange if the family prefers to come later on, during school holidays for example, periods that we personally try to avoid.
Our home in Provence can host a couple, 3 or 4 people on the ground floor, which leads to the garden, whilst we can stay on the second floor, reachable by an exterior staircase. This level has a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom too.
The first person we contacted, a Franco-English lady living in England, replied quickly, suggesting instead of a week’s stay, « a long weekend ». « It will be a one-way swap, as I can’t do non-simultaneous swaps » she explained. « I don’t have many holidays and half of the following year is
already booked. But as I go to Porto in October, you are most welcome »
Her generosity did not surprise us : we have also welcomed people in the past, being totally unable to give them the precise date when we could go to their place. Valérie, for sure, has a long experience of exchanges : she has been a member of Intervac since 2003 and has done 25 swaps. On our side we have done 40 since 1988.
The very morning we took off to England, Valérie was flying to Portugal. She returned from Porto the very evening of our departure. A week before our arrival, she had sent us by email the instructions to get her keys. These were in a key safe, openable with a code,  attached to the gate facing her building.
We never met during our stay, but to thank her, we had brought her 2 bottles of wine from France [to thank her] and some Mediterranean aromatic plants.
Apart from  a list of her favourite pubs and restaurants, she had left us a full fridge and 2 Oyster cards. These London transport cards are very useful for visitors. You have to pay for them but after you can recharge them with your own credit card on the Tube; we posted them back from Heathrow airport before checking in, having recharged them.  Future guests could use them again.
In January 2020, Valerie contacted us, asking if she could stay at our home in June wih a friend of hers. « Of course » we answered. But Covid 19 quite changed our plans. Borders shut down one after the other in Europe from mid-March, and Valerie did not feel like being stuck in quarantine on her arrival to France or on her way back to England. Her stay has been delayed until better days, because of the pandemic.
As for us, we went back to England to visit friends in Kent in August. Staying one night in London, before we left, we invited her for dinner in order to meet her at last. She had been kind enough to print the official documents we were supposed to show to health authorities. But nobody took our temperature or asked for any document at Saint Pancras station, before we took the Eurostar, nor were we checked on arrival at Paris Gare du Nord.

Take a look at Carine’s place here:

See Valérie’s apartment here:

Home exchange stories, Intervac

Intervac Jugendaustausch

Im Laufe der letzten zehn Jahre haben wir insgesamt sechs selbstorganisierte Jugendaustausche mit unseren Haustauschern bzw. deren Familienmitgliedern in den USA durchgeführt. Teilweise ohne Gegenbesuch, teilweise mit simultanem oder auch non-simultanem Gegenbesuch eines amerikanischen Gastschülers. Meine Nichte konnte die High School in Utah besuchen und ein amerikanisches Mädchen ging mit unserem Sohn ins Gymnasium. Alle Austausche dauerten zwischen drei und fünf Wochen. Alle gesammelten Erfahrungen waren ausschließlich positiv und die Kinder konnten nicht nur sprachlich profitieren, sondern auch ihre Landeskunde-Kenntnisse erheblich verbessern. Erst vor etlichen Tagen hat uns die Gastmutter unseres mittleren Sohnes aus Seattle besucht und die beiden konnten ihre intensive Verbindung erneut auffrischen. Was für eine tolle Erfahrung. Individuell gestaltbar, keine Isolierung mit weiteren Non-Native Speakern und auch eine enorme Kostenersparnis. Im Endeffekt fielen außer den Flugkosten und einem kleinen Taschengeld keine Kosten an. Wir können diese Austausch-Form nur wärmstens empfehlen.

Home exchange stories, Intervac

Happy Happy Birthday Intervac!!!

Intervac turns 65 this year! The original home exchange service…. since 1953 🙂

Here is a message we were very happy to receive from Christine Lambie, member in New Zealand. Thank you Christine!

10 more sleeps and I’m off to Europe again, after an email arrived last year from Italy, enquiring whether I was interested in a swap.
I am going with a friend who originally introduced me to France in 2003, she has just turned 65 !!

I have many girlfriends who have joined me on my previous House Exchanges and soooo many memories, I am typically just as excited again as I count down the next 10 days.

While in Italy, I hope to write the last chapter of my book called ‘Strangers in my Palace”, where the benefits of using Intervac features a number of times, (I will say no more at this stage).

Anyway, Happy Birthday to a wonderful website, from a very happy New Zealand Member (NZ0017)

Home exchange stories

An exchange holiday for your birthday?

Mandy Cavanagh is the newest Ambassador for Intervac. Here is a wonderful exchange story from her. If you have a great story too… tell us yours!


My husband is fortunate enough to have a birthday during the summer months, however, he is one of those ‘difficult’ people who can never think of any gift that they want! Last year, was a milestone birthday for him and I was determined to make it memorable even if the inevitable ‘just buy me a card.’ had already been uttered.

As unashamed Francophiles, we had already arranged an exchange with a couple in a village not too far from Lyon called Domarin and in late July we set off with our youngest son. With grown up children, we are now able to enjoy the journey rather than trying to get to our destination as quickly as possible so, for the second year, we stopped off overnight in Troyes. We stayed in the Aparthotel there and were able to stretch our legs while exploring the Medieval old town.

When we arrived at Domarin, we received a warm welcome from a neighbour who even managed to keep my husband’s birthday surprise quiet! The following day, my son and I set off for Lyon airport, as it became obvious where we were going, my husband became more convinced that we were going to make him jump out of a plane! He needn’t have worried, our lovely exchange partners had agreed to let my eldest son and a family friend stay for a few days as well and we picked them up without any trouble at the airport.




What a birthday to remember! The house itself was lovely, with a pool and a converted barn so everyone had enough space and we could all enjoy the fantastic weather. Having a mix of people with us through the holiday meant that we all enjoyed different experiences. My son enjoyed shopping in Lyon while I was able to go off with my friend to look at clothes ( a rare treat for me as I have three sons!).







We spent my husband’s actual birthday exploring the caves of La Balme, a cool, magical experience, and respite from the heat. We loved the village of Perouges, and because of the lack of cars, it was easy to be transported back in time there. Further afield, we explored Annecy, a bustling, beautiful town on the lake and enjoyed people-watching with a wine in hand!



Back near the house, we went for evening drives in the countryside, had a rare sighting of a HUGE badger and finished our days with a swim in the pool, marvelling at our 19 year old and 24 year old sons racing on inflatable unicorns!

We have exchanged with other partners in France, Bruges, and England and know that, as well as the economic advantages of an exchange, we wouldn’t get the same experiences on a package holiday. I can’t wait for this year’s trip to Avignon…

girl with baloons
Home exchange stories, Intervac, News, Newsletter Archive

🎉 Joyeux Anniversaire 🎂 et témoignages de membres 65-year anniversary.

Joyeux Anniversaire Intervac !

En 1953, les dirigeants des syndicats d’enseignants suisses et néerlandais ont décidé qu’un système d’échange de maisons pour les vacances devrait être formellement organisé. Ainsi est né Intervac !

Cette année, nous célébrons notre 65ème anniversaire. Merci de nous soutenir.

Jetez un oeil à notre histoire dans la chronologie.

Les visages d’Intervac

L’ère des catalogues avant Internet

Dans les années 1980, Intervac produisait 3 catalogues par an. Distribué par voie postale uniquement aux membres inscrits, chaque catalogue comptait jusqu’à 200 pages, et chaque page présentait 30 à 35 annonces, selon le nombre de photos incluses. Les pages intérieures étaient imprimées en couleur sépia, seule la couverture était en couleur.

Lucien Mazik se souviend

Est-ce aussi votre 65ème anniversaire, ou allez-vous réaliser votre 65ème échange de maisons, ou peut-être avez-vous un autre 65ème anniversaire à célébrer ?

Partagez votre histoire

Découvrez les nouveaux Ambassadeurs Intervac

En Suède Aux Etats-Unis
Malin Nielsen, SE13922 Edda Caban, US720219
Pour Malin, Intervac est la meilleure façon de voyager si vous êtes intéressé à vraiment entrer en contact avec la culture et les gens de votre destination. Edda et sa famille pratiquent les échanges depuis de nombreuses années. Edda a même ouvert un compte Instagram l’année dernière. Regardez le à @Intervac.USA. Son merveilleux échange en Italie.

Histoires de membres

Maria Rosa Giannalia, IT149

Maria et son mari ont réalisé leur dernier échange à Amsterdam. Ils ont été enchantés par la dynamique de cette belle ville.

Lire la suite de l’histoire


Maria and husband

Edda Caban, US720219

Notre nouvelle ambassadrice Edda a vécu un merveilleux échange en Italie en 2016. Son mari, sa soeur et son beau-frère l’ont rejointe pour découvrir le pays. Ils ont été accueillis chaleureusement par leurs hôtes et ont visité Rome, Terni, Assise, Orvieto, Spoleto, Narni, Gubbio et Bevagna. Ils ont fait des randonnées jusqu’aux chutes de Marmore, magnifique site naturel, et ont même participé à une fête médiévale. Ebba a également eu le plaisir de goûter la délicieuse cuisine et le vin de la région.

Lire l’histoire complète


Chaque échange de maisons est une unique expérience.

Partagez la vôtre

La Hot List de Mai 2018

Les annonces déclarées Hot sont affichées pendant 4 jours seulement dans la Hot List. Les membres qui y placent leur annonce sont donc en recherche active pour trouver un échange sous moins de huit semaines.

Budapest, Hungary #HUOC0305

My beautiful one bedroom flat is in the full center of Budapest, on the 7th floor (with a lift). The flat is bright with big windows, overlooking a small street, next to a park and the Danube over it. There are also lots of little shops, nice bars, and restaurants in the neighbourghood. The public transportation is great with the metro and trams 2, 4 and 6 that take you all around town.

Wicklow Town, Irland #IE9091

We live in a nice bungalow (one level house) with large private back garden suitable for children with a trampoline and goal post.

The house itself is a 10 minute walk to the local town of Wicklow with a variety of restaurants, pubs and shops. There is also a skate park and playground.

Kissimee #US1016764

Large 5 bedroom – Pool home – close to Disney and other central Florida attractions. Ideal for a family vacation. Pets are welcome.



Où trouver la Hot List ?

Consultez notre blog (Anglais)


Maria and husband
Home exchange stories, Travel

Eficacia en Amsterdam

Unas vacaciones fantásticas

El último intercambio que tuvimos fue con una familia en Amsterdam. Fueron unas vacaciones fantásticas; hemos disfrutado de la ciudad como lo hacían los holandeses. Dimos hermosos paseos por el centro histórico de la capital, disfrutando de sus canales, de los cambiantes colores de su noche y paseando  sin preocupaciones por las grandes y pequeñas arterias de esta maravillosa ciudad.

Acogedor y disponible

Disfrutamos de la eficiencia del Norte.  Nosotros vivimos en Cerdeña, donde tenemos una bella naturaleza, el paisaje del mar y mucho sol, pero, siendo sinceros, carecemos de eficiencia.

En Amsterdam, nos gustaba coger autobuses (tienen un sistema de transporte muy eficiente), sin que tuviéramos que perder mucho tiempo,  incluso para llegar a lugares alejados de la casa en la que éramos huéspedes.

Apreciamos el estilo de vida holandés, sin estereotipos; acogedor y disponible.

Visitamos Haarlem, Delf, Rotterdam con su puerto futurista y conocimos la geografía del país y la habilidad de los holandeses, que han sido capaces de transformar las tierras bajas en una oportunidad real de riqueza y bienestar. Estamos satisfechos con este viaje y como broche final, nuestros compañeros de intercambio nos han contado de su entusiasmo por Cerdeña y su mar encantador.

Maria Rosa Giannalia, IT149

Maria and husband

Maria and husband
Home exchange stories, Travel

Efficiency in Amsterdam

Fantastic holiday

The last exchange we have had with a family in Amsterdam. It was a fantastic holiday, where we have enjoyed the city. We did as the Dutch do: Beautiful walks through the history centre, enjoying the canals, mingle at the multicolors of the night, walking lightheadedly through the big and small streets of this wonderful city.

Welcoming and available

We enjoyed the efficiency of the Nord. Since we live in Sardegna, where we have a beautiful nature, the scenery at the sea and a lot of sun – but to say the truth, we lack in efficiency.

It was so easy to take buses everywhere (which were very efficient), without taking much time even to reach places far from the house in which we were guests. Dutch lifestyle suited us, not at all like the stereotypes; welcoming and available. We visited Haarlem, Delf, Rotterdam with its futuristic port, got to know the geography of Holland and the skill of the Dutch, who have been able to transform lowlands into a real opportunity for richness & wellbeing. We were satisfied with this journey. However, our partners have told us of their enthusiasm for Sardinia and its enchanting sea.

Maria Rosa Giannalia, IT149

Maria and husband

Home exchange stories, Travel

Mehr als nur ein Haustausch…

Das “echte” Italien

Wo wir zu unserem jährlichen Haustausch hinreisen sollten, war keine schwere Entscheidung mehr, als wir uns für Italien entschieden hatten.

Wir wollten das “echte” Italien kennenlernen, von dem wir so oft geträumt hatten. Wir wollten die Landschaften, lebhaften kleinen Dörfer, Märkte, vorzügliche Küche, fazinierende Kultur und die grossartigen Leute kennenlernen.

Genau diese Erfahrungen fanden wir bei unserem Haustausch in Terni, Umbrien (IT008500).

Freundliche Gastgeber

Nach ein paar grossartigen Tagen in Rom stiegen Bill, ich, meine Schwester und mein Schwager in den Zug in das 1 Stunde entfernte Terni. Wir waren aufgeregt und gespannt. Als wir am Bahnhof ankamen wurden wir bereits von unseren Super-Gastgebern empfangen. Emanuela, Paolo und ihr Sohn Leonardo hatten alles sorgfälltig für die Gruppe organisiert.

Unsere Gastgeberin übernahm sofort die Rolle der Reiseführerin und wies uns auf Pärke, Geschäfte und Sehenswürdigkeiten in ihrer wunderschönen Stadt hin. Als wir in ihrer komfortable Wohnung ankamen, wurden wir vom Duft des köstlichen Willkommensessen begrüsst, welches ihre mamma für uns vorbereitet hatte. Ihr Ehemann, Paolo, gesellte sich für das Festmahl zu uns und unser Familienabenteuer begann.

Unsere Gastgeber nahmen sich Zeit und stellten eine lange Liste mit Sehenswürdigkeiten zusammen-Restaurants, Geschäfte, Wanderrouten und Wasserfälle. Sie gingen über sich hinaus, um unseren Besuch unvergesslich zu machen. Sie organisierten eine fantastische Weintour in einer der lokalen Cantinas, FAttoria Le Poggette, mit ihrem Freund und Weinbauer, Franco. Wir kaufen unseren Vorrat von köstlichem Wein für die Woche (wir ware sehr glücklich!).

Ein anderes Mal nahmen sie uns mit zu einem mittelalterlichen Bankett in Bevagna, wo wir ihre Freunde trafen und ein einzigartiges und leckeres mittelalterliches Mahl erlebten! Es war ein unvergesslicher Abend mit Musik, Essen, Tanzen in der Gesellschaft von Freunden.


Jeder Tag barg ein neues Abenteuer, wir wanderten zu den Marmore Wasserfällen und der wunderschönen Umgebung, genossen die Aussicht auf den Piediluco Lake, besuchten die Städte Assisi, Orvieto, Spoleto, Narni, Gubbio, Trevi und unsere Gastgeber stellten während der ganzen Zeit sicher, das sie immer erreichbar waren.

Bevor wir die Reise durch das restliche Land fortsetzten, organisierten Emanuela und Paolo ein Abschiedsessen für uns und ihre engsten Freunde. Ein unvergesslicher Abend mit unglaublichem Essen, hervorragenden Weinen mit unseren neugewonnenen Freunden. Wir fühlten uns gesegnet diese wundervollen Erinnerungen zu teilen, welche ein Leben lang währen werden.

Intervac hat es uns ermöglicht faszinierende Personen in der ganzen Welt kennenzulernen. Wir haben kostbare Freundschaften geschlossen…unsere erweiterte Intervac Familie.

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