At midnight on 10 April, 24 Year 9 and Year 10 students, along with Mr Sherlock, Miss Regan and Mr Emery, embarked on a five day visit to France.
The first half of the trip was based in the PGL Château du Tertre in Normandy. On arrival, CSIA was warmly greeted by the PGL staff, including our very own personal Tour Leader, Sophie.
The first evening was spent with students stretching their legs, after the long journey, by participating in the “Passport to the World” activity, run by several of the PGL staff. Cultural questions from different European countries were scattered around the grounds of the château, and in working groups students had to answer as many questions correctly as they could to avoid a forfeit; one example being the jellyfish dance! Despite the arduous 16 hour journey, all of the students had fun and demonstrated good knowledge.
No trip to France would be complete without an outing to a local market. So on Saturday morning, students and staff set out to collect the finest sandwich ingredients from the market stalls in the picturesque castle-walled town of Fougères. The challenge set by the PGL rep Sophie was for the students (and staff) to make the best sandwich. The criteria? To make a sandwich which was; high in nutritional value, good value for money and presented well. This was an excellent opportunity to hone their French skills and see how they would fare at getting the best goods at a reasonable price.
All groups managed to successfully purchase their required ingredients, in French of course, and left feeling satisfied and buoyed up by the confidence that they would win. Well... almost all groups. The boys had decided to use some of their allocated spending money on buying a crêpe each. Having eaten these at the market, they could only muster 4 euros of bread and cheese for their lunch between them.
“Il faut manger ce que vous achetez”, (you must eat what you buy), a piece of advice from the PGL rep Sophie rang in their ears all the way back to the château. After much deliberation from Sophie (and some heckling from staff for not being included in the competition), Martha R, Kathryn W, Moriah O, Amy P and Georgia P won “best presentation” for their very colourful and healthy salad spread. The Year 9 girls Lauren N, Erin N, Sophie M, Sioned M, Chloe TP and Megan B) won the prize for “best nutritional value” for the wonderful inclusion of strawberries and lots of salad. Controversially, the boys won best value for money with their bread and cheese. I’m not convinced it was anywhere need as appetizing as any of the other groups!
Due to the rain on Saturday afternoon, the interviews with local residents in the town of Bagnoles-de-L’orne were postponed and relocated to the historical fishing port of St Malo the following day. And what a day for it! Sunday proved to be a spectacular day for a visit to this picturesque seaside town. Students seized the opportunity to practice their language skills, asking local residents and visitors of St Malo a variety of questions, from “Quelle est votree émission préféréé?” (What’s your favourite TV programme?) to “Aimez-vous habiter à St Malo?” (Do you like living in St Malo?). Once they’d completed the interviews, with all groups being successful, students were able to buy those all-important souvenirs for friends and family back home.
In the evening, the students were treated to singing and and dancing around the campfire with the two very enthusiastic activity leaders, James and Edina. Renditions of “McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut!”, among many others, were the flavours of the night. All students, after unyielding persistance and enthusiasm from the PGL reps, got involved with buckets of enthusiasm. A great way to finish an eventful day.
Monday morning brought with it sunshine and a balmy 21 degrees. Miss Regan, Mr Sherlock and Mr Emery oversaw the archery and climbing activities, with all three trying their luck with the students at hitting the bulls-eye. A stand-out from the two groups was Zach E, who seemed to have a magnet at the end of his arrow, having hit the bullseye far too often! In addition, the students enjoyed seeing who could ring the bell at the top of the tower in the climbing, with lots of encouragement given to every student who had a go.
After our final lunch at Château du Tertre, and a farewell from all the wonderful staff, we set off to Paris for our final night, all eagerly anticipating the visit to Disneyland the following day! Before checking into the hotel, visiting France wouldn’t be the same without a sightseeing tour of Paris, and most importantly the Eiifel Tower! Students were amazed by the number of famous monuments, including Le Louvre, Les Champs-Élyseés and of course, Johnny Depp’s house! We also enjoyed a scenic route of Paris alongside La Seine, viewing the Pont de l’Archevêché, noticeable due to being decorated by thousands and thousands of sweethearts’ padlocks.
After a night in a hotel just outside the centre of Paris, our time in France was concluded with an eagerly anticipated visit to the world famous and extremely impressive Disneyland resort. After the 7am alarm knock, bags were packed, rooms were tidied and we enjoyed our last breakfast in France before setting off. On arrival at Disneyland, students were made aware of the protocol and meeting points for the day, then off they went in their groups to see the sights and enjoy the exhilarating rides.
Finally, it was time to get a quick photo in front of the iconic Disneyland castle then head back to the coaches for the long journey home. Exhausted from the day, most of the students fell asleep quickly to the sounds of Shrek and Donkey (well, it wouldn’t be the same without watching Shrek at least once). We were back in the UK before we knew it, with the teachers keeping their fingers crossed that all the parents would remember to collect their offspring so we could all return home for a well-deserved sleep.
This was the MFL department’s first KS4 French trip in many years, and two Year 10 students summed it up perfectly:
“The Normandy trip was a great cultural experience - we had lots of opportunities to practice our French, including interviewing French people in St Malo. One of the many highlights was going to a local French bakery, where we made croissants. Another highlight was our evening tour of Paris, where we stopped to see the famous Eiffel Tower. I would recommend this trip to everyone as we learnt lots of new things and we were really welcomed by the PGL staff, and everyone we encountered.” - Martha R & Kathryn W