A week before half-term, Mrs Hodges, Mr McCulloch and I took 26 Year 10 and 11 students on a residential trip to Basse Normandie for what promised to be a totally fun packed, cultural and linguistic experience. True to their word, our hosts at the Château de la Baudonnière did not disappoint! On arrival, our students were expected to listen to and respond in French. They immediately rose to the challenge and throughout their stay took advantage of every opportunity to improve their linguistic skills.
France is renowned throughout the world for it gastronomy, and in true French style, meals consisted three courses – with an opportunity to taste various French cheeses (le fromage) as well as snails (les escargots)! Meris W, in particular, couldn’t get enough of them! At breakfast, the cereal bowl is used for drinking tea or hot chocolate (le chocolat chaud) – something of a surprise, but all part of the experience.
Our first two days at the Château found the students participating in lots of different activities, including; wall-climbing (l’escalade), fencing (l’escrime), archery (le tir à l’arc) and an obstacle course (un parcours de santé) – as well as helping out at the farm (le ferme). Philippa C-K scored top marks in the archery competition, while Sam P proved a pro at wall climbing. He took up the gauntlet to climb up the inverted wall, blind folded and directed by fellow students calling out instructions in French – Adam O and Chris S better watch out!
Every evening was also part of the French experience. There were lots of games, sporting activities, a treasure hunt and a talent show, followed by rest and relaxation in the games room (la salle de jeux). James P proved to be a budding stand-up comic at the talent show, while Meris W, Callam F and Hannah B delighted us all with a superb rendition of the acoustic version of ‘Bulletproof’ by La Roux.
Our final two days found us out-and-about exploring the region with our Instructor and Guide, Danny. We visited the historical town of Bayeux, where students were able to stroll around market stalls selling local specialities, and explore its famous gothic cathedral (la Cathédrale de Bayeux). The cathedral was consecrated in July 1077 by Bishop Odo of Conteville, in the presence of William the Conqueror. Of course, no visit to Bayeux is complete without viewing La Tapisserie de Bayeux, which is believed to have been commissioned by the Bishop Odo. The tapestry was allegedly made in Britain, but we won’t be getting it back any time soon!
On our last day we visited a goat farm, where our students were able to learn how goat’s cheese was made, and spend time with the goats – feeding both adults and baby goats, as well as a chance to milk a goat!
We then went on to visit the stunning island of Mont St Michel, with its strategic fortifications dating back to ancient times, and its monastery built in the 8th century. Here our students were able to walk along the ramparts with our Tour Guide, explore the shops and visit one of the island’s many cafes – giving them yet more opportunities to hear and speak French.
Overall, the trip proved to be a huge success thanks to our students, who embraced every activity and occasion available to them to learn and converse in French. All our students did themselves and the school proud, and I feel very privileged to have been able to spend this time with them. Well done all!
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Years 7 to 11
Post 16 Students