French Homestay, Loire Valley 2006

Bleary- eyed and tired, 35 students and 4 teachers set off at 7.15 on Sunday, 26th March (the morning the clocks were put forward). We were off to Cléry Saint André, near Orléans in the Loire Valley, where we would spend the next 5 days visiting famous places, getting a taste of French culture and staying with host families whose children attend the local collège. After several hours on the coach and ferry, we finally arrived to be met by a group of French children and their families and our intrepid 4th formers went off in pairs for their first night in a completely French environment.
The following day at 8.30, (7.30 British time, 6.30 GMT!) we were all back at the collège for a taste of the French education system. For the first hour, two of Mme. Tertois’ French classes were put with our group and, having been divided into teams, were given the task of finding out the meaning of obscure words in both French and English. This activity proved a great ice-breaking activity where there was much communication in both languages as well as in mime and gesture. For the second hour we were sent off to a variety of different classes; the music GCSE bunch attended a Second Year Music lesson where Andy Gallo gave a fine rendition of “The Stars” from “Les Misérables” and the whole group joined in with “Oh Happy Day”. A visit to the outstandingly beautiful “Château de Chambord”(nicknamed Aladdin’s palace by some of the group) followed. After a brief picnic lunch we set off for Blois, where after a brief tour of the town, we were given a guided excursion of the castle where secret doors and the room in which an assassination had taken place fascinated the students. The coach disgorged an exhausted bunch of students and staff into the school playground at 6.30 p.m.
The following day was spent in the famous audio-visual theme-park, Futuroscope, where we were all shaken about by 3D simulators and astounded by some of the biggest and most complex screens in the world.

  Click here for some photos of the trip both in thumbnails and full size.      
    Finding obscure words        
    A damp but smiling group!        

Our final day offered perhaps one of the most interesting cultural experiences; visiting one of the Vouvray wine cellars, where we saw millions of bottles of wine and were shown the process of wine making. This was followed by one of the most popular parts of the trip – wine-tasting! We all had the chance to sample a variety of wines. In the afternoon we were given a guided visit of Orléans and the students were then allowed to shop for a couple of hours along the principal broad avenue of shops in the city.
After a final night spent with their French families, there were several tearful “au revoirs” as the students said a final farewell to their hosts.
I would like to give heart-felt thanks to my highly supportive “team” of Miss Ball, Miss Thomas and Mr. Townsend as well as to Madame Miard, the headmistress of the Collège in Cléry and the French teachers and families who welcomed us. Finally, I would like to say an enormous thank you to all of the students who came on the trip for their good behaviour and their fantastic participation. I will leave the final word to them.

Jan Spencer Ellis

From a questionnaire the students filled in;
How was your French family?
They were sooo nice – really easy to get on with – very understanding and welcoming – very friendly and funny – kind and generous
What activities did you do with them?
We ate frogs’ legs -we did archery- we played cards, rugby, football, ping-pong and basketball –we went on walks and bike rides- we fed the donkey and the ducks – we watched films – we were taken out to the restaurant.
In what way has your French improved?
My confidence and comprehension are much better – I learnt very useful vocabulary- my knowledge of France and its history has improved – I have learnt that language need not be a barrier between people – my French listening has improved.
What were the most embarrassing/funny parts of the visit?
When Andy (Gallo) burped whilst singing to the family – Dorian being called a greedy pig by our family – telling the family that I am a black cat