3rd Year Trip To Normandy April 2006
For a selection of pictures please click here

What better time for a visit to Normandy than Easter weekend, just before returning to school for the Summer term? Forty third year pupils, one South African and one Australian gap-year student and three members of staff set off for Dover early on Good Friday morning on a language-and-culture visit. Our destination was Dieppe.

After smooth ferry and coach journeys and room allocation at the hostel the pupils started their exploration of the port town. They were looking for “L’Eglise St Jaques”, “Les Tourelles”, “La Place du Puits Salé” and other notable landmarks, but not omitting “une barbe à papa” (candyfloss) and a ride on a typically French “manège” (merry-go-round). It was a beautiful evening and the Dieppois families were out shopping on the “Grande Rue” or walking along the impressive beach promenade.

Everyone was ready for “cabillaud” (fish on Good Friday) and “crème vanille” for supper. This was followed by the first session on workbooks. “La Domaine des Roches” is equipped with classrooms, a games field and “salle d’animation”; the last two were used for entertainment after work on both evenings. The Buchanan twins were awarded table-football prizes, and Chris Hawes and Bradley Allen were ping-pong competition winners.

Rouen was Saturday’s destination, starting with “Le Marché de Saint Maclou”. The stalls were filled with a huge variety of goods, ranging from oysters and “boudin blanc” for Easter feasts to bric-a-brac and old post-cards. The pupils ate various delicacies on the spot, such as delicious “crevettes” (prawns), stuffed olives, enormous strawberries and many different types of sweets. In spite of wet conditions the old centre of Rouen, with its typically Norman timbered buildings, its narrow streets and frequently-bombed cathedral, was admired by all. After a picnic lunch our two guides also showed us other treasures of the town, in particular the modern “Eglise Jeanne d’Arc” with its impressive stained-glass windows and sweeping roof. We left Rouen in the late afternoon feeling we had gained a good feeling for the beauty and spirit of the city.

Easter Day was fine and we were expected at the Château-Musée for a ten o’clock visit. Dieppe has a rich history, not only as a port which gave birth to early explorers and map-makers, but also as one of the first fashionable bathing-resorts frequented by famous French people, including the Impressionist painters. There were paintings and maritime exhibits which were explained by our two guides, but more unique and fascinating was the exhibition of ivories, for which Dieppe is world- renowned – two of the five existing French ivory workshops are still in the town. The intricacy and delicacy of the tobacco-holders, religious items and model ships impressed even the least enthusiastic of the group!

After lunch at the hostel the rest of Easter afternoon was spent on the return journey to Reigate, but we were in time for a ferry which was earlier than scheduled and nobody was too tired on arrival.
It had been an intensive and busy visit, comprising exploration of two Normandy towns, two guided visits, practice of French and learning of lots of new vocabulary and much happy interaction between pupils, who showed curiosity and interest.