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No coach at departure time, a long wait on the ferry while waiting for a berth at Calais, cold torrential rain on arrival in Dieppe - the Third Year French Visit did not have a very auspicious start!

Fortunately the 33 pupils and five members of staff were optimistic and creative. Mr Kerr's group even braved the tempest in an attempt to fulfil the scheduled "exploration" of the big Normandy port . We were staying in a hostel called "Domaine Les Roches", a well-equipped hostel in spacious grounds offering "salle à manger avec vue superbe" and "salle d'animation" where a table tennis tournament (champion, Peter Edwarde) and table-football competitions (champions, Tom Kirschen and Simon Hope) were organised.

A day in Rouen was programmed for the second day. It was cold, but sunny and the pretty squares and timbered houses looked beautiful. The morning market offered the first chance to practice French - "je voudrais un pain au chocolat" (James Sheldrake), "un kilo de fraises, s'il vous plaît" (Sarah Perry) and "où sont les toilettes?" (Ben Holding). David Evans was even given "une tête de lapin" - a rabbit's head!

After some shopping and a picnic lunch beside the River Seine we met our French tour-guide, called Fred. He told us about the cathedral and Rouen's turbulent history, then he took us to a quaint tree-filled courtyard enclosed by very old black and white timbered buildings. There was a sinister atmosphere to this place named Aître St Maclou, which we soon discovered had been a plague cemetery! The day ended with delicious crêpes and, for some, a ride on a colourful merry-go-round.

On Sunday it was possible to explore Dieppe on our walk to the maritime museum, Cité de la Mer. The cliff-top chateau overlooking the huge promenade, the garden commemorating the ill-fated Canadian raid on German-occupied Dieppe and the picturesque quayside with its cafés and shops all make up the charm of the town. In spite of the difficulty in understanding the details in French about ship-building and fishing the museum was generally appreciated, not least for the opportunity to touch the ray fish and make Lego boats! Our last hour in town was spent on the "Grande Rue" buying more delicious crêpes, glaces and bonbons.

We had anticipated some delay on the Calais dock due to the restricted use of berths, but we had not anticipated the failure of the coach's turbo! However, spirits were still high on arrival at school and, as usual, because the visit had been so busy and eventful, it seemed much more than three days since our departure.

"What did you like most about the whole visit?"
We got to try out speaking French, being with mates, shopping and the pâtisseries (wrote Grace Denley)