Year 6 Residential French Trip, 23-27 May 2016

Parlez-vous français?

Before half term, Year 6 spent a sunny week in Le Clos de l’Ancien Pressoir, a château in Commes, Normandie. They practised their French, ate lovely (and, to them, strange) food, learnt a lot about history and enjoyed some sightseeing.

After a very early start on the Monday, pupils enjoyed a film and “steak frites” on the ferry. They were all excited, perfectly behaved and keen to get started with their French.

After a lovely welcome from our guides Bob and Stella at the centre and a health and safety talk (reminding us to look left first when we crossed any roads!) the pupils settled into their dorms, knowing that there would be a competition for both the quietest and tidiest dorms.

Table manners were very important and we all ate meals together the French way, starting as one after having said “bon appétit”, trying new food, and saying lots of “s’il vous plait” and “merci”. At every “petit déjeuner” proper croissants and pains au chocolat were a highlight!

During the week the pupils had French lessons to practise vocabulary that they then had to use and apply in real situations. For example, things you can find on a beach for a scavenger hunt, places and directions for a town quiz, fruits and quantities to buy fruits in a market to make fruit salad, role plays to help ordering in restaurants for their lunches in a crêperie and a pizzeria and likes and dislike for a cheese tasting!

They visited lots of interesting places, learnt a lot and got a sense of French life. In Bayeux, there was the tour of a French food market, a visit to the cathedral and the old town, lunch in a crêperie and the visit to the Bayeux tapestry, assisted by an audio guide. The pupils were very interested to see face-to-face what they had studied at school.

Our guide made us relive history during our visits to the D Day landings beaches at Arromanches and Omaha. The pupils learnt all about the floating harbour and the reality of the landings and were fascinated when watching the original film footage. At the American military cemetery the pupils met a 94 year old American Veteran and were much moved by his stories of five of his comrades buried there. They then went to look for the soldiers’ graves.

On the last day, it was very entertaining to watch them shop in a big French supermarket. The rule was to only buy things that could only be found in France!

At the end of the week, pupils and staff did not want to leave. Madame Moore commented: “After ten years of taking school groups to Normandy, I never cease to be amazed at the transformative effect on the pupils. Away from home and family and in a strange land, Warminster boys and girls rose to the challenge. Their spoken French improved in leaps and bounds as they ordered croissants, bought fruits at the market, purchased ice cream made on the farm or chose a souvenir postcard. Each child comes home brimming with confidence after cinq jours formidables en France.”

Parents, I hope you have received your “carte postale”!

Anna Mortimer, Prep School French Teacher