Shrewsbury School

'Huit jours' in Bordeaux

Friday 20 April 2018

Thank you to Tessa Scott Bell (MSH LVI) for her entertaining account of the Sixth Form French Study Visit - a linguistically and culturally rewarding experience - which took place in the first week of the Easter holiday.

A group of nine Sixth Formers departed from Gatwick on Friday 23rd April for a week (huit jours) in the picturesque city of Bordeaux.

Upon arrival we were met by our host families and taken home to experience the true French way of life. The first day consisted of a visit to Dune du Pilat, the biggest sand dune in Europe!

After working up an appetite, we were soon replenished by an oyster-tasting session in Arcachon.

The late afternoon was spent exploring this beautiful seaside town. Unfortunately with the rain, wind, the lack of tourists and closed cafés, it was described as “a glorified Aberystwyth”.

Sunday was spent with our host families and trips included a submarine museum and a full tour of the shops in the city centre.

Lessons commenced on Monday morning, and with the small group of nine there was a great work ethic. Utterances of English were forbidden if the classroom door was closed. The full immersion in the language was amazing, and we could notice a change in confidence and fluency within the first few days.

Lunching in 'Nom d’une Crêpe' was a perfect way to continue to a guided tour of Bordeaux with our own personal French guide! The day ended with a trip to the Tramway depot. Dressed in high-vis jackets, we explored the tram station and management centre and were very fortunate to get a chance to sit in the driver’s seat of a tram.

Our culinary skills were put to the test in a chef’s workshop, where we were taught to cook duck with carrots and spring onions.

This was followed by an enlightening session at Luminopolis, an interactive science centre, where our French was truly tested with 42 puzzles to complete in two hours; it was won by a team of Dan, Oscar and Mr Whitehead.

We had a very cultural end to the day at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, where we attended a big arty student event, Bacchanight. It included a fashion show, amateur artists’ exhibition with art talks, wine for over-18s (none of us!) some drama and music and a dance performance to finish. French university students seem strongly intellectual.

Thursday lessons started earlier and after a great lunch at 'Eatsalad' we were ready to explore the old gate house called Porte Cailhou. With a bit of free time to explore some hidden cafés with non-tourist prices, we were re-fuelled for a session at the bowling alley!

The evening trip to the theatre was really well spent at a hilarious comedy, which was performed by a group of young actors in an improv style.

Despite the slightly later night before, morale was high in the last set of lessons as we were all keen to make the most of the last full day in Bordeaux. Yet another interesting lunch experience at 'Paus’K'. The main trip of the day was to ‘L’éco quartier Darwin’, a rejuvenation project in an area across the river from the town centre where the focus is on sustainable living, business start-ups, local produce and low-cost active entertainment. Equipped with Europe’s biggest indoor skate park, CrossFit and a boxing ring, there was so much to look at.

We were then free to make the most of the charity shops and street art. With the first full day of sun, it was lovely walking along the banks of Garonne.

We met for the last evening entertainment, which was a one-man stand-up show. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, although we were able to understand much more than what we would have at the beginning of the trip. Thank you, Mr Whitehead and Mlle Fournis. Up early the next day and at the airport for 8am, we headed home after an exhausting though thoroughly enjoyable and enriching trip to Bordeaux.

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