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Thursday, 21 June 2012

The city of love - Paris adventures for our France gapbreak students





COUNTRY: France
PROGRAM: GapBreak
PROJECT: Language and tutoring English
WRITTEN BY: Siobhan Calafiore

As soon as I sent in my previous blog a fortnight ago, I caught a train to Vannes and then bussed to Thiex to spend the night with Phoebe and her host family. Why you ask? Because the next day we were going back to Paris!

Now when I say that Phoebe’s host family are extremely nice I am not exaggerating. On Saturday morning Phoebe and I had to catch the earliest train so that we could meet Jess and her host parents in Le Mans by 8.30. So Phoebe’s host mother drove us to the train station in Vannes at 4.30 in the morning!! Once we had arrived in Le Mans we continued the rest of the way by car. Our first stop? Versailles!!



We reached Versailles by mid morning so we had plenty of time to wander around the gardens, visit Marie Antoinette’s apartments and of course the Chateau of Versailles. Elisa (our Brazilian friend from Paris) met us there and Jess’s host parents, who have not yet had children, joked that they had four daughters for the day. They seemed to be more like an older brother and sister to Jess than host parents.

The gardens of Versailles were incredible and we literally walked around them for hours. The castle was even more impressive, gold trimmings, vibrant and rich colours, ceilings full of magnificent paintings, a room full of chandeliers, sunlight flooding in through large floor length windows – the only disappointment was the crowd of tourists that filled every room. However despite all of these things I think our highlight for the day was something completely different.

It was lunch.

We had a picnic by the lake in the gardens. The setting couldn’t be any better. Cheese, baguettes, wine or cider, dessert... it was all very French. Blessed with a beautiful day we relaxed in the sunshine and watched the row boats drift. Of course we couldn’t resist trying them out for ourselves and thank god for Jess who was the only one who could steer.



After our perfect day at Versailles we spent Sunday in Paris. We had a quick photo stop at the Moulin Rouge before heading onto Montmartre and watching the artists at work. On Monday we caught the train back to our different villages. Although it was a very quick few days together it was also probably my favourite few days together.

Otherwise we have spent the rest of the two weeks doing the usual routine. For me that is going to Languidic’s primary school. I have now been to 30 English lessons and therefore have done about 30 hours of teaching. I feel like a student teacher. In my most recent class we did Aboriginal dot paintings. I have even made it into Brittany’s newspaper as I was interviewed about the work I do at the school. When I am not at the school, I’m usually doing more exploring of the beautiful region.

Jess has played in a family soccer tournament scoring 2 goals, witnessed her host father parachute out of a plane, watched the world cup, seen a French play and has continued cooking yummy desserts and helping out at her host mother’s school.
Phoebe has gone to her host brother’s hip hop show and continues going to her French lessons and giving English lessons to her host family.

This weekend she is looking forward to attending Noice Bretagne – a festival where the children dress in traditional clothes of the region and there is lots of traditional food and music.

Georgia has had the chance to do some of her own travelling. With her host family and their neighbours, she visited Granville in Normandy. Although right on the coast, it was too cold to go swimming. She has also spent some time in Saint Malo - a very beautiful and touristy coastal town with old buildings that were incredibly well preserved. Georgia has also managed to visit the very famous Le Mont Saint Michel. The incredible abbey has a history even more astonishing as Georgia was surprised to learn that it once was only a shack of a church.



There are also omelettes selling for 55 euro outside. Although she didn’t buy one she enjoyed watching the spectacle of the omelettes being made. Apparently the cooks hit the whisks against the side of the bowl making music as they cook.

Georgia has also stayed in Rennes with a friend of the host family. She has had the opportunity to visit some museums, shop and explore the old streets of the city.
My blogs just seem to be getting longer and longer... once again sorry for the essay!!

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