French Trip to ‘Le Château de la Baudonnière’.
Our exciting trip to ‘la Normandie’ began rather early on the morning of ‘dimanche, 22 octobre’. We travelled swiftly down to Portsmouth and after a brief stop at the motorway services we were soon awaiting the arrival of our Britanny ferry, somewhat delayed due to Storm Brian. Once aboard we found that we had the luxury of our own lounge with large screen and we settled down to our crossing. As we left the harbour, the ship began to sway from side to side and Hector soon discovered that sweets and ferry should never be mixed. He was the first of a number of green faced children to call for the assistance of a Mrs. Grieves resplendent in blue rubber gloves, who was soon familiar with the onboard shower, handy for washing various items of clothing. However many pupils were still able to enjoy the delights of onboard shopping and eating, though staff decided that the purchase of sweets should now be prohibited!
We were quite pleased to board our coach in France and after an hour and a half’s drive, we arrived at the dark and mysterious château, as by now it was 11.30pm. We quickly found our rooms in the château’s (renovated) stables and fell asleep.
On the first morning we awoke to the sound of rain and saw the beautiful grounds, the château with its turrets and peacocks, (yes peacocks!), rabbits scurrying around, hens and the resident parrot called’ Cacahuette’, whom we met at breakfast. Then it rained. And it rained even more. And it kept on raining. After a tour of the château and a practice fire alarm, we divided into groups and began our activities. Group N donned old clothes and began their muddy descent to the lake and stream where they commenced the assault course, Group O tackled the climbing wall and P made bread whilst singing and rapping. Every task was explained and carried out in French. ‘Allez! Le journal et le nécessaire médical’, became the morning cry.
Our lunch was ‘hachis parmentier’ and was delicious. In the afternoon we swapped activities and also had a go at archery and trampoline volley ball. Before our evening meal the pupils wrote in their journals and then we played some French games in the ‘salle des jeux’.
On the second day the sun began to shine. After some tasty ‘pains au chocolat’ the pupils got stuck into their morning of activities. Some tried the circus skills of juggling and balancing, with varying degrees of success, and others had a lively French lesson where they played games and learnt about shopping, ready for our trips out and about in ‘la Normandie’.
‘Oh no!’ exclaimed Mme Morgan, ‘Now we might have to do juggling and rapping in our French lessons!’
In the afternoon we visited the magical ‘Mont St Michel’. Our guide explained about how the narrow paths leading to the abbey at the top had inspired ‘Diagon Alley’ in ‘Harry Potter’. The students spent the afternoon pottering around the shops buying snow globes and other treasures to take home!
In the evening everyone dressed in totally non stereotypical outfits for our French night. Not a stripy top or moustache in sight! We ate some delicious snails and had a French themed quiz.
‘Mercredi’ dawned with another day of exciting visits. We haggled at the local ‘marché’ and yet more tasteful gifts were purchased. After a picnic in the park we visited the ‘Cathédrale de Bayeux’ and the famous ‘Tapisserie de Bayeux’. We were all intrigued to hear that we had a ‘Norman’ in our midst in the form of our own George G whose ancestor Hugh was a very important aid to ‘Guillaume le Conquérant’. Our ‘animateur’ for the day was especially impressed to have a fellow countryman in our party. We all looked for Hugh on the Tapestry.
That evening, great excitement! Not only did we eat alongside another prep school but we were to have a talent competition with them. This provoked various emotions, the main one being ‘la panique!’ After some desperate practice, and some moments of anxiety when we heard the opposition singing rather splendidly, it was time to go on stage. And what wide ranging talents were displayed! Perhaps best not to mention the rap of Tommy and Daniel based in ‘les toilettes’, but we also observed some magical tricks, some of which worked, some which didn’t. But, ‘tant pis!’ It’s the taking part that matters! We heard some ‘classical’ songs such as the ‘Potato Song’ sung by Tallulah, Marnie, Lily and Eliza, and Ethan sang a beautiful solo. George G thrilled everyone with his stirring rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’. Some of the girls did a little sketch involving eating as many pains au chocolat as possible. You’ve guessed it! The standard was high!
Finally it was time to go to bed as ‘vendredi’ was our last day. The final day was spent working on French, and on sporting and cooking skills. We ate some more beautiful three course meals and commenced the evening session- ‘la grande trouvaille’, a treasure hunt in the dark with French clues and ‘lampes de poche’. Mr. Morrow had to be dragged away from cuddling a chinchilla (yes, I did say a chinchilla), as he was one of the treasures that the children had to find- ‘un grand homme’. The children finished their last evening worn out from running around and, rather unusually, everyone fell asleep straight away!
The bad news was the early morning departure. The good news was there was no returning storm and we had a smooth sailing, with everyone tucking into a tasty meal on the ferry. Despite lots of traffic we arrived home, not too late, and everyone was very pleased to be back after such a long day. Mrs. Grieves happily binned the blue rubber gloves and tucked away ‘le nécessaire médical’ and we all bid each other ‘au revoir! ‘
I will leave the last words to the children:
Honor S – ‘I loved this trip so much!’
Freddie R – ‘I liked the French especially because of the assault course.’
Callum B – ‘It was very fun. The activities were good and there were lots of activities I enjoyed.’
Albert W – ‘I loved the trip. It was really awesome!’
Ethan F – ‘I got into the French vibe.’
James M– ‘After, it was hard not to speak French.’
Rory P – ‘It was amazing’.
Tallulah B – ‘Cétait fantastique’.
Ben R –‘Very exciting!’
George G – ‘C’est bon!’
I would like to thank all who helped to make this trip so enjoyable; the teachers Mme Morgan, Mrs. Grieves and Mr. Morrow, and of course the hugely enthusiastic children. Bravo!