Le Château de la Baudonnière
The charming 19th Century chateau is located in Normandy, with beautiful grounds in the rolling countryside. We kicked off the week with a visit to the local market in Saint Hilaire de Harcouet. Once the children had spent their pocket money on crepes, souvenirs and baseball caps (and a few radishes!) it was time to get back to the chateau and straight down to business with the muddy obstacle course that is the ‘Parkours de Santé’. Once we had all decided to accept the fact we will be covered in mud it became a great laugh.
Every activity includes a training session in French and the helpful ‘animateurs’ ensure everyone understands and communicates in French throughout the activities. Other activities include Tir a l’arc, l’escalade, orientation and canoë.
Meals are another super opportunity to talk more French. The friendly staff introduce every menu, with us all repeating. If anything runs out or is missing the children take turns communicating with the kitchen staff – for example ‘Je voudrais encore du pain, s’il vous plaît!’
Thursday was our second excursion day and we set off bright and early for Bayeux to view the famous tapestry. We had an interesting commentary about the historical tableaux and we were amazed by the level of detail. After a picnic in the park where the children found some French tourists to practise their language skills, we headed off to Arromanches. This is the location of the artificical harbour which played such an important role in the Allies D-Day landings. The small museum offered lots of artefacts and models to help us understand the significance of the events. Despite such a packed day we found the time to stop off en route home to the chateau at the hypermarket to buy more typical French products ( and quite a few bonbons).
The evenings were busy too. We had a Soiree Francaise, a quiz and my favourite; the ‘grand spectacle’ where the children performed brilliantly with their gymnastics, singing and dance.
It was a great week. The children worked hard on their French, made the most of the cultural opportunities and had a lot of fun.