Putney Student Travel: Language Learning France (Grades 8 & 9)

Putney, VT

Overview

Immerse yourself in French language and culture as you explore the cities and off-the-beaten-track villages of France. Explore Mont Saint-Michel and the D-day beaches in Normandy, swim and picnic beneath the Pont du Gard, try zip-lining or surfing, and spend five days becoming part of a French family.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discuss  famous works of art at the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou — en français!
  • Enjoy a crêpe or a pain au chocolat as you relax at a Parisian sidewalk café once beloved by Sartre and de Beauvoir.
  • Put your French to the test by chatting with market vendors as you gather picnic supplies at an outdoor market.
  • Spend an afternoon swimming beneath the Pont du Gard with your host siblings and new French friends.
  • With the help of professional guides and instructors, learn to surf, and go zip-lining or horseback riding.

OVERVIEW

Adventure & French Language Immersion

Delve into la vie française and improve your language skills as you explore the world’s most renowned museums, hike across fields of summer snow in the Alps, and enjoy the rituals of daily life with a French family. In vibrant cosmopolitan cities and charming rural towns, get to know local culture and history. Find your own favorite bakery in a Paris neighborhood, follow in the footsteps of Impressionist painters, go swimming, hiking, biking, canyoning, and canoeing, and become a part of local communities as you build friendships with French people.

Each day, your leaders create conversational French exercises designed to help you communicate more easily with the many French people you meet. Language lessons are fun, interactive, vocabulary-based, and relate directly to our experiences each day. Other language-learning activities include scavenger hunts, games, and informal interviews with local people. Our goal is to improve your conversational fluency by building your vocabulary and speaking confidence.  The best way to do this is by talking with French people, so we provide you with every opportunity to connect and build friendships with locals. You must have completed at least one year of French instruction to participate in this program.

Normandy and the Northern Coast

An idyllic seaside town in Normandy is the scene for the beginning of our adventure in France. Immerse yourself in the daily life of Trouville-Sur-Mer, the oldest seaside resort in France, with extravagant Belle Époque architecture and a welcoming Normand culture. Explore the coast by bike, chat with fishermen at the market, visit Mont Saint-Michel and the D-day beaches, and immerse yourself in everyday French life.

Paris

Next, board a train to Paris, where we spend five days savoring the pleasures of Parisian life and taking in the high culture. Discover your favorite boulangerie, visit the world’s most renowned art collections, taste escargots at grand Art Deco brasseries once frequented by Picasso and Sartre, and cruise down the Seine River to see the city illuminated by night.

Homestay and Atlantic Coast

then head south to Montpellier, an elegant and multicultural Mediterranean city, where we are welcomed by local host families who live in a hillside village above the city. Spend five days immersed in everyday French family life, exploring the city and region with your host brothers or sisters and on group excursions.

After saying goodbye to our French families, head to the sun-drenched Atlantic coast near Bordeaux. We spend the final days of our journey in the seaside village of Arcachon, enjoying the beach, hiking on the pristine sands of Europe’s tallest dune, and learning to surf.

Accommodations

Group accommodations are carefully selected by Putney Student Travel to emphasize convenience, a positive group environment, and wholesome interaction with local people and fellow travelers. Accommodations in France are varied, ranging from comfortable old world-style hotels to a simple dormitory-style mountain chalet. Residences are often run by wonderful families or individuals who help set the tone for our experience and facilitate interaction with local people. We start out each day with a French breakfast at our residence. For other meals, we generally eat in restaurants, or bring a picnic with us on excursions.

During our homestay in Montpellier, you live with a French family who has a child of a similar age. This is a unique opportunity to experience everyday French life, and often is highlight of the trip. The families are carefully selected by our local homestay representative, a trusted longtime friend of Putney, who chooses them from among her friends and contacts in the community. The group gets together for excursions several times during the week, and both leaders stay in town for the duration of the homestay.

Physical Challenge Level

Our programs are active. Days are filled with movement — we explore cities and towns on foot and by bike, go on hikes, swim, and we have the opportunity to kayak, learn to surf and sail, and go rafting or canyoning. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

Typical Day

Our daily activities will vary significantly depending our location, but we generally divide our time as follows: We have breakfast together in our residence, and discuss the plan for the day. We start out with a short, fun vocabulary lesson relating to our activities ahead, then set off on a morning adventure  — for instance, in Normandy you may spend the morning working with the local cheesemaker, in Paris we may pick up a croissant at the corner bakery and walk to the Centre Pompidou. At lunchtime we often buy ingredients from local markets, and make picnics from regional specialties. In the afternoon we get outside — we may bike up the coast, have a scavenger hunt in an old town center, head to the beach for surfing lessons with local friends, or take a group hike. In the late afternoon we set aside time to relax, sit in a café and write in your journal, or go for a run. We typically have dinner together in a restaurant, and use our evenings to take in cultural events such as local music, theatre, and night markets.

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