Just as the Western Allies descended on Normandy as part of WW2’s Operation Overlord in June 1944, so the Year 6 girls at the Royal High Junior School made our own assault on the beaches last week!
The journey to France was broken up with a trip to the Nausicaa Sea life Aquarium in Boulogne-sur-mer to study a whole range of astonishing sea creatures before heading out of the Pas de Calais and into Normandy to our accommodation at the Château de Chantereine in the small village of Criel-sur-Mer.
On the first morning, blessed with blue skies and beautiful weather, we took a leisurely stroll into Criel-sur-mer to buy postcards to send home – a first opportunity to practise French. Happening on the local market day, many typically French baskets were purchased as presents for some lucky mums! In the afternoon, we were introduced to the tricky art of croissant-making – and found that it was a lot more difficult than it might appear to make them as light and fluffy as the ones found in the boulangeries all across France – Paul Hollywood eat your heart out! The results were somewhat heavy – so next time you buy one, you can appreciate the work that goes into creating that flakiest of pastries!
A highlight of the trip was preparing for our daily dormitory inspections which took place each morning before breakfast and every evening before supper. Detailed planning, collaborative group-working and frantic rustling through vocabulary books resulted in a plethora of highly creative ‘performances’, most of which were in French and incorporated songs, dances and a nod or two towards the day’s themes and activities.
A full day trip to Rouen provided the perfect dose of culture and history; it was fascinating to meander through the medieval streets and learn about the architecture, window and groundtaxes and the horrors of the plague! We also learnt all about the martyr, saint and military leader, Joan of Arc and how, acting under divine guidance, she led the French army to victory over the British during the Hundred Years' War.
On Friday morning, we were put into groups by Mrs Sharples and given a budget of 15 euros for our trip to the street market at Eu. The aim was to use our best French to purchase our own lunch from the many bustling stallholders, as well as visiting the boulangerie to buy bread for the picnic. After about an hour and a half of careful negotiations, each group emerged with a mix of fromage, jambon, poulet rôti, banettes, baguettes, and fruits galore. Some even managed to budget for tartes and gateaux, proving the old adage ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way!’ The afternoon proved hot and sunny – perfect for our trip to the beach at Le Tréport, where we enjoyed descending the cliffs by funicular railway to splash in the sea, skim stones and play some group beach games.
The week came to a perfect close with a walk into Criel to visit a local restaurant for supper, with lots of opportunity to order our food and practise other useful phrases ‘Encore de l’eau, s’il vous plaît’, ‘C’est combien, Madame?’ and the ever handy ‘Où sont les toilettes?’.
On the last morning as we set off for home, the chocolate factory in Beussent was another popular highlight. A master chocolatier demonstrated all the stages in the artisan chocolate-making process, explaining how to make the perfect milk, plain and white chocolate. This was followed by a tasting.
“The overall trip was fantastic!” – Poppy
“We had the most enjoyable trip with our friends for a whole week, filled with interesting activities. My favourites were the historical sightseeing tour of Rouen, seeing the quaint decorations and amazing medieval architecture and the market visit. What an enjoyable tour!” – Izzy
“I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to France. I just loved it. A big thank you to the teachers who assisted us and to Mrs Sharples for organizing the whole trip!” – Miranda
“Going to France was one of the highlights of my year! We had fun opportunities all throughout the trip. My favourite activity was visiting the French market and eating delicious poulet roti. I also loved the daily dorm inspections” – Charlie
“It was quite exciting ordering you food in French and knowing that you had been understood! We all managed to buy a delicious lunch including roast chicken, peaches and baguettes” - Maddie W