Traveling home from Paris

After the Immersion Week, the students loved visiting Paris

Bonjour de Paris! After a wonderful week in our host families, the group departed Hyeres and arrived in Paris Sunday afternoon. There were lots of hugs and a few tears shed when we said goodbye to the families, and students were sad to leave their new host siblings. We arrived to beautiful sunny weather in Paris, and settled into our hotel a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower.

The students explored the Musee d’Orsay and the Musee Pompidou, and then Monday visited Notre Dame and the Louvre. We also enjoyed delicious treats from one of the best bakeries here in Paris, Eric Kayser. We enjoyed the bateaux mouches on the Seine, as well as our visit to Versailles.

It has been wonderful to be the Aix trip leader this year, and I know the students are traveling home with lots of good memories of the city of light.

– Marion Phillips, US Leader

Immersion in Hyères

Getting to know Hyères through Total Immersion

The students were greeted by enthusiastic families on Saturday morning when we arrived in Hyères. The teenagers from the French families were especially excited to welcome their new American friends. I’ve spoken with each of the host families and with each of the students, and everyone is having an amazing time. The host families are impressed with our students’ French and the students are loving the food and activities they’re taking part in.

Activities in Hyères have ranged from watching the fireworks for Bastille Day, visiting neighboring towns (Cassis, Nice, and Toulon), visiting local landmarks, going to the movies with host siblings and their friends, and attending family parties. Students have also spent afternoons with their families and friends on the beach and enjoying boat rides. I can’t wait to hear more about the students’ experiences when we leaves Hyeres for Paris next Sunday!

– Marion Phillips, US Leader

Wrapping up a fantastic stay in Aix

Now for a week of True Immersion in France

The students spent the last evening with their language partners in one of Aix’s outdoor cafes, followed by ice cream on the Cours Mirabeau. Wednesday morning one of our French teachers, Michele, organized a fun activity outside of the classroom for the students. We split up into two groups and each group selected two objects to describe and photograph and it was up to the other group to then find them based on the descriptions. We compared photographs at the end to see if we had found the right ones!

Wednesday afternoon we traveled to the Lac de Peyrolles to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of swimming and sunbathing at a beautiful lake 1/2 hour outside of Aix. In the evening we went to the cinema to see a new French film starring Vanessa Paradis, called ‘Je me suis fait tout petit.’

Visiting the Vasarely Foundation

Thursday we visited the famous Vasarely Foundation, home to modern art expositions. The group loved the colorful geometric pieces and the interesting architecture of the building. The immense scale of the paintings made them especially immersive. We then enjoyed a decadent dinner at the chic restaurant Le Six, with delicious entrees, plats, et desserts.

Meeting our host families in Hyères

Friday the students had their last day of language classes and a fencing class before packing their suitcases. We headed to Hyeres to meet the host families for Bastille day. The students were both nervous and excited to meet their families and start being totally immersed in French daily life. Their host families were also excited to welcome them and have lots of fun activities planned!

– Marion Phillips, US Leader

A visit to Arles and the Pont du Gard

A wonderful weekend of activities studying abroad in France

Friday we visited the town of Arles and enjoyed a guided tour of the Roman ruins and the sites where Van Gogh painted. Saturday was a trip to the beautiful island of Poquerolles, one of the “islands of gold.” No cars are allowed on the island, so we arrived by ferry and biked to the pristine beaches. The students loved the clear water and gorgeous views. Sunday we visited Avignon, where the Theater Festival is currently taking place. Because of this, there are street performances on every corner, which made for a lively visit!

We toured the beautiful Palais des Papes and of course walked to the end of the famous Pont d’Avignon which only extends across half of the river. After Avignon we headed to the Pont du Gard and strolled under and cross the ancient aqueduct. We then returned to Aix for a delicious dinner of crepes in a lively square just next to the Cours Mirabeau.

Feeling at home in Aix

Going into our second week in Aix, the students have settled into life here and are gearing up for their week with host families in Hyeres. We will make sure to take advantage of the wonderful sites in Aix before heading to host families to celebrate Bastille Day!

On Monday, students spent a busy afternoon completing a scavenger hunt in the city of Aix with their Language Partners. They had to find out facts about the city and its monuments, take pictures with Aix natives, and bring back brochures from different cultural centers. It was a very close contest, but the prize went to the team of Parker, Annie and Mallory. Felicitations!!

In the evening we attended an experimental concert which paired a string quartet, a flute and electronic music played on a computer together. The concert took place in a beautiful outdoor courtyard in one of Aix’s oldest buildings. The music was an interesting mix, and hearing the wind rustle in the trees above the musicians made it even better.

Our local leader Valerie prepared a delicious cheese tasting for us in a park near the school. We tasted brie, chevre, brebis and several others, including roquefort! With the cheese we enjoyed pain poilane, black cherry jam, lavender honey, and peaches and apricots from the market.

– Marion Phillips, US Leader

Tasty creations in French cooking class

Learning about the culture hands-on in the kitchen

After a sunny afternoon at the piscine, we spent an evening at the cinéma. Our group loved the new French romantic comedy ‘Un Bonheur N’arrive Jamais Seul’ starring Gad Elmaleh and Sophie Marceau.

Students are settling into their classes which are “So awesome!” They are enjoying being able to discuss their lives and experiences in French in ever-greater detail. Michèle, one of the French teachers, took her class to the daily market so that they could practice their new vocabulary while sampling fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cooking class at L’Atelier des Chefs

We spent a wonderful evening taking a cooking class at L’Atelier des Chefs. With the help of a French chef, students prepared their own delicious meals including sea bass, prosciutto, a “salsa” of watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and cheese (recipes to follow!). The group was divided into separate stations, and Annie and Laney worked with two lovely French women who were so impressed with their French! Luckily Parker and Stephanie were there to help me julienne apples and cantaloupes (my chopping skills are terrible). After the class we enjoyed tasting our creations and of course stopped by a creperie on the way home for dessert!

– Marion Phillips, US Leader