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INDEPENDENT TOUR TO FRANCE ~ August 2011


6 August 2011 D Day!
Great excitement & mayhem as the 4 school groups gathered at OR Tambo airport, all eagerly awaiting the wonderfully enriching tour to France. Schools participating in my August Independent tour are: St Mary’s DSG, St Alban’s College, St Peter’s College and St Andrews School for Girls ~ 40 students in total! Boarding will commence at 18h00 and for a few this will be their first overnight international flight and for the majority their very first experience on the magnificent A380! I will only be able to write a detailed report tomorrow night, but will get a quick message to you once we have arrived safely on French soil. Bon voyage to all and until tomorrow…
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

7 August 2011 Safe arrival and a wonderful day!
Nous voilã en France et quelle longue journée!Our plane landed on time at Roissy Charles de Gaulle and a little bleary eyed we made our way to terminal 2F where we passed through immigration & security before boarding our connecting flight to Nice. We were warmly greeted at Nice Côte d’Azur by the Management of Le Centre International d’Antibes & their very professional team of animateurs & animatrices. Excitedly my 3 groups (Independent August + Cornwall Hill College + Redhill School) boarded the awaiting coaches and were whisked off to Campus Horticole, where everyone enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch. After a quick freshen up and change of clothes, all were transferred to the quaint town of Antibes ~ the weather was superb and all ended up swimming in the little cove/beach which lies in close proximity to the delightful vieille ville ~ it was truly magnificent! At 6.00pm we returned to the campus where we all unanimously agreed that we were officially exhausted! After dinner tonight there will be an ice-breaker session where all will be introduced to the other international students, but I know that it will not be long until our students bound into bed and fall soundly asleep! More tomorrow…
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

8 August 2011 Les cours de français + une excursion ã Cannes!
Meeting new friends last night was great fun and once the adrenalin had subsided, all enjoyed a good night's sleep! Everyone awoke so refreshed this morning and after having been assessed on their written & oral prowess, they enjoyed 2 hours of interactive ‘cours fermés’. At lunchtime our group was prioritized in the queue since the coach departed campus at 13h10 and once at the station we hopped on board a train to Cannes which was an amazing experience for everyone! The first visit was to Le Suquet, a landmark which affords a magnificent view over the bay & the Estérel Mountains and then we descended to the beachfront, passing the yacht-lined harbour en route to the Palais des Festivals. After a photo-shoot on the red carpet adorning these famous steps, the group was allowed ‘du temps libre’ which allowed everyone some time to enjoy ‘window shopping’ in the designer boutiques along the illustrious La Croisette or ‘actual shopping’ in the name-brand boutiques of Morgan & Zara + the popular and more reasonably priced ‘back-streets’! Laden with parcels, all 3 of my groups gathered with broad smiles at 5.15pm and in high spirits we boarded our return train to Antibes. Everyone is greatly looking forward to tonight’s ‘soirée barbeque’ and traditionally this is wonderful, animated evening with a vast array of food + much laughter and social interaction!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

9 August 2011 International classes + Monaco + Juan les Pins!
Based on the results of their tests, all were today placed in classes with other international students of the same ability. The chaperones and I chatted to everyone after their 3 hours of communicative French tuition and the majority were very happy with their placements ~ for the one or two who were concerned, we negotiated a ‘shift’, which will be implemented tomorrow. After lunch a happy band of travellers hopped on board the coach and departed for Monaco, where everyone was struck by the cleanliness and obvious wealth of this small principality. All felt very proud that our own South African Charlene Whittstock married Prince Prince Albert 11, thereby laying claim to a royal princess! After a visit to the cathedral and the palace, everyone boarded ‘le petit train’, which is a great tourist attraction, since the informative commentary gives excellent global coverage as it travels through the streets of the F1 race track, passing in front of the Monte Carlo Casino and the surrounding luxurious hotels. After some souvenir shopping all regrouped at 5.30pm and returned to campus, where they enjoyed dinner before travelling to the vibrant summer resort of Juan les Pins. This is such a popular outing and at this time of the year the beachfront is strewn with colourful stalls and the sight of diners enjoying a meal on the beach in the moonlight with the waves lapping at their feet, is always so romantic!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

10 August 2011 Florian & Fragonard!
Everyone was very excited about today’s excursion and after lunch we set off by coach for the Gorges du Loup ~ the scenery en route was magnificent. Here we visited the Florian confisserie which is world renowned for its sweets, chocolates & jams ~ the free tastings were greatly appreciated and all enjoyed shopping in their on-site boutique! Thereafter we travelled to Grasse, the home of French perfume and dubbed the ‘balcony of Provence’ for its panoramic views. At the Fragonard ‘parfumerie’ we enjoyed a fascinating guided tour followed by the opportunity to purchase authentic products and judging by the packets & strong scent in the coach, many purchases had been made! In jovial mood we returned to the campus around 6.45pm with enough time to freshen up before dinner and the evening’s entertainment of song & dance!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

11 August 2011 Sun, sea and sailing!
Once again we woke up to beautiful sunshine with clear blue skies on the Côte d’Azur and after much fun in the classroom + a delicious lunch, we all boarded our coach to the beach for an afternoon of sun, sand, sea and SAILING! This is always such a highlight and I never tire of observing the sheer delight of the children as they enjoy the amazing experience of sailing with friends on a catamaran on the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery on the French Riviera! At 5.00pm all returned to the campus, with time to relax & freshen up before dinner and tonight’s widely advertised Cabaret/Spectacle which will be held in the amphitheatre. Many different countries will be participating and I have no doubt that Les Sud-Afs will bring the house down once again ~ an evening of great fun awaits and the chaperones look forward to basking in reflected glory!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

12 August 2011 Final day of lessons + excursion to Nice!
The week in Antibes has flown by so very quickly and today marked the end of their formal French tuition at Le Centre International d'Antibes. All were proud recipients of a DELF accredited certificate which attests to the level attained + a comment from their teachers ~ once again the educators expressed their delight with our South African students and praised their positive & enthusiastic approach to the lessons. After lunch we all made our way to Nice, the ‘Queen of the Riviera’ and our meeting point was on the newly revamped Place Masséna. Having had an orientation tour, the majority headed off to the name brand boutiques along the Boulevard Jean Medecin, whilst others preferred to meander through the narrow streets of ‘la vieille ville’ looking for bargains and only a few chose to soak up the ambience on the seafront. Suffice to say, the afternoon was a real success and at 5.45pm all returned to campus, where they had time to freshen up & eat dinner prior to another visit to popular Juan les Pins!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

13 August 2011 Bienvenue ã Paris + Montmartre!
I am writing this entry at midnight, after a very long but thoroughly enjoyable day! Breakfast was served at 7.00am after which everyone said fond farewell to all the new friends they have made on campus as well as to this idyllic part of the word. At midday we landed in Roissy Charles de Gaulle and our coach was waiting to whisk us off to our hotel, where all welcomed the time to relax and freshen up. At 3.30pm we made our way by metro to Montmartre, the highest natural point in Paris and the ambience was amazing as hundreds of on-lookers enjoyed various forms of street entertainment. We then dined as a group (prepaid to the delight of all!) in one of the most famous restaurants on the Place du Tertre, La Cremaillere and what a wonderful evening this was with 3 St Andrew’s girls (Paige, Jeanine and Lindsay) entertaining us on the piano + a special treat as Catherine Lamprecht sang the most beautiful song from Phantom of the Opera… truly amazing! The resident pianist then accompanied our chaperone Mr Toko Watezwa as he sang forth in French, to a standing ovation ~ had he laid down his cap he would have made a fortune in tips! We then went out into the square where so many of the girls had their portraits painted (Deidre even twice!) and the ambience was amazing in the evening. After much laughter, banter and social interaction, we all made our way back to the hotel, eager to hop into bed for a good night’s sleep ~ what a wonderful introduction to Paris! A reminder that the contact details for our hotel Campanile Maine Montparnasse are: Tel: 00 33 1 53 74 60 00 Fax: 00 33 1 40 47 01 49.
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

14 August 2011 Les Champs Elysées + Notre Dame + Illuminations!
We were all able to relax a little this morning and after a leisurely breakfast we headed off to the Champs Elysées, which extends from the Arc de Triomphe down to the Place de la Concorde. Everyone was given a generous time allowance to explore the amazing boutiques along one of the most famous avenues in the world and when we met at 14h00 there were SO many designer packets in hand! All then hopped on board the metro and travelled to the imposing Hotel de Ville, from where we walked to the magnificent Notre Dame and the outrageous Georges Pompidou Centre. At 4.30pm we made our way back to the hotel and everyone had some free time to relax before the coach arrived at 8.30pm for our tour of Paris by night. ‘Les Illuminations’ is always a highlight of the Paris sector and I never tire of the squeals of delight as the Eiffel Tower lights up & sparkles at 10.00pm! Our guide, Catherine, is a lady with whom I have worked for many years and her knowledge of this city is astounding ~ she always has such interesting answers for the enquiring minds! The group has bonded so very well and everyone is having a marvellous time!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

15 August 2011 Louvre + Eiffel Tower + Cruise!
A religious holiday in France today and all were very grateful for a later start this morning! At 10h15 we were on our way by metro to the Louvre Museum where everyone was impressed with the grandeur of this former palace. Fortunately we were able to fast-track the queues and once in the museum the group was divided in 2 for a 1.5 hour guided tour. After a quick lunch we made our way to the Eiffel Tower and I never tire of the shrieks of joy as the children see it in all its majesty for the first time! Today was the most perfect of days with not a breath of wind nor a cloud in the sky and we ascended to the 2nd level where the visibility was amazing! Thereafter we all reunited on the River Seine and enjoyed a cruise on the Bateaux Parisiens ~ so very relaxing and informative. At 19h00 we returned to our hotel where all made dinner plans ~ the group has bonded so well and I have no doubt that everyone will remain friends forever, having shared such wonderful memories/experiences on our tour to France. I will write more tomorrow re the final arrangements + departure & arrival times…
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

16 August 2011 What a wonderful tour and a sad farewell to all!
We were able to have a relaxing start to our final day, which gave everyone time to quietly pack cases and for the ‘shop-a-holics ’ to try to find space for all the extras that have been purchased in France! I have confirmed the return flight on AF 990 which departs Paris at 23h20 this evening and is scheduled to arrive at ORT tomorrow, Wednesday 17 August @ 09h50. It has once again been my great joy and privilege to escort an outstanding group of South African students to France ~ they have all fully embraced every opportunity and been superb ambassadors for South Africa. The 40 students from the 4 different schools have bonded so well and all have made so many new friends ~ what an amazing group they have been and I have so enjoyed travelling with them! The ultimate success of any tour depends largely on the chaperones and I would like to sincerely thank Mrs Caroline Malauzat (St Mary’s DSG Pretoria), Mrs Veronica Ellis (St Peter’s College) and Mr Toko Watezwa (St Alban’s College) for their invaluable assistance over the past 12 days ~ your children have certainly been in very good hands! All will return with mixed emotions and whilst they are all obviously looking forward to seeing family and friends back home, everyone will be left with a sense of sadness at having to say farewell to people they have grown so accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. It has been an immensely successful tour and as parents you can rest assured that you have afforded your children the most wonderful opportunity. I have no doubt that each and every child will return not only academically enriched, but enriched as a person, having matured and grown in confidence and the precious memories & firm bonds of friendships will last a lifetime. It remains for me to say ‘merci beaucoup, bon retour et a la prochaine’!
Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

You are rendering a unique service to schools and children! I have just read your web-page information on our tour and was once again inspired by how committed you are to what you do.

Parent – St Peter's College

 

I loved the daily reports that you provided ~ thank you for a fantastic tour!

Parent – PBHS

 

Thank you so much for an amazing diary - it was always completely updated and I have loved reading it! It has been the highlight of my day going to your website and seeing what the girls have been up to!

Parent – Herschel

 

I would like to thank you for all that you did to make our Cultural Tour so memorable! Not having to worry about accommodation or tour arrangements because we knew that you had organized everything so skilfully meant that we chaperones could relax and enjoy what was on offer. I really admire your boundless energy and the superbly efficient way in which you took care of every little detail. We all had a fantastic time and thank you, we all had a wonderful trip!

Educator – Herschel School

 

Your daughter Michelle was a delightful co-chaperone and it was so special to travel with her and to see what a beautiful relationship you share. It inspired me to work even harder towards mine with my son, as I believe it takes a lot of love & hard work to create a special family.

Educator – St Peter's College