INDEPENDENT TOUR TO FRANCE ~ APRIL 2008

INDEPENDENT TOUR TO FRANCE ~ APRIL 2008

 

26 March 2008 D Day

Just a quick word from the plane before we depart! Everyone is very happy and chatting like they were long lost friends! Will update tomorrow - bon voyage a nous!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

27 March 2008 Quelle journee a Paris!

Wow, what a day and I have only now been able to access the internet. I have so much to tell, but we're dashing off to the Opera Garnier, having just returned from the Champs Elysees.... will update after dinner tonight! .... Me voila a 22h30! We have had a wonderful albeit exhausting first day in Paris! Our flight was very pleasant, but as expected, not much sleep was had by the majority of students, although Milan slept like a log! Dominic, our coach driver was patiently waiting for us and eagerly whisked us into Paris once we had cleared customs and recouped our luggage (thank heavens it all arrived!) We used the dining area of the hotel for a briefing, where I outlined the day' s activies and addressed important issues of safety & security. After a quick wash & change and a concise explanation on the metro, we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. I am never disappointed by the ecstatic oohs and aahs as everyone emerges from the metro and beholds this magnificent monument. The group was then allowed 2 hours to wander down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde and I was remarkably surprised to see so few parcels at the end of the day! We then made our way back to the hotel where everyone relaxed for over and hour and at 17h00 we had a superb guided tour of the Opera Garnier. Words defy description of such an incredibly beautiful national monument, but we have the pictures to illustrate this. To complete our wonderful day we spent 3/4 hour in Galeries Lafayette and then strolled back to our hotel, more than somewhat exhausted. I suggested a few suitable places in the near vicinity to eat dinner and all were back in their rooms by 10h00. In terms of the weather, we have had so many seasons in one day, ranging from 5 degrees upon our arrival to bright sunshine as we approached the hotel, followed by sleet and almost snow at lunchtime, steady rain in the afternoon to the most beautiful sunset ... never a dull day in Paris! It remains for me to have my first shower in nearly 48 hours (!) and with our full day tomorrow, I cetainly hope that everyone has a good night's sleep! ... a demain!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

28 March 2008 Another wonderful day in Paris!

We all slept SO well last night and awoke eager to embark on another exciting day in Paris! First stop was our cruise on the River Seine and everyone really enjoyed the commentary and the music, enthusiastically joining in for the chorus of 'O Champs Elysees!' We then made our way to the Eiffel Tower and the first sighting of this symbol of Paris was so exciting for ever yone. We fast-tracked it to the groups' entrance and spent an hour in awe of the view, identifying so many famous buildings and monuments. The weather was VERY cold and the wind icy, so we raced back to the metro and made our way to l'Hotel de Ville, which is situated near wonderful shops and eateries. Hot chocolate and a substantial lunch was on everyone's mind and we regrouped an hour later in high spirits! We have had a while to catch our breath at the hotel and at 8.30pm we will meet our guide and commence our tour of Paris by night - ' Les Illuminations'. Your children are all very happy and getting along so well!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

29 March 2008 Farewell to Paris!

Last night's 'Illuminations' tour of Paris was possibly the highlight of our tour! We had such a delightful guide and a wonderfully co-operative driver, who shared their intimate knowledge of this magical city. We only returned to our hotel after 11.00pm and although a little weary, all were thrilled with the experience. We woke up this morning to clear skies and after breakfast we made our way to the Musee d' Orsay which everyone loved. We them crossed over to the right bank and walked though the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre. Notre Dame and the Georges Pompidou Centre were next on the agenda, followed by some more shopping at BHV and on the Rue de Rivoli. To complete our tour of Paris, we made our way up to the lively district of Montmartre, where we visited Sacre Coeur and the Place du Tertre and Kelly & Cleo had their portraits painted - they're wonderful! We have just returned to the hotel and had our final briefing re our departure tomorrow for the south of France. All have so enjoyed their time in Paris and cannot believe how much they have seen. Our train departs at 9.00am tomorrow, arriving in Antibes at 3.00pm and I will probably only be able to update the diary on Monday. In the meantime, please rest assured that your children are having such a wonderful experience and they are excited about the next phase which awaits them. Should you wish to conact me, my French number is + 33 689974034 or you may sms me on + 27 83 423 7013. Bonne soiree!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

30 March 2008 Welcome to Provence!

Surprise, surprise! I am delighted to have found access to the internet so that I can update you on our day! Everyone was ready and waiting in the hotel foyer bright and early this morning and we boarded our coach to Gare de Lyon just before 8.00am. Our train journey on the TGV was relaxing and comfortable and the 5 hours passed very peacefully. Karim, our 'animateur' was on the platform to greet us at 3.05pm and a coach then transferred us to the school, where we left our suitcases and had a quick run around. All were so utterly impressed with the magnificent view- the azure blue Mediterranean Sea set against the backdrop of the slightly snow-covered Alps! After freshening up, Karim led us on an orientation tour of Antibes and everyone has fallen in love with Provence! At 6.30pm the host families called at the school to collect their 'children' and I can assure you that each and every family was delightful. Everyone left in VERY high spirits and I am sure that I will meet smiling faces at the school tomorrow morning! They all have my number and they know that they can contact me at any time whatsoever!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

31 March 2008 Assessment + Monaco

22h30 - I have only just this minute returned to my room, after another wonderful day in Provence – quelle longue journée! 14 hours ago, Tanya and I greeted a brightly beaming group of students, who were all delighted with their familles d' accueil. Then came the written + oral test and on the basis of these results, they will be placed in multinational classes tomorrow. Lunch today was a substantial pique-nique since we decided to depart a little earlier for Monaco. We had such an entertaining and knowledgeable coach driver who stopped at various intervals to afford us the opportunity to take pictures along the magnificent 'route du littoral'. We passed the beautiful towns of Villefranche and Beaulieu-sur-Mer en route to Monaco and all were overwhelmed by the dramatic views. Upon arrival and amidst disbelief at the obvious wealth of this principality, we all boarded 'le petit train' and enjoyed a tour of Monaco - c'était magnifique! Thereafter we visited the Cathedral and the Palace, followed by some Grand Prix souvenir shopping. We arrived back in Antibes at 5.30pm which afforded everyone the opportunity to return home and change into warmer clothes for the barbeque. The evening was great fun and after dinner we all moved into the 'gambling hall' where we tested our skills with ' real money and authentic croupiers'! The winner was, without doubt, the magnificent day we had all enjoyed on the Cote d' Azur!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

1 April 2008 Class + Cannes!

It was an apprehensive morning, as everyone discovered their new classmates and their designated teachers! Tanya and I were excited to chat to the students during their first break and I am delighted to report that all seem very happy with their placements. Congratulations to Lebogang Moloisane and Claire Bromley, who presented so well that they were placed in the adult groups! After 3 hours of interactive tuition and a substantial lunch in the school restaurant, Karim accompanied us to the train station for an outing to Cannes. Upon arrival, we made our way to the seafront and to the Palais des Festivals, which is renowned for hosting the famous Cannes Film festival. The group then made its way through the 'vieille ville' to the ancient neighbourhood of Le Suquet, from where everyone marvelled at the magnificent view of the Esterel Mountains and the Bay de Cannes. Then, with two hours of 'temps libre' everyone dashed between the boutiques on La Croisette and the bargain stores in the old town. At 5.00pm a broadly beaming band of travellers made their way back to Antibes and the unanimous decision was that Cannes had been wonderful! I suggested that everyone should have an early evening in order to recharge their batteries for the action-packed days to follow!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

2 April 2008 Fragonard + Florian

Everyone gathered on the school lawn at 8.45am and all happily made their way to their designated classes. From the laughter behind closed doors, it would appear that the lessons are not only seriously educational, but great fun too! After lunch we all boarded our coach and spent a wonderful afternoon at the Fragonard perfumery in Grasse, followed by a tasting extravaganza at the Florian confisserie in the Gorges du Loup. Everyone returned in such high spirits and it was agreed that the singing talents we discovered on the coach should be entered into next year's 'Idols' competition!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

3 April 2008 Memory lane!

It is difficult to believe that we arrived in France one week ago – how time flies! Your children have done, seen and learnt so much in this short time and in an effort to keep the memories alive, after lunch we gathered in one of the classrooms to reminisce. With the aid of a map, we retraced our steps in Paris and along the French Riviera and the spontaneous, humorous anecdotes which ensued were so heart-warming! Today they had a free afternoon in Antibes and while some chose to explore the fascinating 'vieille ville' and shop, others headed directly for the beach – the weather is so lovely at the moment! Everyone regrouped on the Place de Gaulle at 5.30pm and all were in high spirits, as they recounted their afternoon's activites. The group has bonded so well and as chaperones, Tanya and I are very impressed with your children!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

4 April 2008 Sailing on the Med!

Bon anniversaire a Grant! What a well-timed birthday and what a fuss was made of the birthday boy -even his teacher brought sweets to class! Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the lessons at the school and all were proud recipients of their certificates, which attested to their progress and level of participation. The weather was perfect today and with not a cloud in the sky and the sun shining brightly, everyone eagerly made their way to the sailing school. We were all in awe of the magnificent scenery, with the still azure blue sea, flanked by snow covered mountains and the silhouette of the 'vieille ville' which kept guard on the colourful yachts and catamarans as they bobbed up and down on the ocean. Everyone was in second heaven and it was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon. As a surprise for the group, I have arranged an evening excursion to Juan les Pins after dinner tonight, which promises to be great fun. Tanya, our 'animateur' Sohien and I will accompany them and they will all be returned to their homes by the school minibus at 11.00pm. Bonne soirée a nous!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

5 April 2008 Excursion to Nice

We awoke to yet another bright and sunny morning and 10.00am found the group assembled at the station, clutching a picnic lunch which had been made by their host mothers. Everyone was very excited about our outing to Nice and I personally was delighted to see that the 3 years of road construction was finally complete and Nice now boasts an efficient tramway through the main street! After a brief orientation talk at the Place Masena, we all split up into groups, with some heading straight for the designer shops on the Boulevard Jean Médecin, whilst others decided to explore the quaint streets of the 'vieille ville' and the energetic climbed endless steps up to a magnificent viewpoint. We regrouped to share our stories at 1.00pm and then they were off once again until 3.15pm when we headed back to the train station. We sadly had to say goodbye to our 'animateur', Karim, who has been a great companion to us all. After such a full day, the consensus was to have a relaxed stroll around Antibes, followed by an early night.

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

6 April 2008 Final goodbyes!

Our group gathered once again at the station this morning and travelled by train to Juan les Pins. From here a boat ferried us to Les Iles de Lérins, where legend has it that the Man in the Iron Mask was incarcerated. Although the sun was shining brightly, there was a very strong prevailing wind, known as Le Mistral, which made the sea incredibly choppy. I called for a meeting at 5.30pm at the school to officially say goodbye to everyone since, as you are aware, I will be remaining in France to welcome my 2nd group of students next week. Your children will return to Johannesburg and Cape Town in the capable hands of my co-chaperone, Tanya Jones and I remind you that she may be contacted on + 27 82 564 9289. Whilst the meeting started in a formal tone as I outlined the procedure for departure tomorrow, it soon moved on to a sentimental note, as everyone spontaneously shared anecdotes and reminisced about all that they had experienced over the last 10 days. All unanimously agreed that the tour had been 'awesome' and that not only had it been academically enriching, but also an extremely valuable learning curve in terms of life skills. At 6.00pm we all made our way to a small local restaurant, where we enjoyed our 'last supper' together and it was the perfect ending to a very successful tour!

Written by: Jenny Peddle

 

7 April 2008 Flight details

Whilst everyone is obviously looking forward to seeing family and friends back home, there is a sense of sadness at having to say farewell to people with whom they have formed such special bonds. As parents, you have certainly afforded your children a most wonderful opportunity and I have no doubt that they will return eternally grateful for this life-changing experience. I would like to sincerely thank Tanya Jones for her invaluable assistance and for having been such a wonderful friend and confidante to everyone. All flights are confirmed and the group will travel by coach to Nice, where they will depart on AF 7715 at 15h55. Once in Paris, they will remain in transit and at 23h15 they will board flight AF 990 to Johannesburg, which is scheduled to arrive at 09h40 on Tuesday 8 April. Here half the group will be greeted by their parents, whilst the remaining half will make their way to the domestic departures hall and at 12h30 they will board flight BA 6417 to Cape Town, arriving somewhat exhausted at 14h40. It remains for me to wish everyone 'bon voyage et bon retour' and to say 'merci beaucoup et a la prochaine' --!

Written by: Jenny Peddle