Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today was a really great day. We started by seeing Mt. St. Michel, although we hardly saw it at all. Let's just say the reputation for the thick fog is totally accurate. One boy asked why the bus had stopped because no one could see the 200-ft. abbey from the parking lot! For most of the morning, visibility was probably 50 feet in front of us, at best. (The photo was taken at 1:00 pm when the fog was "lifting".)

The excursion continued, crossing from Normandy into Brittany, in the afternoon with a 2-hr stop in St. Malo, which unfortunately was more of the same foggy climate. The students took advantage of the local culinary speciality: crêpes. And by the end of the day, nearly every student had bought some sort of striped, French maritime-themed article of clothing.

We bus ride home was full of laughter and sing-alongs, and when we arrived in the parking lot at the school and saw only students and no parents, we teachers had quite a scare. But shortly thereafter, we learned that the French hosts had mobilize to orgnanize a group outing to a restaurant--very impressive to see 48 teenagers heading off by foot to a restaurant!

This is likely the last blog entry of the trip as tomorrow we'll be doing some last minute postcard writing, souvenir shopping followed by a farewell party and packing are bags in preparation for an early send-off Saturday and a long bus ride to the Paris airport.

We've so enjoyed working with all these students. We'll see you all on Saturday evening at 6:30, Terminal E.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I hate to boast, but we're really enjoying the sunny-and-65 degree weather here in Angers.

After our morning classes, we went into town on the "rainbow train" and contemplated the contemporary "Chant du Monde" ("Song of the World") tapestry, which is a modern-day response to the "Tapisserie de l'Apocalypse" that we saw on Monday. Afterwards we walked the scenic route through the city, paused for a group photo along the banks of the Maine (with the catherdral in the background) before our rendez-vous at the Galerie de David d'Anjou, the sculpture wing of the Fine Arts Museum. A quick "pause café", then it was back to meet our host brothers and sisters at the school for 6 o'clock.

Tomorrow we're off to Brittany (Mt. St. Michel and St. Malo) and we'll be back late. After that it's just one more day with our French friends.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today the students visited some more classes--a lot are helping out as 'consultants' in the English classes. In the afternoon we traveled to the Troglodyte houses of the region--basically cave dwellings that were functioning up until the mid-point of the last century. Our bus driver intentionally took the long way home to appreciate the scenery along the Loire while Madame Alberola explained the difficulties in managing the floods and droughts of France's longest and most scenic river.

Sorry for the lack of photos recently. I'll try to borrow some of the students' cameras and upload some new ones when I see them tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This morning the teachers and students met up again after the weekend apart, and we enjoyed hearing que de bonnes choses (nothing but good things) about their time with their host families. We were then welcomed by their Headmaster and shown around the school a bit, in time for the students to make it to the 10 o'clock classes. They tasted their first French-style cafeteria meal (quiche lorraine and beets were on today's menu).

This afternoon we took a delightfully quiet, efficient (and rainbow-colored) tramway--MBTA take note!--to the city center to visit its château/fortress from the 13th century. This site also houses Angers's gem, The Tapestry of the Apocalyspe. We ambled leisurely back to school in time to meet our hosts when school lets out at 6:00

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bonjour à tous, even if it's bonsoir on our side of the pond. Sorry for the delay, but as you can imagine we've been quite busy!

Yesterday we began by excursioning out to Versailles to appreciate the grandeur of French royalty with a visit of the interior followed by 'discreet' picnic in the gardens.

Afterwards Mr. Kimball took a group through the catacombes--Paris's underground crypt, while a small group went shopping at the Left Bank boutiques. We reunited in time for a group dinner where we had a private room. We were impressed to see some students feel moved to give impromptu toasts about how much they've been enjoying the trip. Trust us, that doesn't happen with every group :)

Today we had an efficient check-out (minus the tour bus getting stuck on a small Paris street) and were at Chambord castle by 10:30. If this castle is the most stately of the Loire Valley's collection, our next stop at Chenonceau is the most elegant. A number of students reported this as their favorite stop of the trip to date.

Around 6:30pm we pulled into the parking lot at Lycée Chevrollier where our students were reunited with their host brothers and sisters. There were some deafening squeals and more bises-hug-face smash embraces. Now, everyone is safely with their host family, eating well and resting up. Call it château fatigue if you will, but we're sure all the students will appreciate a day or two of rest en famille with no site-seeing.

Next update: Monday 27 Feb

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yesterday, the group conquered the Eiffel Tower... by foot! (Well, only to the 2nd floor because the real summit was closed).

Once all recovered down below, we split into two groups, one led by Ms. Davis to tackle the Louvre, Opéra Garnier and Gare St. Lazare while Ms. Albérola led kids through the eastern part of the city, taking in the Jardin des Plantes, an artisinal market and a nice bistrot lunch. The group reunited for a night stroll through the central St. Michel neighborhood.

Today we're off to Versailles, but we'll have to be sure to have our umbrellas handy.

Contributed by Nate and Laura

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"I'm so glad I came on the French exchange" exclaimed one boy today. Granted it was after he had a chance encounter with the world's best soccer player, Lionel Messi of Argentina.

Otherwise, we've had a day full of walking and museums, including the Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée d'Orsay, Jardin des Tuilieries, Jeu de Paume museum, Petit Palais museum, some shopping on the Champs-Elysées (one of the trip leaders forgot to pack his socks!), and summiting the Arc de Triomphe.

Now we're headed out for an evening stroll in the shabby-chic Montmartre neighborhood.

Spirits are high, and the group is enthusiastic, cooperative and complaint-free if not necessarily punctual...

More new tomorrow. À plus tard!