Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pool party in Provence and Pleasurable Paris! Visiting France with Tommy Douglas High

Saskatoon’s Tommy Douglas Collegiate goes to France!  April 18 – 28, 2014

The Easter holiday was in late April this year, so even better to enjoy nice weather in sunny Provence, the destination of the 23 Immersion and Core French Students lead by their much loved, (and very organized) leader, Mme Lafreniere!  12 days in France for pool parties, beaches, train trips and catacombes, a wonderful mix that gave the group a real glimpse of modern and ancient France!

Colline du Chateau picnic in Nice
The group was greeted with some spring showers upon their arrival in Nice, but this soon blew away as the students dipped their feet in the Mediterranean, picnicked on the Colline du Chateau and shopped along the Zone Pietonne.  The Hotel Busby accommodated the whole group with friendly Provencal hospitality as the keeper of the key dutifully put the key in the ‘trou pour clefs’ at the front desk.  

On day two they were whisked off to the sand beaches of Cannes to jump collectively into the Mediterranean Sea as a group of German sailors watched on.  'Crazy Canadians!' ...they hollered out from their picnic on the beach.  Everyone in the group got wet, to some extremity or another!  Driver Herve loaned his bus as a "change room" for the girls…and then the guys... and they were soon off to sniff in the scents of France in Grasse, the capital of perfume, and for some a few headachesL.

La plage de Cannes
On top of the Chateau d'If
On the way to Avignon for a three night stay in the heart of Provence, the group made a stop in Marseille to pay a visit to the Chateau d’If, the former prison of the fictional character from Dumas’ The Count of Montecristo.  The guided tour was very detailed in French and the students learned just how terrible the conditions were in this bastion-turned prison…. You would not have wanted to be dropped into one of the worst cells called “les oubliettes”…  
... But it was a nice day for a boat ride and the ferry came into port amongst a regatta, just winding down, giving this group from the Prairies a good look at sea life!

Port of Marseille
Avignon is always about shopping, and even those who were not big spenders found something to purchase on the Boulevard de la Republique!  
Brasserie le Cintra
Dinners with some well chosen wine at the Cintra were enjoyed by the group and there was even time to take a nighttime walk around the Palais des Papes to see the grandeur of this ancient Pope's palace lit up from the shadows of the cobblestone streets where we stood.
Aux Baux de Provence
Poolside at the Mas St. Antoine
The group got to enjoy the best of the weekly Provencal markets at St. Remy de Provence, then sharing picnic provisions   amongst the group looking over the valley from the heights of les Baux de Provence.  

Next on this gorgeous sunny day??  A pool and pizza party at an old Mas, a traditional country home.  Marco...Polo!  Was heard for the rest of the afternoon as everyone, including Mme. Laf, jumped in the pool!

Gare de Lyon, Paris
They arrived at the Gare de Lyon in style after the 2 & 1/2 hour train ride to Paris on the TGV.  Average speed was calculated at 276 kms per hour!  A quick check-in to the hotel on the Grands Boulevards had the group take off to saunter along the Champs Elysées before enjoying dinner at the famous Boullion Chartier where almost everyone tried the escargots!  A rainy visit to the Chateau de Versailles reminded us of the splendour of this country, while the next few days in Paris were filled with metro, Bateau Mouche and elevator rides up the Tour Eiffel, long lunches in the Latin Quarter and even a last-minute visit to the Paris underground, the Catacombes.
Metro professionals!

Les Catacombes de Paris
Two and a half kilometres of bones from the overfilled cemeteries after the Revolution Française reminded us of the long history we were standing on...or under, rather.   

From the Cote d'Azur to Paris, this group took advantage of all the stops to practice... la Langue Française... bravo a tous... et MERCI Mme. Lafrenière!


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