The adventure begins!

Hello to all the parents, guardians, friends and families who are following the Saumur blog this summer!  The last few days have been a whirlwind, between the long journey to Saumur and the busy first full day on site, but it was all positive attitudes and smiles with this group.  I think the excitement of being in France triumphs over fatigue!  Now the students have the entire weekend to get settled, get to know their host families, and rest before classes start next week.  I have lots of pictures to share with you, so I’ll just jump right in!

Day 1 : The flight.

Jill and Renata accompanied the students on the flight while Michael and I waited patiently in France.  The kids were all very excited and talking up a storm!  The flight went smoothly.  No bags were lost, and the flight actually got into Paris a little early.

airport 2
Lots of smiles at the airport!


Day 2 : Bus ride to Saumur, visit of Le Mans, meeting the families. 

We had all of day 2 to make our way to Saumur, since we weren’t meeting the host families until 6pm.  We made a mid-day stop in Le Mans for lunch, and then had a little tour around the city center with Bruno, our on-site coordinator’s brother who lives there.  It’s a picturesque, medieval city, and the students were so excited to finally be in France, get to walk around, and take it all in.

In France at last!
IMG_1532 11
The skinny buildings and winding streets of Le Mans.
Listening intently to Bruno.

Le Mans has a lovely cathedral with beautiful stained glass windows.  The students seemed quite taken aback by the beauty and enormity of it.  The choir was rehearsing for a concert while we were there, which made the whole experience that much more surreal and breathtaking.



There was a lot of picture taking!


Before heading back to the bus, we found a nice green space by the Sarthe river to sit for a bit.  It was nice to rest after walking around and just enjoy the sunshine. We were lucky to have such wonderful weather!


There were lots of flower crowns and bracelets.
Even Michael and I tried on the flower crowns!


Our secret plan to wear them out was a success!

We made it to Saumur right on schedule, and the families were already there waiting patiently.  As we pulled up in the bus and pointed out the crowd gathered for them, you could see the excitement on their faces.  It was the moment they had been waiting for!

The crowd of families.
The students waiting with anticipation.
Meeting families.
Going in for the bises (cheek kisses).


Day 3 : Ice-breaker activities and orientation at L’Institution Saint-Louis, and photo-excursion of Saumur.

Friday was another big day for the students.  We began at 9:10am, which is when classes will start during the week.  They seemed to be doing very well with the jet-lag, and were already speaking more readily in French, both with us and among themselves.

We started the day off with a few ice-breaker activities to wake them up and help them get more acquainted with each other.  They also voted on the class slogan for the trip.  There were a lot of great suggestions, but they picked “intégrité, fraternité, français,” integrity, fraternity, French.  It is a clever play on the French national motto “liberté, egalité, fraternité,” freedom, equality, fraternity.  The slogan is entirely up to the students, but we were very happy with it as it reflects the core values of our program and is very positive (and very French!).

Playing the Human Knot.


Our wonderful slogan.

Before lunch, we took the students on a little tour of L’Institution Saint-Louis, where we have classes, and the city center of Saumur.  L’Institution Saint-Louis has a beautiful campus with gardens and a chapel.  It is quite different from what they are used to!

Michael leading the tour of the campus.
A lovely patch of the gardens.
L’Institution Saint-Louis
The chapel.
The Loire.

By then we were all getting hungry!  You can all rest assured that Chef Fred at the L’Habitat Jeunes du Saumurois will feed them (very!) well.  On Friday they had the choice of pork, chicken, or fish as a main course.  They also choose three items from a variety of salads, patés, cheeses, fruit, and desserts, such as blackcurrant applesauce, yogurt, or chocolate mousse.


After lunch we walked up to the castle, and then back to school to finish orientation with some useful information, tips and tricks for communicating with the host family, etc.  We showed them briefly how to get to the shopping center down the street, and then waited with them for the host families.

What a view!
The castle and the Loire.

It was a busy couple of days, but this entire group has such a fantastic attitude that it just flew by.  They were always ready to go and didn’t let jet-lag hold them back.  I personally can’t wait to get them in the classroom on Monday, but I’m sure they’re just enjoying the weekend and are happy to be catching up on their sleep and spending time with their host families.



7 thoughts on “The adventure begins!

    1. Days 1 and 2 both went well! The first day was different because they took the exam in the morning and had short class periods, but today we had our first full, regular day and the students just jumped right in!


  1. Lotsa stuff happening in France. Stay safe & keep smiling. Continue to have the time of your lives!! Do take pics of Le Tour de France when it rolls in, the crowds, the cyclists, the maillots … & share. Please share more pictures. A bientot les jeunes.


  2. How are they adjusting to the cool damp days? Have they experienced local gastronomy? Will they be observing the distinctive marchés, & the subtle unfamiliar precisely different boucheries, epiceries, charcuteries, boulangeries & pattisseries? I can’t wait to hear about their fromages tasting discoveries.
    And about the play? When & what theme will they be presenting? What music will they be experiencing?
    Irrespective of religion, is eglise Art, glass & architecture on the schedule?


    1. Hello! Thank you for all of the questions! Unfortunately, most of these questions touch on things that the students will be experiencing more with their host families than with us, so Sebastien will have to give you more details about his personal experiences during his internet time. I can say that they all seem to be doing just fine with the weather, though we are hoping for more sun in upcoming weeks, and I know that a lot of the students have gone to the marché and done other fun activities over the weekends with their families. The farewell show is not until the end of the program so we have only just begun planning, but I will certainly include more details about that as things progress. I wish I could answer each of your questions in more detail, but I hope that helps!


      1. You mention internet time when will that start and how do we contact them. Do we email their gmail accounts or facebook?


      2. They should have already had their one hour of English internet for last week, but they have to arrange that with their host families. I’ll be sure to bring it up during announcements today and make sure they’ve all set that up. They can do whatever they want during that hour except Skype, so both Facebook and email are fine.


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