French Exchange 2019: D-day beaches, chateaux, crepes, french culture and history...

This month, TGS students visited Saint-Lô, Normandy. This was the second leg of the French Exchange, the first half of which happened in October of 2018.

After flying to Rennes and visiting the town of Dinan, we arrived at the Institut Saint- Lô. The weekend was spent with our host families, and we each visited lots of places, such as Le Chateau de Guillame le Conquérant, Caen, Deauville and Le Point du Hoc, to name but a few.

On Monday, we got a tour of the Institut and experienced the French students’ lessons. We then visited Le Mémorial de Caen. The visit was extremely overwhelming, in the sense that it revealed a shocking history of France. We got to see the damage and trauma the war caused to the country, in particular to Normandy. A lot of us did not comprehend how detrimental it really was, so the visit was very eye-opening.

Tuesday entailed visiting the D-Day beaches and the World War II museum at Utah Beach. We also visited the American and German war cemeteries. It was an emotional and thought-provoking visit – seeing the sheer number of crosses commemorating those who had given their lives to fight for their country was astounding and difficult to get your head around. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we left the cemeteries feeling very moved and reflective. We spent the evening bowling with our exchanges and visited a French creperie for dinner.

Wednesday was Le Jour de Liberation, or “Victory Day”. It marks the day that Charles de Gaulle announced the end of World War II in France. As it is a public holiday, we spent the day with our exchange student, doing lots of different things. Before travelling home on Thursday, we visited Mont-Saint Michel. We looked round the Abbey and got the chance to explore the village whilst doing some shopping!  

The exchange has been really beneficial. It has helped us to understand French culture and history and we were able to improve our speaking ability. It was really interesting to see how things are done differently in other countries and was lovely to meet people we would not otherwise have met. I know everyone has come away with fond memories and, for some, friends for life.

Emily and Victoria, Year 12

I really enjoyed the experience. It broadened my knowledge about the culture and helped me to improve my confidence when speaking French .
— Pippa
It was a really useful experience unlike any of the other opportunities the school has offered me before. I felt it helped my French skills and my understanding of the culture.
— Zenia
My French skills improved greatly, and I had a great time.
— Sophia