Our fun French trip to the Opal Coast will undoubtedly be the last residential trip abroad for some time.

35 very well-behaved Year 10 and Year 11 students spent four fun days along the Côte d’Opale - a French coastal region bordering Belgium. It will also be remembered for some Year 11s as the last time they spent some special moments together. A big thank you also to Mrs Williamson (trip organiser), Mrs Coates, Mrs B Morris and Mrs N Morris who accompanied the trip and, of course, Shane the coach driver.

Cap Gris Nez

We left school at 7.30am Sunday morning by coach and by 3.30pm we were walking along a very windy Cap Gris Nez. This “grey nose cape” is the closest point on the French coast to England situated opposite the cliffs of the south-east of England. We were able to get a glimpse of the white cliffs of Dover on the other side.

Les animateurs - Baki and James

We arrived at our beautiful, rural accommodation in the village of Desvres. We met our friendly and helpful “animateurs” (guides) - Baki and James- who made us feel extremely welcome and excited about the three days to follow. Baki was great at getting the group listening and speaking French, particularly during the evening activities. He was described as a “legend” by the students. “I liked how the animateur encouraged us to speak French as I felt this helped.”  James was a French university student on his year abroad.

Beussent Lachelle – planteur chocolatier – www.choco-france.com

Day Two would have been a visit to our French school but unfortunately this was cancelled due to restrictions on visitors to French schools due to the Coronavirus. However we were lucky enough to visit a chocolate factory - Beussent Lachelle. We took part in one of the chocolate factory’s workshops in French and the expert chocolate masters talked us through their handcrafted production process – right from the sourcing of the high-quality cocoa beans in Ecuador to the process of melting, moulding and coating.  The best part was the tasting at the end!

Le diner

A tasty three-course dinner was always served at 6pm. The students now all know a “forchette” from a “cuillière” and an “assiette” from a “bol”.  Not a hamburger and chips in sight but typical French breakfast, one foot long baguettes for lunch and typical French dishes in the evening. Some of the students described the food as “tragic” - especially when they brought out the “les escargots” (the snails) and stinky French cheese on the last night!

Nausicaà sealife centre – Boulogne sur Mer – Europe's largest acquarium

Described as the “best part of the trip” by most of the students – the sealife centre visit on day Three was a great experience. Boulogne sur Mer is indeed France’s leading port and more than 70 species of fish come off the boats every day.  Students discovered 1,600 species and learnt about the Ocean in all its wonder.

Boulogne sur Mer (in the department of Pas-de-Calais) – Town trail and treasure hunt with Baki and James

This was a chance to spend some Euros and have time to visit the cafés and souvenir shops and even taste some pancakes. “The town and shopping were good as they allowed us to interact in a realistic situation and speak French.”

Boulangerie le Fournil.

A visit to a local artisan bread shop, run by a “scary baker” and his wife,  where the students got to make croissants. The “very scary baker” used his humour to encourage the students to speak French and the hard-working wife talked us through the baking process. Did you know that the wonderful French bread is made over night? A typical French baker works through the night to prepare the wonderful croissants and baguettes for the next day. The students were guided through the baking process and were able to ask questions in French to the master bakers.

La Chèvrerie – the goat’s farm.

This was by far the best part of the trip for many of the students. “I loved the goat’s farm.” “Holding the rabbits was great.” The students got to break bread (with all the instructions in French), hold baby rabbits and even milk goats. The owner of the farm interacted well with the students and encouraged them to speak and listen to lots of French. She even had the Year 11s singing recipes in French.

The trip was a great success. Things to be improved on for next year - “better weather” - well it was the North of France!. Also, the students said the location was very similar to home. Well, let’s face it we were only 31 miles from Folkestone!

Here are some wonderful, final words from Laura and Abby “A really great trip! Very action packed so was never bored. We really liked the hotel and food. Baki and James were the best. Thank you for the amazing experience”.  It will definitely be running again next year.