An October 2005 trip
to Roanne by annie-m
Quote: A week of staying in a chateau, taking French language classes in the morning and French cooking classes in the afternoon
The first floor had the classrooms, the dining room, and kitchen and sitting rooms for the students to use.
There was also an out-building with the cooking class kitchen and a fitness/rec room and an outdoor pool. I went for a walk almost every day after lunch, but I don't think anyone in my session used the fitness room. It was too cold in October for the pool.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 25, 2005
Ecole des Trois Ponts
Chateau de Matel
All meals were taken at a large table, which had designated French-only and English-allowed ends. I usually sat just on the French side of the frontier.
The dinners started with a salad or other entree (first course in French), then a main course with meat and vegetables, a cheese course presented by the chef, and then dessert. The bread and wine were present throughout.
At most meals, one or more of the instructors were present encouraging our French. I learned nearly as much at mealtimes as I did in the classroom instruction.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 25, 2005
Ecole des Trois Ponts
Chatau de Matel
Because in was in the last (or maybe second-to-last) week of the season, we had a small session -- only ten students. I was the only American; the others were Austrian, Icelanders, English, Scottish, Australian, and Chinese.
The first day, everyone was tested for class placement. Not surprisingly, I was a total beginner. Since making the reservation, which includes an online test that I got a zero on, I had been using my Learn French in Your Car tapes and had managed a little vocabulary and conjugation of regular verbs. The instructor was very pleased to find that I was not a hopeless beginner. Three of us took morning classes together and were reasonable well-matched. Though I was still the weakest, I was determined to work hard and made real progress in a week's time.
The real improvement to my spoken French came at mealtime, when we spoke only French. In a congenial atmosphere, with plenty of encouragement from the staff and better speakers (and wine), I could not stand to sit and not speak, so I jumped into attempting French conversation. By the end of the week, I was able to have animated political discussions with my new friends.
I also took the cooking classes on four afternoons. It was a very hands-on style where the chef presented the menu, and we all worked on putting it together for the next couple of hours. At the end of class, we ate our creation. I appreciated the exposure to French cuisine techniques and still use some of the recipes, but again, the real joy for me was in the group interaction. It was a fun bunch in the cooking classes (six of the ten), and I enjoyed the chopping and chatting as much as the food itself.
New York, New York