We are wrapping up our first full week in Saint-Laurent-du-Var and though the students have been busy in a whirlwind of activities and classes, everyone has made time to settle in to their familles d’accueil as well as begin to independently explore the town of about 30,000. Thirty students, strangers to each other for the most part, arrived last week with jet lag. Tonight, they find themselves to be thirty friends playing soccer in the town park, Parc Layet, and learning about French Hip Hop music and dance at one of our primary cultural and class centers, La Maison pour tous. Every week, students receive an emploi du temps detailing times for classes, electives, activities, excursions, cultural events, and museums and most importantly for this group of mature students, temps libre. The students’ first night together included dinner along La Promenade des flots bleus at Le Dylano followed by fireworks and a street concert for the St. Pierre Festival in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, the town directly west of Saint-Laurent. Last Sunday found the students traveling along the Côte d’Azur by train to Antibes and Juan Les Pins. Many students had never traveled by train before and were thrilled to do so. In Antibes, we visted the Musée Picasso housed in the same location Picasso lived and worked for a period, the Château Grimaldi. Students also discovered works of art by Nicolas de Staël. After a visit to a typical French market where students discovered the smell of fresh lavender and tasted homemade olive tapenade, we continued further west to Juan Les Pins where we enjoyed an afternoon of kayaking, paddle boarding, sunbathing and swimming. A great surprise was in store for the group at the end of our tour of Saint-Laurent by the lovely Pauline. We had a tour of L’Hôtel de Ville, City Hall, and met the mayor, Monsieur Segura. He invited us to enjoy the view of downtown Saint-Laurent from his third-story terrace and discuss the French political system. The following day, we awoke to find ourselves local celebrities of the French internet! http://www.saintlaurentduvar.fr/visite-detudiants-etrangers
Another highlight from the week was the first visit to Nice, which we traveled to again by train, this time going east of Saint-Laurent. Students enjoyed a pottery workshop with Madame Magali and also took advantage of some free time to go to the beach or faire les soldes by shopping along the well-known Avenue Jean Médecin which leads to Place Messena. After many train trips and hours of classes, our weekend reprieve starts tomorrow with a visit to Parc Aquasplash and day-trips to Cannes and Monaco this weekend. I have no doubt as a French teacher and monitor that our students will continue make rapid advances in the language and throughly enjoy our upcoming activities and excursions. À bientôt!