Our students in Bordeaux

To enhance the learning experience of Alliance Française de Bristol students, a grant, “Prix de la ville de Bordeaux”, is offered to a limited number every year to live and learn French with Alliance Française de Bordeaux Aquitaine by the Mairie de Bordeaux:

The lucky winners of Le prix de la ville de Bordeaux 2016:

IMG_0831-e1449443029611   the-winner-of-our-bordeaux-competition   the-winner-of-our-bordeaux-competition-trip

 

Bordeaux 2016

What an amazing opportunity this was!

Bordeaux is a very special city – a Unesco World Heritage Centre with more protected buildings than any other French city except Paris. It was fascinating to explore the historical centre, the lovely ambiance is helped by wonderful weather and the enlightened integrated transport policy which means a calm, ‘traffic-light’ centre. (The trams were the first in the world to run on solar power without overhead cables.) I used the city bikes to get around as they were easy and free, after a small registration fee. Apart from the well-known tourist attractions, I enjoyed the enormous public swimming pool in the centre which has the added benefit of a roof which opens on sunny days with sunloungers along one side!

The Alliance Francaise building is located centrally and is well-organised and friendly. I loved being a student again for 2 weeks. The lessons were of good quality and the teachers were interesting. After a morning’s study, we headed off in groups for a local lunch where we put the world to rights, sharing views from so many different nationalities. There were some great discussions about Brexit! During the afternoon, we could opt into workshops, talks, trips or films – some were free, and all were really interesting and great for additional language practice. With the other 2 Laureates, I was invited to the Mairie for a meeting and tour with one of the Conseillers and his team which was an interesting insight into the views of some of the people running the city of Bordeaux. I was particularly impressed by how ‘outward-looking’ and international they were in their approach.

 

My host for the fortnight was a lady with a love of cooking which was rather lucky as I have a love of eating! Her 4 children have grown up and left home so there were plenty of spare bedrooms. There were a total of 5 students staying with her from different countries so another opportunity to chat in French, sharing different perspectives on all sorts of things.

The whole experience was a fantastic ‘bain linguistique’ which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who can spare the 2 weeks. A big thank you to AF and the Bordeaux Mairie for such a wonderful experience.

 

Claire Greener

My stay in Bordeaux started with one of those lucky coincidences that is a sign that things are going to go really well. I had arranged that I would get to my host family on the Sunday evening as prior to that I was holidaying with my family close to Bordeaux. On the Friday I got an email from my host saying that on the Sunday she was visiting the area where I was holidaying, so perhaps we could meet up there and return to Bordeaux together. This thoughtfulness was typical of my host, a lovely lady, with whom I will certainly stay in touch.

On the Monday morning I started my French lessons with the Alliance Française in the centre of Bordeaux. My class was a small group of 8 students, very mixed nationality-wise. The teacher was very nice but wanted us to get the most out of her lessons, so we had a wide range of activities and lots to do. Still the four hour class never drags for a moment. After the class it was straight off to a new students meeting and then off to the office to sign up for additional activities. My plan for this week was on Monday, a walking tour of Bordeaux, on Tuesday, the French Film called Welcome, on Wednesday, a trip to St Emilion and a vineyard and on Friday, sailing at Bordeaux Lac.

At the weekend I decided to spend time exploring Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a really lovely city and I found it was also an easy city to navigate. Having a travel pass meant I could go wherever I wanted so I made the most of it.

On Sunday my host suggested going to Andernos les Bains (on the Arcachon Bassin) where we explored the oyster fishing village, ate oysters (crevettes were also available for those who preferred) then walked further round the coast of the Bassin. Moving on to the second week of this marvellous experience, just to say that time flew by would be a real understatement. The second week just disappeared. We continued our language studies every morning and this week we were also invited to the Bordeaux Town Hall to meet Monsieur de Corail, the person responsible for International Relations. He spoke to us at length and seemed genuinely interested in how our visits were going.

Also this week I signed up to go to a truffle tasting evening. Here we tried a whole range of dishes, each one including the local summer truffles. (Apparently these are completely different to the truffles gathered in winter!!) The dishes varied from stuffed tomatoes, to scrambled egg to risotto to dessert!!! As ever this visit was led by a member of the Alliance Française team who escorted us and made sure everything went well.

All too soon it was my last day but even on this day I had a cheese tasting to fit in after my classes before I returned to my host family to pack my bags and bid my host a sad farewell. This has really been an unforgettable experience. Being totally immersed in French life, language and culture for two weeks has taught me so much. Merci beaucoup to everyone involved in organising this.

Chris Sanders

I arrived in Bordeaux to find temperatures of close to 80 degrees and was told that summer had arrived late this year after a disappointing June, July & August. I was met at the airport by my hosts, Patrick & Maylis and then taken on a whistle stop tour of Bordeaux by car accompanied by Patrick talking in fairly rapid but understandable French.

For the two weeks of my stay both Patrick, Maylis and their family were unfailingly friendly, helpful and very patient with my attempts at communication and as part of the deal was that no-one spoke in English, that is what happened and I survived!

Going back to school was a bit of a shock to the system; Alliance was about 15 minutes walk away so each morning I would pack my school bag, walk to the school and commence lessons at 9 a.m. to finish at 1 pm, with a 15 minute pause during the morning. I am in my sixties and initially it felt a bit strange to be back in the classroom (I am a retired secondary school teacher) as a student alongside other students mostly in their twenties but they were very friendly and accepting of me. Therefore, after a cautious start, I found myself enjoying the structure of the classroom and my initiation into ‘grammaire, grammaire & gramaire’, helpful.

Just to reassure anyone who thinks that this might be daunting, I would assure them that it is absolutely fine. I think that I was one of the few English as a first language students there but once again, when I got used to this, I found it stimulating and interesting and I also made friends with a woman of about my vintage from the south of Ireland. Bordeaux is a lovely city with lots of interesting things to do and see and a fantastic tramway which makes travelling in the city a joy. I am left with lots of vivid memories of my stay and my hosts have told me that I would be welcome to return any time.

Lesley

I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the intensive french course in Bordaux with Alliance Française. Spending time in France really is the best way to pick up the language. I arrived Sunday night ready for my course the following morning. My host was lovely and made me feel very welcome, the house was a beautiful French house close to one of the largest parks in Bordeaux, Parc Bordelais.

Lessons were daily from 9am-1pm and focused on a number of grammar points changing each day together with various discussions on topical subjects. Alliance Française also organised numerous trips and events of which I took advantage of. For example we visited a wonderful Château where our group was exclusively given access to the Ch´teau grounds and explanation in French on the history of the Château and obviously finishing off with a bit of wine tasting. We then went onto the medieval village of St Emilion. Another of my favourite trips was a visit to the largest sand dune in Europe Dune du Pyla. By the end of the 2 weeks I found that I was actually starting to think in French!

Wendy Stone

My French experience in Bordeaux, “La Perle d’Aquitaine”, has been rewarding, exciting, wonderful, satisfying and worthwhile.

The Alliance Française de Bordeaux, in conjunction with the Mairie de Bordeaux, has given me the opportunity to join a two-week intensive course to improve my French. Half board accommodation, a wonderful host family and 150 euros were also part of this magnificent grant.

A second or a third language, particularly French, is considered an asset for career development in my profession. However, beyond professional reasons, I have been learning French for pleasure and personal satisfaction and I must confess this trip was all I needed to make my experience of learning French even more enjoyable!

My host family gave me a warm welcome at the airport; from that moment, all I received was support, guidance, kindness and sympathy. What I loved the most about my stay with my host family was dinner time, as it was the perfect time for cultural exchange. I learnt so much more about French culture while interacting with my family than I ever did throughout so many years of study in the class room. A big thank you to Madame Pascale!

My days at the Alliance Française de Bordeaux were not any different as teachers were also very nice and supportive. I have to say I was very satisfied with my teacher, my group and all the cultural activities the Alliance organised for their students (wine tasting, cooking, cruises, hikes, guided tours and many more activities!)

I have to say I consider myself a Bordeaux ambassador now! I have nothing but positive thoughts and love for this city. This is a place full of good taste and tradition and the city centre of La Belle Bordeaux is unique!

I am certain that this immersion in French culture will have a positive influence on my career and I am confident that French will always be a passion in my personal life! It’s been a privilege to have met so many charming people in such a magical place. Merci Alliance Française ! Merci Mairie de Bordeaux!

Carlos Linares