Each year, two of our students applying for the Prix de la ville de Bordeaux are selected to go to Bordeaux for two weeks, take lessons with Alliance Française de Bordeaux and stay with a French host. Read one of the laureate’s experience from this year, Steve:
Bordeaux July 2018
I did not know quite what to expect from my fortnight with the Alliance Française in Bordeaux. But all in all, it was a terrific experience, and I am so glad I took the plunge.
First, the course. The AF Bordeaux Aquitaine has sizeable premises near the city centre, and during the summer a procession of students of all ages from around the world come to follow courses in French at different levels. I was sponsored for an ‘intensive general course’ involving four hours of study for ten mornings, and yes, it was hard work, but stimulating and enjoyable. The idea is that you stay with the same group and teacher for the whole fortnight, though new students start each Monday. On the basis of a pre-course assessment, I had been placed in a particular class, which did not in fact suit me for various reasons, but like some others I switched classes without fuss. Thereafter, I actually looked forward to work(!) thanks to a gifted young teacher, who managed a small, but heterogeneous, group with great skill, not to mention humour. We had to buy some textbooks, but these were very good, and, together with other material provided in class, they will be the source of useful study for years to come. There was plenty of ‘homework’, which I found fun to do, though it was basically up to you how much you put into this. The mixture of ages, nationalities and outlook among the group – and other students encountered – was a delightful surprise.
I had thought that I would take the non-course time fairly gently. But in fact the range of excursions, social stuff and the attractions of the city meant that leisure time was no less ‘intensive’ than the course. I didn’t do everything on offer, but even so, I went on a coach trip to Arcachon, a local seaside ‘honeypot’; I went to sessions on cheese and wine; I had guided tours of the spectacular Grand Théâtre and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs; I enjoyed a free film and a concert in the cathedral.
I explored Bordeaux, often by bike, but there was simply not enough time to see everything that the city offers. For future use, I still have my discounted ticket for the ‘Cité du Vin’ (a huge hi-tech museum devoted to…..guess what!) Other things missed included several museums, a visit to a chateau/vinyard, and the ‘Café des Langues’ – a social session with a cross-section of locals interested in chatting to visitors (I gathered this sometimes involved some chatting-up).
As for accommodation, I was lucky enough to be staying with a charming couple, of my own age, in their fine old house, not far from the city centre. They were very friendly and spared no effort in making me, and another student, feel at home. Every evening, a delicious dinner appeared, and we spent two hours or more in relaxed conversation, sometimes joined by friends or family. For the middle Sunday, when our hosts might have been taking some time off, they took us off on bikes to the lake to try out an open-air Asian buffet. Perhaps these particular hosts were exceptional, though other students too seemed pleased with the attention they received from those they were staying with.
To sum up, it was an excellent course from which I gained a lot, but the fortnight was much more than that: it was a delightful ‘immersive’ experience, a heady dose of up-to-date French language and culture, and a chance to make new friends across boundaries.
Students leaning French with our excellent and devoted native teachers in Bristol and Bath are starting their classes, but it is not too late to join them. Contact us below; it is never too late to learn French!