The excitement on the coach at 5:00 on Tuesday morning was palpable, and 47 eager Year 7 faces engaged in lively discussion about the three days in France that lay ahead. After one or two passport issues were resolved, we had a trouble-free journey down to Boulogne, traversing the Channel via ferry. Our first stop was Nausicaà, Europe’s largest aquarium, where we proceeded to be impressed by a range of sea-creatures both great and small. Many students enjoyed stroking the less-dangerous fish, although we decided to observe the crocodiles and sharks from afar.
After returning to the hotel, which was but a stone’s throw from a fabulous coast, we settled into our new surroundings, before eating our evening meal and spending the evening on the aforementioned beachfront, engrossing ourselves in myriad sand-based activities, before checking the football score (France 1:0 Belgium) as we fell into our beds.
Wednesday was a fabulous whistle-stop tour through the region, with visits to a boulangerie, where we learned how pastry and bread-based goods were made, with students translating the baker’s instructions. After sampling the wares, we were off to the escargotière, or snail farm. Most students took the opportunity to allow the gastropods to crawl on their hands and even faces, before learning how snails are farmed. A range of snail-quiches were then consumed, which provoked a range of facial expressions on the students’ faces!
We were then off for a picnic and a tour of La Coupole, a fascinating war-based museum in the former underground rocket factories of the 1940s. Following an evening meal, we headed off to Calais for bowling, persuading the local proprietor to turn the television over to the crucial England vs. Croatia semi-final. Unfortunately, we had to leave as extra-time began, but we listened intently to the end of the match as we drove back to our hotel. The disappointment of the result did not dampen the mood amongst the students, who had enjoyed a wonderful range of experiences that day.
After departing the hotel on Thursday morning, we walked around the old part of Boulogne, taking in the ramparts and castle, before heading home via the rather expansive shopping centre in Calais. Our return journey was also successful, and the students were awarded prizes for the quality of their booklets, which were filled in throughout the duration of the trip, showing what they had learned.
We look forward to returning again soon!