We arrived early at school at 4.30am only to find our coach had been cancelled by the tour operator. With the help of our quick-thinking teachers and three minibus drivers, who amazingly answered their phones at 5.00am, we headed off for Portsmouth. We arrived to catch the ferry to Cherbourg with 10 minutes to spare and were the last passengers on but phew, we made it! After breakfast on the ferry, we even arrived an hour ahead of schedule. It was beautiful hot sunshine and we spent the afternoon land yachting on the beach, which was brilliant. You went so fast around a course that they had created on the sand and Mr Andrews’ screams could be heard for miles! We arrived at our accommodation, a beautiful French farmhouse in the countryside, and we met our French hosts and chefs, Pierre-Nicholas, David and Karin. We were able to play football, mini-golf, boules and basketball in the huge garden, and finally hit the sack at 10.00pm, fairly exhausted after our early start!
We slept well in our comfy beds but were awoken at 7.00am by the teachers! After an authentic French breakfast of croissants, bread and jam and cereal, we got the coach to Falaise to do our first activity, the Market Challenge. It was a huge market with hundreds of stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, meat, clothes, toys, cheese, hats and even live chickens and rabbits. We had questions to answer, and then were given €20.00 in teams of four to buy ourselves ingredients for our lunch. We tried our best to ask in French and ate our lunches of paella, couscous, baguettes, strawberries, Nutella and lots of other yummy things. We then visited the falaise castle where William the Conqueror had lived before the Battle of Hastings and had ipads as an interactive activity to find treasure and explain what each rooms was used for. This brought it to life and was engaging. In the afternoon, we did Parcours or Accrobranche which is like Go Ape, but much better. There were loads of different routes on the high ropes for different abilities. Several people conquered their fears too! In the evening we had a barbeque back at our house which was delicious.
We had an early start to get to Genets for a barefoot three-hour hike along the beach to get to Mont St Michel. Our tour guide, called Alexandre, was hilarious and took us through the silt mud up to our knees which felt really weird. Amazingly no one fell in but Mr Andrews came close! It was hot and sunny but we stopped to hear stories along the way. Mont St Michel was stunning. It's a castle and village on a hill with an abbey on the top and only 300 steps to get to the top to use the toilets! We had lunch there and looked around the abbey and had some free time to buy snacks and souvenirs. Then Mrs Winchester-Snell bought all of us ice-creams before the coach journey home as it was so hot. We had a lovely meal of burgers and salad when we got back and some time to chill out before bed.
We had a slight lie-in as breakfast was at 8.00am and we had pain au chocolat – delicieux! We drove to a bakery in the middle of nowhere where we met a crazy Dutch man called Eric who moved to France 20 years ago and became a baker. He showed us how to make baguettes and we had to ask for all of the ingredients in French. We found out that he drives to the port three times a week to give bread to migrants and refugees. After lunch, we drove to the kayaking centre, and had great fun kayaking down the river. Several people fell overboard and we all had a go at going down the rapids both in and outside of our boats. We then got to go to a French hypermarket where everyone bought ridiculous amounts of Milka chocolate, sweets and presents for their families. Back at the accommodation, David, our Chef, took us two at a time to make crêpes, and then we had a meal of gallettes which were savoury for the main course, and crêpes, which were sweet for our dessert. However, before this, we were offered snails and frogs legs to try and many people had a go and were quite relieved by how normal they tasted.
Our final day. We had to pack up after breakfast, then said goodbye to our French hosts and headed to the velo rail. This was great fun. We pedalled in groups of four along the old train track for 13km, taking it in turns to swap over as only two pedalled at a time. We then travelled to Bayeux for lunch where we said an emotional goodbye to Pedro who was picked up by his parents. We then went to see the Bayeux tapestry which was really interesting as we had headsets that explained each section. We also got to watch a film about how they made it. Finally we headed to Caen to get the ferry home and this time a huge Boat taking over 200 passengers. We had our own cabin, and there were two cinemas, loads of shops and restaurants and we even got to watch the French football match on the big screen in our cabin. We arrived in Portsmouth and travelled by coach back home to see our parents.