Friday, June 6, 2008

Class trip in northern France

So, the last five days I spent with 27 sixth graders...and survived! This was a totally different kind of class trip than the one in Holland...not quite so relaxing. :) Also, it was interesting for me to spend time in France, but the kinds of activities we did were more directed at keeping the kids occupied and it wasn't as interesting for me, although I did get to see/do quite a few new things, too.

We stayed at a kind of campground right on the Meuse River, which had a building with rooms/bathrooms/kitchen/dining room/common room. So the kids stayed in rooms of 3 to 6, and we had three meals a day at the place. The food was pretty bad, like typical camp food, but it was French, so that brings it up a notch. The meal always started with an entrée (appetizer), had a hot main course, then cheese, then dessert. And the teachers were served a bit differently than the kids. :) We got a bottle of wine with every meal, good camembert cheese and even foie gras the last night!

The town we stayed in (a 15-20 min walk outside of) is called Saint Mihiel, in the region of the Meuse (the name of the river the town is located on, south of Verdun). St Mihiel had its heyday a while back...because of the monastery. Now it's a pretty poor town, but a typical small town in this region.

Above: I like this bakery, beautiful wood frame. Also, the French man with the baguette (it is not only a stereotype!), and my school kids playing with their cell phones. Speaks to the generation gap a bit, doesn't it?
The church in the background is the main cathedral in the city, with the monastery extending to the left. In front of the church there are some people playing boule, the game where you try to throw the metal balls as close as possible to the little ball. Most French cities have a place to play boule.
The first day we walked to this glass artist's studio, where we got a tour of his amazing residence (an old church), and his workshop, and then the kids got to each make a glass hanging.
Below: The artist explaining
Below: the kids working with glass
My favorite activity was biking. Lots of the kids were complaining that they didn't want to go biking because they wanted to do activities you can't do at home...But for me biking is always amazing because you can discover so much more of a landscape than you can walking or driving. We went along the Meuse River, through fields of sprouting corn and wheat, the path lined with poppies...
Here are some pictures of me and the kids!

The kids all played a ton of Tischtennis (table tennis). And then there was a big tournament at the end of the week. Here are the winners with their prizes.

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