Bonjour tout le monde!
It's hard to believe that 5 days have already passed since the journey began with this group of students. It was a wild beginning to the trip, with a 3 hour delay at the St. Louis airport and BARELY making the flight from Chicago to Paris (the airline held the plane for us for about 25 mins because we were such a large group). But it gave us an early insight into how our students would deal with and adapt to unexpected changes; all were amazingly good sports with zero complaining! Some students played cards, a small group did a couple of "laps" around the terminal, others read or listened to iPods, some chatted with us, and all adapted well to the unexpected delays. It bode well for the trip as a whole, and this expectation has been self-fulfilling during the other unexpected delays we have encountered along the way. The first few days were quite the whirlwind, as our chauffeur, Virginie, drove us with excellent skill and lightening quick reactions through the countryside. She answered our many questions and provided some wonderful insights into the region. We started with visits to Giverny (Claude Monet's final home
with a stunningly beautiful -- and incredibly expansive -- garden), then onto Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tapestry - a marvelous example of medieval history surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066 stiched onto a tapestry that seems to go on and on! We then continued onto Arromanches the following day (site of the artificial harbor after the beach head was established just west of Gold Beach-- evidently this allowed the Allies to load a huge amount of supplies very quickly into Normandy and help to push the Germans further east -- it was amazing to stand on the expanse of beach that was so hotly contested in 1944); then onto Colleville sur Mer (site of an American cemetery just above Omaha Beach and a very moving experience. We then went onto Mont St. Michel (a medieval abbey / fortress that still contains a charming, if touristy, town; but seeing this huge city sharply arising from the sea was excellent, and the views from the top were amazing as well); then onto Saint Malo (a small town on the coast of the English Channel that has now become my second favorite place in all of France -- a fortified walled
city from the Middle Ages surrounded by ramparts as thick/wide as city streets. St Malo is famous for its corsaires (pirates who gave part of their loot to the king). In addition, we tried some wonderful specialties of the region; including crepes and Kouign Amann, which means butter and sugar in Breton. Yes, pretty much just butter and sugar in a pastry - YUM! We finally arrived in Rennes where we met VERY sweet families and sent the students off on a 6-day family stay. The families seemed just great, and Monsieur Morey and I are staying with a wonderful couple as well in the outskirts of Rennes. The weather has been great so far, with the exception of a rather brisk and chilly morning on Juno Beach, and while we are dealing with some minor cases of tummy troubles and jetlag, everyone is settling in very well. We hope all is well with you all and we will post the next entry whenever we can!
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