….but how can you govern a country which has 258 kinds of cheese?
Charles de Gaulle
Since the fall of the Roman Empire and the gradual demise of Latin as a living language, French has arguably had the greatest influence of any language on European literature, culture and politics. The motherland of fashion, art, literature, cinema, classical music, philosophy, industry and gastronomy - France's creativity has been prolific and her language has been known throughout history as the language of chivalry, economics, diplomacy and love.
France has a unique history of literary wealth and influence exceeding one thousand years, extending from the creation of the first masterpiece of French literature, La Chanson de Roland, into the twenty-first century with the emergence of Francophone literature from Northern and Western Africa, Canada and the Caribbean.
French is not only the native or administrative language of the almost sixty million citizens of continental France, but of over two hundred million more people in Europe, North and South America, Africa and the Pacific. Countries in the Middle East and Asia, such as Lebanon and Vietnam, are still profoundly influenced by their status as former French territories.
At Brentwood, all students learn and explore French from the first year and many continue into sixth form. Both the A Level and the IB routes are tailored to specific cultural, literary and cinematic interests and offer all linguists a rich, scenic pathway into university studies.
Over the Easter break, a crowd of fortunate First Year students embarked on a five-day trip to Normandy to sample some of the sights, delights (and chocolate!) that northern France has to offer. Pupil Tom Woolterton provides some highlights of how the exciting visit went.
Day 1 saw the group crossing the Channel and travelling through northern France to Château du Molay, their home for the next five days:
“The idea of staying in the middle of Normandy, in a lovely château with beautiful countryside surroundings was very pleasant. Pleasant enough that, after a long day of travelling, we all laid on our beds and went straight to sleep…after a very enjoyable session of karaoke, that is!”
Day 2 was filled with a mixture of chocolate, tapestry and snails. First on the agenda was the Chocolate Museum at Bayeux:
“We were shown different types of cocoa beans and the different processes of making chocolate. We then came to the museum’s shop. The walls had chocolate on; the shelves had chocolate on…it was chocolate heaven (except for the prices)!”
Followed swiftly by a visit to see the Bayeux Tapestry:
“Mr Bowley was quick to point out that it is not a tapestry but an embroidery! It was very long and gave you a feeling that years of work had been put into it.”
And not quite such a ringing endorsement when sampling some other French delicacies:
“We tried frogs’ legs and snails. The frogs’ legs received mixed reactions…but after trying snails, everyone was gagging! Conclusive prove that the French will eat anything!”
Day 3‘s highlights were to include the amazing Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Notre Dame…and technical problems at the Eiffel Tower:
“Since only one lift was working and there was a two-hour wait, we decided to walk to the second floor and then queue for a lift to the top. It was worth it; we were all amazed by the fantastic view.”
Then, on Day 4, the group explored Arromanches, Deauville and Honfleur:
“In Arromanches, we learnt about a very interesting wartime harbour illustrated by scale models. Then we went to Deauville, where we played rugby and football on the beach while Mr Walton showed off his expert bowling skills! Finally, in Honfleur, we shopped and looked around the old town.”
Day 5 - the final day - was spent returning home and reflecting on a full and stimulating trip:
“On the coach Easter egg prizes were awarded for best dancer, best singer, best dressed and best booklets. All of us were reunited with our families after a wonderful five days and a lot of travelling! We wouldn’t have had so much fun and had such a great time if Mr Walton, Mr Bowley, Miss Lloyd, Mrs Jackson and Mr Saunders hadn’t come along too!”