Hello once again from Saumur!

Dear parents, guardians, family, and friends,

We have a busy upcoming week with students in Saumur! It’s an odd feeling to imagine that it will be our last week before returning to the USA. I know that feelings among students are mixed: they’ve settled into a French life with their host families, but they are also very excited to come back home and see you!

This week’s post will be lighter than the Normandy update as the week has been shorter due to the French National Holiday on July 14th and also because we are preparing for next week’s host family farewell show with students.

As usual, a brief outline of the week which will be followed with details and photos is below:

  • France’s National Holiday on July 14th (Tuesday)
  • The Dessert Contest (Wednesday)
  • The visit to ‘Les Sables d’Olonne’ (Friday)

France’s National Holiday on July 14th

Similar to the USA’s 4th of July insofar as there are fireworks, concerts, bands, plays, and national pride/history… July 14th is France’s national holiday. In Saumur, people gather along the Loire river in the evening where there is live music and regional food vendors (they also had cotton candy; comically dubbed in French as ‘Poppa’s Beard’ ‘Barbe à Papa’. I managed to see several students despite the large crowds: Megan, Christina, Cleome… Once 11pm arrived, the street lights dimmed and people gathered along the Loire’s edge or on the bridge to watch the fireworks.

Saumur fireworks from July 14th 2015
Saumur fireworks from July 14th, 2015

The Dessert Contest

On Wednesday afternoon we had a ‘Concours de Desserts’; an activity where students prepared typical French desserts with their families and then brought them to Saint-Louis to share with other students. We had a good turn-out: two tables full of desserts (which largely disappeared!). We had an apple pie, cookies, Nutella muffins, macaroons, chocolate and yogurt pie, chocolate bread… At the end, students voted for their favorite dessert and we are currently preparing certificates for the winners! We also took this time to celebrate the birthdays of Casey H., Hannah C., and Lydia S. by presenting them with birthday cards signed by all the students and professors. My apologies for not having photos for this section from the event, I forgot my camera alas, but I’m sure some students appreciated not being photographed when eating at least!

The Visit to Les Sables d’Olonne

On Friday we had our excursion to Les Sables d’Olonne, the Sands of Olonne—a port city renowned for its beach about two hours in bus from Saumur. We had a leisurely departure at 9am from Saumur. We arrived in Olonne and (since it was our first expedition to Olonne to test the area for the program) separated into four professor-led groups. My group of students started our visit with a stroll along the port to see the city and shops and then we headed over to the beach.

After a picnic in Olonne, we headed to a beach located a short distance from les Sables d’Olonne (much less crowded and beautiful). Students really enjoyed this day at beach—as we descended onto to the beach I heard more than a few say something along the lines of ‘Que c’est joli ! (How pretty!) I’ll let the photos speak for the rest of this relaxing excursion:

A map of Olonne, we strolled along the Port de Plaisance and also visited the jetee and the beach itself
A map of Olonne, we strolled along the Port de Plaisance and also visited the jetee and the beach itself
A group photo with a backdrop of Olonne
A group photo with a backdrop of Olonne
The impressive coastline of Olonne; students were very excited to go onto the beach!
The impressive coastline of Olonne; students were very excited to go onto the beach!
Casandre, Isabel, and Julia stroll towards the lighthouse
Casandre, Isabel, and Julia stroll towards the lighthouse
One of many lighthouses in Olonne offering a beautiful view of the ocean
One of many lighthouses in Olonne offering a beautiful view of the ocean
Settling into the beach
Settling into the beach
Emily, Julia, and Isabel enjoying the sun
Emily, Julia, and Isabel enjoying the sun
A foray into the waves!
A foray into the waves!
Megan, Becca, Federica, Rachel, Camille, and Hannah graciously permit a photo!
Megan, Becca, Federica, Rachel, Camille, and Hannah graciously permit a photo!
Some students check out the beach from the dunes!
Some students check out the beach from the dunes!
Jacob and Joe check out the escargots!
Jacob and Joe check out the escargots!
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