À Bientôt La Rochelle

So I can’t believe that it’s our last week already?! Just when you’re getting into the swing of things, finding a good coffee spot, riding your bike to class every morning, learning more and more phrases… it’s time to pack up and go. But before we get to that, let’s recap on my last week in beautiful La Rochelle.

IMG_7372

Class

Monday was quite different because a group of American students (the ones I went to Paris with) had returned home which left us 8 of us in the class. Monday morning we had our 20minute presentations as well! It was quite daunting because initially I thought (how am I supposed to speak for 20minutes in French?) however I chose to do my presentation on François Mitterand who was a charasmatic French President. So it was pretty cool learning about someone who made such a positive impact on the France that we know today! For those of you who didn’t know (like me) he commissioned the glass Pyramid at the Lourve! Pretty cool!

On Wednesday we got our exams back and I could immediately tell how much my French really has improved. Whilst I still have a long way to go, this program really has given me the immersion into French culture and language and has really inspired me to continue to expand my knowledge.

IMG_7014
The best meal I had in France! Freshly caught mussels home cooked!

Activities

As always, another busy week with our after school activities. We went to Musée du Nouveau Monde, (the  Museum of the New World) where we wandered through a stunning old building learning about the discovering of Montréal and Quebec.

On Wednesday afternoon we went to an Oyster and Mussels farm… and anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOVE seafood. We learnt about their family tradition of farming oysters and mussels and then she leant down into the water, grabbed an oyster, cut the top off, squeezed some lemon on top and handed it to me. I think my idea of ‘fresh seafood’ has forever been altered.

Friday was our last day of class… (sad face) and our teachers treated us to a little scavenger hunt/questionnaire around the city. Whilst we tried our hardest to answer all of the questions, for some reason all of these beautiful little boutiques, cafes and patisseries kept getting in our way. It was a great end to our 4 weeks of intense classes. When we returned, we received our certificate of completion and our marks. I passed everything, and scored 17/20 for my oral skills! I’m definitely very proud that my speaking skills are my strongest and most improved!

IMG_7230

After the program

Unlike the other girls on the program who have to return to Australia as soon as possible to start university, I’m actually going on exchange for a semester in Montreal. And because university doesn’t start there until September, I’ve got some time to kill which means… TRAVEL. And luckily for me, my Dad is joining me for 3 weeks as we venture around France, Spain and Iceland!

So on Thursday afternoon my Dad arrived in La Rochelle! It was so surreal and special for him to see the place I’ve called home for the past month. On Friday is was his birthday and Dad, along with my host mum Delphine went out for a beautiful dinner! Later on the Australian girls joined us and we drank lots of beautiful red wine and ate way too much cheese!

IMG_7330
Delphine, me and my Dad

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to the people I’ve met here has definitely been one of the hardest things I’ve done. The Australian girls became my sisters, the American students, some of my best friends and Delphine, one of the most inspirational women I’ve ever met. Let’s just say that I had to wear my sunglasses all day to hide my eyes. The most special part is that I will always have these incredible memories with the most incredible people. Maybe one day I’ll return to La Rochelle, or maybe I’ll see my friends in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Paris, London, D.C or Sydney. Wherever it is, these memories will definitely last a lifetime and I’m extremely grateful for being given such an amazing opportunity.

IMG_7355
Saying goodbye to these girls was incredibly hard

Merci et à bientôt!

Paris Is ALWAYS A Good Idea

Ooh la la… I think this week has been my favourite so far! It’s hard to believe that so many incredible experiences can even squeeze into just 7 days?!

IMG_6709
Saint-Martin on Île de Ré

Mon anniversaire! (My birthday)

Yay! It’s my birthday! And how lucky I am to get the chance to spend my 22nd birthday in beautiful La Rochelle! And I think that all of my stars aligned because scheduled for the date of my birthday, was a day trip to Île de Ré (meaning no class, and wonderful exploration times around a beautiful island). We all met at the station and hopped on a bus to Saint-Martin, one of the most picturesque and renowned towns on Île de Ré . We met our tour guide, Frédérique, for the day in Saint Martin before we started our little scavenger hunt. Between answering questions and taking photos… the first hour flew by. Then we went to le marché (the markets) to buy some food for lunch. Everything there is fresh and local produce and I had some of the best salmon I’ve ever had. We had a cute little picnic under a shady tree just relaxing and enjoying some sunshine. Actually, it was 34 degrees so A LOT of sunshine! After lunch we got on a tuk tuk (yay) and were chauffeured around to three interesting places, a soap making warehouse, a salt flat where they make salt and la piece de resistance… a chocolate factory! That one was definitely my favourite! After our long hot day, we spent the afternoon cooling down at a very cold yet beautiful beach.

After a quick shower and an espresso for some energy… we headed into La Rochelle for some dinner. It was really special to spend my birthday with my new friends at a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful part of the world.

IMG_6856
The view from my window watching the sun rise.

 

 

Cooking Class

As part of our gastronomy programme, we had two cooking classes in a local restaurant. Now I’m definitely not the best chef around, but the chef who guided us through the recipes that she created was very patient and provided a lot of guidance. The best part was when we got to eat what we created! And it was magnifique!  Then we had Joel from our Oneologie class join us to assist us match wine with the food we had created. As you could imagine, the best food with the best wine made for a match made in heaven!

IMG_6825.jpg
Aubergine tarte and chocolate cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting a French Blogger

Because my host mother – Delphine – is the coolest person in La Rochelle, she set up a dinner date with one of her friends, Anne-Laure who is a travel blogger for her website Nana Voyage. Not only was Anne-Laure incredibly friendly, interesting and gorgeous, but we talked in French the entire time! I’m so glad that I got to meet someone as lovely as Anne-Laure!

Screenshot 2016-07-26 12.34.37

Paris

For the weekend, I decided to go to Paris with my American friends from class. Sadly, they were flying out on Sunday afternoon so it was great that I got to spend as much time with them as possible before they flew out. After finding a cheap hotel and train ticket, I thought… paris is always a good idea. My weekend in Paris was one of the best weekends of my life! The five of us went on a bateau mouche which was a 1 hour river cruise down the Seine at sunset. I felt extremely blessed to be able to spend such a beautiful evening with my friends. We wandered around Montmartre and even went to see the end of the Tour de France on the Champs Elysée. It was a pretty memorable experience.

Screenshot 2016-07-26 13.48.53

IMG_6955
The Sacre Cœur has my heart 

I can’t believe that time has flown by so fast and that I’ve only got one week left! This week truly has been so special and I’m so grateful for all of the people who have helped make it that way!

This is a little teaser from my time in Paris…