By John Gaffin, Head of Languages
Lawrence Sheriff School
I took a school trip to Château de Chantereine with my class of French learners in April 2023 with Voyager School Travel. This is my tenth trip with Voyager School Travel and that's because they offer a product that no other tour company offers: French speaking animateurs, who not only speak to the students entirely in French, but also encourage the students to communicate back in French. This makes for a proper French trip where students get a more authentic language experience.
Activities & excursions on our itinerary
I worked closely with a number of staff throughout the planning process who couldn't have been more helpful. They recommended me activities and excursions and were also brilliant at listening to what I wanted.
The final itinerary we came up with was really varied and had something for everyone: a visit to a French supermarket, an excursion to the caves of Naours, the Bay of Somme, Amiens Cathedral and Nausicaa aquarium—plus breadmaking and initiative games at the centre. I was really impressed when they were happy to accommodate changes to our itinerary due to weather conditions.
The accommodation at Château de Chantereine was excellent. The dorm rooms were modern and the on-site activities took place in the various meeting rooms at the château. The spacious grounds provided the students with a lot of room to run around after a long journey.
I thought that the food was healthy, authentic and delicious. There were always three courses for the evening meal and the breakfast set the students up well for the day. I liked the fact that students made their own packed lunches because it meant that they could cater to their own tastes for a portion of the trip.
The onsite French instructors at Château de Chantereine
The animateurs are well worth the extra expense. They are so encouraging, which means that even the most reluctant students are able to communicate in French and make significant progress. The animatrice, Erika, was popular with the students.
They also make running the trip easy, from organising the logistics to leading the evening entertainment.
The impact of the trip on my students
A survey of students after the trip showed that over 95% of students felt that their French had improved and nearly 80% had an improved perception of French as a result of the trip. Many of the students also singled out Erika, our animatrice, in their feedback:
"Erika was absolutely fantastic! She didn't speak a word of English to us and always impressively managed to find a way around it if we didn't understand what she said at first. She was very patient with us and very enthusiastic and kind."
"Erika always spoke in French which was really good for us to learn the language."
"I don't think there was anything Erika could've done better."
Final thoughts on the trip
I would definitely recommend doing a language immersion school trip with Voyager School Travel. One of the reasons why I set out to do this trip was because I wanted my students to see that they could use the knowledge they had gained in lessons to successfully communicate in French. During the trip, I could definitely see an improvement in their attitudes. Since our return, the atmosphere in lessons has been far better than before the trip.
⭐ My top tips for teachers taking this trip
• Try and keep the itinerary as varied as possible
• Bring warm clothing for the Naours caves
• Bring a spare set of shoes to the Bay of Somme—you're going to get wet!
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