A whole 8 weeks of summer holidays. Some dread it. Some love it. I’m probably somewhere in between. I love not having to be anywhere in particular. I love the freedom of it. The promise of relaxed holidays where we’re all lazing about, peppered with the odd major day out. Invariably, it never quite ends up like that but one can dream.
I love not having to get up at 7.00 am, rounding up the troops and doing the school run. Granted it’s only a 15 minute car journey one way. All my car journey’s are in minutes. Does anyone else do this living in France? I can’t tell you how far away a town is but I can tell you how far it is in minutes!
What I save on diesel is cancelled out by entertainment and days out. I save money by not having to spend over 3 euros a day (per child) on their packed lunch. However, I probably spend that and some more, on their increase in food consumption. It’s all swings and roundabouts. However, neither the roundabout nor the swing seem to put money in my pocket! So whether it’s school holidays or not – it all costs money. Just how much depends on what you do.
Edit – Mr Normandy’s Nissan Pick up that he bought a little over 3 months ago (remember his truck that had parts stolen) died this week. Yarp the engine has gone and it now needs to be rebuilt! We are back to one car. I digress.
I recently did a reflection on our first year here in Normandy, France. You can read it here. I can also reflect on the kids first year of schooling here. Master Normandy and Miss Normandy both passed their French Diploma – a wonderful achievement. They both got the green light to progress into their next year group based on their Moyenne. They are both studying Latin next year – something I doubt they would have done in the UK. One is taking German the other Spanish. I think languages are taught to a high standard so the fact they will be competent in a third langauge is very exciting.
It’s very common for students to re-double aka repeating the school year again. I think it’s a bit harsh and ultimately who’s to say they will fare much better the following year? Not everyone is academic plus you have that whole awkwardness of being older than your fellow classmates.
We have learnt that the school takes misdemeanours very seriously! Here you get a X in your Carnet (contact book) for any infringements. Master Normandy has had two – one being the sale of sweets and two for laughing at receiving an obscene note?! We felt this was somewhat harsh and did go into the school to discuss. The Head was very reasonable and conceded that it was a bit rash but it was more to do with the previous week’s laughing in class. Something Master Normandy had omitted to tell us. They felt he was becoming distracted and clearly don’t want to phone us about petty issues. In any event, they said that the X’s were not that serious (12 means you can get a detention) and it was more a warning for the student to buck up a bit. So at least now we have a better understanding of what they are. One person told me they can affect your chances of a good Lycee (the next stage of secondary education) which is not the case at all!
Talking of Lycee (I know it has an accent on it but that means faffing on my laptop and sorry not sorry!) this is something that we will have to start thinking about at the start of the academic year. It is not uncommon for a student to board at a lycee and come home at weekends. There are two/three that are near enough to home, however, it will all depend on what he wants to study. He has spent over a week down at Super Besse (in the Massif Central part of France) with his cycling club and I have missed him so much! Who would have thought? Maybe because it’s a good 6/7 hours away by road but it feels like he’s been away forever.
Master Normandy has one year now to do well in his Brevet of which I am confident he will do providing he remains focused. This is notoriously a difficult age (14 -15) so watch this space!
The French arrange many activities for children in the holidays. Some great ones at that. Days out at excellent theme parks, Mont St Michel, swimming, horse riding etc. My youngest is signed up for 2 nights camping a la Cowboys and Indians style. They stay in proper tepees, go horse riding and swimming to name but a few activities. This is new territory for me. Why? Because it’s not something I would have ordinarily let him go on (historic claims against the Scouts being one concern) in the UK nor would I have felt the need to. We do tend to have days out and go on holidays equally the kids are aware it’s not my job to constantly entertain them throughout the holidays. It’s good to be bored and do your own thing. My youngest is currently running around dressed up as a Ninja. An outfit he has made from two tops, some rope, his black cycling leggings and a sword.
Whilst school does break up earlier – they did have a long, long term which ran from May with no break – up to 6th July. Having said this, the last two weeks were very relaxed with trips and sports day. My youngest had a lovely time with a round robin type of event which was different to the previous year. They did sprints, relay, long jump, basket ball and an assult course. I noticed he seemed much more at ease with his fellow classmates and not as anxious this is because his French has really come along.
Now, don’t get me wrong the children are very competant but they still need to increase their vocubularly. Again the myth of being fluent in 3 months is just that – a myth! A good 18 months to 2 years to be totally I think and god knows for adults. I always used to worry about the kids but realistically it’s the adults that struggle adapting not the kids!
This year we are looking at heading to the Costa Brave – go us! We’ve decided that we won’t travel more than 4 hours a day and take 2 days to get down there. This was one of the reasons we thought living in France would be a good thing. The easy access to other countries in Europe. Also it’s making the best out of living in a different country.
Last year, we met a retired couple who were returning to the UK (family commitments) having renovated a barn after 12 years of living in France. They said “just do all the things you intend to do as we never did”. They always said they’d travel south, to other countries, they said they’d explore France, do an intensive language course, visit all the d-day beaches etc but nope. It never happened. Now, I can totally understand why this happens. Like life in the UK (or the world over) you still have to do the shopping, cleaning, cooking, work and if you’re renovating it’s very easy to let the years slip by. Plus Normandy is so beautiful you don’t actually feel the need to escape it. So yes – just do it! Go to the events that are laid on, go to the beach you haven’t been to yet or the coastal walk that you said you would but haven’t found the time. Find the time!
And we did find the time last night. A mobile mechanic visited us quite late and left around 7.30pm to give us the news that our second vehicle wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. Now, we could have stayed in and sat out on the decking discussing our run of bad luck with cars. Instead, we decided to go to Saint-Pair-Sur-Mer to watch the fireworks display for Bastille Day. It’s such a lovely seaside resort with an salt water swimming pool and views of the Granville coastline and Jersey. Well worth a visit.
So yes, the school is out for summer and I’m sure they’ll be lots to report
Until next time – Happy Bastille Day!
Here is a link to if you fancy a visit:-
4 thoughts on “School’s Out For Summer”
I thought your post was really interesting. I recently visited Nantes as part of a U3A exchange and we spent a few days talking to the Anglophone group of the university Permanente which really stretched our French. I would agree that it takes a lot more than three months to learn the vocabulary. Who knew there were three words for seagull. Well done to your children for settling in so well.
Hi Anne thanks so much for commenting. Sounds like you had a great time and yes there are lots of words used for the same thing! I wish I had a magic wand and I was fluent but alas it’s hard work and a bit of a slog! The kids are doing great we’re really proud of them thank you!
With regard to exploring other European countries that are right on your doorstep when living in France, my family and I took some advantage of this opportunity when we spent a year in Paris. We’re Australian, so it’s quite the novelty that you can hop on a train and be in another country in a couple of hours. We spent a weekend in Brussels, taking the train, and we also made a trip to London via Eurostar. We took a couple of road trips, one we stayed in France, the other we drove down to Lyon, Annecy, and then to Lucerne in Switzerland, which was wonderfully snowy.
We have made previous trips to Italy and Nice, but there are so many countries that we still have to tick off our bucket list. We are looking forward to moving back to France, hopefully next year, and we will definitely be taking advantage of every opportunity to explore Europe.
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Oh wow you did well – I have been to many that you have mentioned Lucerne – I went years ago backpacking around Europe. I would like to see Lyon and Annecy too. Yes it is a perfect place to explore I just couldn’t live so far away in Australia for those reasons. Hopefully you’ll be back soon!