Published on: 9 May 2014

This year marked the 10th anniversary of Christ Church and Iona Presentation College’s biennial French Tour, which was held during April. This year, Methodist Ladies’ College girls were also invited on the tour as a result of the schools’ collaboration in the language in Years 11 and 12.

The tour group, including 12 boys and 24 girls from Years 10 to 11, spent the first week exploring Paris and its surrounds. French teacher Elisabeth Rosinel said Paris was the highlight for many students where sights included the Eiffel Tower by night, the Sacré Coeur, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre, along with lunching in Montmartre and shopping on the Champs-Élysées and Place de Vosges.

Ms Rosinel said a class at the Alain Ducasse cooking school, where the students made and sampled three courses including seafood, duck and chocolate cake, was a highlight for all. Another interesting activity was a class in French etiquette in the upmarket 16th arrondissement of Paris. Other sights included the Palace of Versailles, 40 minutes outside of Paris, and the Catacombs.

Following Paris, the group arrived in Saint Quentin to a warm reception from the Saint-Jean et la Croix school and the local community. “At their first meeting, the boys sat down to lunch with their hosts and got right into the friendship building in both English and French,” Ms Rosinel said.

“During school, many where used in English classes as special hosts, involving themselves in Q and A style discussion about things such as sharks, kangaroos, snakes, beaches, school uniforms and weather.”

Saint-Jean, Christ Church and Iona have shared a reciprocal biennial exchange, established by former Head of Languages Pru Cowan, since 2004. Mrs Cowan and her husband met Jean-Pierre and Caroline Gibet, through Rotary, while visiting the World War I battlefields in France in 1997. This meeting and friendship provided the link between Christ Church and St Jean, where the Gibet’s children attended school.

“The hospitality of the school and town was outstanding,” Ms Rosinel said. “Many fine friendships were forged and we look forward to hosting their school in July.”

During their stay, the boys and girls who were billeted with host families, also visited the Wellington Tunnels, Belgium and Chantilly. On Anzac Day, the students woke at 2.30am to attend the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux. “Many students really enjoyed the experience, finding it very moving and realising how important it is within the Australian culture to pay tribute to those who fought during the war,” Ms Rosinel said.