Falcons Fly to France

Maya Witzel, News Editor

“Rien ne développe l’intelligence comme les voyages,” Emile Zola, French journalist and playwright, said. The quote translates “nothing develops the mind like travel,” this quote truly embodied the French trip this past summer.

A 22-day trip to France and Switzerland allowed for a school academic credit, where students visited Nice, Nîmes, Lyon, Annecy, Chamonix, Genève, and Paris. This trip will hopefully be every other year from now on. 

From May 31 to June 22, Lillian Buchanan ‘23, Alice Carlile ‘24, Claire Dodson ‘24, Alexis Espino ‘23, Ricky Espino ’24, Izzy Gutiererez ‘23, Viktor Harrington ‘23, Xixi Hillman ‘22, Angel Jones ‘23, Isabella Sweeney ‘24, US French teacher Andréanne Annis,, and US History teacher Quinton Davis, went on the trip of a lifetime.

“We saw almost all of the major sites in France,” Buchanan ‘23 said. “I could not have asked for a better trip.”

Everybody was extremely excited because the trip had been pushed back so many times. 

“COVID put a damper on all of this,” Annis said. “This trip was supposed to take place in June 2020, then June 2021, and it finally took place in June 2022. We were blessed with great weather and minimal constraints associated with the pandemic.”

The students that went on this trip received an interdisciplinary credit for French and History. To earn the credit, they had to answer prompts, complete journal entries, answer reflective questions each day, and spend 40 hours at a linguistic school, in addition to an essay at the end about globalization and French culture. 

“Because of COVID, the opportunity to speak French outside of the classroom was really limited,” Annis said, “so it was a big deal for the students to go to France and be understood.”

Annis went on the trip to help the students with the French part of the credit and Davis went to assist with the history aspect. 

“This was my first time leading a group of students,” Davis said, “but having been at international schools prepared me for the eclectic interests of the students.”

The group first flew into Nice and spent two nights there. 

“Up to the last second, when you’re in the airplane, you think you’re flying into the Mediterranean Sea,” Annis said.

In Nice, they went to the Parfumerie Galimard, where each student had the opportunity to make their own cologne; the EDHEC International Business School; and a boat tour along the French Riviera.

Next, they took a train to Nîmes, where they spent one night. They kayaked under an aqueduct built over two centuries ago; went to the Arena of Nîmes, one of the most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters; to Le Carrières de Lumières, a quarry that was turned into a multimedia art museum; and visited Le Musée de la Romanité, an archaeological museum.

In Lyon, the third largest city in France, students visited the Resistance and Deportation History Center, a museum that has a history of crimes against humanity; Le Musée des Confluences, a science center and anthropology museum; and had dinner L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges aux halles, a restaurant founded by the late Paul Bocuse, one of the most well-renowned chefs in the world. 

“The food was monumental,” Annis said, “We ate well on this trip, and that’s an understatement.”

For the middle stretch, the group stayed with host families and attended the IFALPES school in Annecy for 11 days. The students would take French courses with international students from all around the world at IFALPES, and then go home to their host families where they would practice the French that they just learned. 

“IFALPES is fantastic. The families they choose for their students, the quality of their teachers, the environment, it’s just a well-oiled machine,” Annis said.

When they had time in between school, Davis and Annis would take the students on day and weekend trips. They went to the Château Menthon Saint Bernard, Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Belle’s library; The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland; Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps; the Annecy Festival; and Mifa, the world’s largest animated film festival.

Finally, they spent four nights in Paris, where they went to Versailles; The Arc de Triomphe, a monument honoring people who fought and died for France; the Louvre Museum; the Eiffel Tower; and Les Invalides, a military museum that holds Napoleon’s tomb. The groups were also allowed to split up and do sightseeing based on individual interests in Paris. 

“I consider my first trip with the kids amazing,” Davis said, “When you teach kids as freshmen and then you get to spend some time with them later in their academic careers, it’s cool to see how they’ve grown and how their interests have changed.”

“I am certain that every single student increased their understanding of French and history on this trip, and I look forward to flying with the next flock of falcons,” Annis said.