Sunday, June 3, 2012

Classe Verte, Saint Lary-Soulan & Fete Des Meres

A quiet week - Classe Verte - Saint Lary-Soulan 

So this week has been different for us.  My oldest daughter is off on a school class trip for 8 days.  Wow, 8 days with her class!...As an American parent, this was a different concept for me - not necessarily her going away (she has done weekends with Girl Scouts last year) but it's 8 days and with her whole class.  This kind of school trip is very common with French Schools - they are often called Classe Neige (Snow/skiing trip) or Class Verte (Spring hiking trip).  I haven't quite figured out if only certain teachers do trips or if the trips are at set levels...Anyway she left on Tuesday morning - bright and early - 6:45 am on a bus and off to the Pyrenees Mountains for a week of hiking, learning and touring the area.  Our house has been a little quieter and her younger sisters miss her and keep asking when she's coming back.

Let me back up a little - packing her and getting ready for this trip was a feat in itself.  They were allowed one good size bag and a backpack.   We were given an inventory list  - which we needed to check off and send with her.  The hope is everything that goes with her comes home!...For a week of hiking and being outdoors, with weather that can be warm or cold, she needed a lot of things!...We also needed to invest in a good pair of hiking boots.and some rugged hiking shorts & pants.  (For a fashionable young lady..these item were not generally part of her wardrobe.)..A couple of "fun" things on the list was Shampooing anti-poux (Lice shampoo) and a Doudou (teddy bear or special small animal for sleeping).  Most everything else was pretty predictable and I was amazed that I understood pretty much everything on the list...The only other item which I needed translation for was a K-Way...yes, that wasn't readily in my French's an anorak!  

So off they went to Saint Lary-Soulan, in the Pyrenees!..I found the following photo on the Internet as I googled images of Saint Lary.  What a beautiful place to be spending a week!  One more thing...parents are not allowed on these trips - it's just the teacher and counselors at the recreation center where they are staying.

Now, she is still there as I write this posting - but due to modern technology and a wonderful teacher, we have been able to vicariously enjoy her trip.  Her teacher sends parents nightly emails with photos!  This has been wonderful and as a parent it is extremely reassuring!  So the following photos are credited to my daughter's teacher.

Here they are arriving on their first day.  They are staying at a residential recreation center - so are provided linens and have bunks in the rooms.  My daughter is sharing her room with 3 other girls.  They were told that they will need to make their beds each day and organize their belongings before they head out for the day.  This is great for my daughter as organization is not her strong suit!  Trial by fire as they say...

Now this is a class trip, during school - so they do have some classroom time built into their days.  Apparently, classroom time is not everyday - but they are graded on many aspects of this trip.  Very authentic learning.

 On the second day, they were off on a full day hike, back-pack and picnic lunches in tow.  Looking at the photos - it seems that even in June there is snow to be found in some of the mountain passes. This first hike is near Neouvielle.

So after hiking for the morning, as her teacher said - "Postcard views" awaited them.  Certainly a beautiful hike and such a breathtaking place!  My daughter has her camera with her - so I can't wait to see more photos.  I think I have a very lucky 11 year old! - No, I know I have a very lucky 11 year old!

In between hiking, they toured a local firehouse and learned about the passion of being a volunteer fireman.  They also toured an underground cavern and went to a farm to learned about goats milk and how to make cheese.  Cheese - a French staple!

For their second hike, they started off at the station de Piau Engaly which is part-way up the mountain - and then hiked up to Badet Lake.  Again, this took the morning and early afternoon.  I can imagine that most of these kids sleep really well at night with their days packed full of hikes and many other adventures!

 So they made it up to the lake - this day looked warmer than the other one.  I laughed as we received an email from my daughter this morning and she told us that she accepted a dare to turn a cartwheel in this lake and her feet slipped and she landed flat on her bottom in the lake - got soaking wet - head to toe!  Good thing she has a great sense of humor!  Anyway - wanted to share these beautiful photos of her trip.

I feel like we are very lucky that she gets to experience this trip. This whole concept of school trips is really interesting and apparently very much a part of French education.  My husband remembers participating in a few of these trips while he was growing up.

So back in Bordeaux, we have had a quiet weekend.  Just doing things around the house and my younger girls attended a friend's birthday party.  Today in France is Fete Des Meres - (Mother's Day).  For us, we postponed our family celebration until we can be all together - but in honor of a special day, I decided to cook a nice dinner - went off to the Pessac Market this morning - Found some wonderful Cuisses de Canard (Duck Thigh legs) and baked them in the oven in red wine, broth, carrots and onions.  Have to say the dish tasted as good as it looked!...The recipe can be found here - Cuisses de Canard Au Four.  I served this with Sarladaise potatoes - fried potatoes in duck fat.  Very tasty!

So off to start another week - and wait for Tuesday dinner for my oldest to return!  The parents are providing a buffet dinner at the school upon their return!  Should be a lot of fun!  


  1. Jen,

    What a great experience for emilie This trip sounds familiar to trips that the kiids go on in Wyoming in 6th grade and 8th grade. In 6th grade they go for a week to the absorka mountains and stay in cabins and hike and have classroom time. It is called natural history days and they learn about Science and the environment. Maddie missed this trip since she skipped 6th. However next year the whole class goes on expedition yellowstone. The school partners with yellowstone national park and they go for a week into yellowstone and have physical and mental challenges and learn lots of science.

    Also my Dutch friend gees's daughter is on a week long class trip in the Netherlands now as well. There perhaps like in France they take the class trip at the end of elementary school (6th) as a way to mark the ending of a period. In Netherlands this is the age that all of the students are sorted into levels for secondary school.

    1. Thanks for commenting - miss you guys lots! We will miss seeing you this summer in Saratoga.

  2. Just stumbled across your site via the ex-pat blog web! I was up at 5:30 this morning to see my own 11 year old daughter off on her week long sailing trip to Brittany and I spent yesterday packing from a very similar list. My 8 year old twins just returned from a week at circus camp they LOVED it and cried because they wanted to go back! Definitely a good French tradition!

    We moved from California to Paris last August. Looks like we have quite a lot in common!

    1. Thanks Nicola...I just checked out your blog...looks like we do have quite a bit in common! great to connect through blogging - I will definitely be following your blog - having daughters is such great fun! We are definitely learning all about life in France!..Looking forward to staying in touch.

  3. Hi from a fellow American here in France. Thank you for following my blog, it led me to you! It looks like your daughter is having a wonderful time away. I think it's so cool how they do these school arranged trips and activities; you get so much more here in the way of services and perks like that. My daughter is 10 and in CM1, so no school trips for us yet. Or maybe we don't do it at our school...I'll have to look into it. They do do swimming lessons through school and summer camps through the village mairie and organized child care system here. I look forward to reading more and getting to know you and your lovely family. Welcome to the American/Frenchie blogging world.
    ps your duck and potatoes look sooooo good! i've a weakness for duck fat since living here.

    1. Thank you for the welcome to the blogging world. Nice to meet others like ourselves, even if it's virtually right now...sort of like old fashioned pen pals! I'm still trying to get a grasp on these school trips - I think they are town and teacher dependent - first if the town still offers them and second which teachers at the school volunteer to take their group. I only have learned this as another class of CE1/CE2 went on Classe Verte also - they did separate activities - age appropriate. My middle daughter is in CE1 but her teacher did not choose to take a group this year..(fine with me as I'm not sure she would have been up for 8 days away.). I'm looking forward to the Summer colony (camp) for my girls this summer near the Atlantic coast through our mairie - It's only 6 days and my 2 oldest girls are going the same week - should be fun!

      Thanks again for commenting - I too have a weakness for duck fat!..and I love to cook - so always up for trying new French recipes! Bisous

  4. Fun pics :)


  5. Wow. 8 days away is a lot! My 10 year daughters leave for 4 days next week with school. They will go to Val d'Aosta for some hiking in the mountains and a city trip to Torino. Sounds great but I think I will miss them terribly. And I don't think their teacher will be nice enough to send photos and news our way (pity!). Enjoy your week-end! J x

    1. I'm sure they will have a great time - I think sometimes these trips are harder on the parents! My daughter returned with lots of stories and had lots of fun - she can't wait for summer camp now!...Have a great weekend also -Bisous - jlpf


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