Hello everyone! I am a French and German student and have just returned from a 4 week long summer school in Le Mans, France. The summer school was a great experience as I was able to meet people from all around the world, as well as a great opportunity to improve my French skills inside and outside of the classroom. During my time in France I also learned about French culture and was able to go on day trips to Le Mont Saint Michel, Saint Malo and Amboise. In this blog post I will talk about my highlights from my stay in Le Mans- The Le Mans Race Track, La Nuit des Chimeres light show, a day at a French cookery school and celebrating France’s win in the World Cup!
Le Mans is a city well known for the 24 hour race which takes place in June, and we were lucky enough to visit the racetrack during our trip. I enjoyed being able to go onto the race track, as well as seeing the behind the scenes such as the press room.
(Above) The Press Room
Le Mans- The Cathedral and Roman Walls
However, Le Mans is not just about the race track- the city is rich in history with a cathedral and the biggest Roman walls outside of Rome. During summer a light show called ‘La Nuit des Chimeres’ is projected on the Roman walls and cathedral. The projections on the monuments were really effective and beautiful .
(below) La Nuit des Chimeres projections on Le Mans Cathedral
(above) A side of Le Mans Cathedral by day
The Roman Walls
Day at a French cookery School
As part of the summer school, our group also enjoyed a day at a French cookery school. We were divided into groups where some made canapes, the main course and then the dessert. I was in a group tasked with making the main course. This was a chicken breast stuffed with rillettes (a local speciality similar to pate) and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. I had a lot of fun on this day learning new cookery skills and trying local French cuisine.
A group of us wearing our chef hats!
‘La Religieuse’ – Two choux pastry cases filled with raspberry cream and iced with raspberry icing. This dessert is known as ‘La religieuse’ because it looks like a nun.
Le Mont Saint Michel, Saint Malo and Amboise
In addition to our days out in Le Mans, we also visited Le Mont Saint Michel, Saint Malo and Amboise. These days out where really exciting because we were able to discover and experience more of France rather than just Le Mans.
Le Mont Saint Michel
Le Mont Saint Michel was one of my favourite visits because the island is so unique. Upon arrival it was like stepping back in time; the shops and architecture are very medieval and quaint. The views from the top of Le Mont Saint Michel were also magnificent because you can see all types of scenery. I did not know before but apparently Le Mont Saint Michel is the top most visited attraction in France, even more so than the Eiffel Tower! Even though this is the case, I do not think that Le Mont Saint Michel is widely known about and would encourage anyone going to France to visit.
After our visit to Le Mont Saint Michel, we drove to Saint Malo which is a seaside town in Brittany. The town was beautiful and was a nice place to relax after a busy day walking around Saint Malo. I was happy to have an ice cream and walk along the beach for a few hours.
On another day we had a day trip to Amboise to visit the Chateau du Clos Luce and the Chateau d’Amboise. The Chateau du Clos Luce was fascinating because Leonardo de Vinci had lived there for the last years of his life. The gardens were also beautiful and was lovely to walk around on a sunny day. After we had visited the Chateau du Clos Luce, we had dinner in Amboise. Then in the evening we went to the Chateau d’Amboise to watch the light show projected on the castle. This was a great experience because it also involved actors and even horses for jousting scenes. The show told the story of Amboise and the occupants of the castle, in particular King Francois I.
Le Chateau d’Amboise
The World Cup!
During my stay in France, the World Cup was taking place so I was able to watch some games on a large screen projected in the centre of Le Mans. I even was able to watch the final when France won! The atmosphere was buzzing and this was an experience that I will never forget.
A large crowd watching the World Cup!
Overall I had the best time in Le Mans and I have created many memories during my 4 week visit. I would highly recommend going to the Summer School because you will meet lots of people and it is also a great opportunity to learn French. In my opinion the Summer School was very well organised and was a good mix of lessons as well as cultural trips, so I was never bored. After this trip I would really like to go on another Summer School next year and visit more of France.