Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Normandy Excursion and Other Activities

This week was a busy week for the program. We had our first overnight excursion to Normandy on Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday some of the stagiaires joined Mark and played football with Brest's American Football team "Les Tonnerres de Brest".

But before all of those activities, we took time out of our morning routine on Tuesday to draw and color a giant fish for the grandson of the host mother of Kristin and Amy.  The girls sharedwith the group that the boy has cancer and his favorite bedtime story was about a fish.  Other friends and family had been drawing fish to decorate the boy's room and Kristin and Amy thought that the group could contribute as well. Everyone was more than willing.  Lauren and Kat drew the body of the fish and the rest of the stagiaires and the instructors all helped to fill in the colors.

Kristin and Amy told us that their host mother was very surprised and very touched to receive the fish for her grandson.

On Thursday we boarded our bus at 7:30am to leave for our overnight excursion to Normandy.  Our first stop was the coastal city of Saint Malo.  Here the stagiaires were left to explore the walled city and soak in the sea air.
Walking to Saint Malo from the bus
Ocean view from Saint Malo
After exploring the city. We all met just outside the city walls for a picnic lunch before boarding the bus for our next destination.

Our next stop after Saint Malo was Mont Saint Michel.  As you can guess from its name, this stop on the excursion required us all to "climb" a mountain.

At Mont St. Michel, the stagiaires toured the Abbey located at its peak and explored the shops and restaurants that lay below it.

Once everyone was sufficiently tired from climbing and descending the "thousands" of stairs at Mont St. Michel, we re-boarded the bus and headed to our hostel for the evening.

Everyone was surprised and excited to see that we arrived at the hostel at the exact same time as the group from St. Brieuc.  Stagiaires and instructors alike were very happy to see all of their friends.  We all had dinner together and then headed to the beach afterwards.

With the St. Brieuc group, we played frisbee, pétanque, and some even learned to Charleston!  The outdoor activities continued until it got too cold/began to rain. Then it was back to the hostel and to bed, as everyone had a very early morning ahead of them.

On Friday, we continued our Normandy excursion with a first stop at the Caen Memorial which is actually a museum dedicated to WWII.  After taking a group photo, the stagiaires viewed the museum and watched a film on the landings at Normandy.

We followed up the museum with a trip to the American Cemetery where the stagiaires were able to get a sense of the impact of the war on the region and its connection with the United States.

After the cemetery, we walked down to Omaha beach, one of the sites of the landings at Normandy.  The beach no longer resembles what the stagiaires had viewed in the film at the Caen Memorial.  At Omaha beach, everyone took one last opportunity to feel the sand beneath their feet and play a little in the (cold) ocean water.

After the beach, we got back on the bus and began our 5 hour ride back to Brest.  Everyone was tired, but not too tired to sing along and dance to a song lead by instructor Loïc.  The video wouldn't upload to the blog, but you can find it at the link below with the other photos.

Normandy Excursion and Other Activities

After this trip, everyone went home and got a good night's sleep. But some stagiaires were "recovered" enough from the trip to join Mark and Les Tonnerres de Brest for a little football Saturday afternoon.  Thanks a lot to Kristin for the photos!

Woo! So that was quite a week for us all.  Upcoming this week we have the 4th of July celebration and ceremony and then classes and activities as usual. Stay tuned!

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