On Saturday 8 July, 34 pupils, Mr Geary, Ms Bouckley, Mrs Burns and Mr Morris convened at midnight in the LSF car park to set off for Dover and by 7am, we had said “bonjour” to France. The day continued by making our way down through the Hauts-de-France and Normandy, finally arriving in our host town of 5 days- Angers in the Loire Valley. The evening saw exploration of the medieval town but also relaxation after the long day of travel.
The morning of the 9th comprised our first breakfast at the Bon Pasteur Hostellerie, a couple of hours of rehearsal in a beautiful chapel within the hotel (which one would have never expected to have been there), another stroll into the town and some authentic French cuisine for lunch. Mid-afternoon, we set off for our first concert venue at the church in the typically French village of Fougeré. The venue, the commune’s church, was packed with locals who had come out to support our wind ensemble, string ensemble and chamber choir – a perfect start to our trilogy of concerts!
On Monday the 10th, we set out a little earlier so that we could spend a good 4 hours in the beautifully picturesque town of Saumur, situated both north and south of the Loire. We spent so much time sightseeing we barely had time for a proper lunch so ended up having a baguette with which I, personally, was most content. We then travelled to our second concert venue – the chapel inside the Château at Montreuil-Bellay. Again, another swathe of locals were there to support us who were most convivial, and the spread of light-bites from the venue hosts was duly welcomed too!
Our last full day on the continent was spent at the incomparable attraction park, Puy du Fou. Although none of us really knew what to expect, it turned out to be a place of fantasy and fairy tales. With everything from falconry and stampeding wildebeest to horses dancing on a water-flooded stage to walking through the ages of a château, it had it all! After this unforgettable day, we left for our finally concert venue – La Salle des Nénuphars in Briollay. With yet another receptive audience, and a standing ovation, it was a great end to our 3 concerts. I was also grateful that for all three of our concerts our audiences had put up with my French compering!
Unfortunately, we had to return at some point so on the morning of the 12th, we packed our suitcases and headed for the ferry terminal at Caen. We arrived back on home soil early evening and within a blink of an eye, we were back where we had started just 5 days previously. I, on behalf of all those who got to experience these extraordinary 5 days, would like to thank Mr Geary for organising the tour and he, Ms Bouckley, Mrs Burns and Mr Morris for rehearsing and directing the ensembles.
Joseph, Music Prefect