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Bonjour tout, comment allez vous?

Recently, I spent a week in France, Rouen to be exact, at school. It may seem a strange choice for a holiday but I dream of speaking French like the French do so a week in language school is just a small but logical step.

In my usual multi-tasking manner, I went to school in one of the locations that’s been on my “must-visit” list for a while.  For those who don’t know, Rouen is the town in which Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was burned at the stake in 1431. Her heart remained whole so the remains were burnt twice more  then thrown in the river in an attempt to avoid creating a martyr!

Jeanne d'Arc memorial garden

The location where Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake in 1431

It truly doesn’t seem a fitting reward for the girl that put a French king back on the throne but then again, perhaps she should have kept details of her mentors to herself. Some folk obviously didn’t take too kindly to Angels speaking to a simple peasant girl.

Rouen local’s say Jeanne’s mother never gave up hope that her daughter would be cleared of all charges of witchery and heresy and finally; 24 years later, could rest when Pope Callistus III directed Jeanne’s trial be reviewed resulting in the sentence being quashed. Jeanne was canonised in 1920.

St Jeanne d'Arc chapel - Rouen Cathedral

Lighting a candle for my loved ones at the St Jeanne d'Arc chapel - Rouen Cathedral

Although St Jeanne d’Arc met a tragic ending, she’s a legendary example of a girl who stuck to what she believed no matter what.

I realise I’m simplifying her story immensely as I can’t do her justice and keep this to a reasonable length however, I find her story amazing and hope this snippet inspires you to learn more or; even knowing this much, find in Jeanne d’Arc, the inspiration to stick to your guns. Spare a thought for her mother who is rarely mentioned as part of this history but also continued until she succeeded in clearing her daughter’s name.

As well as satisfying my desire to visit Rouen, my week in school was wonderful but much too short. I chose to stay with a French host(ess) to enhance my learning and that was a wise choice. Not only did it force me to try harder from the moment I arrived (my hostess spoke no English); I made a new friend, Ghislaine.

Café avec Ghislaine

Café avec Ghislaine

I arrived on Easter Sunday and had another day before I’d begin school so I was a little concerned but those are often just the types of situations we need to be thrown into in order to progress. With my minimal French and no English assistance from Ghislaine we still managed to work out all living arrangements, directions to school (2 buses) and chat about our families and background.

School was no different. French is all that is spoken from the moment you arrive no matter what level you’re at! I’m not sure how the total beginners coped but everyone seemed to manage. My goal was to learn conjugation. So tricky but must be understood if you want to get things in the correct tense and speak in sentences.

Working hard with classmate Lindsey

Working hard with classmate Lindsey



At the end of a week I was just beginning to understand (a little) and have correct conversations rather than speaking pigeon-French so I was totally miserable at having to leave. Sometimes that’s the trouble with living your dreams, some of them have to be done in stages.

C’est la vie!




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