The day everyone has been looking forward to for so long has finally dawned and all are eager to embark on this great adventure to France with new friends! There was great excitement this afternoon as 30 students, accompanied by an array of family members, gathered at OR Tambo and early check-in certainly worked to our advantage. The students represent 6 different schools : St Mary’s DSG PTA, Cornwall Hill College, Southdowns College, St Peter’s College, St Stithian’s Girls’ College and St John’s College. The 2 chaperones who will assist me are Mrs Gillian Oosthuizen and Mrs Sharon Stone, both from St Mary’s DSG PTA and I am looking forward to travelling with them. After fond farewells to parents & friends, we all made our way through Emigration, where no problems were encountered…always a relief! Once safely on the ‘other side’, all were able to enjoy some free time before gathering at the departure gate and boarding will commence at 18h00. Please rest assured that all arrangements are firmly in place and that the safety & security of your precious children is of paramount importance. I have no doubt that a wonderful tour awaits, filled with special memories and abundant blessings - I will update the site as soon as I find connectivity in France tomorrow! A reminder that photos will be loaded on a face book page linked to my website. Follow the link below and click ‘LIKE’ to receive updates as they are posted:


I n true Germain fashion, the Lufthansa flight took off on time and we landed right on schedule at 05.35! In spite of varying reports of sleep, all were so excited to touch down in Frankfurt, but goodness gracious, what a long trek it was from the plane to our eventual boarding gate to Nice, passing through stringent security checks en route! After a quick freshen up and some Starbucks coffee, we all hopped on board flight LH 1058 and upon arrival we were greeted by such a wonderful team of enthusiastic members of Le Centre International d’Antibes. Our designated animateur for the week is Edouard and I am delighted with him, as he is a young, dynamic and responsible university student, who I know will add good value to our group throughout the week. The St Mary’s DSG girls were also delighted to meet their former school friend who now resides in London and who is joining us for the land arrangements – welcome Zuri Omani! We hopped on board our designated coach and once back at campus, Edouard gave them a general overview, before they all changed into beach wear for the afternoon orientation in Antibes through the fascinating streets of the 'vieille ville'. At 14h00 all were afforded ‘du temps libre’ (free time), with some choosing to relax on the beach and enjoy a first swim in the Mediterranean Sea, whilst others opted to explore, with an ice cream or two in hand! All returned by coach to campus at 17h00, where they settled in to their rooms, before enjoying a delicious dinner in the on-site restaurant. Tonight they will be introduced to the other 150 international students on campus and an evening of social interaction has been arranged for as an ice-breaker, which is guaranteed to be great fun! A wonderful week awaits and a reminder that my French number is + 33 6 23 77 82 27


In order to maximize the teaching time this week, an indication of the various students’ level was sent to Management prior to arrival. Based on this, they were this morning placed in international classes and enjoyed ‘cours internationaux’ with students from other countries. At lunchtime I spoke to each one of our group individually to get feedback on their feelings and the Director of Pedagogy also liaised with her educators. Based on this feedback, a few changes were made and we are confident that all are now comfortable and correctly placed, thereby giving them the opportunity to gain the maximum from their week at the language school. After lunch we departed by coach for the Principality of Monaco and the views en route were magnificent. Upon arrival all hopped on board the ‘petit train’, a tourist train which weaves through the famous ‘GrandPrix’ streets of Monte Carlo, providing valuable commentary. All alighted at the Pink Palace and thereafter had some free time to enjoy souvenir shopping, before walking past the Princess Grace Exotic Gardens to the coach. This evening there waranteed to be great fun, with plenty of food, music and social interaction amongst all the students on campus!


Last night’s soirée barbecue and dance competition was a resounding success, with our South African students once again shining brightly – bravo les sud-afs! After breakfast all made their way to class and everyone is so positive, looking forward to improving their communicative skills and gaining confidence to speak with fewer inhibitions. One of our chaperones overheard a delightful comment from Lisa whilst on the coach yesterday saying, “I can’t wait for class tomorrow, it’s such fun to learn like this!” - how heartwarming it is for me to hear this! After lunch everyone gathered in the central courtyard and, armed with hats, sunscreen and beach towels, they joyfully followed Edouard to the transfer bus which drove them to the station. Here all hopped on board the train to Cannes, a vibrant seaside resort and home to the annual Cannes Film Festival. All posed in fine style on the red carpet which adorns the Palais des Festivals, before having fun identifying the hands of the various film stars embedded in the walkway in front of the Palais. Thereafter the glorious phrase, ‘du temps libre’ was uttered and the options for this free time included a) walking up to Le Suquet with Edourd for a magnificent view over the yacht-lined bay & the Estérel Mountains b) shopping in either the well-known brand stores such as Zara, Morgan and Sephora, as well as the more affordable shops on the Rue Meynadier or c) swimming in the azure blue waters and enjoying the glorious sunshine...or all three! Everyone had such a wonderful afternoon and at 18h00, a very happy band of travelers (laden with packets!) returned to campus. This evening there is a ‘treasure hunt’ in Antibes, organized by the animateurs and this promises to be great fun!


After breakfast this morning, all happily made their way to class and everyone is so much more confident to communicate in French! During this time, I decided to put in a load of washing and, much to my horror and embarrassment, my phone, which is my lifeline for whatsapp messages and photos for the website, landed up in the machine (a long story!) As you can well imagine, this was fairly stressful for me to accept, but accept I must and at least I still have my 2nd phone which is active with my French sim card and I am available to all, should you wish to contact me on + 33 6 23 77 82 27. It does mean, however, that there will be a delay in uploading photos until we get to Paris and today’s photos will only reflect tomorrow morning. Be that as it may, at 13h30 all hopped on board the coach bound for Grasse, which is dubbed the ‘balcony of Provence’ for its magnificent, panoramic views and it is also the home of French perfume. At the Fragonard Parfumerie, all enjoyed a fascinating & most informative tour, with the on-site boutique proving to be a great hit and many, many purchases were made! The tour then continued on to the Gorges du Loup, where we visited the Florian Confisserie, which is world renowned for its sweets, chocolates & jams and their on-site boutique was equally as popular. Laden with packets and in excellent spirits, all happily returned to campus, with many looking forward to a relaxing evening of social interaction, singing and dancing.


All are thoroughly enjoying their classes and they have made so many new friends on campus. After lunch everyone excitedly hopped on board the coach to the Yacht Club in Antibes, where they donned life jackets and listened attentively to the mentor who gave instructions for sailing on a catamaran! There were many screeches of delight as they were towed out to sea and all were stunned by the incredible beauty of the calm azure blue waters, with the vieille ville in close proximity and Italy in the distance! After this wonderful experience, we all made our way to the public beach, where we relaxed and enjoyed ice-creams until our departure for campus at 17h00. Tonight is the traditional soirée cabaret and I have no doubt that our ebullient group will readily showcase their many & varied talents!


Today marked the end of formal lessons at Le Centre International d'Antibes and all our students were proud recipients of a DELF accredited certificate which attests to the 15 hours of tuition + the level attained + a comment from the teachers. After lunch we enjoyed a free afternoon in Antibes, with many flocking to the beach, whilst others chose to stroll through the fascinating small streets of the vieille ville, where a few discovered the delightful Picasso museum! Upon return to campus, they had time to freshen up and pack in preparation for tomorrow’s early departure to Nice and everyone is excited about the visit tonight to the vibrant summer resort of Juan les Pins - this is bound to be a perfect ending to our incredible week on the French Riviera!


What a wonderful evening we all had last night and all are very sad to say farewell to this beautiful part of the world. At 09h30 we met with our coach and once all the luggage (+ copious amounts of shopping!) had been loaded, all said a fond farewell to new found friends as we left the campus. We travelled to Nice, dubbed the ‘Queen of the Riviera’ and from Place Maséna we headed towards Vieux Nice, mixing with the locals at the Marché Cours Saléya , which is one of the largest and most well-known open markets in France and here everyone enjoyed sampling some of the 104 flavours of ice creams on offer at Fenocchios! Thereafter some chose to exploreAvenue JeanMédecin, which boasts several famous name brand boutiques, whilst others headed directly to the beach to soak up the sun and swim in the azur blue waters of the Mediterranean, flanked by the magnificent Promenade des Anglais. We then enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch in tranquil gardens as we besto wed gifts on our beloved animateur Edouard, who has been such an integral part in our week on campus. At 14h00 we headed off for Nice Côte d’Azur airport and I am writing this entry as we wait to board our flight to Paris! More later upon arrival … it is now 23h00 and a quick ote to confirm that we all arrived safely at our hotel where, after a quick freshen up, everyone enjoyed a 3 course meal with drinks, before heading off to bed to recharge batteries for all that lies ahead in Paris!


Everyone enjoyed a good night’s sleep and after a delicious breakfast we set off for our first metro experience as we made our way to the Louvre. Here our group was divided into 2 and all appreciated the input from their specialist guides, as they focused on so many famous works of art. We then had some time to relax in the beautiful Tuileries Gardens, from where all had their first exciting glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, the Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. We took advantage of the glorious weather to enjoy a stroll along the banks of the River Seine and at the beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame, all were given some free time to explore and eat lunch. At 15h30 we headed off for Montmartre, the highest natural point in Paris, where the beautiful basilica of Sacré Coeur dominates the sky-line and at the Place du Tertre, many chose to have their portraits painted. We then all had a delicious 3 course meal with drinks at the beautiful 19th century restaurant La Crémaillère. What a wonderful day we’ve had and all returned in high spirits, albeit a little weary and everyone is looking forward to a good night’s rest!


Everyone was delighted to have a slower start this morning and at 10h00 we gathered for our meeting in the hotel lounge. I went over the plans for the day, highlighting all security/contingency plans and at 10h30 a happy band of travelers headed off excitedly for the Champs Elysées, where they were afforded a few glorious hours to discover the magic of this world famous boulevard. We will regroup after lunch and make our way to the Eiffel Tower, where there will no doubt be several photo shoots/selfies, before boarding our boat for a cruise on the river with commentary. Thereafter we will enjoy a 3 course dinner with drinks, followed by a guided coach tour of Paris by night and finally at 22h00 we will ascend to the 2nd level of a sparkling Eiffel Tower. We will only return to the hotel after midnight, but all are so very happy to forfeit sleep for a relatively early start to Disneyland Paris tomorrow!


We returned to the hotel after midnight last night, but this did not deter them from rising early to set off for the much-anticipated visit to Disneyland Paris! Upon arrival at the gates, they passed through security and then they were afforded 8 hours of adrenalin bliss! The plan is to meet at 18h30 and our dinner tonight is at the hotel, which is wonderful as they will all no doubt be exhausted. They will then pack and check all documents required for our departure tomorrow, before socializing in the hotel lounge and chatting about all our wonderful memories on tour.


The days have simply flown by and no one can believe all we have packed into such a relatively short space of time! The tour has been filled with happy & valuable memories and the firm bonds of friendships which have been formed will last a lifetime. This morning we had time to sleep in before enjoying a leisurely breakfast and now we are heading off to Galéries Lafayette for a few hours, before returning to the hotel to gather our goods and board the coach for Roissy Charles de Gaulle. Our return flights have been confirmed and we will depart Paris at 18h30 on LH1041, connecting onto LH572 at 22h05. I am sure there is no need to remind excited parents and families that we are scheduled to arrive at ORT at 08h30 tomorrow, Thursday 16 August! It has been a real delight to once again escort an outstanding group of South African students and they have fully embraced every opportunity. Whilst your children are tired and obviously looking forward to enjoying the comforts of home and seeing family + friends, everyone will leave with a sense of sadness at having to say farewell to the special people they have grown so accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. The many tales may not be immediately forthcoming, but they will certainly continue to reveal themselves in the days, months and years to come! To act ‘in loco parentis’ is no mean feat and I would sincerely like to thank Gillian Oosthuizen and Sharon Stone for their amazing support and dedication to the task at hand as chaperones. They have been superb travelling companions and I value their professionalism, commitment, sense of fun and special friendship – merci beaucoup mes chères amies – you certainly flew the banner high for Personal Touch! It has been such a successful & happy tour and as parents you can rest assured that you have afforded your children the most wonderful opportunity. It remains for me to wish all a happy home-coming ~ ‘merci beaucoup, bon retour et a la prochaine’!