Ellen Ingram

    Ellen Ingram is in France with the British Council. She is linked with Alva Academy in Clackmannanshire.

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    Les Vacances Toussaint

    So now I am now nearly two months into my assistantship in France, and I have to say that so far it has been really great! I have met lots of new people and I think that my French is starting to improve. The last month has been so busy between travelling, meeting up with others and planning lessons so now I am going to fill you all in!

    I had only worked for three weeks before the October holidays started, or as they call it here Les Vacances Toussaint. On Fridays I finish lessons at 11am which is brilliant and meant that I could start my holidays even earlier! That Friday after school I took the train to Metz to go to a music festival that night with other English assistants and their French friends. Metz is a lovely city with lots of beautiful German architecture and although it is a relatively small city there are lots of nice things to see there. The music festival was really cool, a different experience for me anyway as it was mainly French DJs who were there that I had never heard of before. I ended spending the whole weekend in Metz with the other assistants and on the Saturday we spent the day exploring the city before going out for a meal and drinks at night.

    On the first Monday of the holidays I went to the German city Saarbrucken with two of my friends who are assistants in France and also study with me in Stirling. Saarbrucken is a big modern city and it is only a tram ride away from Sarreguemines (the town where I stay). In the morning we went to visit the castle and walked through the old town in the city. For lunch we went to a German restaurant to try the famous dish from the region- curry wurst. (Curry wurst is basically a curried sausage served with a special sauce and chips and it absolutely delicious!) In the afternoon we hit the shops of Saarbrucken as Germany is so much cheaper than France for shopping and they even have a Primark! After some shopping we stopped again for a snack of hot chocolate and chocolate pretzels before heading back to Sarreguemines.

    The first Tuesday was a busy day for me too as I went to Strasbourg with one of the teachers from my school and her family. Strasbourg is a beautiful city in the Alsace region of France and it is a place where I will definitely return to. During the afternoon we took a boat tour along the river which took us through an old part of the city called La Petite France and also right along to the buildings of the European Parliament. For dinner we went to a typical Alsacien restaurant to eat flammes, which are similar to pizza but have a crème fraiche base instead of a tomato base and again are absolutely delicious.

    On the Wednesday I had to get up early to return to Strasbourg to catch my flight to Montpellier to visit my friend Colm. Colm is also a language assistant in France and stays in a small town in the south of France near to Montpellier. When I arrived in Montpellier I met up with Colm then we went out to have a three course meal in a French restaurant, the food was lovely! I had moules manières- a very typical French meal. The next day we explored the city before taking the car to Nice to visit our friend Conni.

    We spent four days in Nice visiting Conni which was amazing. We stayed in a hostel in the centre of Nice where there were lots of different people from all over the world. During our time in Nice we visited Le Chateau de Nice, went sunbathing on the beach and had lots of things to eat and drink. One day we took the train to Monaco to see the Casino in Monte Carlo and gawk at all the big expensive cars and the people who were covered head to toe in Armani and Chanel. It was so nice to spend time with my friends from university and we discovered two new treats which are absolutely amazing: milka caramel chocolate and vin pamplemousse (grapefruit wine).

    After spending a great four days with Conni, Colm and I travelled back to Montpellier then to the town where he lives called Clermont. The town is smaller than Sarreguemines and the buildings look very different than the buildings in my region. I stayed two nights in Clermont and on the first day we visited an ancient village called St Guilhem. The village is historically know as a place where pilgrims would stay on their journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain which is where people used to believe was the end of the (square) world. After spending the day in the beautiful St Guilhem, we went to the cinema at night. It was weird watching a Hollywood film (The Maze Runner) with English actors voices dubbed into French.  The next morning I went with Colm to the local market to buy fresh foods. There was so much choice of different foods and it was so much cheaper than going to the supermarket! In the afternoon, Colm came with me to the airport to say goodbye before I headed back to Sarreguemines.

    I was sad to leave my friends in the South but I was looking forward to seeing my flatmate again and seeing the other assistants in the region. The day after I returned, my flatmate and I went to Nancy to meet the other assistants for a Halloween party. It was really strange as the French are not as keen on Halloween as we are in Scotland so I fitted in with only wearing my black halo (a rather poor attempt at fancy dress). The next day was Toussaint’s Day in France which is a public holiday, meaning that everything was shut for the day so after returning to Sarreguemines I had a lazy day until I went to another English teacher’s house for a meal in the evening. 

    After a really busy and quick holiday I have now settled  back into my work routine and it is now only 5 weeks until the Christmas holidays! I will post again before I come home to Scotland to spend Christmas with my family as I have a lot of things planned for the next month so I will fill you all in!

    Hope all is well in Scotland!


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