Excursions d’été: un séjour en l’immersion

A friend told me she was attending a French immersion course in the Alps. I figured I could use both, a serious language practice and cool mountain air in mid-July, so I signed up too.

The course was held at Lauvitel Lodge outside the village of Bourg L’Oisans, and was positioned in a large meadow overlooking several peaks. That’s where we took all our classes, under shade umbrellas. This was the view from my room.

Lauvital Lodge, La Danchere, France, July, 2020

We were nine of us in the class, with occasional participation by the lodge owner Caroline, a British expat long in France. Jane, our instructor and a native of Normandy who had lived ten years in Portland, Oregon, was excellent. She’d trained as an actress, and loved to role play. Her performances of unhelpful hospital secretaries, gas station attendants and other “service” people during our improv sessions made us laugh in recognition.

Our group met daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with class filling the time in-between, conversations unbroken and entirely in French. After five days, it felt odd to arrive in Nice and have English enter my brain. But it did, and all too quickly, hours or days passed without a word of the local language. Foiled!

It was a worthwhile experience, however. I did pick up additional vocabulary and tips on how to improve further. My favorite: read “bandes dessinés” (graphic novels), such as this one often for mastery of colloquial, spoken French.

I’m eager for more immersion but my next foray will have to be closer to Nice. The train journey from Grenoble home required two changes and took six hours. Even with AC, the car was hot, which felt worse by having to wear a mask the entire time. Which everyone was doing, thank god, as it was packed.

Normally I am happy when traveling, but in the era of Covid that was not the case. I was nervous and hyper-vigilant about getting too close, examining surfaces and using hand gel frequently. It did make me wonder how many more train trips I’ll be on.

About kmazz

I spend as much time as possible pursuing my interests in global culture, photography, arts and politics.
This entry was posted in expat, expat life, France, Nice, France, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Excursions d’été: un séjour en l’immersion

  1. Thanks for this update. Frankly, I was concerned about covid until I got further down on your commentary. Glad you had a good learning experience; nothing will ever be misplaced with your persistence. Lovely photo, as usual. Looks like a summer view of a ski-slope off to the right, up on the hillside.

    Hugs to you and David,

    • kmazz says:

      Yes, ski slopes were right there. I figure we have to get some local travel in now, before the Covid cases spikes get worse.

  2. Diane Foulds says:

    That little mountain retreat looks like heaven! I bet you’re sorry you couldn’t stay longer. Am I imagining this, or do I sense a little bit of French syntax slipping in to your English? It’s in the words, “We were nine of us in the class.” Nous étions neuf dans la classe.” Is that how the French say it, or a franglai-ification?
    It’s funny how languages blend into one another when you’re using two on a daily basis. It’s a sign of your Frenchification!

    Keep these updates coming — they’re worth their weight in gold!

    Love to you both,

  3. Ian Wallace says:

    Wonderful post, Kathleen. I am sure there are quite a few of your faithful readers who are saying to themselves, “Now that is something I would really like to do, perhaps as soon as the pandemic has gone.”
    I wonder what you and David will get up to next?

  4. Gary Grossman says:

    You are always so descriptive! I almost felt that I was there, watching and listening to the improv. The travel worries are top of mind as am about to cancel our plans to travel to NZ this December. That seems very far-fetched at the moment. Bill Gates said today in a Wired article that it will be the end of 2021 before there is the beginning sense of normalcy in advanced economies and at least another year for the others.

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