Year 8 2024 Trip to Normandy: Report

Posted on 5th July 2024

Year 8 travelled to Normandy during Big Skies Week.

As part of our Big Skies week 2024, Year 8 travelled to Normandy. Here, Mrs Gaul, Head of Year 8 and Teacher in the Foreign Language Department shares her trip diary alongside recollections from some of the students. Her notes start on day two once the group had arrived at their accommodation, La Grand’Ferme in Normandy.

Monday 24th June

After arriving in Normandy the previous day, we all started the day a little tired but excited! After a lovely breakfast of fresh bread, croissants, butter, jam, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, orange juice and hot chocolate; everyone enjoyed a morning of onsite activities including bread making, archery, aeroball, French and circus skills.

We had lunch outside in the beautiful weather and then everyone enjoyed an hour of free time.

After a hot afternoon of activities, the students had 90 minutes of free time to rest in their rooms or spend time outside in the beautiful grounds.

The evening meal was a BBQ, after which students had great fun playing games in the refreshing pool and taking part in a scavenger hunt.

Tuesday 25th June

Tuesday was another beautiful sunny day! 

Students were each given some money to buy fillings for their baguettes and fruit, etc at le marché à Villedieu-les-Poêles. Purchases ranged from fromage to saucisson to fraises to ananas! Personal purchases included a range of bracelets, necklaces, keyrings and bags. A 30 minute stop at l’hypermarché de Carrefour on the way back to base enabled everyone to stock up on snacks and local specialities too. Everyone tucked into their picnic lunches back at La Grand’ Ferme in the garden again before enjoying the final session of activities.

Wednesday 26th June

Year 8 student Tara writes:

Our fourth day in Normandy was a History day, and was one of my favourite days of the trip as I really enjoy History. In the morning, we visited Arromanches, and its 360 degrees cinema. Arromanches is known as one of the sites of the D-Day landings in 1944, where the Allied forces began to liberate occupied Europe, and the experience of seeing the beach and watching the short film in the cinema was made more interesting due to the fact that we were visiting soon after the 80 year anniversary of D-Day on 6th June. Then, after a quick lunch, we visited Bayeux Museum, where the Bayeux Tapestry is kept. This was very interesting, and the audio guide made it even better! As well as this, we had listened to a lecture about the Bayeux tapestry before the trip during a preparation day, which made the visit even more worthwhile. To end the day, we visited the British Cemetery, where 5 students and I read D-Day themed poems that we had written during our prep day. It was impactful to see the many graves of the soldiers that fought during D-Day, and understand the true nature of war. Finally, after having some time to walk around and pay our respects, we returned back to our accommodation on the coach.

That evening everyone entered into the spirit of fun and dressed up for the soirée francaise et quizz.

Thursday 27th June

Year 8 student Lucy writes:

In the morning we visited the local town of Avranches, which was about a 10 minute drive from La Grande Ferme. Once we had arrived, our animateur, Georges (but we nicknamed him Georgie!), kindly led us off the coach safely and we gathered in our pastoral groups ready for the ‘Town Trail’. At the start of our stay, we had been given French journals in which the instructions were written, in French, for our town trail. We then set off in our groups, a few minutes between us, and tackled the clues in our journals. Throughout the instructions were simple commands such as go straight on and turn left as well as a few questions such as “What is the name of the street on your left?” or “What are the opening times of the bank?”. Between the instructions we were able to see the breath-taking architecture of the town as well as a quick pit stop at a castle which allowed us to see stunning views of the countryside and Mont St Michel. All of the groups managed to make it to the finishing line (l’hôtel de ville – the town hall) with one group unfortunately getting a little lost on the way. Then, we returned back to our accommodation for a nice picnic lunch on the grass with our friends and Georgie, of course.

In the afternoon, we headed off on a 30 minute bus drive to the beach before our great hike to Mont St Michel. Once we arrived, we met with our specialist guide who took us with him on the walk. He then briefly explained a few safety rules such as: put your phone in your bag and do not run. Throughout our walk we crossed two very shallow rivers and were taught how to escape quicksand if you are stuck. After around 2 and a half hours we had arrived at Mont St Michel and had 30 minutes of free shopping time on our own. During this time, I visited many souvenir and jewellery shops as well as an ice cream shop. We then took a shuttle bus back to our coach and drove back to our accommodation for a restful evening.

On Mont St Michel we got to explore the unique shops and authentic streets. You could enjoy an ice cream and look at the view from the top. We also got to practise our French when ordering ice cream or purchasing gifts.”

Florence, Year 8 student

Friday 28th June

We had a very early start of 4am on Friday morning, ready for the long journey ahead of us. We had been given 45 minutes to finalise our packing and get ready as we left our accommodation for the final time at 4:45. Our hour and a half long coach journey was mostly sleeping as well as excited chatter as we would soon return home to see our families after a week away. Once we had arrived at the port, we were given a packed breakfast consisting of apple purée or orange juice, a piece of fruit, a Madeline and a brioche provided by the kitchen at the accommodation. At 8:15, we queued for security as they checked our backpacks and we then boarded our ferry.

The ferry journey from Caen to Portsmouth took 6 hours however time flew by as there were plenty of activities such as a silent disco, cornhole tournament, bingo, an interactive quiz as well as lots of duty free shops and restaurants. There was also a peaceful deck where we went if we wanted a nice view of the ocean and some fresh air.

Once we arrived in Portsmouth, we had a small stop at passport control and then boarded our coach once again for the 4 hour drive back. Due to traffic, this took slightly longer however we were entertained by the many films on the big screens and the company of our friends. The teachers also kindly treated us all to a Burger King at the South Mimms services due to the late arrival time. Once we had our food, we were fuelled up ready for the 2 hour journey before being reunited with our suitcases and parents.