Thank you Google
We made it to Avignon in a roundabout way. That's a joke. Get it? It is interesting to be driving down a highway and encountering a roundabout that you slow down for and may have to stop at, but mostly traffic flowed quickly. I think I like roundabouts. Once you get the hang of them, they really do work.
We were lucky enough to stay with a teacher from Lycée Louis Pasteur, the school we had students from back in November. The teacher has a flat she and her husband rent out in the summer, so it was available and they let us stay there. Anne Marie and Jean Claude were the ultimate hosts and provided us the place to stay, a ride into town to have dinner (mentioned later) and a ride home after the dinner, a wonderful meal, and just great company. Jean Claude didn't speak English, and I speak no French, but Corinne and Anne Marie navigated between the two languages seamlessly to keep all in the conversation.
We visited Lycée Louis Pasteur where both Corinne and I attended classes as observers. It is hard to follow a physics lesson in a language you don't understand. I understood about every 50th word, not enough to get a sense of what he was saying, but the kids were attentive, worked well, and seemed to know what they were doing using potential and kinetic energy equations. The Chemistry class, in French, was just as difficult for me, the students just as attentive but not all as sure of what to do during the KMmO3 dilution lab. These two teachers were exceptionally empathetic and helpful asking probing questions (I think) and helping students to understand. I also attended a math class in English, but there was a lot of French trying to explain probability terms. I was asked to read some passages so students could hear proper pronunciation. It is a difficult job to teach two subjects at the same time.
Corinne attended classes as well, including Philosophy (studying Lord of the Flies), Economics, and French and had a similar experience as I did. We both attended a business class, in English, and engaged students in perceptions we had of each other's culture.
Lycée Louis Pasteur is a private school, but tuition is only about €1000. Teachers are paid for by the government as are public school teachers. The school itself was built in the 60s and you can tell. The technology was as good as at SARHS, but we didn't experience anything out of the ordinary during our very short visit.
Five students from France who attended our school last November invited Corinne for dinner at a very cute restaurant. They wanted to thank her for all her hard work, which they did by presenting her with a card and gifts. They are so sweet. We had a wonderful time with them. I was exhausted after 2 hours of trying to catch snippets of the conversation en français, but they let me in on some of the more juicier parts of the conversation. We were lucky to have had these lovely young women attend our school, and it is too bad that there were none of our students who wanted to go on that exchange back with them at that time.
It is interesting to learn how students handle stress. In Canada students may act out, become depressed, or withdraw. In France it is common for students to experience panic attacks amongst those other more common symptoms. It is also interesting to greet students with a "bise", or in Avignon, three (to the right, then left, then right again). It was uncomfortable for me, a male teacher, to partake in this custom, but after some rumination it was easier. Each area has a different number of 'bise', and it varies whether it is a formal or friendly greeting. Gendre matters not. Males greet males in the same manner, but I have yet to experience that.
Sadly time marches on and we had to say goodbye to Anne Marie, Jean Claude, and Avignon. Google maps got us to our next destination albeit with phonetic pronunciations of the French names. "Turn right on All ee Con Sol Dup You Why and continue towards Place (know it should be said plass) do General Lock Lerz). What a riot!
If you get to visit France, Avignon is highly recommended. It is, like all the cities we have visited here, beautiful.