Toussaint Adventures: Family and Châteaus

Harrison W. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. He comes to SYA from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts.

Though an American school, the SYA France administration emphasizes a strong foundation in French pedagogy and schedule. As such, my fellow American students and I encountered and experienced the Toussaint vacation at end of October. Though at first wary at the placement of this break, I enjoyed this restful end to my first quarter in Rennes. This two week break first saw a school trip to the Loire Valley. Spearheaded by our art history teacher, JP, we headed south of Rennes and stayed at an Ibis Hotel in Chinon. Based out of that hotel, we spent two days taking in the glory of medieval châteaus and visiting a French amusement park, Futuroscope. Even for the visitor who is no keen on ancient monuments, one must appreciate the magnificence and human virtuosity displayed by these castles. Such immense relics of past aristocracy were completely foreign to me. I find tremendous difficulty in gaining some semblance of the human might channeled into these wonders. Castles crafted without power tools. Establishments that have lasted several centuries. Often, Americans lack a perspective for the age of such creations. Due to our shorter history, our definitions of ancient widely differ to those of France. SYA’s tenet of experience-based learning was duly upheld in this excursion. 

After this break, I had the great luck to enjoy a visit from my American father. Joining me in Paris for five days, I loved a reprise from an intense, French-immersive six weeks. With my father, I had the chance to receive news on family, friends, school, and events. Though certainly still a work in process, I had the chance to demonstrate more polished French to my dad. We ventured across the city during his trip. One day to the Luxembourg Gardens, to Montmartre, and another to the nearby city of Reims.  

The day we visited in Reims started to open my eyes to travel opportunities this upcoming year. I am beginning to understand France’s connectivity to European destinations and plan future trips. Furthermore, the connections I make from my activities in Rennes provide a space to ask questions about potential places to visit. In summary, I relished this short visit and beginning to show my dad a glimpse of France. 

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