This spring break, a group of sophomore, junior and senior students from Jennifer Stevens’ French classes at Hood River Valley High School embarked on a memorable journey through France. There were 11 kids on the trip and five chaperones, including Stevens and Heidi Mudry, also a French-speaking teacher at HRVHS.
The first three nights were spent in Paris, the next night in Nîmes, and the last three in Nice (pronounced like “niece”), with one day in the Principality of Monaco at the end.
“The goal of the trip,” explained Stevens, “was to have the kids see this place that they’ve heard about so much. It made French real to them, like it doesn’t just happen in room F207.”
“I’ve always wanted to travel, and the opportunity just presented itself,” said senior Jamie Holloman, who went on the trip. “I had to work my butt off (to pay for it), and it still wasn’t enough so I had to borrow money from my dad.”
The cost of the trip was something that held many students back from going, but the ones who went seemed to have no regrets.
Stevens described some of the highlights of the trip, from experiencing the royal palace of Versailles, just a few miles outside of Paris, to taking the TGV fast train.
“For me, it’s always like going for the first time. Their faces light up. I think they were shocked to see that people actually speak French and I wasn’t just kidding!” she chuckled.
The group also went to the Papal Palace in Avignon, the Roman Arena in Nîmes and the famous aqueduct bridge, Pont du Gard in Provence in the south of France. However, what seemed to stand out in the minds of the students was the legendary French food.
“The kids tried all sorts of food from different regions of France. We had a different dessert every night too — little pastries, croissants, crème brulée — from all over France,” said Stevens. “We even took a cooking class in Paris, which was so cool.”
“It was so good that I was really disappointed to come back here and go to restaurants that only have burgers,” said Holloman.
Another senior on the trip, Perla Castillo, noted, “We also ate so much gelato. It was everywhere. There was a place that had over 130 different flavors!”
Another big highlight of the trip was the sunny weather and beautiful Mediterranean beaches in Nice and Monaco. “When we were in Paris, the weather was always in the 70s, and one day it was almost 80 degrees,” said senior Isamar Jiminez.
“Monaco was very beautiful because of the beach, and I would love to go back to Nice because of the beaches too, and it wasn’t as crowded as Paris,” Castillo said.
Senior Veronica Lopez explained her favorite stops on the trip as well, “We got to see Versailles, which was cool because we learned so much about it in our history packets, and I loved ‘The Thinker,’ and staying at the beach in Nice.” (See inset for Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker.”)
As Stevens and the students reminisced, they told stories about their favorite moments of the trip.
“We would go to all sorts of different shops and I’d let the kids go in alone and it forced them each time to interact with the shop owner, which scared them a bit,” Stevens recounted. “But I loved when they’d come back to me and talk about their encounter; they were always so excited.”
“One thing that stuck in my mind was when we ran from our hotel in Nice down to the beach, jumped in the water, skipped across the board walk, and ran all the way back at six a.m.,” Holloman described. “We didn’t have to, but Mrs. Stevens called it the ‘Nice Triathlon,’ and it was so fun.”
“Seeing Paris from the Eiffel Tower was very pretty,” noted Castillo.
Although the senior students won’t be able to take another trip to France with their class, all of them seem determined to go back. “I desperately miss France,” said Holloman.
Stevens already has plans to go again in two years, and wants to make it a tradition for every other year. “There will be a different itinerary, and I hope more students will be able to come next time.”
Lopez gave her advice, “Anybody who gets the chance to, really should go!”
Nina Barone is an HRVHS junior and a French 3 student.