Elaine and Sheldon 2016

Elaine_and_Sheldon

 

I spent one week with Michel on Belle Ile en Mer in early September, 2016. I was nervous, as I am sure everyone is. One feels so exposed and vulnerable learning a language.

Michel and Belle Ile were perfect antidotes to my anxiety. Michel was warm and welcoming. He was endlessly patient; I am often afraid I am boring someone as I struggle to say what I want to say in French but Michel was encouraging and always positive and gentle. He is an excellent teacher, letting go what is not important and focusing on what he feels is important for the level one is at. He is also interested in language and we had interesting conversations about language and the learning of language.

The accommodation right next door to Michel’s house was perfect for quiet study and reflection. And Belle Ile is a beautiful island, calm, quiet, interesting and very scenic. The setting was ideal for learning French.

The schedule was flexible but we quickly settled into a routine that was very comfortable for me: during the morning lesson we reviewed homework, had wide- ranging conversations in French, and I gave a précis of something I had read the evening before (usually a Guy de Maupassant story) and then we talked about the story. Michel also helped me with pronunciation, introduced me to phonetics which I found quite helpful, and generally boosted my confidence. I had the afternoon off and then the three of us had dinner in Michel’s home, always a delicious meal prepared by Michel who is an excellent cook.

My husband who speaks no French (except sacrébleu) spent his mornings riding one of Michel’s bicycles and hiking on the coastal path. Michel drove us to some very old villages and some of the other interesting sights on the island.

All in all, a perfect week. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Mary and Mark 2016

Mary_and_Mark2016

 

Another splendid, relaxing visit to Belle Île! Michel has become part of our French habit. This was our 4th visit in 4 years.

I can’t think of anything better than coming to Belle Île for a week of learning and utter peace and quiet to kick start my french and to kick off a trip to France.

Merci Michel et à la prochaine !

Suz and Dick 2016

Suz_and_Dick

 

Over the past few years, I have become more serious about improving my French. This has led me to taking classes at our local Alliance Francaise, taking a 2-week immersion class in Paris last year and, early this summer, spending a week learning French with Michel on Belle-Île-en-Mer.

I can say without any hesitation that taking classes with Michel was not only the most productive of these approaches, but also the most fun. And Belle-Île is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

My husband, a fluent French speaker, accompanied me, and we stayed in Michel’s small and cozy apartment attached to his house. It was very comfortable for the two of us, and it made us feel that we, too, belonged on this tiny lane in Borchuran, one of the 4 villages on Belle-Île.

Here’s a typical day: 2.5 hours of lessons in the morning tailored around my objectives and needs. I am at an intermediate level and the lesson always started with a warm-up discussion, then we would turn to my homework, which usually included work in a book of grammar, a reading that Michel assigned and a composition. This triad worked well and the 2.5 hours passed by very quickly. There was always homework and it usually took me at a couple of hours to complete.

Adding to the entire experience, Michel took us on a tour of the island one day and arranged for a visit to Le Jardin de la Boulay. It is not to be missed if you like gardens and nature. He also arranged for me to join a tour of the garden of a well-known botanist on the island. All trips added to my vocabulary and my pleasure.

Dinner with Michel—and he is a fabulous cook—was a daily highlight for my husband and me. As much as we enjoyed the food, we enjoyed the discussions even more.

Michel is a great host and raconteur and I can easily imagine that he would make any level student comfortable.

Finally, the island is magnificent. If you like the outdoors at all, there is ample opportunity to walk (right out your door), hike the island on an 80 km trail, kayak, and bike (Michel has bikes to lend). See all the other reviews for more on this.

I found the experience to have been a great kick-start for “upping my French game” and have kept at it since returning to the US. That’s been a significant outcome of the experience. Bottom line, if I had to rate the experience overall, it is a definite 10 out of 10. In fact, we already have plans to return next year.

Richard 2016

Richard

 

In late May 2016, I had my first French language immersion program, and it was a great! I traveled to Belle-Île from Paris and spent 5 days at the home of Michel Denance. I have a few comments I’d like to share about my experience, and why I recommend the French immersion program on Belle-Île with Michel.

First, Michel is an excellent French professor (in fact, the best that I’ve had). He is able to discern readily your level of proficiency in speaking, comprehension, reading and writing French. Together, the two of you decide on a program focused on your particular needs and goals. Each day, you spend a couple of hours in an informal classroom setting with lessons, class work, and conversation. There is homework, but just enough to keep you engaged, interested, and motivated to learn. I enjoyed particularly reading short works from French literature in the evenings and discussing them the next day. Casual conversation over dinner is a wonderful bonus.

The lodging is first-rate. Michel has a two-level apartment adjacent to his country farmhouse. The apartment is fully furnished with a comfortable bed and cozy furniture. There is a small kitchen with most anything you need for a short visit, and after a brief trip to the grocery store, fresh produce (and maybe a bottle of wine) to enjoy at your leisure. Michel has a large garden with beautiful flowers, trees, and herbs that you can explore.

Michel is a gracious host and an outstanding chef. Daily, he prepares a delicious meal that you share at his dining table. The food is fresh, local, and seasoned well, and the conversation over meals is delightful. Michel has a great sense of humor and a charming manner that puts you at ease quickly. He’s knowledgeable about a great many things and you soon find common interests. Michel enjoys the company of others, and wherever we went, everyone knew him.

Last, Belle-Île is truly a beautiful island. The countryside, the beaches, the small villages, and the ocean are gorgeous, where you can take some time to sit, relax, and bask in them (and take some impressive pictures). I took breaks from homework in the afternoon to explore the island by bicycle and on foot. There were flowers blooming everywhere, along roadsides and paths and in small gardens. One afternoon Michel took me on a grand tour of the island, from one end to the other, and it was clear why Belle-Île is a favorite vacation destination.

Karen and Don 2016

Karen_and_Don

 

Don and I are a couple in our sixties. We have studied French language for several years, but were looking for a program where we could have conversations with an expert teacher who would help us with grammar and pronunciations.
We have travelled to France many times so we were delighted to find Michel, who lives in an area of France that we were interested in exploring.

How lucky we were to stay with Michel, a teacher of exceptional ability, passionate about the island of Belle Isle, with an amazing wit and intellect. We loved every

minute of our lessons, we were so motivated to do our homework every afternoon. Our walks around the coastline were fantastic. Then in the evenings, back to Michel’s for more laughs, lively conversations and delicious meals.
Our french has improved, we have a much better idea of what we need to study (the basics) and we’re more motivated than ever to continue our quest to learn french. Many thanks to Michel, who has given us such happy memories to cherish for the rest of our lives.

Margaret 2016

I had a most enjoyable stay in Michel’s house for five days in June 2016.

 

Margaret

 

The house is small, but clean and comfortable, and contains all the essentials for a stay. It is situated in the tiny hamlet of Borduchan – a charming and relaxing location. As I like being outdoors, I enjoyed several lovely walks from the house. It was good to explore some parts of the island’s coastal path, which is not too far away.

Michel is a very warm and friendly host – he prepared a lovely, nutritious meal each day and also organized various outings and visits for me. As I’m keen on
gardening, the nearby Jardin de la Boulaye was a real highlight. Michel’s own garden is also a peaceful haven and I would have enjoyed more time relaxing in it, had my holiday been blessed with better weather.
Lessons with Michel were relaxed and fun, but at the same time with a strong focus on my own learning objectives. I feel I learned a great deal, even in this short time. In particular, my oral comprehension skills improved far beyond my expectations.

In short, the course and activities were carefully tailored to my interests, ability and goals. It was also great fun, and I’d love to repeat the experience on Belle-Ile.

Robert 2016

robert

 

My wife and I spent a wonderful week with Michel in Belle-Île-en-mer in June 2016. I spent a pleasurable but intense 2 and 1/2 hours with Michel each morning trying to take my French to the next level. Michel was patient and supportive but also pushed me to improve my oral communication. I am at a level and an age where huge progress does not come readily, but Michel guided me carefully, and I believe I am much closer to where I want to be in my comprehension and hopefully my communication skills in French.

The days passed very quickly on Belle-Île with class in the morning and lots of sightseeing in the afternoon. The coast of Belle-Île is spectacular and we spent as much time as possible exploring the coast. There are numerous beautiful gardens, in addition to Michel’s, and we were able to see two of them. The old fort in Le Palais is well worth a visit as is the port of Sauzon. We spent a truly memorable evening in Locmaria watching the French soccer team playing Albania in the Euro 2016 tournament. A large outdoor screen was set up in the park in front of the church and about 120 enthusiastic locals were on hand to drink wine and watch the game. And France won, so all was joyful.

It was also a bit of an ancestry quest for me since I have several Acadian ancestors who spent time on Belle-Île in the 1700’s before migrating to Louisiana. Michel was a great guide during this part of our adventure, and much to all of our surprise, it turns out that my 5th great-grandfather built and lived in the house next to the house where Michel lived as a child and where his brother currently lives. Small world.

Michel is also a wonderful cook who set a very welcoming table each evening in his house. Nancy was quite pleased to pick up a few pointers on the art of French cooking.
As you can tell, our experience on Belle-Île was delightful and it felt very personal. We were graciously treated by everyone we met and we felt quiet comfortable always. If this is the type of environment you are seeking for a French immersion experience, I am very happy to highly recommend Michel and Belle-Île-en-mer.

Ann 2016

What can I add? All has been said in great detail and I agree with all comments. My stay Chez Michel in May 2016 was all I had hoped for and more.

A few years ago I spent two weeks in an immersion homestay which was less than successful on almost every level, and I vowed never to do the same again. However learning French is a challenge that is like a drug – it gets to you!

Michel has restored my confidence in my abilities. He has such an easy relaxed way of correcting pronunciation and faults in grammar and suggesting other ways of expressing oneself.

I had such fun, loved every minute and hope to return. Une fois encore merci infiniment Michel.

Bonnie 2016

Bonnie

 

I guess the first thing that I should address is the actual getting to Belle Isle. Suffice it to say, it was much easier, as Michel had said it would be, than it seemed. The locations of the train, bus, and ferry are very close and their time tables pretty much in synch. I did it online but will admit I didn’t think it would go as smoothly as it did. So don’t let that aspect prevent you from taking advantage of a wonderful, productive week in an incredibly beautiful setting.

I am an intermediate student and my goals were to improve my conversation skills and to revisit grammar skills where necessary. Michel’s approach is personal and somewhat student directed. I wanted to be corrected while speaking and I was and I wanted homework which I received. This homework would reinforce a deficiency that was picked up during my lesson. I also prepared a written story which I would read during the next day’s lesson thereby giving an opportunity for correcting my pronunciation and grammar. A week is not a long time, but I clearly improved overall and more important was energised because I had a clearer idea of which skills to target to continue my progress.

My other question was how would I fill my afternoons. Not to worry. Michel, again, was there for me every day with suggestions and offers to facilitate my plans. The included excursion was a tour around the aptly named Belle Isle. For me the highlight was standing where Monet stood and taking a picture of the very rocks that he had painted. Really how great is that! And the visit to his friend Michel’s garden was spectacular.

Your lovely, comfortable, private house is situated so that you can easily walk to either coast and then walk along the coastline. I did this 4 of the 7 days. Another day I took an arranged tour of another one of Michel’s friend’s gardens.

What else? The perfect kirs at another friend’s bar. The delicious meals prepared by Michel every evening enjoyed while speaking French. His lessons for me in preparing crepes and far, a Bretonne cake. His own lovely garden. His delightful neighbour and her sister with whom I spent a couple of hours – all the time speaking French.

At the ferry boat as I was saying good bye, I actually choked up. I guess I’ll have to go back!

Tom 2016

Tom

 

You were a wonderful teacher and I really enjoyed my time in Borchudan. I hope to return to Belle-Isle Fall 2017 and I would love to take additional classes with you.