Gesine 2016

I spent a week with Michel in April 2016. I thought the island setting would mean friendly, more relaxed locals who wouldn’t switch to English at the first utterance in my halting French (correct!) and I thought the shorter distances would make exploring the place easier (correct!). Also, I thought Belle-Île looked stunning on the pictures (correct!), and the reviews described Michel as a bit of a foodie, a fellow traveller, and a nice guy all around (correct again!).
I arrived on the island a couple of days in advance, planning to hike the coastal path in the north of the island. Michel kindly offered to meet me off the ferry to take my computer and surplus clothes so I wouldn’t break my back whilst hiking. He started talking French immediately, and I found him easy to understand because he speaks clearly, and has a knack for repeating a sentence three different ways until the penny finally drops. 😉 I liked him immediately – he’s lively and funny and helpful. He picked me up again from where I’d got to on my hike, and we drove to his house. BTW, the coastal path is utterly beautiful and very varied (pine forests, fields, myriads of little bays), really great for walking!
As you can see from the pictures, his house is old, and very lovely inside with many original features, including a wood-burning fireplace in the kitchen! The guest house is a recently converted barn, very cosy with lots of wood and views over the huge garden and fields beyond. It contains absolutely everything for living comfortably and self- contained, and the garden is gorgeous.
Michel is a great cook, and you’ll love the many local dishes – fish and seafood and cheese and that fantastic beurre du lait cru… he’d made ‘far’ (a Breton cake with prunes – doesn’t sound terribly attractive but is truly delicious) for my first dinner, and in fact every day there was a dessert… just as well that there are bikes in the shed, so it’s possible to go to the beach (also close enough to walk) and other places.

I had thought I’d go hiking every afternoon, but in the end I just continued with my French ‘homework’ after lunch (we had lessons in the morning). Obviously, the ‘homework’ is just a suggestion from Michel, but I really got into it and wanted to improve as much as possible, and I enjoyed studying more. Of course I still went on some outings, and Michel took me in the car one day to see things around the island I’d have missed otherwise, and another day we went to the beach at low tide and collected a ton of mussels for dinner! So much fun.

With the lessons in the morning, the studying in the afternoon, and the conversation over dinner, it was true immersion and very good for my French. When I arrived, my French was rudimentary (bits of remembered lessons from school) and I could only speak in the present and the futur proche. At the end of the week, I could form all tenses, had learned a lot more vocabulary, and had done en/y, pronouns, place names, and lots of other things. Michel also improved my pronunciation and gave me a number of useful phrases. Occasionally, I met friends of his and listened to their rapid-fire conversations (and understood a lot!) – they were very patient with me whenever I tried to throw in a comment and asked questions, too, so I felt very involved.

I can recommend this immersion programme wholeheartedly. I had a great holiday and was able to relax, I ate and slept well, it was a brilliant cultural experience and Michel is not only a really kind, hospitable guy but also a very good teacher, and I learnt a lot. I live in Paris now and will continue to study here as best I can, but I’d love to go back to Belle-Île, or maybe even go hiking with Michel for a week. I really didn’t want to leave, and wish I were there right now!

Christian and Steve 2015

Christian_and_Steve

 

When looking for French language instruction in France, I first considered going to a language school. However I was looking for more than just going to class, having mundane conversations, and superficial activities during my free time. I’m so glad I chose to take private lessons with Michel, since I had more realistic conversations, as if I were a temporary resident rather than a tourist.

As soon as we stepped off the ferry, Michel made both my partner and I feel welcome. The transition to practicing French started immediately as we picked up food in the market for our meals. He assessed my capabilities in a non-threatening way, and engaged me in stimulating and delightful conversations, which helped me practice my language skills in French. The lessons were a mixture of materials he proposed, and subjects I wanted to cover, such as music and cooking podcasts. Throughout the week, Michel was patient with me, as I worked on improving my pronunciation and grammar. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and instantly put me at ease. Although my partner did not take French lessons, Michel welcomed him and involved him in our mealtime conversations, in French and just enough English for my partner to understand. We had lively discussions about music, French culture, politics, food, literature, and life in general.

Michel also took us on an insider’s tour of Belle-Île-en-Mer, and we visited places that we would not have otherwise seen, including gardens, beautiful little hamlets, and scenic views along the coast. He knows the island well, and showed us things tourists would normally not see.

Michel is a wonderful cook and prepared tasty meals. The accommodations, steps away from his rose garden, were clean, comfortable, and made us feel like we were at home. He kept us well-stocked for breakfast and snacks.

It was an incredible experience on a beautiful island, along with Michel’s great company, while improving my French!

Rebecca 2015

I had long been looking for an immersion program as a way to jump-start the French I learned many years ago. When friends who had studied with Michel raved about their stay with him on Belle-Ile, I immediately knew I had found my solution. I had studied French throughout school and even at college, but after living in Barcelona for many years and speaking only Spanish, I couldn’t say anything more than “Je ne peux rien dire. ”

A week with Michel was exactly what I needed. Michel’s decades of experience teaching French as a second language at universities around the world, as well as a Doctorate in Québécois French, make him a master teacher. He is completely engaging, sensitive to your needs and compassionate about your difficulties. He also has a great sense of humor, so even wrestling with the partitif and the fine points of French pronunciation were enjoyable. Autumn in Belle-Ile is fantastic—the tourists are gone, the weather is excellent, and the back roads of Borchudan are perfect for long walks. I hope to return another time!

Virginia 2015

I spent a most enjoyable week on Belle-Isle with Michel. My French really benefited from the immersion and I found Michel to be just as good a teacher as others have found him to be and very easy going as well.
Borchudan is very charming and I really enjoyed walking from there to different parts every day. The countryside is very peaceful and there are beautiful beaches not far away. There is a walking path around the coastline of the island.

I highly recommend a visit to Michel. I’d love to return for another stay.

Coral & Kate 2015

Coral_and_Kate

 

Our stay with Michel was everything we wanted it to be. Our purpose in staying with Michel on Belle Ile was to improve our French grammar and to feel more relaxed with general conversation.
Lessons began on Day 1 and Michel soon ascertained our interests and built the lessons and conversation around them. Lessons were from 9-12 each morning in his sunny sitting room and the pace kept us on our toes. He would also set us some homework to do in our own lovely little house, or in his enchanting garden. We learnt so much in such an enjoyable fashion.

Michel is a wonderful host and prepared delicious meals for us using fresh local produce, as well as taking us on an excursion to the points of interest on Belle Ile.

A very pleasant addition to our stay was the people of Belle Ile. They were so friendly and helped us take the right buses home from the towns, with directions on
which paths would lead us to back to Borchudan from our randonnées.
In all, it was an experience that was challenging,fun, interesting and very satisfying.

Jane 2015

Already before leaving home, I began to think that going all the way to Belle Isle was an insane idea. In fact, it turned out to be an excellent idea, much better than I could have imagined. I had no idea how simple it was to reach Belle Isle and even less of an idea how much I needed these lessons with Michel. I thought we would just do a little fine-tuning, but it turned out to be more like 12 hours of lessons every day because Michel never stopped correcting me. Every evening I jotted down as much as I could remember of his corrections during the day – and there were plenty!

I felt at home immediately in my cosy little house and even when it rained (how else could Belle Isle have all those lovely flowers?!?) I was delighted to have an excuse to stay home in bed reading the bandes dessinées and books Michel had recommended, one of which he even gave me. It was French 24/7 – and it was worth every cent. If you’re serious about French, this is the place to come!
Really, I enjoyed absolutely everything– our meals (he’s a great cook), excursions, walks, talks, lessons, visits and whatever else may just have slipped my mind. Michel is quite an unusual person with many enthusiasms and a truly extraordinary teacher! I can only recommend him! In fact, I wish I had that week ahead of me now instead of behind me.

Judy 2015

Our lessons were well-planned and focused on my goals.

 

A great language immersion homestay program is, in my opinion, one in which you have good language lessons but the learning doesn’t stop when the lessons are over, and that was the case for the week I spent on Belle-Isle- en-mer with Michel.

Our lessons were well-planned and focused on my goals. The things we did together (touring the island, going to a movie, visiting Michel’s friends and going on a guided walk at Port Maria) added a lot to the program because I not only learned about the history and folklore of the island but also added words and expressions to my vocabulary that would not have come up during our lessons.

The things I did on my own (walking along the coastline, going to a film, visiting gardens and touring the Vauban Citadel in Le Palais) provided additional subjects for conversations during our meals together. I highly recommend this program.

Gill and Kit Wells 2015

Mealtimes were a delight and the conversation wide-ranging enabling us to further develop language skills in a relaxed atmosphere

 

The French lesson process with Michel is very thorough and progressive in a way compatible with one’s stage of development. He is a dedicated, professional teacher with a great breadth of experience and very perceptive and accommodated daily to individual needs. He is analytical in approach but extremely supportive and encouraging making the lessons great fun , very effective – but hard work!

The accommodation is compact but charming, very clean and well equipped and Michel was at pains to ask if we had everything we required. Michel is an accomplished cook and the meals, although modest by some people’s standards, are tasty, varied and well planned . Mealtimes were a delight and the conversation wide- ranging enabling us to further develop language skills in a relaxed atmosphere; aided, of course, by our excellent wines.

There is plenty to see and do on the island for a week and it is a paradise for hikers/cyclists . Being less active we took our car over in the ferry which enabled us to explore many out of the way places and Michel also drove us to lesser known areas. The terrain is similar to Cornwall U.K. , rugged and steep in places but out of high season there are plenty of secluded coves and beaches . There are many excellent local restaurants specialising in fish/sea food at reasonable prices.
Michel is a keen and knowledgeable gardener and there was an added bonus when he introduced us to his friend Michel D., an international plantsman and we enjoyed the privilege of a private tour around his amazing garden which features plants he has collected from around the world.

The whole week was an unusual and delightful experience with many “serendipity” moments to add to our holiday memories.
Thank you Michel.

Jenny and Vince 2015

Michel is a fantastic teacher- funny, encouraging, patient, and flexible

 

Jenny_and_Vince

 

My husband, Vince, and I spent a wonderful week with Michel this summer! Belle-Île is a magical place- beautiful, wild, and tranquil at the same time. In the mornings, I would study with Michel while Vince relaxed or explored. Michel is a fantastic teacher- funny, encouraging, patient, and flexible, and we were able to focus on any grammatical points that I had questions about or that he noticed me struggling with as we spoke. We used a variety of texts, Maupassant stories, popular songs, and magazine articles to enhance our lessons.

Afternoons were for exploring the island, visiting gardens, discovering beaches, napping, and bike rides. In the evening, the only sounds in our quiet hamlet were the bleating of sheep and goats and, in the distance, the ocean waves.

On Belle-Île we really felt we were off the beaten path, and I had many opportunities to use and practice French. The peaceful pace of the day allowed for time for homework for further practice. Our home for our stay was comfortable and Michel’s cooking was excellent. This was the perfect immersion experience, and we would love to return one day!

Paul and Susan 2015

I feel I have learnt more in a week, than I would in a year of self study.

 

Paul_and_Susan

 

My wife Susan and I have just spent an enjoyable week in the company of a dedicated and professional french language teacher Michel Denance. I was the one improving my French whilst Susan walked and cycled around the beautiful” Island, with me joining her in the afternoons.

Michel quickly assessed my french language abilities and my weak points. Together we agreed a plan of study for the week. I am lacking on many points of grammar, Michel worked through those weak points with me, with the aid of the book ‘ Grammaire Progressive du français’. He turned the learning of grammar into an enjoyable experience, with plenty of humour and understanding along the way.
He will give you home work to do in your own time. You don’t have to do homework but I found it a great help. We had many conversations in french, an aspect of french learning that is very lacking in England. He asked me if I minded being corrected along the way , as he understands it can upset the flow for some people.

I feel I have learnt more in a week, than I would in a year of self study.
As an intermediate student, I have come away with confidence, and a new sense of direction for future study of this beautiful language.
Thank you Michel for a great experience.