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.