Want to learn French on your next family vacation? Pourquoi pas!

Written by admin on August 20, 2008 – 3:09 pm -

Many people want to improve their French and would like to do it during a family vacation. There aren’t so many options, but I’ve finally unearthed one that might fit the bill.

The Centre International d’Antibes may not be a five-star chateau, but it offers accommodations in studios that are located on the premises. Students must be a minimum of 12 years old to qualify for the “family” program. Each student is required to take a written and oral exam, plus an interview before being assigned to a class. The adult classes number no more than 12 while younger students are confined to a maximum of 15 in a group.

The classes are set up by the week so you can stay one week or as many as you want. It’s up to you whether you want this to be your entire vacation or combine it with a week in Paris or elsewhere.

Joelle Sbrana, the school’s director of admissions, explains that even though the school doesn’t offer meals for everyone, there are small kitchenettes for cooking. The entire family isn’t required to enroll for 20 sessions per week that last 45 minutes each. But one or more family member is required to do so. There are afternoon activities for students between the ages of 12 and 18 and they can eat their meals on the campus.

For families who prefer apartments, the Centre has a few. In addition, they can assign you to a host family where you’ll speak French because that’s what is spoken. Call that total immersion which is the best way of learning.

Depending on the time of year, Antibes may or may not be swinging. There’s lot going on during the summer months but if you really want to study, they’re are fewer distractions when it’s off-season. And the prices are substantially lower.

Don’t expect to meet only Anglophones if you sign up for the program. People from all countries attend the programs. As a result, you’ll meet people from many parts of the world, but more than likely from the EU.

The school also offers excursions to nearby towns such as Nice, Cannes and Monaco. Or you can hop on a train and explore them on your own. The train takes less than 30 minutes and you won’t have to worry about parking.

Many people have rental cars, so they’re free to discover the Riviera that’s not on every tourist map on their own. It’s not a bad way to vacation – and return home linguistically richer. Perhaps you’ll retain what you’ve learned if you speak French during dinner. A week will hopefully give you a start.

Karen Fawcett is president of Bonjour Paris.

Posted in Consumer Traveler |