On 26th September, 20 GCSE French students and 2 teachers from Brynteg and Bryntirion Schools said goodbye to their schools and families for a week to take part in the annual French exchange trip with the students of Collège Chambéry in Villenave-d’Ornon, Bridgend’s French twinned town.

There was a buzz of excitement (and some nerves!) on our journey from the Recreation Centre in Bridgend to Villenave-d’Ornon sports centre where the 20 French families were waiting to greet the new Welsh members of their family! After some awkward introductions (hand shake or kiss on the cheek???) pupils were off to start their packed week of immersion in French culture and daily life with a weekend getting to know their host families. School started at 8.00am prompt on Monday and after a tour of the school and lessons with their French correspondents, there was a chance for students to try lunch in the canteen before visiting a local château.

During the week pupils also experienced trips to Bordeaux for some shopping and the Eco-musée where they collected their own grape harvest and crushed the grapes with their feet to make grape juice which they had to taste afterwards!

On Wednesday, after tasting oysters at Le bassin d’Arcachon and practising their shopping vocab at the local market, trekking up and down both sides of La dune du Pyla was worth it to see the beautiful views at the top and at the water’s edge.

On the final day at school students gave presentations to French students in quatrième (Year 9) to help promote the exchange and give them an idea of life in Bridgend. There were lots of questions particularly around the famous Welsh footballer Gareth Bale!

There were tears all-round on Saturday as we finally said goodbye to our French correspondents who really did feel like family by the end of our stay! After some serious waving through the bus window and a short flight home we were happy to be reunited with our Welsh families and look forward to welcoming our correspondents back to stay with us in April!