Welcome to our Brittany Blog
La Maison Creme and the Broken Wall
7.45am phone rings.
'Bonjour madame, j'ai un petit soucis, I have just driven into the wall at La maison Creme and the wall is broken. Don't worry, I can repair it. Can you come and see it?'
I arrive at La Maison Creme and it really wasn't as bad as I feared. I had visions of a gaping hole into the kitchen. Our neighbour had parked his car at the top of the lane, forgot to put the hand brake on, and he had watched his roll down the hill into the half metre high garden wall which surrounds La Maison Creme.
The neighbour was there with his uncle, he was very sorry, and his uncle (a different uncle) is quite fortunately a mason. It really is quite amazing, French families always have the right people for any eventuality!
Happily, our guests at La Maison Creme didn't hear a thing and were blissfully unaware of the broken wall!
Brittany Schools - La Rentrée
La rentrée (back to school) seems months ago whereas in fact it was only three weeks ago!
Today the Amazon parcel arrived! Iona’s light reading for the forthcoming year!
Iona has just started her second year of ‘le baccalauréat’ (the bac). This year she will take her French Literature exams and the rest will be taken next year.
Even though she has chosen a Science Bac she still has to continue with all of the subjects, French, German, History, Geography, Sport and next year philosophy but the exams will be weighted so Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry will be weighted more than the other subjects.
Joe has just started his final year at collége and will take his brevet (GCSE equivalent) exams in June. Last year there were a lot of changes to the brevet exams, which is good news for Joe!
Up until 2016 students were required to do a detailed project (l’histoire des Arts) on three different pieces of art, for example a sculpture, a painting and a ballet but the three had to all link together. This piece of work had to be detailed, typed and bound as a proper report and each student also had to present their project to a jury and answer questions. Happily for Joe, this part of the Brevet has been scrapped!
Tonight it should be decided which Bac Iona will be doing for the next two years.
Iona has just completed her first year at lycée, seconde générale et technologique. (equivalent of Year 11)
At the end of every term, we have had a blue form to complete which asks which baccalauréat she would like to do, her second foreign language and any options that she would like to take. Her teachers then meet and discuss her grades and either approve or reject her request.
There are four choices for a Bac Générale, the Bac Scientifique, Bac Literature, Bac Economic and Social Sciences and Bac STMG (technology). If you are not academic then there are literally thousands of Bac Pro options from learning to drive a heavy goods vehicle to hairdressing or agriculture.
Although there are four types of Bac Générale, they all carry on doing the same subjects; History, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, French, Maths, English, German, Sport, Philosophy etc. but the coefficients attached to each subject differ. For example if you do a Bac Scientific the coefficient placed on Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry will be 8 or 9 but for languages the coefficient will only be 2 or 3. The coefficients will be reversed if you are doing a Bac Literature.
From the age of 11 students are vigorously assessed in every subject with every grade given out of 20. At the end of each school year an average grade of all subjects is calculated. So, if you aren't particularly good in one subject this can significantly bring down your annual average. (Here I would mention Joe and art... less said !.. but without art and music his average annual grade would be a lot higher!)
This year end grade out of 20 is very important as it helps the teachers decide which bac each student should be offered.
Needless to say, stress levels are running pretty high!
How Important Is Lunch?
To the French VERY important!
77% of French people take more than 30 minutes for lunch on weekdays whilst 73% of British people take less than 30 minutes!
76% of French people prefer to eat lunch in a restaurant during the week and the majority do! To eat a sandwich at your desk is positively frowned upon in France whereas in England NOT to eat a sandwich at your desk is frowned upon!
Work / Life balance is never easy but I think the French have got it right!
French Anger Over Beach Privatisation.....
The 5.4km sandy beach at La Baule is going to be privatised and local business owners are furious.
Soon the longest beach in Europe will be managed by the French environmental services company, Veolia.
Veolia has invited bids for sailing clubs, childrens clubs and restaurants. All of the 35 existing business structures will be replaced with standardised modules.
In France, no beach can be truely private because the sea and the beach are public domains and an 1858 ruling states that there must be free access of the public to the beaches. However, the state may grant temporary rentals of beach sections for a maximum of 12 years.
There are strict rules on what the concessionaires can do, they can only operate for 6 months a year, no permanent structures, all tempoary structures to be removed at the end of each season and no fences.
Veolia will be the middle man between the state and the concession operators and it is thought that by year 4, the concession rentals will be in the region of €850,000pa. Not bad, considering that Veolia have negotiated an annual rental of €170,000 to the State.
I bet the mayors of lots of coastal towns are watching La Baule with great interest. If this formula works we may see many more 'privatised' French beaches.
Poete Ferrailleur-`Metal Sculpture Extraordinaire`
If you are coming to Brittany this summer… if there is one place I would recommend it would have to be Poete Ferrailleur-`Metal Sculpture Extraordinaire`. It is quirky in a very Breton Way!
Located near Lizio this local artisan’s work must be seen. Using recycled materials he creates moving, musical and even aquatic sculptures. He’s also quite keen on building odd moving machines and bizarre fountains
There`s over sixty moving works of art. Children can push buttons, pedal things, turn odd looking handles and the `sculptures` all come to life. It really is amazing.
I cannot recommend it enough…
Brittany As It Was During The Resistance
I find the resistance fascinating. The bravery of normal people. The lengths they went to to save their country.
The resistance museum is located in Saint Marcel, about ten minutes away on the outskirts of Malestroit. It is a modern well presented museum charting the darker days of the second world war when the Germans had a large base at Malestroit.
Saint-Marcel was one of the most important locations for the Resistance in Brittany. This museum tells the Resistance story.
It describes the course of events from the occupation to the formation of the Resistance and finally to the huge allied parachute drop that liberated the town and surrounding area. There's loads of exhibits from tobacco tins to full size tanks. You can take a trip in an armored personnel carrier or if you prefer watch the old footage in one of the cinemas -English subtitles.