A GROUP of 23 King’s Ely Senior students and 3 members of staff have recently returned from the school’s very first French Exchange with Ensemble Scolaire Saint-Joseph Lassalle in Toulouse.

Brigitte Bousquet, Head of French at King’s Ely Senior, said: “On arrival in Toulouse, we were greeted by beautiful sunshine and colourful banners. The ice was broken straightaway. Our students spent their first couple of days in full immersion with their family. Some were treated to a trip to the mountain to enjoy the last of the snow, whilst others went to the seaside or to the stadium to watch Toulouse play PSG.

“The rest of the week included a wide array of activities which allowed the students to experience many of the most touristic sites of the region such as La Cité de l’espace, Airbus Industrie and the medieval city of Carcassonne, as well as the differences between the French and British education systems. On the Thursday we visited the cave of le Mas d’Azil, the only cave in Europe that can be driven through, followed by a very humbling descent to middle earth to cruise on the underground river of Labouïche.

“One of the highlights of the week was, without a doubt, our visit to Stade Toulousain, France’s best Rugby team where many internationals play. After a nice breakfast laid out in their Bodega restaurant, we spent some time with their coach Ugo Mola and their team manager Pierre Poiroux who answered some of our students’ questions. We were then able to meet the whole team and get their autographs. Finally we were privileged enough to watch one of their final training sessions – usually not opened to the public – ahead of their Saturday game. It was a real joy to see our students’ faces light up as they mingled with the likes of Yoann Huget, Maxime Medard, Australian Richie Arnold and New Zealander Charlie Faumuina, amongst others. The welcome and simplicity of these athletes was heartwarming and a true reflection of the Rugby ethos.

“A huge thank you goes to our host families in Toulouse as well as everyone else involved in this trip, be it at home or in Toulouse. A wonderful week was had by all. We now look forward to welcoming the Toulousains in Ely on May 3rd!”

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