Trouville sur mer

Our first ‘day at the beach‘ in France… after two years. This time to celebrate a 49th birthday in lovely, warm, summer weather.

The closest beach to us is about a two hour drive north-west. We headed to Honfleur where the Seine flows into the ocean. A beautiful old town, but not really a beach to enjoy.

beach11 beach21

Then along the coast to Trouville. A lovely beach where the sun was shining and the water was nice. So there we stayed for the day.


The beautiful buildings along the coast and Le Havre across the bay.


We rented one of these for the day.



Fun, fun, fun…


and if you get bored: lire a la mer – read at the sea.


After all the fun, a short drive to see the cliffs at Etretat.

beach91looking down from the cliffs on the pretty village…

beach101And of course after always having winter birthdays, this has already been my third summer birthday : )


This year and next year.

It’s still the confusing thing of ending a year (school) in the middle of the year. We almost can’t believe it, but we are really at the end of our first year in France and the end of the first schoolyear. The boys are on holiday already. A 12 week holiday till they start the next year in September. (Not to forget that there are also 8 more weeks of holiday during the year.)  They did spoil my previous post I must say…  I had all these nice words about them repeating this year, but it is actually good and then they came home with reports saying that they’ve passed! I had to change the post and now it does not read so nice anymore. But, it’s ok   : )

Let me explain a bit about French schools. They don’t write exams. Kids are evaluated through the year with tests; announced and unannounced, and also receive marks for participation in class. The next interesting thing is that parents have a say in whether a child should pass or not. At the end of each term; before you receive the report, you can ask for pass or repeat. The school will respond with what they think and you can accept that or not. At the end of the year if you and the school still don’t agree, you can appeal. What I appreciate about schools here is that they look at the whole picture. The boys chose to do Premier S next year. That will be the direction with maths, science and computers. Because they showed that they are good in maths and science, they were passed to Premier. They had a good mark for their FLS french (Special class for not french speaking children), but no mark for the normal french class. Because they are going in the science direction and will do much less french and history next year, and no biology, they could pass. It makes a lot of sense. They will have to still work hard, but at least with ‘nicer’ subjects. And they could finish school in two years time.

We get the keys to our (very old) new house in three weeks, which is just to say that we are moving. That meant changing schools. (Which everyone was happy to do.) As we are moving to a new department, we got the news that we have to work through the Inspection Academique again. That’s the schools department. The first time we waited six weeks for them, and we had the help of the relocation company, so we were not really excited to hear this.

We don’t give up, so we grabbed all our french and went to see them. Unbelievably with the first visit the lady made an appointment for us at the girls’ new school and we were there last week to register them. All sorted. Then a next visit for the boys and tomorrow we will go to register them at their school. I must say we understand most of what they say now and with a whole lot of grammar mistakes and wrong words, they actually understand us, so we get to organize it all. And people are mostly very appreciative and friendly about our efforts. : )

The girls did really well this year. The negative side of the FLS class is that they are not really taken seriously. They attend some of the normal grade classes, but are told to sit at the back and do their FLS work. They also didn’t get handbooks. But these two girls changed this a bit. : ) Mandi was working hard at home, trying to understand. Doing maths with just the bits she could write down in class, so at the end of the first term I asked the teacher to give her books and let her at least try. The same for Franci. And they surprised the teachers. There were still subjects like history and biology that they did not do it all. They also missed many classes being in the FLS class. But by the third term they were both doing the best in their normal french maths class. Franci enjoyed it so much when monsieur Hanin, the maths teacher told the class (with a smile) that everyone that has less marks than Franci, has detention after school. And there it was the whole class. : ) And he asked Mandi’s class if they are not ashamed that a FLS child is doing better than them. : ) The new school was impressed with their reports and the teachers remarks, and they were also quite excited to have ‘foreign’ children in their school who can speak english. This school does not offer FLS and have only local french children and no immigrants like the previous school. The school here in Cergy consisted mainly of immigrants. Most of the kids speak Arabic at home. Many kids from Turkey and Africa as well.

When they were tested last year, the academique actually moved the girls up one year, compared to where they were in South Africa. I think if we really asked for it, the girls could pass to the next grade, but they both chose to repeat this year. Franci need to improve in reading and writing french. The speaking is going well. Mandi would have gone to highschool which adds some other difficulties, so we were all happy for them to repeat.

Apart from schools we do have summer now. Its just that it happens only every fifth day, or maybe seventh… : ) Ok, we have summer days every now and again.

We could have a nice picnic at the water park here in Cergy…

and the poppies are really pretty now…