The 2011 'Université des Nations' in Mâcon

This is twinning at its best! You learn more of another language and spending a week in close contact with other nationalities puts your cultural prejudices under severe strain!

This year's French summer school in Mâcon included English, Italians and a Spanish girl. It was housed in the Akena Escatel hotel close to the town centre.

The group spent the mornings in class followed by a three course buffet meal in the hotel. Three afternoon trips were laid on by the Comité de Jumelage to places of interest in the area. There were two organised dinners but otherwise evenings were free.

The cool changeable weather was more typical of England than France but the warmth of the welcome more than made up for this. The twinning committee did everything possible to make the week a success.

On Monday there was a tour of the Mâconnais including Milly-Lamartine, where the poet Lamartine grew up, and Berzé-le-Châtel with a splendid castle and impressive 12th century murals in the village church. This was followed by a visit to a family run vineyard and wine museum at Le Château de la Greffière à La Roche Vineuse. The obligatory 'degustation' gave the group the chance to sample some very fine local wines.

On Tuesday afternoon the group found themselves in the centre of a busy town roundabout! This was the culmination of a fascinating visit to the municipal greenhouses where the reasons for Mâcon being one of France's top floral towns became clear. Details of the 2010 'Fleur d'Or' award are here. A tour of the town and a reception at the offices of the twinning committee rounded off the day.

On Thursday the group visited Tournus and had a guided tour of the Hôtel Dieu, an ancient hospital that stayed in use until 1982 and the church of St. Philibert with its impressive 11th century barrel vaulted nave.

Friday afternoon started with a tour of the town archives department. Mâcon's history was lovingly preserved and open for all to see, including explosive material about wartime collaboration with the Nazis.

It concluded at the home of a committee member where everyone was encouraged to try their hand at making 'gaufrés', a Mâcon speciality.

Saturday was a busy day and one where impressive appetites were required! The morning French lesson took place in the town market on the Quai Lamartine beside the Saône. Then followed the presentation of certificates accompanied by a selection of 'viennoiseries'. A long lunch at the home of the President du Comité de Jumelage was followed, after a short break, by the farewell dinner, courtesy of the Twinning Committee, at a restaurant just outside Mâcon.

More pictures from the summer school are in our picture gallery

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional