The best way to learn French is to live in France. So go to the Nancy University L’Ecôle d’Eté and spend July learning French!
It was a wonderful three month visit to France. Barging, touring, cooking at La Combe and studying French at L’Ecôle d’Eté, Summer School at Nancy University. The Nancy University has this amazing summer school for the month of July where you live in and learn French, every day for the month….and it does not cost the earth.
Professor Alain Julian is the head of the summer school and a delightful gentleman, is very ably asssited by a great team, who guide you through an interesting program of language, grammar, literature, history, culture and a lot of fun. You are tested and graded into the appropriate level so everyone is comfortable with their group. It is a very diverse group of usually about 130 people coming from 29 differnet countries – French was often our only common language! That aids your learning too!
During the language program, my French professors and the other students were quite fascinated with the idea of living on the barge, plus they were also keen to cook, so we organized a cooking class, in French, on the barge for my French class. I took the class and we had to speak French throughout – quite a challenge, but there was much prompting from Catherine, my professor. The barge galley kitchen was also a challenge, but we mangaed to cook a quiche Lorriane, tartes aux Mirabelles and the petit pots de chocolat et crème.
It was most successful and all enjoyed it. In fact the whole program was jam packed with excellent language, historical and cultural activities. Check the website and watch the video which includes us cooking on the barge >>>
As well as the famous quiche, another delicious regional dish is la Tarte aux Mirabelles. Mirabelle is the French name for the delicious, small, yellow plum fruit from the Lorraine region, which comes from the Latin word “Mirabel”, meaning ‘beautiful’ and ‘wondrous’; and it really is a lovely and delicious fruit, that we rarely see in Australia. It is closely allied to the damson and bullace. The Mirabelle plum has a small, oval shape, with a smooth-textured dark yellow flesh, which becomes flecked in appearance. Read more about Mirabelles and for the recipe of Tarte aux Mirabelle >>>
I always return from France refreshed with many great ideas for cooking in our classes. I love working with French chefs; they have tremendous attention to detail, which always strikes me when I cook with them. Every task, from the preparation, ‘mise en place’, the actual cooking and the final presentation, is undertaken with love and so much care, and the finished dish presented with pride.
The simple task of making an eschallot salad dressing, then tossing the salad greens gently caressing the leaves with the hands, turning them over to just coat with the dressing, the making paper thin crepes, and the simple, traditional ‘Quiche Lorraine’. I was told that ‘Quiche’ is Lorraine , so there is no need to say Quiche Lorraine, and it is definitely made without cheese!
We enjoyed excellent barging trips around Lorraine, to historic Strasbourg and Saverne…climbing up and over the Vosges Mountain range (which divides Lorraine and Alsace), including going uo and down the inclinator, and many lochs, travelling through the beautiful forests and experiencing sensational scenery. The trip to Bar-Le-Duc, near the border of Champagne and Lorraine was fascinating, filled with ancient 12th and 13th century buildings, very appropriately and well restored. Bar-Le-Duc is the beginning of the famous sacred road to Verdun which was the major supply route to the town of Verdun, where the Battle of Verdun raged for 10 months and achieved very little other than many deaths on all sides.
Describing cities in France as historic is really easy as they are all historic, ancient, beautiful and charming. Each has their own story, usually associated with a specific historic period, person or event. I also travelled with my daughter to Champagne, Bourgogne, the Auvergne, La Combe in the Dordogne as well as around Nancy, where the barge was moored during her stay with me.