IPF – French Immersion in Thourie
Time to make progress in French 🙂
It’s exciting! You are on this page because your IPFrance is coming up. I thought I’d send you this message to guide you as you prepare. Note that I have written general guidelines for your stay. The details may be slightly different for those who have set up a special program with me,
Before your stay
Do you have a valid passport? What about a visa? Do you need one? Ask the French consulate or the French embassy in your country. If you need either a passport or a visa, make sure you apply well ahead of time. The French bureaucracy isn’t known for speediness.
It’s a French thing: French people always get a travel insurance when they go abroad. That insurance may cover emergency medical care, medical evacuation and repatriation, liability, trip cancellation/interruption, baggage and personal item loss and delay 24/7 worldwide assistance. You may want to look into that.
Here is the SNCF site where you can reserve your ticket. If you would like, I can assist you with your train arrangements from Paris to Rennes. The earlier you make your reservation, the less expensive the ticket will be. I believe you can book your SNCF ticket up to 90 days before the date of your trip.
If you are leaving from Paris, you will go to GARE MONTPARNASSE, in the 14th arrondissement. Trains leave regularly for Rennes. A direct TGV train takes 1.5 hours. You can have lunch in Paris and enjoy a leisurely arrival in Rennes in the late afternoon.
If you’re taking the train directly from Charles de Gaulle Airport, you can book a direct TGV ticket to Rennes. The TGV (SNCF) train station is at the airport. It’s called “Aéroport Paris – Roissy – Charles-de-Gaulle” and is located in Terminal 2. There are free shuttles from and to other terminals. A direct trip to Rennes takes 2.5 hours. If you prefer, you can purchase your ticket at the station.
I encourage you to spend a few days in France before your IPFrance.
The time spent with me learning and perfecting your French can be very tiring. I have found that spending a few days in France beforehand, in order to get adjusted, is beneficial. It can also be lots of fun, and I can assist you with lodgings in Paris or elsewhere.
I also recommend that you schedule a buffer day between the end of our program and your departure, just in case your Rennes to Paris train is late. You don’t want to miss your plane in the event that your train doesn’t arrive on time.
Time of arrival
Please be sure you coordinate your time of arrival with me before you book your ticket to Rennes. The ideal time of arrival is at around 5 on Sunday evening. The previous visitors will have vacated Les Burons in the morning, and we need time to prepare everything for your stay. As a result, I won’t be able to pick you up before late afternoon. We will still have plenty of time for you to settle in at Les Burons and enjoy our first dinner, en français!
We’ll depart Les Burons around 9 a.m. the following Sunday to give you enough time to start your next French adventure.
[learn_more caption=” Need to wait? “]
We will definitely coordinate time arrivals but, if for any reason (and you shouldn’t have to on a normal day), you need to wait for a while in town: you can hang out with your luggage in the café of your choice just across the train station (one-minute walk).
However, more fun:
Are you into French culture? Les Champs Libres, a fun cultural hub that opens at 2 on Sundays.
Would you like to eat Breton food and/or have a cup of coffee? I recommend organic restaurant Ker Soazig, facing Les Champs Libres and right next to a huge movie theater.
Do you want to go and see a movie? You can pick your movie out of many at the Cinéma Gaumont Rennes.
You can do all of this within 5 minutes from the SNCF train station.
Cash and credit cards in France
As you know, everything is included in your IPFrance fee, except maybe an occasional metro ticket, which provides a good opportunity to be independent in France.
However, you might want to have cash for personal purchases, a cup of coffee, wine with our meals, if you so choose, or for a last night’s restaurant.
You can bring cash from home but be sure to allow about a week for your bank to order your Euros. You can also pay with a credit card with a chip in most stores in France. If your card doesn’t have a chip, you’ll be more likely to run into a problem. I believe that you can request a chip card from your bank or directly from a credit card company. Allow some time to get it.
I want you to know that you can also get cash from an ATM machine sometimes, but not all French banks are foreign-credit-card-friendly. Here again, I believe that will be a lot easier if your card has a chip.
If worse comes to worse, and if you can easily and quickly transfer money to French Hour bank account, and I will be happy to lend you the money.
At Les Burons
You’ll be staying at Les Burons in the village of Thourie at my grand-parents’ farm. Officially, it was built in the 18th century. My parents took over the house and renovated it when my grandparents retired. My mother, Danièle now runs a gîte – a ‘rental with owners nearby’, which is where we’re staying.
Pictures talk for themselves. So here are a few pictures of the premises. Let me know if you have special needs or wishes, so I can best accommodate your request.
Weather and Clothes
I’ve had stays in Thourie with gorgeous springs and falls. Winter is a bit iffier and summer can be gorgeous and/or rainy. The weather varies between 13ºC and 20ºC (55ºF and 68ºF) in the spring. It is generally between 15ºC and 20ºC (60ºF and 68ºF) in the fall.
However, I would recommend that you bring plenty of layers and at least one warm sweater, especially if you get cold easily. And don’t forget rain gear. Don’t worry if you leave something at home. What’s the worst that can happen? You shop for French clothes. There are plenty of stores in the nearby city of Rennes.
Les Burons is a gîte, which is not a full-service a hotel. You will be provided with sheets, pillows and towels. However, you should bring your own soaps, lotions and shampoos. Our stay at Les Burons doesn’t include the use of the washer and dryer. You may, however, use them on the premises for a 5 € fee each (Gîte rules).
Your electrical devices
You should check that the voltage for each of your devices is correct for France. The range is from 230V to 240V. If your device does not operate at up to 240V (check the little label), you will need to get a voltage converter. You can find one online or in a travel store. Beware! They can be bulky and heavy. Make sure you get one intended for travel. Me? I leave my hairdryer home.
You will also need an adapter for most devices. There are three-prong and two-prong plug adapters, depending on what your device requires. Adapters are sold in techie and luggage stores. Make sure you explain that you’re going to France. As for batteries, they are pretty much the same all over the world. You’ll have no problem finding AA, C and D batteries in all of the French supermarkets.
Ask your phone provider how to avoid roaming charges when using your device abroad. Roaming charges can be quite costly, so it’s important to have it under control.
Ideally, you should be able to call and text me outside of the WIFI network on outings during your stay in France. That way, you can always reach me if you get lost; if you know you’re going to be late when we plan to meet at a certain place and time; or, if you need to know right away if that box of chocolates you see in a store is a good deal or not.
So please ask your telephone provider to give you a contract that will allow you to call a French mobile phone and/or a French land line when you’re not on WIFI, such as when you’re on an outing in France. Double check on this with your provider, so that you don’t have an unpleasant surprise when you’re in France and find you cannot call a French phone number. We’ll exchange phone numbers when we meet.
Your computer, tablet (and phone again)
There is a good internet connection at Les Burons. Our lessons will be a lot more fruitful if you’re able to access French Hour worksheets on your device. If you decide to bring only a tablet, make sure you’re comfortable navigating and typing on it. In my experience, having an external keyboard is always best.
If you need to call home, the best way is to use a video conference app such as Skype, WhatsApp, GoogleTalk or a similar app. It’s free when you’re on WIFI.
If you bring a tablet or a phone, think about bringing the USB cable to charge it from your computer. That way, you avoid having to get converters and adapters for each of your devices. If you want to go local and get a pay-as-you-go French SIM card, make sure your phone is unlocked (or buy an unlocked phone online) before you leave.
Bring a camera (a phone camera is fine) for potential class projects.
The daily menus – which you’ll get at the beginning of the program, if you would like – are pre-planned and integrated into our classes and excursions, particularly in a regular IPFrance program. We’ll do the groceries together, almost daily. If the meals don’t fit your needs or taste, you are welcome to use the kitchen, which is fully equipped. You can store your staples in the fridge (French size! Don’t plan to buy a whole cheese wheel) and prepare your own meals. If you cook for yourself, you are still expected to eat with everyone else. When designing your stay, I’d also like to know if you have dietary restrictions and whether food is important to you. Is the idea of a French picnic exciting, or would you prefer a nice gourmet meal?
Wine is not included in the program. We may want to start a kitty for communal food and beverage.
A continental breakfast of fresh bread, butter and jelly with coffee or tea is ready an hour before class.
Lunches and dinners are typically French in preparation and size. We’ll take turns cooking our meals together. You will pick your schedule for cooking and cleaning up.
If you are on this page, you have made – or are about to make – a 20% deposit or a full payment.
If you didn’t pay the full amount of your IPFrance, your 80% balance is due 2 months before you are scheduled to arrive.
Last minute cancellations
I also want to let you know about my refund and deposit retention policy.
In the event that you should cancel your IPFrance for any reason, your 20% deposit is non-refundable.
And, in the event that French Hour must cancel your program, I will refund the entire amount of your IPFrance, or offer you another time to come, if that’s possible. I will not be able to reimburse you for other costs you may have incurred, such as your flight, hotel night or car rental. Let me assure you that this has never occurred, and I don’t anticipate it happening in the future.
J’espère avoir répondu à toutes les questions que vous pourriez avoir. J’ai hâte d’aller vous chercher à la gare de Rennes et de voir les progrès que vous ferez.