Alsace visitor highlights in any seasons

Alsace visitor highlights in any seasons

Vacances Actives Linguistiques visited Alsace this summer and brings you its favourite things to see and do during a language stay in Alsace for our French students. Here’s a trip through both the region (north to south) and time as you travel back to the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Industrial Revolution. Autumn and its golden colours make Alsace one of our favourite destinations: half-timbered houses, fortresses standing on mountain roads and hillside vineyards, staggering views of the Ballons des Vosges and rib-sticking comfort food! 

1 : Craftsmanship and culture, Musée Lalique, Hochberg

You’re in for an exciting introduction to the art of glass and crystal at the Lalique Museum. The sheer variety of display pieces showcase the attention to detail and prestige of the work and expertise that go into making them.
The museum is named after a famous creative family and specifically René Lalique, the world-renowned glass designer who opened his glassworks on the Hochberg site in 1922. The museum displays fine jewellery, perfume bottles for luxury brands, chandeliers and beautifully crafted home accessories.
Get to grips with the extraordinary art of glass with films and sensory workshops where you can touch the material at each design stage.

2 : Strasbourg and flammekueche foodie workshop.

Strasbourg is a must-visit on this language stay in Alsace. The city and European district are worth spending a full week exploring (please see our first travel guide in Strasbourg).

After a walk around Petite France and a trip up the cathedral to say hello to the gargoyles, the students got stuck into a cookery workshop devoted to a local delicacy: flammekueche!

The wood-fired recipe has simple yet specific ingredients: smoked lardons, onion and cream. Once our aprons and worktops were completely covered in flour, the workshop turned into a tasting session to find out who had made the best flammekueche!

3 : Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, Alsace’s iconic medieval fortress

It was time to visit Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg and tackle one of Alsace’s best-preserved and most iconic medieval fortresses. Sitting on a rocky headland at an altitude of 750m, the château is a blast from the past. Its uneven walls hug the mountain with views of the rolling Vosges, Black Forest and even the Alps on a good day! An essential geography break to reset your compass north!

The fortress trip was a chance to introduce our group of students to medieval architecture terms in French: donjon, pont-levis, chemin de ronde, mâchicoulis and more. From the weapons rooms and keep to the beautifully furnished reception rooms, Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg captures medieval everyday life and how weapons and warcraft have evolved. 

4. Humanist Library in Sélestat

Say goodbye to the Middle Ages and hello to the Renaissance as we follow in the footsteps of the humanist Beatus Rhenanus. He left his fantastic book collection to the Alsatian town of Sélestat where he was born and it is now listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. 

As you flick through the books, manuscripts, leaflets and numbered schoolbooks, you experience the lives of great humanists and travellers like Beatus Rhenanus and his famous friend Erasmus. Discovering uncharted territory, meeting new cultures, making progress in science and technology, considering man’s place in the universe and more, a trip to the Humanist Library certainly got our French students and budding travellers thinking. 

5 : The Eagle Park at Château de Kintzheim

Do birds of prey make your heart soar? Then head to the Eagle Park for a show you’ll never forget! We took our French students out on an educational and exciting trip to meet the tawny eagle, spectacled owl and snowy owl (which Harry Potter fans loved for its Hedwig vibes).

Admiration and wonder were the keywords. We met as many as 30 lively, smart and remarkable birds of prey here. Our trip included an educational workshop to find out how the eagles are born in captivity here and live in their natural habitat.

6 : Charming little Alsatian towns: introducing Colmar, Eguisheim and Ribeauvillé

We simply had to spend a day visiting Alsace’s beautiful villages with their signature personality and romance. These towns are popular during the holiday season with their magical Christmas markets, but they’re just as lovely on a trip to explore and sample local produce! Feast on cured meat, bretzels and classic choucroute galore on the Wine Route! 

Ribeauvillé is a fine example of Alsatian village architecture with bright and colourful half-timbered houses. Our students’ favourites were Auberge de l’Éléphant and Maison des Ménétriers (meaning the House of Musicians) at the top of the Grand-Rue with its beautiful frontage dating back to 1683. We kept our energy topped up with a trip to a family-run Alsatian chocolate shop!

We did a little scavenger hunt in Eguisheim: our young visitors explored the village with spiral lanes and met locals and tourists to answer as many questions as they could in the shortest time. Mission accomplished! Half-timbered houses, high-pitched roofs, sculpted lintels and secret fountains… there were hidden clues everywhere! This colourful village is a favourite among French people (just ask TV presenter Stéphane Bern!) with its pretty labyrinth ideal for having fun and enjoying views of the Alsatian hills. 

Last stop: Colmar, the most magical and peaceful of the trio. The so-called Little Venice is home to half-timbered houses lining the canals and cobbled lanes. Since the Christmas market and its many craftsmen and traders weren’t here, we focused on the Ecomusée d’Alsace: a traditional Alsatian village brought to life to showcase bygone buildings, trades and costumes. We met the blacksmith, cooper, wheelwright and schoolteacher who held a class about Alsace’s history in the classroom! Listen up!

7. La Cité du Train, SNCF heritage in Mulhouse

A journey within a journey… La Cité du Train in Mulhouse whisked us away to the world of train travel as we explored rolling stock, all the items used on board and how they’ve changed over time.

As our visitors moved from one area to the next, they got a glimpse of the railway world in all its glory whether it be exciting (the train and holidays, paid leave in 1936), geographical (the train and mountain, a technical challenge!) or political and dramatic (the train and world wars).

The students were fascinated by the genuine steam trains from the 1850s, imperial carriages and luxurious Compagnie des Wagons-Lits restaurants used on the iconic Orient Express.

Let’s not forget France’s high-speed rail service: the TGV! The students were eager to find out more about the modern trains and may even have found their calling!

Our language stays in Alsace bring together the cool mountain nature of the Vosges with the fantastic local history and culture. They are easy to pair with trips to major cities such as Paris or Lyon, available all year round and are even more magical over the holiday season.

Baie de Somme travel diary

Baie de Somme travel diary

For this language stay diary, we’re going off the beaten track on a trip to the Baie de Somme. Our French teacher, Amelia, and her group of students from Malta were won over by the beautiful Baie and bring you their highlights. All the students reconnected with nature on this revitalising trip from Paris to the region between Picardy and Normandy.

Top 5 of the Baie de Somme 

Our language stay went in a whole new direction when my group of students, guide and I left the bright lights, museums and monuments of Paris for the Baie de Somme. Within just two hours we had a total change of scene and maybe even a trip back in time! White chalk cliffs, dunes and wetlands, Belle Epoque beach huts, sheep and kites, chic seafront villas…. My students soaked it all up and almost forgot about their smartphones! Here are our favourite experiences in a 5-stage travel diary. 

1. Le Crotoy and land sailing

The sandy beach stretches as far as the eye can see at low tide in Le Crotoy, so you realise how big it is as it wraps around the entire Somme estuary. We made the most of the open and sun-drenched (lucky us!) space to go land sailing with the students. After two hours of (intense!) exercise, we still had some gas in the tank for a spot of birdwatching. We asked our local guide for help spotting the birds living here… apparently it’s all in the beak. Look out for the petit gravelot (little ringed plover), avocette (avocet) and huitrier pie (oystercatcher) among others. 

The group were pleasantly surprised to see a steam train straight from the Belle Epoque. The sleek train travels slow and steady along the entire Baie de Somme to Saint Valéry. The train glided past us and certainly left a mark on the wide-eyed students. What a way to end the day!

 

2. Saint-Valery-sur-Somme: full of sheep and medieval charm

Saint Valéry is one of 3 ports in the Baie de Somme and its village is perched on a rocky headland. We visited the idyllic and romantic medieval town home to ramparts and two defensive towers. We really enjoyed exploring the fishing quarter, Courtgain, and its maze of narrow lanes lined with flowers, half-timbered houses and red and white checkerboard walls. 

After a pot of mussels and chips, we headed for the Herbarium des Remparts: a botanical garden dating back to the Middle Ages and home to countless rare plant species. 

From the top of Saint Valéry, students feasted their eyes on the fabulous scenery with a patchwork of sandy beaches and meadows: mollières (they have very specific terms to describe the landscape, flora and fauna here… it’s not easy!) where salt marsh sheep graze peacefully. The salty plants make the lamb taste like nothing you’ve tried before. 

Last but not least, we visited the flint and chalk so-called sailor’s chapel: the architecture is unique to say the least! There’s no cockerel or cross at the top of the spire; there’s a seagull! 

3. Cayeux sur Mer and Hourdel Lighthouse

The coastal landscape changes in Cayeux as sand is replaced by pebble beaches. Since pebbles are hard to walk on, Europe’s longest boardwalk stretches along the beach over 2km and we used it to stroll among the dunes and pebbles to the falaises vives (cliffs lapped by the waves).

It has such a romantic atmosphere with a retro feel: in the distance you can see the green and white Hourdel Lighthouse, colourful kites and rows of beach huts (there are over 400 in summer!). 

The blockhaus gave us the chance to discuss World War II with the students and we used it as a milestone as we explored the beach. 

The highlight of the day (of the trip actually) was meeting the seals! We were lucky enough to see them: there are a lot of them since they made the Baie de Somme their home decades ago. During high tide and from a distance (over 200m away) you can see the biggest colony of harbour seals in France and countless grey seals. 

4. Mers-les-Bains, a chic rock pooling village

Our trip back in time to the Belle Epoque continued in Mers les Bains, tucked into the white chalk cliff. The village is home to beautiful villas! Colourful houses with bow windows and beautifully decorated fronts form a picture-perfect setting. We spent the morning rock pooling with the guide and several keen amateurs during low tide. We actually gave them our catch at the end of the grey and windy morning… the sun can’t always shine at the Picardy seaside!

5. Parc du Marquenterre: nature break

Another great day reconnecting with Mother Nature: Parc de Marquenterre is a huge nature reserve where you can see the animals and plants native to the Baie de Somme. Especially the birds…

It’s time to zoom out of France for a geography lesson: the Baie de Somme is in a prime location between Mauritania and Scandinavia, making it a popular place among migratory birds in Europe. We joined a naturalist guide and held a treasure hunt for the students to encourage them to observe different species and understand their lifestyles. Very rewarding!

This language stay between the city and seaside was a wonderful surprise. After the pomp and glory of the French capital, we soaked up the great outdoors and magic of a region in touch with nature. Whilst in the Baie de Somme, the students switched off, recharged their batteries and learnt all kinds of things about coastal life, history and beauty in this unspoilt region. 

Marseille travel diary, a sing-song destination to learn French

Marseille travel diary, a sing-song destination to learn French

Thian, a French teacher from Argentina, shares highlights from his Marseille language stay with his Buenos Aires students and Vacances Actives Linguistiques agency. This travel journal is packed with flavour and sing-song accents that made the group very happy as they took a deep dive into French culture and language… Provençal style.

My Marseille travel diary

Marseille is a buzzing and bustling city whose locals are famous for speaking their mind! It’s the perfect destination for my group of French language students: it’s easy to get chatting with people, there are lots of places to interact with locals and the city’s residents talk a lot! The local accent may not make oral comprehension any easier but it certainly spices things up!

We had a fantastic schedule packed with Provençal history, architecture, stunning scenery, thrilling tales and delicious dishes. 

Two Marseille landmarks to visit with 800 years between them 

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde or Bonne Mère to friends

This basilica started out as a humble chapel in the 13th century, sitting on the hill above Marseille. It became popular when sailors made it their place of worship after surviving a shipwreck. A huge bronze Virgin Mary was erected at the top of the monument in 19th century as it became a basilica, protector and emblem of the city which you can see wherever you are in Marseille.

I’ll never forget walking up a never-ending steep slope to it!! That was the workout of the day for the students! A deafening mistral whipped up when we reached the top… What with the 360° views, it was a breathtaking experience in every way! Inside the basilica, its mosaics were rich and opulent whilst the crypt was deep and serious. Notre Dame de la Garde is an absolute must-visit if you want to get to grips with the religion surrounding Bonne Mère!

MUCEM, a new beacon in Marseille Port

What a sight the MUCEM, Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée is… It’s not just the exhibitions that are fascinating here, it’s the architecture too. 

It’s a cube wrapped in beautiful latticework which visitors can see the surroundings through. It sits on the Marseille seafront so you can see the sea through the concrete net curtain as well as Fort Saint Jean and the city’s fantastic maritime heritage. 

It’s a feast for the eyes and the students went wild for selfies here!

Stunning scenery from a dreamworld

A hike out to the Marseille calanques

This was the one we’d been waiting for: the iconic calanques They’re partly why we picked Marseille as our language stay destination with the VAL agency: sun, sea and incredible beaches lapped by the bright blue waves. We decided to hike there to soak up the unspoilt natural surroundings. It took hours walking through the garrigue hills to reach the hotspot. We took a picnic break to explore the local flora and its magical names: chêne kermès, figuier de Barbarie, griffes de sorcières… It was a great way to work on specific French vocabulary and get an insight into the threats to the area: fire, drought, extinction etc.
Then all of a sudden, from the top of the hill we could see the calanque’s glittering water. After a dip to cool off, it was time to head back…

Château d’If, from a distance

We never get bored of the sea! The third day of our language stay in Marseille saw us set sail to the Frioul archipelago. The schedule included a stop at Château d’If standing on a rock. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean Sea’s swell didn’t let us dock so we listened to the story that made this place a legend: the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. 

The royal fortress was built by King François I in the 16th century and was a state prison for over 300 years. This magical yet imposing historical landmark really inspired my French students. A few months before, we studied the legend of Monte Cristo in class, read part of the novel and did a creative writing contest based on the character. What if Edmond Dantès had an accomplice in Château d’If? 

That day in Marseille, the sea sealed our fate: we didn’t get to visit Château d’If and we reached the Frioul archipelago half-drowned by the splashing waves!

French treasure hunt on the Frioul archipelago

There’s nothing better than a treasure hunt to learn French through play. We planned a treasure hunt on Ratonneau, the main island in the archipelago, to explore the unspoilt setting full of rocks, sandy coves and crystal-clear water. The students had to answer a questionnaire in a set amount of time and gather information from locals (mainly shops) or use their sense of observation. No smartphones were allowed for this team activity so the students had to think and speak in French. The agency designed a treasure hunt that introduced them to the fascinating history of the Frioul archipelago: military adventures, quarantine site for foreign boats during the Great Plague, “Hôpital Caroline”, Ratonneau Fort and more. The students who got the right answers were allowed the first swim in the calanques! 

Exploring Cosquer Cave: the highlight of our Marseille language stay!

Our French students fell in love with Cosquer Cave, an underwater prehistoric cave (the original is protected so you can only visit the replica). It’s an otherworldly place. The story of when the cave was discovered is as unique and magical as the site itself. A passionate diver called Henri Cosquer was exploring the Marseille shores when he stumbled upon the underwater cave in 1985 and its cave art a few years later! Mankind visited the cave 33,000 years ago… The replica of the cave and its art is open to small groups at a “submarine base” 3 floors under the sea. The students loved the incredibly realistic dive into prehistory. 

Marseille, cinema city

Our students had already visited Marseille before coming here! Some of them had watched Stillwater, an American film from 2021 starring Matt Damon and Camille Cottin, shot entirely in Marseille’s streets and calanques.

Le Panier is a popular film location and we explored the neighbourhood’s sun-drenched and colourful lanes lined with artisans and bustling eateries. The guide told us that the district is where a famous soap opera is filmed and broadcast around the world in several languages: Plus Belle la Vie. Next, we visited the Belle de Mai Media Centre to tour the series’ film studios where everyday scenes are recreated from the famous Le Panier area. 

Experiencing Marseille food and drink at the Vieux Port!

No language stay in Marseille would be complete with some good food and Provençal classics. Apparently, it’s easier to learn French on a full stomach. We started with a dish whose name is very hard for foreigners to pronounce: bouillabaisse. We dived into the recipe with a trip to the Vieux Port in the morning as the fishing boats came in, to see which fish go into the local concoction. Our young foodies weren’t too fond of scorpion fish, but they did like chatting with the shop owners and gazing at the pretty boats… 

Pistou soup was far more popular at dinner time! The basil flavours made our palates sing, or “faire chanter les papilles” as the locals say! Last but not least, we tucked into navettes, crispy little boat-shaped biscuits scented with orange blossom. The shelves in the Les Navettes des Accoules shop in Le Panier were left bare!

A Marseille urban legend… 

Did you know that a long time ago, a giant sardine blocked the Vieux Port in Marseille so ships couldn’t sail into the port. No matter what they did, the sailors couldn’t move it! The giant sardine refused to budge. 

A little boy came up with the solution: he used a small mullet as bait to attract the giant sardine away from the port. He did it! The diversion tactic worked and the port was open again. This quirky little story says it all about Marseille’s storytelling legacy and the unbreakable bond between the city and the sea.

A language stay in Marseille means soaking up French culture and its bond with the sea. History (and prehistory), heritage, architecture, scenery, food and drink all rooted in the Mediterranean. Our week of morning French lessons and afternoon outings improved the entire group’s culture and personal development. A true blue adventure where the students got to chat with Marseille students, despite a few challenges understanding the sing-song Provençal accent!

The photo rally: a French learning challenge!

The photo rally: a French learning challenge!

Planning a photo rally or photo challenge as part of a language stay is a great way to challenge French as a foreign language students! Tested and approved!

Whether it’s in a Paris arrondissement, Nice city centre or Strasbourg, this activity has lots going for it in terms of encouraging oral communication and learning French. 

It’s a fun way to teach French as a foreign language outside the classroom that has won over our team and young travellers for so many reasons: let’s find out more. 

What does a photo rally involve? 

Planning a photo rally or challenge during a language stay doesn’t involve much time or planning. It’s an activity that suits any destination, weather and player numbers. 

The rules

Here’s the idea behind a photo rally: players have a series of questions and puzzles to solve using photos they shoot at locations throughout the city. Once all the photo answers are in, the time taken and number of right answers are taken into account to name the winner. There’s a time limit (1 or 2 hours depending on age and locations) to make sure the rally doesn’t go on forever and students give it their all. 

The challenge is in pairs or teams to make it more fun and encourage oral work. 

Planning the rally

You need to plan a route with puzzles that encourage the players to interact with shop owners, locals and passersby and really engage with their surroundings. 

Here are some sample questions in two different destinations:

  • Paris: This bakery in the Marais won the best baguette in France award. Take a photo of a customer in front of the shop window (it’s a good excuse to sample one of the bakery’s croissants too!).
  • Nice: The Nice Flower Market is famous all over the world. It’s peony season… prove it with the help of a florist!

A photo rally is meant to be fun; you’re not looking for the best shot. Players can use their smartphones as they need a quick and simple way to send photos to whoever’s planned the game. That makes it a challenge just for young learners with some degree of independence and confidence speaking who can get around a city or district, find their way with a map or GPS and have their own phone (at least 1 per team).

The advantages of a photo rally for learning French 

Encourage active language learning

A photo rally can really motivate players as they get stuck into the game and tackle the puzzles and challenges with ease. It’s a fun and exciting way to encourage learners to meet people to ask questions, get information, a story or just a photo. Not only does it boost intercultural interaction and communication, it’s also a great way to improve language skills in terms of expression and oral comprehension. The challenges get students thinking about specific subjects, using themed language and communicating effectively to get the answers they need. Players have to combine words and sometimes idioms with actual images, which helps them associate visuals and memorise language.

Boost team spirit and interpersonal skills

A photo rally plays out in teams of 2 or more to encourage communication, thinking out loud and teamwork! Working out puzzles, getting your bearings, negotiating and making decisions as a team are just some of the situations that improve the students’ interpersonal skills whilst speaking French.

Explore French culture

Players grab their cameras (or smartphones) and scour a district or city for architectural or landscape features and historical or cultural information. If you’re planning a rally, you can base the questionnaire on a specific local theme such as food & drink, modern architecture, landmarks etc. Here are a few examples: Provençal cuisine in Nice, craftsmanship in Lyon or medieval history in Strasbourg. 

Here are a few helpful hints to pull off a photo rally in French

  1. Choose teaching and learning objectives beforehand: a particular vocabulary theme, specific grammar structures or a historical or cultural aspect of the city.
  2. Choose a relevant and interesting subject for the students. Food & drink, nature, architecture, history, arts etc. You could put together a list of vocabulary and idioms for them too.
  3. Draw up a questionnaire (20 questions maximum), test the route and how long it takes beforehand. Make sure there are no niggles, everywhere they need to visit is open etc. Check the route is doable. 
  4. Split the players into teams of at least 2.
  5. Give the route to every team but stagger their start times so you avoid all the students being in the same place and cheating!
  6. Have spare phones or cameras ready in case there aren’t enough or any issues crop up. 
  7. Set a time for them to complete the photo rally to keep up their enthusiasm and energy.
  8. Have a prize for the winners!
  9. Last but not least: host a French lesson devoted to solving puzzles that will help your students memorise vocabulary and boost their cultural knowledge.

Students and teachers alike love a photo rally. It helps them get to know a city or district and interact with locals. It’s not easy to meet locals, especially when you’re learning French. This game encourages students to tackle the challenge and learn through play. This activity doesn’t require much equipment and you can reuse the route you design too! Getting creative, interacting, socialising and learning: a French as a foreign language photo rally ticks every box!

Perfume workshop in Grasse: All about the art of French fragrance 

Perfume workshop in Grasse: All about the art of French fragrance 

The magical settings and heritage in Nice’s hinterland are simply scentsational. Grasse is the perfume world capital and a must-visit on our stays in Provence. France’s iconic perfume brands open their doors to visitors to dive into the fairytale world of fragrance and experience it for themselves at fascinating classes. 

Let’s join a perfume making class to learn what goes into creating the precious potion in a medieval town that oozes Provençal vibes. 

This article is about a trip with a group of students from Uzbekistan who came to explore the South of France and learn French on a language stay! 

Find out more: 

Visiting Grasse, the world capital of perfume

Grasse and the art of perfume, UNESCO World Heritage

The world-renowned region of Grasse in Provence and its perfume expertise have been recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The award is based on centuries of expertise including:

  • Growing fragrant plants
  • Knowledge of natural ingredients and how to process them
  • The art of making perfume 

What better reason for overseas visitors to explore this scentsational world? It really is an artform: the Grasse region has been growing ingredients and designing artisan techniques to blend scents since the 16th century…

Grasse perfume: age-old artisan expertise

After visiting Nice, Antibes and the Mediterranean coast, it’s time to see what the hinterland has to offer. 

It’s no coincidence that Grasse became the homeland of French perfumery. The region has everything it needs to grow flowers and ingredients to make countless fragrances. Those same assets work for tourism too! Sunshine, relaxation, low rainfall plus fertile soil and artisan expertise that has been passed down through the generations and perfected during the Industrial Age. 

Famous fragrant landscapes 

Provençal villages are surrounded by iconic and idyllic landscapes: hills and fields vibrant with rows of lavender, roses, violets and many more aromatic plants used to make the most luxurious scents. Jasmine is the biggest bloom in Grasse and is picked at dawn to cast its wonderfully heady spell over artisans and locals. 

Grasse is also the birthplace for countless world-famous luxury perfumes: Chanel, Dior and Rochas are just some of the names that were inspired by this magical and creative town.  

A Provençal village with personality 

What a village! Grasse sits on a rocky headland over fragrant fields and is a classic Provençal gem. Soak up the South of France as you wander its narrow lanes sheltered from the shade, gaze at its ochre buildings, Romanesque chapels and shady squares! 

The traditional village is famous among bookworms and film buffs as the setting for Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrik Süskind. Grasse must have inspired the author when he studied medieval history here. 

Make memories at a perfume making class!

Most of the perfume brands lie in beautiful Provençal villas, which make a tour or creative workshop even more magical! 

Our young French students joined us for a perfume making class: the full-on immersive experience was a big hit! All the biggest names run perfume making workshops: Fragonard, Galimard, Molinard. It’s a great way for everyone to unleash their inner nez! You can’t help but admire such a talent, shrouded in mystery and awe! It introduces you to unique expertise and French cultural traditions, with its own lingo that’s taught with a sense of fun.

Perfumer tour

We kick off with a tour of the perfume company, ingredient storerooms and production laboratories: from the barrels to the stills, the tour is a real sensory experience. We see beautifully designed bottles in crystal made by famous names (Baccarat, Lalique) as well as vintage ads for the very first perfumes to gain international acclaim. 

Then the attendees learn the basics of olfactory work: how to smell and recognise essences and put them together to create a unique fragrance. With the help of an experienced perfumer, they learn the basics with specific terms and techniques for a craft that requires a delicate touch, care and focus. It’s a golden opportunity to explore this chapter of the French dictionary and encourage learners to get involved by sharing their feelings, scent preferences etc.

The class step by step:

Introducing ingredients

Before you can handle them, you have to get to know the ingredients and their wide range of aromas. Floral, fruity, spicy, woody… They give a perfume its personality depending on their features and concentration. It’s time to learn some specific terms: “essence de jasmin”, “absolue de rose”, “huile essentielle de bergamote”, “eau de parfum”, “eau de toilette”, “eau de Cologne”… a pot-pourri of scents and French vocabulary!

Pairing fragrance notes:

Next step: choose fragrance notes and rank them based on your own preferences: 

  • First a base note (the note that lasts for hours). 
  • Then a heart note (the note you can only smell for a few minutes)
  • Last but not least, a top note (the first note you smell in a perfume)

 Everyone can choose their favourites: floral, fruity, citrus, woody or Oriental to build their own olfactory pyramid! It gets the students thinking and sparks their curiosity with everyone asking each other: “Tu as choisi quoi toi?” To each their own! 

Making the formula

Once you’ve chosen your notes, it’s time to make your formula: getting the right dose of different notes based on their intensity and profile. Everyone turns into a chemist and starts talking about dilution, proportion and balance to achieve the combination we’ve all been waiting for! 

Blending

It’s time for our apprentice nez to get to work blending the ingredients. Based on the ratios they set themselves, they measure out the essences, collect them using appropriate equipment and blend them in a spray bottle.

The perfume’s ready: everyone spritzes their creation with pride and spots the notes they have carefully chosen at the start of class. 

The visitors go home with their apprentice perfumer certificate and a unique souvenir. A bespoke perfume that they made themselves in a unique setting imbued with the spirit of French perfume artisans.

All the teachers and attendees agree that this was a French lesson like no other! It’s so unique, immersive and exciting that it gives learners a thrilling insight into French heritage and Provence itself blending with language, culture and even science. 

All our visitors gave it a big thumbs up!