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Guest commentary: C'est la vie...en France!

Have you ever dreamed of traveling to Europe for ten days to experience some of the world's greatest food, attractions and unique culture?" Michelle Stadler and Jill Hansen recently accompanied a group of eight students from the William Kelley High School French Club on a Spring Break trip that will never be forgotten. During the previous year, the students, with a generous amount of help from their parents, worked countless hours to raise funds for the ten day educational trip to France. With an outstanding support from our generous, tight-knit community, fundraising attempts were more than successful!

On Sunday, March 24, the group finally lifted off, destined for Paris. After a long, much anticipated flight throughout the night, the group touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in the City of Light. Shortly after, sight-seeing was in full-tilt mode! During the first three days of the trip, the group traveled with three other French clubs from California, Illinois and Wisconsin. Attractions included numerous stops in the Loire Valley: the small town of Chartres, to tour its beautiful cathedral and famous stained glass windows, the Château de Chambord, an enormous structure known for its 365 chimneys, and breathtaking landscape. Built over the Cher River, the Château de Chenonceau was a favorite visit of many, as was a stop in the small commune of Amboise, located on the banks of the Loire River.

Throughout the many excitements had with the group, delicious meals were also in store. Le vieux Tours (the city of Tours), welcomed the French Club with many architectural sights, boutiques, and cafés for enjoying the finest French cuisine.

What would a trip to France be without a stop at the biggest attraction its capital has to offer: La Tour Eiffel? On Wednesday, March 27, the students were able to experience a meal at 58 Tour Eiffel, the restaurant located on the first floor of the tower. With magnificent views all around, the visit to the iconic structure was more than amazing, and something no one will forget. After the Eiffel Tower visit, a boat ride on the Seine, located in the heart of Paris, took the group along the banks of the city, passing Notre Dame and the Louvre. This experience offered a remarkable tour of the La Ville-Lumière (the city of light), and allowed the students to see many aspects of the European way of life.

That evening, the students along with their teachers ventured to the commune of Savigny-sur-Orge, located in the southern suburbs of Paris. The next chapter of the educational experience began there, when each student connected with a French host family. For six days, the students were immersed in French culture. By popular opinion and superior reviews, this was a favorite part of the trip for many students since they were able to see and experience places that were not otherwise visited during the group tours. The Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Château de Versailles, the Catacombs of Paris, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower at night, and even a French High School: Lycée Jean-Baptiste Corot, were some of places visited over the six days. Also during the family stay, connections were made between the students and families that will hopefully live on.

Early in the morning on Tuesday, April 2, the students prepared to leave their host families, and unwillingly said their "Merci's" and "Au revoir's" (thank yous and goodbyes). Bittersweet feelings filled the bus as it pulled away, and everyone waved goodbye.

The WKHS French Club students came home with hundreds of memories, thousands of pictures, and connections to their very own French families half way across the world. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who donated their time, support, and money to help these students acquire such an experience. It will never be forgotten!

In case you were wondering, the translation of this article's title is "that's France."