France (Côte d'Opale)
Enrichment Week 2023: The Opal Coast (Côte d'Opale)
Departing Deer Park at 7am on MONDAY 3 July 2023, 42 of our (new) Year 9 and (new) Year 10 pupils boarded their coach, along with 5 members of staff from across the school, for the journey to the Opal Coast, France as part of Enrichment Week 2023.
After the coach trip to Dover, we were ready to board the ferry for the 90-minute crossing. Having disembarked at Calais, we travelled to our accommodation, Hotel Moulin aux Draps, where we were welcomed by Tongay, who ran the hotel and would be looking after us for the week. We settled into our rooms, had dinner and took part in some team-building activities before heading to bed.
Following a delicious breakfast of fresh pain au chocolats, cereal, bread and fruit on TUESDAY morning, we set off for our first full day of fun, heading towards Etaples Market with our animateur Tom. Pupils had the opportunity to look at, or buy, local French products such as food, textiles and the odd pair of 'Guchi' sunglasses! Many decided to pop into the local boulangeries to try some French pastries or crêpes. After that, we made our way to the Etaples Military Cemetery. Pupils were given the opportunity to pay their respects to those within the Commonwealth who had fought in WWI, with over 11,000 graves of fallen soldiers.
Next, we travelled to the beach where pupils had the opportunity to paddle in the sea, play a few beach games before eating our first packed lunch. The slightly overcast weather didn't stop our fun as the tide came in further! Our next visit in this action-packed day was to Adventure Park Opalaventure, a high ropes course within the treetops. Pupils were able to take on 3 different challenges, each increasing in difficulty and ending in a large zip wire back to the safety of the ground. Clipping themselves in and out of the course, following the routes around, everyone showed fantastic bravery as they were 25m off the floor.
Finally, we were transported to another beach for the last activity of the day. Unfortunately it was not windy enough for the planned sand yachting activity, but we were able to all get into the sea on mega stand-up paddle boards which held 10 people. Moving across the sea, pupils were then able to use the paddle boards as a platform as they jumped off the sides and into the sea. Once this was over, we returned to the hotel for dinner before sleepily retiring to our rooms for the night.
WEDNESDAY morning started with another delicious breakfast of fresh croissants, cereal, bread and fruit; preparing us for a full-on day at the French theme park, Parc Bagatelle! With over 40 rides and attractions, pupils were given the day to freely wander around the site, trying out huge rides such as Triops and Famous Jack, or trying to see how many times you can go on the bumper cars in one day - they claim it was 40! A heavy downpour didn't dampen spirits and it didn't take long for the sun to come back out and dry off those who got caught in the shower or made it down the log flume. Once we returned to the hotel, we had a 'French night' consisting of a 5-course meal including couscous salad, camembert, chicken sausage and snails! A mixed reaction from the pupils, with some asking for more to keep up with Mr Van Wyk's seven, whilst Miss Blacker was not keen!
On THURSDAY morning we took another visit to the beach in Boulogne. This time with a new animateur, Medhi, who set challenges such as 'Who can dig the deepest hole?' and 'Who can build the best sandcastle?'. The girls comfortably won the best sandcastle competition with a very realistic sand-croissant! After eating our packed lunch on the beach and visiting a couple of shops on the seafront, it was time to go back into the sea, this time on kayaks and pedalos. The weather was much warmer with the sun shining gloriously and we were fortunate to see seals bobbing their heads above the water! Another opportunity to cool off from the sun by jumping off the pedalos and into the sea for pupils completed our time at the beach before heading back to the coach.
Our final activity on Thursday was visiting an organic goat farm. The goat farm gave pupils the opportunity to find out more about farming in the local area and the whole process of making cheese. In addition to being able to pet the goats, some pupils took the opportunity to try milking a goat and even try fresh goat’s cheese! At the hotel that evening Medhi put on a small disco as well as offering pupils free time to play table tennis, darts and football.
On our last day, FRIDAY, we had our usual breakfast with pain au chocolats before packing up and departing the hotel at 9am. We headed to a large supermarket in Boulogne, giving pupils the opportunity to spend some euros on French foods and gifts. Soon afterwards, we started our return journey to Cirencester, with a smooth crossing to Dover, before arriving back at Deer Park by 5pm.
This fantastic Enrichment Week 2023 activity trip was action-packed and pupils had the opportunity to practise their French, make new friends, take part in a range of activities, and learn important life skills. I'd also like to say a huge thank you to all the staff involved in the running of this trip, as without them, these opportunities could not happen.
Mr Young, Trip Leader