From Onsite to Online Cultural Activities in Toulouse

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High School Gap Year

High School Gap Year

AND…Life must go on!

Since the beginning of November, France has been under lockdown again. This means, for CIEE staff and student, that the program keeps going on…line. GYA students keep on learning French with Alliance Française online too.

Our last onsite activities consisted of food and history focused activities. 

Its history is intricately related to the Garonne river of which deadly floods like the one in 1875 resulted in huge constructions like the Pont-Neuf, dyke, hospital LaGrave (see photo) to welcome the poor and the plague victims during the 15 century. Even the church of Saint-Nicolas is dedicated to a saint who is the patron saint of sailors and those who are afraid of sinking.

While strolling in this beautiful neighborhood, students could notice how the small artisan shops and cafés are now creating a sense of a small town in this part of the city. Our visit ended up at Cacaofages, for a well-deserved hot cocoa in one of the most creative chocolate shops of the city.

A gallery displays chocolate sculptures and the bar allows to watch chocolate artisan working chocolate based products.

The next activity brought us to Chapristea, a cat café, where cats are sheltered and are waiting to be adopted by a willing host family. This café works with a non-profit “le Chat Libre” that welcome cats and takes care of them before finding host families. The cats are well treated and strict rules prevent clients to disturb their well-being. 

Around a homemade lunch with local products we took time to discuss the French eating habits and students shared in depth observations about the food culture and how they adopted themselves the longer meals seated with the whole host families and long conversations induced. We ended up talking for two hours without even noticing ! So French!

In addition to the Saint-Cyprien visit, we visited the EDF Bazacle, oldest hydroelectric power station of Toulouse, still working today. 

The visit brought us directly inside the power station where we learnt how the Garonne river current was formerly used to produce electricity. 

We also learnt the older history of the place which was very important due to its location next to the ford of the river, allowing crossing and other activities like milling : flour, oil, starch, etc.

For the next activity, I invited students online to bake a simple, yet delicious chocolate cake. 

It sure is not the same as being in the same room but thanks to Zoom, good preparation and the help of host families with gathering the materials and ingredients, we managed to bake the chocolate from a recipe by Suzy Palatin. The recipe is from a book that gather recipes from national radio station “France Inter” cuisine program called “On va déguster” literally translated “We are going to savor”.   

The following week, my partner, a professional cook, taught students how to bake a “Quiche Lorraine” a famous traditional pie and we invited Ginger, HSA student, to join us since she was available and we adapted the recipe to meet her vegetarian diet. Instead of bacon, she used potatoes and added curry! Creative cooking!  

It was also the opportunity to introduce Una, who usually teach Masterwork of French Art with our Study students and who is an artist, who will lead the next activity, focusing on art this time!

A post by Julie Dedieu

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