I recently spent a memorable week at Maryse Planel’s “la petite classe,” (www.la-petite-classe.com) with a goal of jump-starting the French I spoke many, many years ago. By the end of the week I was not only speaking, but thinking–and even dreaming–in French.
If you are interested in “la petite classe,” know that you will find yourself in Semur-en Auxois, a beautiful medieval town in the heart of Burgundy. The peaceful, secure town feels far away from the big cities of France. You will enjoy the small squares, the friendly people, the excellent local cuisine, and the views from the town walls. And you will be staying in a restored 12th century convent, with a beautiful stream passing outside your bedroom window. (See picture.)
But know that you will be expected to work. Madame Planel is an experienced professor with high expectations, and she will demand much of you. Your morning sessions at her kitchen table are serious affairs, as you are there to learn–and she is there to teach. She is an engaging, fun woman who has led an exciting life, and from her you will learn much about the French language, but also much about contemporary French society. You will also enjoy her cooking and the excursions into the beautiful countryside.
“La petite classe” will not be for you if you are not committed to putting in the work. This is a serious program that requires dedication, as well as flexibility and patience. In the end, it will be a visit to France unlike any other you have ever experienced, one you will long remember.
Tom Barber Charlotte, NC