The Great French Exchange

On our way back through France towards the Channel, we stopped, as we usually do, to visit my French pen friend who lives near Lille. Thanks to her and her family, I haven’t forgotten the French I learned more than 50 years ago, and we can still chat away as if all those years have never intervened and we are still schoolgirls.

These days, schools don’t seem to organise such things as foreign exchanges, and I’m often asked by parents how they can arrange something similar. The dreaded health and safety culture operates against such dangerous activities, but it seems to me that it is the best, if not the only, way of learning a foreign language.

We went together to see the Lille Museum of Modern Art which had a fantastic Picasso exhibition and more staff than visitors. But best of all, we went with her entire family, children and grandchildren, for a meal together. My grandchildren will carry on the tradition and they will all meet next summer.

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