Last weekend was a special weekend in France - all museums, government offices, etc. were free and open to the public as protected "heritage days". This provided an excellent opportunity for us to explore more of the surrounding community here in Albertville - and to practice French! In our language acquisition course, it was emphasized over and over again to get involved in the community and speak French (as much as possible) from day one - above and beyond what is required for language school. We're participating in events at a local church, buying produce and cheese from vendors at the open market twice a week, and - our favorite - practicing French at the bakery! We've also sought out language partners - people in the community unaffiliated with the school who have volunteered to help us with French - great opportunity to develop friendships and understand the culture more, too. The weekend's events provided lots of French listening opportunities - maybe would have been more informative about local history if we had a little more French under our belts, though! But any opportunity to hear French spoken - and to pick out a few words - is helpful.
Medieval town of Conflans - on a nearby hill, just a short walk away. Some of our team toured La Maison Rouge; others toured the town castle - both historic sites, and both included an hour long tour in French.
An old ambulance :)
View of Albertville from Conflans
We also visited the Olympic museum and heard a presentation from an Olympic historian. The 1992 winter Olympics were hosted here in Albertville, and actually the first winter Olympics in 1924 were hosted in the nearby city of Chamonix, France.
Display at Olympic museum
Ice cream break in Conflans (didn't quite fit the medieval theme, but the shop owner amusingly listened to our attempts at French and then gave us directions to the castle - he asked his friends the words for "gauche" and "droit" in English, but thankfully we understood the French version because the "right" and "left" weren't quite right. :) We're thankful to be living in a rural part of France where we're forced to speak French and can't assume people will speak English.)
Castle built in the 1500s (above and below pictures)
And one last activity of the weekend - Sarah, Jason, and I hiking nearby and practicing French along the way with new friends from the school who speak a lot more French than we do. And of course enjoying the beautiful creation in the process (Mount Blanc pictured behind us).
"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1