I enjoyed a dreamy ten days in Gingins chez Raymonde—swimming in the lake, biking through picturesque Switzerland/France, visiting bars in the lively cities Lausanne and Genève, and learning and laughing with Raymonde and Michel.
I came primarily to improve my French. Though I had taken some French courses in high school, I had forgotten many of the basics and felt very self-conscious about my prononciation. It was an invaluable experience to wake up each day and speak French with Raymonde—who was very patient and would kindly correct me and explain away my errors—and to engage in intensive study each day. For me, it was important to have grammar lessons each day and to work through exercises 1-on-1, at my own pace. I think it was immensely valuable to have an individualized lesson. In the past, I had learned French in classrooms where it was impossible to tailor the program to my needs and abilities.
In addition to the French speaking and learning opportunities, Raymonde’s house is located in a beautiful area in Switzerland. It was very easy to navigate without a car. I took a train into Genève and Lausanne (beautiful cities overlooking the lake and providing exciting opportunities to practice French with native speakers). Each time Raymonde offered to accompany me and show me specific sights, but also gave me breathing room to enjoy the city on my own.
We took breathtaking bike rides to the lake, and to France. Raymonde has bikes and gear and was pleased to outfit me for the rides. The views were truly unbeatable, the air is pure, and the lake was crystal-clear (I even jumped into the lake for a freezing but refreshing dunk).
Other activities included viewing a film in French with Raymonde, hiking through the snow and eating authentic fondue, enjoying Raymonde’s spectacular cooking, and wine tasting with Raymonde.
The experience transcended my expectations, and I highly recommend this program for any solo/young travellers in particular. (Also, don’t hesitate to enrol because of hesitations about your French ability—the nature of the program is that it is truly customized, and Raymonde provides a safe environment to make mistakes and learn along the way.)