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I am a 65 year-old Australian retiree with an ambition to increase my fluency in verbal communication. My ten days chez Chantal did more to increase the fluidity and confidence of my spoken French than anything I have ever done before. Firstly, Chantal and her family made me feel completely at home from the first moment.

Lunches with her mother Liliane were a joy, it felt instantly I was a friend dining amongst friends, and many of my inhibitions about speaking the language evaporated as my self-confidence grew as I realized they actually understood what I was saying. Chantal focused on a number of my weaknesses (common ones for English-speakers I am told), and we also focused on a number of complete sentence constructions which had previously baffled me.

Mostly however, I just had a wonderful time exploring a most beautiful region of France with Chantal – we went to the Friday market at Senlis which was for me, a food-lover, something out of a picture-book of a typical French life. Speaking of food, Chantal’s cooking is a highlight, and each meal was delicious, balanced and better than one experiences in many restaurants. The coquilles St-Jacques – the flavour sof that dish, Chantal, will remain in my palate memory for a long time. A very high benchmark was set!

Attending a couple of parties with a large group of her friends was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, but I enjoyed the challenge, and was able to join in the spirit, as well as surprising myself by having a number of long conversations.

Over the course of my stay we visited the chateau at Chantilly, Compiègne, Pierrefonds, as well as the expedition to Senlis, surely one of the most beautiful towns in France. As I was keen to visit the cathedral at Amiens we made a long trip on my final say, with another fine lunch was prepared by her daughter Eliane (at Roye, close to Amiens).I also made a few trip by myself using the excellent rail connections available from Mouy.

I said good-bye to Chantal feeling as if I were saying “au revoir” to a friend. Thank you Chantal, Stéphane, Liliane and Eliane for your warmth and hospitality.

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