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With a grand plan to spend a lot of our retirement years “ en France”, I decided to book an immersion stay as a surprise for my husbands 60th birthday. I chose an Immersion stay with Emilie as it was relatively close to the Pyrenees, which is not only a stunningly beautiful part of France; it has some steep mountains. Which for some inexplicable reason, my husband, being a keen cyclist, has an odd desire to climb!!
We were met by Emilie, David and Myrtille and immediately felt relaxed and welcome in their fabulous home, the pictures don’t do it justice. Our accommodation, whilst being part of the house was quietly separate and private, just perfect. The week was spent in a beautifully structured but strangely relaxing way. Emilie is very accommodating and sensitive to your needs. Each morning we spent 3 hours in the classroom with Emilie, who has an amazing infectious enthusiasm which makes learning fun. She was very patient and needed to be, nothing was too much trouble for her; we laughed a lot too. Those 3 hours each morning were some of the quickest I’ve ever spent in a classroom.

Emilie would then prepare a delicious lunch each day, full of fresh local ingredients and her own garden produce. I’ve kept a copy of the weeks menu to try to imitate some of them at home. Some afternoons we were left to our own devices to enjoy and explore the local surroundings; on others Emilie would take us on an excursion, including: a walk to a local chateau to buy bread; a visit to another local house, where the owners have a collection of modern art and ceramics and are very keen to tell you about their passion. We visited the local cinema, where Emilie and David volunteer and spent another evening at a concert in a local church, with some of the most unusual and hauntingly beautiful singing I’ve ever heard.

For me the highlight in excursions was a “Walk in the river”, near a stunning place called Aspet. I imagined ankle deep in lovely cool babbling streams, Emilie said “take a change of clothes, you MAY get wet”!! Understatement of the year……we were soaked, but it was fantastic fun and again we laughed all afternoon. My husband returned the next day to climb the Col de Portet d’Aspet, which to him was equally as exciting as walking in rivers, even at 35 C. In fact, the whole area was perfect for cycling with quiet “pot hole “ free roads.

Each evening we managed to sit outside and enjoy a delicious typically French diner prepared by David or both he and Emilie; enjoy a lovely glass of wine in delightful company and watch the sun set on another fun filled day!

I must admit I was quite apprehensive about booking an immersion stay, as my French is terrible and thought I might have felt a bit isolated, this stay couldn’t have been any further from that thought. Emilie and David speak perfect English and understanding that listening to French being spoken, was one of our particular weaknesses, were happy to converse and translate as they went along, we thoroughly enjoyed our week with them and if you are thinking of an immersion stay, would highly recommend choosing this one.

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