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Despite taking high school French, private lessons and group classes at the Alliance Française for several years, I never felt that I progressed beyond basic French fluency. My goal was to learn enough French to be able to converse in French. I randomly found Virginie’s ad while researching language courses in France, and something about the ad caught my eye. I wanted an immersive language experience and knew that a one-on-one environment would force me to actually participate since there would be no other students to hide behind. I reserved my spot not really knowing what to expect. As I write this review, I have just completed a month in Provence with Virginie and her wonderful family, and the experience surpassed all expectations.

Virginie and Alex welcomed me so warmly that I immediately felt like one of the family. My lessons began at 9AM most mornings with two excursions per week to locations around Provence. Virginie employed worksheets, conversation, vocabulary homework and many different games to incorporate new knowledge and reinforce previously learned concepts. The atmosphere was always low stress. It just felt like I was having tea with a good friend while we happened to speak in French. I also took advantage of the opportunity to play games with the kids who also helped me learn. Over the month, Virginie taught me new words and grammar, but most importantly she helped me gain the confidence to speak French.

During the month, I was able to see so many parts of Provence with Virginie. We explored Cassis and the calanques, St. Cyr-sur-mer, Arles, Aix-en-Provence (including a trip to see a movie), Salon-en-Provence, Saintes Maries de la mer, Marseille, Aigues-Mortes and the Parc Ornithologique to see the Flamants Roses (flamingos native to the Camargue.) I enjoyed walking through farmers’ markets tasting tapenade, olives and tapenade de poivron rouge; taking a tour of a soap factory that makes the traditional Savon de Marseille; tasting Rosé wines at local vineyards; and visiting ancient Roman ruins and medieval churches. I rented a car for the month and made good use of it on the weekends. On my own, I visited Marseille, Chateau d’If, Avignon, Pont du Gard, Arles and Aix-en-Provence. Driving in the area was fairly easy with my Waze app making navigation simple. By the end of the month, I had explored so many places, but I know there are so many more things to see.

Viriginie and her husband, Alex, are wonderful cooks. They prepared many different local culinary favorites like cassoulet, fondue, Mont D’or, ratatouille, fondant au chocolat, chocolate mousse, tarte au citron, tartiflette and Gardianne de taureau. They also served local pastry treats including the specialty of Aix-en-Provence, calisson. I also had the opportunity to cook with Virginie and Alex to learn how to prepare many of these Provençal dishes.

The month flew by too quickly, and I am sad to be leaving this beautiful region. I highly recommend this experience to anyone looking to learn French and explore the South of France. I definitely plan to return in future years to continue my education.

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