French Immersion Residential Program in France
Welcome to Belle-Isle en mer!
Belle-Isle en mer is a small island located in the South of Brittany, and remains a landmark for protected good taste and harmony: no motorways, no ads, no high buildings.
Silence, only interrupted by the sounds of waves or birds, exquisite beaches, dunes… It’s a wonderful place to hike or bike, rest, read, write or paint, and of course study French!
There are also lively and authentic villages, with nice restaurants and art galleries, where friendly French people will encourage you to practice your French.
My name is Michel, I am an experienced and certified French teacher and I used to share my life between Belle-Ile, and Québec, Canada, was is my second home.
French native, I am bilingual in English and French but also speak Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese… and taught French in many places (including Mc Gill, Université de Montréal, UQAM, Université de Moncton, Université de Tripoli)…
My passions are acting, French literature, gardening and travelling. I could welcome you in my house on Belle-Ile, but could also come to your house or travel with you!
Your Very Own Home in France
If you come visit me on Belle-Ile, you will stay in your very own house attached to my own house (my house is the one with pink shutters; your house is behind the hollyhocks).
I live in a hamlet near the village of Locmaria. You can walk there, or borrow a bike or use my car.
Buses will also take you to the other parts of the island.
Your house has just been renovated: a bedroom upstairs with a private bathroom with a shower.
Downstairs, a living room with an eating area and a small kitchen corner with everything you’ll need to cook, and a small fridge.
Your house is not big nor fancy, some may say it’s a bit rustic, but it’s warm and comfy, safe, private and extremely calm.
A real extra “room” in your house is the garden. And that one is very big! We spend a lot of time in it since it’s very private and so peaceful.
The lessons will be held in your house or mine, or in the garden: since our houses are attached, you can be more or less independent, it’s up to you!
The Island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer, Brittany, France
Belle-Isle-en-Mer is wild and gorgeous, a paradise for people who like to hike or/and bike, and the locals are very friendly and welcoming. You’ll have many opportunities to practice your French!
The island is a 45 minute crossing from the city of Quiberon (Southern Brittany), by ferry.
Belle-Ile was one of the favorite places of Monet, who painted it many times.
There are many landmarks to see such as “Les Aiguilles de Port-Coton”, “La Pointe des Poulains”, “le jardin La Boulaye” et “le jardin Eden du Voyageur”…
Back to the mainland you’d enjoy Auray and Saint-Goustan, Vannes, Nantes…
Practical Info About Your French Immersion Residential Course
Although I am trained and experienced at teaching any level of French students, I now specialize in helping more advanced students perfect their French (levels B2 and higher).
Whether you love French theatre or literature, or you’d like to perfect specific vocabulary for your work or research for example, I’ll embrace your goal and work a program especially made for you.
I love to cook and on top of typical French cuisine, I would be happy to adapt to any special diet: vegetarian, gluten free…
I don’t smoke, and have no pets and unfortunately cannot welcome them.
A One Week (7 Days, 6 Nights) Residential French Course Includes:
- 15 hours of French tuition – I’m flexible on times.
- Accommodation in your own small house attached to mine.
- Lunch or dinner prepared by/with me and shared with me.
There is a small kitchen in your house, and I’ll be happy to drive you to the supermarket in order to buy food if you need to. There are also many restaurants in town, and of course, French bakeries!
- 2 accompanied excursions or cultural activities with me: sightseeing tours, long hikes, garden visits, or whatever interests you… There is plenty to do around here!
My program is very flexible: you can come for just a few days or for several weeks, I can provide more or less meals, be more or less present, speak more or less English… Just contact me and we’ll go over the details!
The weekly price with these options for one person is 1500 Euros.
I am happy to welcome people traveling by themselves or with a friend or spouse, or gay partner: with one additional guest, the weekly price will be 1800 Euros altogether.
I will consider any request you may have, further options are always possible: all I want is for you to have the best French immersion experience.
Let Your French Teacher Come to Your Own Home – or Travel With You!
I love to travel, so why don’t I come visit you and teach you French in the comfort (and convenience) of your own home? If you want, I will cook French food and teach you French up to 4 hours a day, and join you in your activities, so you can practice your French as if you were in France!
If you prefer, we can also travel together: I’ve been to many places – some are like a second home to me, and I could be your guide, your interpreter (I am bilingual in English and French but also speak Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese…) and help you practice your French anywhere in the world.
Contact Michel – Your French Immersion Teacher
Follow Michel’s bilingual posts on French Today’s blog, where he talks about his beautiful region as well as Canadian French.
French Today Student’s Reviews:
Máire – 2018 – French Immersion Homestay in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
I had an absolutely wonderful time studying French with Michel on Belle-Île. He is a an incredibly talented teacher – intelligent, funny, kind and perceptive – I couldn’t have asked for a better or more fulfilling experience. Improving the accuracy of my spoken and written French, which I feel I did quite considerably over the course of the week, was far more fun than it should have been! I laughed a lot.
Michel has a wonderful way of drawing people out and building confidence. He asked me lots of questions, helped me to communicate my answers when I got stuck and gently corrected my horrendous grammar, all the while making me feel like I was having a normal conversation in French with a good friend. I learned so much during all of our interactions, not just our lessons in the morning.
The location of the lessons, Belle-Île, was really superb and I was lucky to enjoy magnificent weather during my stay on the island. Michel’s passion for flowers and for the history and landscape of the island was contagious. We visited beautiful beaches, saw majestic cliff faces, and I learned about the history of two very romantic stones! I feel really privileged to have had the opportunity to tour several stunningly beautiful gardens (not least of which was Michel’s own beautiful garden in Borchudan) and be guided around them by their expert creators.
One of the loveliest things about my stay chez Michel was the way that I felt woven into normal life in Belle-Île. We went for coffee, we shopped in the supermarket, chatted with neighbours and friends and spent an evening with his close friend and her grandchild which ended with a sing song. We ate wonderful food and drank French wine. I adored my stay chez Michel. I’d love to be starting it all over again.
Mark – 2018 – French Immersion Homestay in Brittany
My stay with Michel was both a relaxing vacation in a beautiful setting and an effective method of improving my French.
I was at a B2 level before arriving, but had not spent any significant amount of time in France, and so much of what I knew felt rather abstract. After only a week in Belle Isle, I felt so much more confident and at home living with the language. The morning lessons were very worthwhile because Michel is adept at pinpointing specific grammar and pronunciation problems and finding exercises to improve in those areas. We also read and discussed poetry and short stories by well known French authors, which was very enjoyable.
But what I enjoyed most was simply accompanying Michel on little sightseeing trips around the island or errands into the village and sharing dinner in the evenings. I essentially got to listen to him live his life out loud in French while interacting with other French speakers, which helps immensely in picking up on the nuances of how the language works in everyday life.
In addition, Michel introduced me to some of his friends on the island, who were very warm and welcoming, and provided more opportunities to practice speaking in social situations.
Finally, Belle Isle in late spring/early summer is a beautiful, verdant garden perched above the crystal blue waters of the Breton coast, and is worth a trip for that reason alone.
John & Sarah – 2018 – French Immersion Homestay in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
Nous sommes Australiens et nous parlons le français au niveau B2.
Dans le passé, on a pris deux cours intensifs qui étaient très efficaces et agréables. Mais cette fois-ci, on a choisi FrenchToday pour la beauté de Belle-Ile, pour l’ambiance tranquille du village, pour l’opportunité de l’enseignement et des conversations personnalisées avec Michel. On n’a pas été déçus !
On se trouvait dans un petit hameau, au milieu des prés et tout était tranquille. On prenait des cours le matin et l’après-midi on était libres. On pouvait faire des randonnées à vélo ou à pied jusqu’à des plages à l’est, ou à la côte sauvage à l’ouest. Là, les falaises sont à couper le souffle.
Michel est un hôte vraiment génial, avec un bon sens de l’humour, et on a beaucoup ri, même pendant les séances de grammaire. Et voilà un “plus” : Michel est bon cuisinier. On mange tout simplement des repas végétariens ou “pescetariens” délicieux.
A la fin d’une semaine, nous parlions le français plus couramment avec plus de confiance et, bien sûr, de plaisir. Merci Michel !
Sue 2018 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
We’ve now studied with Michel 5 times over the years, so obviously we’re fans, and Belle Île has become one of our favorite places in the world.
If you want a quiet, peaceful place to really concentrate on perfecting your French with a funny, kind, and patient teacher, this is it.
When we started this little language adventure, we had no idea where it might lead us. We have now moved to Paris. You never know how much your life can change once you put things in motion!
Sue 2017 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
I had a week experiencing Michel’s very patient teaching in Belle Isle in July. He lives in an unspoilt hamlet, where the only noise is that of a tractor or the birds.
Without the distractions of other students it is a perfect setting to live and breathe the language.
Learning French in a classroom with a grammar book is one thing, but as I found can not equip you for the “real world” and everyday situations.
I found my listening skills came ahead in leaps and bounds as one is only hearing French spoken at a normal speed.
The opportunity to meet a couple of Michel’s friends who have superb gardens on the Island was a wonderful experience.
If you have a week to enjoy France and love learning the language this in my opinion is the perfect place to go.
Peter and Lyn, 2017 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
A magic place to improve your French
In June 2017, as part of a six week leisurely drive around the heartland of France, my wife and I spent a week on Belle Isle en Mer (France’s largest island – just off the south coast of Brittany) to improve our somewhat basic French language skills.
To cut a long story short – if you have not been to Belle Isle – make sure you get there sometime, even if you don’t want to do a French language course. It is a beautiful place with interesting history, and interesting people. We were fascinated by some of the myths and legends of the island. Jean and Jeanne (two local megaliths) have a particularly interesting story to tell. The place is also a photographers’ and artists’ delight. Claude Monet did about 40 paintings during one of his stays there.
At the outset we had some minor concern about “wasting” the precious time of such a talented man as Michel. However, within a short time, Michel had picked out a few grammar and verb constructs that we were clearly missing – so proceeded calmly and supportively to help us move forward with our French during the week that we stayed in the very nicely renovated 16th century cow shed attached to his house.
You will have the opportunity to hear and learn French from a master of the French language by doing an intensive with Michel. His cooking is not bad either, often including the freshest of produce from his extensive garden. Thanks Michel – for being so patient with, and supportive of, a couple of seniors from Oz!
Logistics: We had rented a car in Zurich so we had that with us on the island. It allowed us to easily get around and see sites of interest. Many other visitors to the island seemed to get around ok either on bikes, by locally rented car, or just walking and using the bus. The very small village where Michel lives has no shops, but we found it to be wonderfully quiet, and with no traffic, as it is at the end of a section of road. The main supermarket for the island is only about 10 minutes away by car.
Julie, 2017 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
I recently spent nearly two weeks in the company of Michel Denance in stunning Belle-Ile-en-Mer where I focused on perfecting my French and learning about this lovely island.
If you are an advanced student, serious about taking your knowledge of French to the next level, this is the professor and location for you! Our program, tailored to my needs, consisted of daily lessons from 1000-1230, followed by a delicious lunch prepared by Michel and an outing to a nearby site every few days.
Michel assigned short stories by both French and Québecois writers and that generated lively conversation for us. Although I have a Masters in French, I was challenged by Michel to learn the finer points of French grammar and encouraged to speak as much as possible to enhance my fluency.
He included intriguing articles from internet sites and newspapers and provided songs that illustrated points of grammar and pronunciation particular to me.
While I have studied French for over 40 years with more than 20 teachers/ professors, I have never been more pleased with the attention and talent of an instructor.
I look forward to returning for another immersion next year with Michel.
Tony and Gretel, 2017 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
This was our first French immersion experience, and in spite of our apprehension we were made very welcome by Michel.
Soon after our arrival we were into the study, Michel quickly grasped our strengths and weaknesses, and we agreed on a program for the two weeks of our stay.
The location of the cottage was beautiful, and we soon got into our French routine of going through our homework over breakfast before heading off next door for our morning lesson. Lunch and walking the gardens or down the country lanes surrounding the hamlet during the afternoon before homework. Some afternoons Michel’s smiling face would appear with a baguette to help us through our afternoon study which was always very welcome. We had lots of opportunities for long exploring walks, even a walk into LocMaria, and then back for an evening meal with Michel.
We enjoyed ventures out with Michel to the movies or to tour local highlights, including his friends’ beautiful gardens. This allowed us to practice our french, and torture Michel and his friends with our attempts, but Michel was always encouraging us to continue to try to speak.
Michel is a good and patient teacher, and keen to ensure we learnt correctly. He cares greatly about giving his students a good experience, and has a great sense of humour. We really enjoyed our time with Michel and he helped us greatly on our onward journey through the French language.
Our thanks Michel from your ‘chouchoux’
Kai, 2017 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
Highly recommendable! Michel is an exquisite cook, excellent pedagogue, friendly, jolly and considerate.
Belle-ile offers fantastic outdoor experiences and a nice climate from mid february to november. An experience for a lifetime!
Fantastiskt och effektivt intensivt franskt språkbad.
Tehokad ranskan intensiivi kielikurssi ja kielikylpy.
Effektiv Intensivsprachkurs in Französisch – besser als im besten Hotel!
Rebecca, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
This was my second immersion course with Michel Denance. Once again, I feel he has helped me enormously.
My challenge was to recover the French I had studied all through school which had become dormant after 30 years of speaking only Spanish.
Last year, after a week’s work, I still spoke in a contorted mixture of French and Spanish, though I was able to read French better and (sort of) comprehend the spoken language.
After this second visit, however, thanks to his attentive instruction, I can now speak much more fluidly, write more clearly and understand a good deal of what is said. All of this has given me much more confidence to speak spontaneously.
As a teacher, he is both adaptable, willing to vary his teaching to the student’s needs, as well as inventive, quick to suggest readings and excursions that might be of interest.
The cozy student living quarters, located in a former stable beside his house, are completely separate with a small kitchen and bath. The arrangement offers both privacy and easy contact.
I found that both the privacy and the isolated location in a tiny village in the center of the island were quite conducive to serious immersion.
Although telephone coverage is sketchy, the internet is fast and reliable and texting is easy via apps like Whatsapp.
Everything else is fine and Belle-Ile is truly one of the world’s most beautiful places.
Pat, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
French immersion in Belle-Île-en-mer with Michel is the perfect setting to improve your French language skills.
I recently spent a week there and found that as soon as I disembarked the ferry in Le Palais, I felt the noise and stress in life being left behind and replaced with the peacefulness and tranquility of the island. Perfect to get the mind focused for the days ahead.
Good thing because its not long after you unpack that you have your first lesson! Michel quickly identified the nuts and bolts of the language I have difficulty with and put together a learning plan for the week.
There is not much I can add to the outstanding reviews written here by others about their French immersion experience other than I can confirm it is all true.
Michel is a patient and sensitive teacher with a great sense of humor. In no time you will feel “comme a la maison!”
Michel, Borchudan and Belle-Île are the perfect blend to move your French skills forward. Vraiment. It’s real France. Vas-y!
Elaine and Sheldon, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
I spent one week with Michel on Belle Ile en Mer in early September, 2016. I was nervous, as I am sure everyone is. One feels so exposed and vulnerable learning a language.
Michel and Belle Ile were perfect antidotes to my anxiety. Michel was warm and welcoming. He was endlessly patient; I am often afraid I am boring someone as I struggle to say what I want to say in French but Michel was encouraging and always positive and gentle. He is an excellent teacher, letting go what is not important and focusing on what he feels is important for the level one is at. He is also interested in language and we had interesting conversations about language and the learning of language.
The accommodation right next door to Michel’s house was perfect for quiet study and reflection. And Belle Ile is a beautiful island, calm, quiet, interesting and very scenic. The setting was ideal for learning French.
The schedule was flexible but we quickly settled into a routine that was very comfortable for me: during the morning lesson we reviewed homework, had wide-ranging conversations in French, and I gave a précis of something I had read the evening before (usually a Guy de Maupassant story) and then we talked about the story. Michel also helped me with pronunciation, introduced me to phonetics which I found quite helpful, and generally boosted my confidence. I had the afternoon off and then the three of us had dinner in Michel’s home, always a delicious meal prepared by Michel who is an excellent cook
My husband who speaks no French (except sacrébleu) spent his mornings riding one of Michel’s bicycles and hiking on the coastal path. Michel drove us to some very old villages and some of the other interesting sights on the island.
All in all, a perfect week. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Mary and Mark, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
Another splendid, relaxing visit to Belle Île! Michel has become part of our French habit. This was our 4th visit in 4 years.
I can’t think of anything better than coming to Belle Île for a week of learning and utter peace and quiet to kick start my french and to kick off a trip to France.
Merci Michel et à la prochaine !
Suz and Dick, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
Over the past few years, I have become more serious about improving my French. This has led me to taking classes at our local Alliance Francaise, taking a 2-week immersion class in Paris last year and, early this summer, spending a week learning French with Michel on Belle-Île-en-Mer.
I can say without any hesitation that taking classes with Michel was not only the most productive of these approaches, but also the most fun. And Belle-Île is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
My husband, a fluent French speaker, accompanied me, and we stayed in Michel’s small and cozy apartment attached to his house. It was very comfortable for the two of us, and it made us feel that we, too, belonged on this tiny lane in Borchuran, one of the 4 villages on Belle-Île.
Here’s a typical day: 2.5 hours of lessons in the morning tailored around my objectives and needs. I am at an intermediate level and the lesson always started with a warm-up discussion, then we would turn to my homework, which usually included work in a book of grammar, a reading that Michel assigned and a composition. This triad worked well and the 2.5 hours passed by very quickly. There was always homework and it usually took me at a couple of hours to complete.
Adding to the entire experience, Michel took us on a tour of the island one day and arranged for a visit to Le Jardin de la Boulay. It is not to be missed if you like gardens and nature. He also arranged for me to join a tour of the garden of a well-known botanist on the island. All trips added to my vocabulary and my pleasure.
Dinner with Michel—and he is a fabulous cook—was a daily highlight for my husband and me. As much as we enjoyed the food, we enjoyed the discussions even more. Michel is a great host and raconteur and I can easily imagine that he would make any level student comfortable.
Finally, the island is magnificent. If you like the outdoors at all, there is ample opportunity to walk (right out your door), hike the island on an 80 km trail, kayak, and bike (Michel has bikes to lend). See all the other reviews for more on this.
I found the experience to have been a great kick-start for “upping my French game” and have kept at it since returning to the US. That’s been a significant outcome of the experience. Bottom line, if I had to rate the experience overall, it is a definite 10 out of 10. In fact, we already have plans to return next year.
Richard, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Ile en Mer
In late May 2016, I had my first French language immersion program, and it was a great! I traveled to Belle-Île from Paris and spent 5 days at the home of Michel Denance. I have a few comments I’d like to share about my experience, and why I recommend the French immersion program on Belle-Île with Michel.
First, Michel is an excellent French professor (in fact, the best that I’ve had). He is able to discern readily your level of proficiency in speaking, comprehension, reading and writing French. Together, the two of you decide on a program focused on your particular needs and goals. Each day, you spend a couple of hours in an informal classroom setting with lessons, class work, and conversation. There is homework, but just enough to keep you engaged, interested, and motivated to learn. I enjoyed particularly reading short works from French literature in the evenings and discussing them the next day. Casual conversation over dinner is a wonderful bonus.
The lodging is first-rate. Michel has a two-level apartment adjacent to his country farmhouse. The apartment is fully furnished with a comfortable bed and cozy furniture. There is a small kitchen with most anything you need for a short visit, and after a brief trip to the grocery store, fresh produce (and maybe a bottle of wine) to enjoy at your leisure. Michel has a large garden with beautiful flowers, trees, and herbs that you can explore.
Michel is a gracious host and an outstanding chef. Daily, he prepares a delicious meal that you share at his dining table. The food is fresh, local, and seasoned well, and the conversation over meals is delightful. Michel has a great sense of humor and a charming manner that puts you at ease quickly. He’s knowledgeable about a great many things and you soon find common interests. Michel enjoys the company of others, and wherever we went, everyone knew him.
Last, Belle-Île is truly a beautiful island. The countryside, the beaches, the small villages, and the ocean are gorgeous, where you can take some time to sit, relax, and bask in them (and take some impressive pictures). I took breaks from homework in the afternoon to explore the island by bicycle and on foot. There were flowers blooming everywhere, along roadsides and paths and in small gardens. One afternoon Michel took me on a grand tour of the island, from one end to the other, and it was clear why Belle-Île is a favorite vacation destination.
Karen and Don, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Isle en Mer
Margaret, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Isle en Mer
I had a most enjoyable stay in Michel’s house for five days in June 2016.
The house is small, but clean and comfortable, and contains all the essentials for a stay. It is situated in the tiny hamlet of Borduchan – a charming and relaxing location. As I like being outdoors, I enjoyed several lovely walks from the house. It was good to explore some parts of the island’s coastal path, which is not too far away.
Robert, 2016 – French Immersion in France in Belle-Isle en Mer
My wife and I spent a wonderful week with Michel in Belle-Île-en-mer in June 2016. I spent a pleasurable but intense 2 and 1/2 hours with Michel each morning trying to take my French to the next level. Michel was patient and supportive but also pushed me to improve my oral communication. I am at a level and an age where huge progress does not come readily, but Michel guided me carefully, and I believe I am much closer to where I want to be in my comprehension and hopefully my communication skills in French.
Ann, 2016 – French Immersion In Belle-Isle en Mer
What can I add? All has been said in great detail and I agree with all comments.
My stay Chez Michel in May 2016 was all I had hoped for and more.
A few years ago I spent two weeks in an immersion homestay which was less than successful on almost every level, and I vowed never to do the same again. However learning French is a challenge that is like a drug – it gets to you!
Michel has restored my confidence in my abilities. He has such an easy relaxed way of correcting pronunciation and faults in grammar and suggesting other ways of expressing oneself.
I had such fun, loved every minute and hope to return.
Une fois encore merci infiniment Michel.
Bonnie, 2016 – French Immersion In Belle-Isle en Mer
I guess the first thing that I should address is the actual getting to Belle Isle. Suffice it to say, it was much easier, as Michel had said it would be, than it seemed. The locations of the train, bus, and ferry are very close and their time tables pretty much in synch. I did it online but will admit I didn’t think it would go as smoothly as it did. So don’t let that aspect prevent you from taking advantage of a wonderful, productive week in an incredibly beautiful setting.
I am an intermediate student and my goals were to improve my conversation skills and to revisit grammar skills where necessary. Michel’s approach is personal and somewhat student directed. I wanted to be corrected while speaking and I was and I wanted homework which I received. This homework would reinforce a deficiency that was picked up during my lesson. I also prepared a written story which I would read during the next day’s lesson thereby giving an opportunity for correcting my pronunciation and grammar. A week is not a long time, but I clearly improved overall and more important was energised because I had a clearer idea of which skills to target to continue my progress.
My other question was how would I fill my afternoons. Not to worry. Michel, again, was there for me every day with suggestions and offers to facilitate my plans. The included excursion was a tour around the aptly named Belle Isle. For me the highlight was standing where Monet stood and taking a picture of the very rocks that he had painted. Really how great is that! And the visit to his friend Michel’s garden was spectacular.
Your lovely, comfortable, private house is situated so that you can easily walk to either coast and then walk along the coastline. I did this 4 of the 7 days. Another day I took an arranged tour of another one of Michel’s friend’s gardens.
What else? The perfect kirs at another friend’s bar. The delicious meals prepared by Michel every evening enjoyed while speaking French. His lessons for me in preparing crepes and far, a Bretonne cake. His own lovely garden. His delightful neighbour and her sister with whom I spent a couple of hours – all the time speaking French.
At the ferry boat as I was saying good bye, I actually choked up. I guess I’ll have to go back!
Tom, 2016 – French Immersion In Belle-Isle en Mer
You were a wonderful teacher and I really enjoyed my time in Borchudan. I hope to return to Belle-Isle Fall 2017 and I would love to take additional classes with you.
Gesine, 2016 – French Immersion In Belle-Isle en Mer
Christian and Steve, 2015 – French Immersion In Belle-Isle en Mer
When looking for French language instruction in France, I first considered going to a language school. However I was looking for more than just going to class, having mundane conversations, and superficial activities during my free time. I’m so glad I chose to take private lessons with Michel, since I had more realistic conversations, as if I were a temporary resident rather than a tourist.
As soon as we stepped off the ferry, Michel made both my partner and I feel welcome. The transition to practicing French started immediately as we picked up food in the market for our meals. He assessed my capabilities in a non-threatening way, and engaged me in stimulating and delightful conversations, which helped me practice my language skills in French. The lessons were a mixture of materials he proposed, and subjects I wanted to cover, such as music and cooking podcasts. Throughout the week, Michel was patient with me, as I worked on improving my pronunciation and grammar. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and instantly put me at ease. Although my partner did not take French lessons, Michel welcomed him and involved him in our mealtime conversations, in French and just enough English for my partner to understand. We had lively discussions about music, French culture, politics, food, literature, and life in general.
Michel also took us on an insider’s tour of Belle-Île-en-Mer, and we visited places that we would not have otherwise seen, including gardens, beautiful little hamlets, and scenic views along the coast. He knows the island well, and showed us things tourists would normally not see.
Michel is a wonderful cook and prepared tasty meals. The accommodations, steps away from his rose garden, were clean, comfortable, and made us feel like we were at home. He kept us well-stocked for breakfast and snacks.
It was an incredible experience on a beautiful island, along with Michel’s great company, while improving my French!
Rebecca, 2015, French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
I had long been looking for an immersion program as a way to jump-start the French I learned many years ago. When friends who had studied with Michel raved about their stay with him on Belle-Ile, I immediately knew I had found my solution. I had studied French throughout school and even at college, but after living in Barcelona for many years and speaking only Spanish, I couldn’t say anything more than “Je ne peux rien dire. ”
A week with Michel was exactly what I needed. Michel’s decades of experience teaching French as a second language at universities around the world, as well as a Doctorate in Québécois French, make him a master teacher. He is completely engaging, sensitive to your needs and compassionate about your difficulties. He also has a great sense of humor, so even wrestling with the partitif and the fine points of French pronunciation were enjoyable. Autumn in Belle-Ile is fantastic—the tourists are gone, the weather is excellent, and the back roads of Borchudan are perfect for long walks. I hope to return another time!
Virginia, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
I spent a most enjoyable week on Belle-Isle with Michel. My French really benefited from the immersion and I found Michel to be just as good a teacher as others have found him to be and very easy going as well.
Borchudan is very charming and I really enjoyed walking from there to different parts every day. The countryside is very peaceful and there are beautiful beaches not far away. There is a walking path around the coastline of the island.
I highly recommend a visit to Michel. I’d love to return for another stay.
Coral & Kate, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
Our stay with Michel was everything we wanted it to be. Our purpose in staying with Michel on Belle Ile was to improve our French grammar and to feel more relaxed with general conversation.
Lessons began on Day 1 and Michel soon ascertained our interests and built the lessons and conversation around them. Lessons were from 9-12 each morning in his sunny sitting room and the pace kept us on our toes. He would also set us some homework to do in our own lovely little house, or in his enchanting garden. We learnt so much in such an enjoyable fashion.
Michel is a wonderful host and prepared delicious meals for us using fresh local produce, as well as taking us on an excursion to the points of interest on Belle Ile.
A very pleasant addition to our stay was the people of Belle Ile. They were so friendly and helped us take the right buses home from the towns, with directions on which paths would lead us to back to Borchudan from our randonnées.
In all, it was an experience that was challenging,fun, interesting and very satisfying.
Jane, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
Already before leaving home, I began to think that going all the way to Belle Isle was an insane idea. In fact, it turned out to be an excellent idea, much better than I could have imagined. I had no idea how simple it was to reach Belle Isle and even less of an idea how much I needed these lessons with Michel. I thought we would just do a little fine-tuning, but it turned out to be more like 12 hours of lessons every day because Michel never stopped correcting me. Every evening I jotted down as much as I could remember of his corrections during the day – and there were plenty!
I felt at home immediately in my cosy little house and even when it rained (how else could Belle Isle have all those lovely flowers?!?) I was delighted to have an excuse to stay home in bed reading the bandes dessinées and books Michel had recommended, one of which he even gave me. It was French 24/7 – and it was worth every cent. If you’re serious about French, this is the place to come!
Really, I enjoyed absolutely everything– our meals (he’s a great cook), excursions, walks, talks, lessons, visits and whatever else may just have slipped my mind. Michel is quite an unusual person with many enthusiasms and a truly extraordinary teacher! I can only recommend him! In fact, I wish I had that week ahead of me now instead of behind me.
Judy, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Our lessons were well-planned and focused on my goals.”
A great language immersion homestay program is, in my opinion, one in which you have good language lessons but the learning doesn’t stop when the lessons are over, and that was the case for the week I spent on Belle-Isle- en-mer with Michel.
Our lessons were well-planned and focused on my goals. The things we did together (touring the island, going to a movie, visiting Michel’s friends and going on a guided walk at Port Maria) added a lot to the program because I not only learned about the history and folklore of the island but also added words and expressions to my vocabulary that would not have come up during our lessons.
The things I did on my own (walking along the coastline, going to a film, visiting gardens and touring the Vauban Citadel in Le Palais) provided additional subjects for conversations during our meals together. I highly recommend this program.
Gill and Kit Wells, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Mealtimes were a delight and the conversation wide-ranging enabling us to further develop language skills in a relaxed atmosphere”
The French lesson process with Michel is very thorough and progressive in a way compatible with one’s stage of development. He is a dedicated, professional teacher with a great breadth of experience and very perceptive and accommodated daily to individual needs. He is analytical in approach but extremely supportive and encouraging making the lessons great fun , very effective – but hard work!
The accommodation is compact but charming, very clean and well equipped and Michel was at pains to ask if we had everything we required. Michel is an accomplished cook and the meals, although modest by some people’s standards, are tasty, varied and well planned . Mealtimes were a delight and the conversation wide-ranging enabling us to further develop language skills in a relaxed atmosphere; aided, of course, by our excellent wines.
There is plenty to see and do on the island for a week and it is a paradise for hikers/cyclists . Being less active we took our car over in the ferry which enabled us to explore many out of the way places and Michel also drove us to lesser known areas.
The terrain is similar to Cornwall U.K. , rugged and steep in places but out of high season there are plenty of secluded coves and beaches . There are many excellent local restaurants specialising in fish/sea food at reasonable prices.
Michel is a keen and knowledgeable gardener and there was an added bonus when he introduced us to his friend Michel D., an international plantsman and we enjoyed the privilege of a private tour around his amazing garden which features plants he has collected from around the world.
The whole week was an unusual and delightful experience with many “serendipity” moments to add to our holiday memories.
Thank you Michel.
Jenny and Vince, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Michel is a fantastic teacher- funny, encouraging, patient, and flexible”
My husband, Vince, and I spent a wonderful week with Michel this summer! Belle-Île is a magical place- beautiful, wild, and tranquil at the same time. In the mornings, I would study with Michel while Vince relaxed or explored. Michel is a fantastic teacher- funny, encouraging, patient, and flexible, and we were able to focus on any grammatical points that I had questions about or that he noticed me struggling with as we spoke. We used a variety of texts, Maupassant stories, popular songs, and magazine articles to enhance our lessons.
Afternoons were for exploring the island, visiting gardens, discovering beaches, napping, and bike rides. In the evening, the only sounds in our quiet hamlet were the bleating of sheep and goats and, in the distance, the ocean waves.
On Belle-Île we really felt we were off the beaten path, and I had many opportunities to use and practice French. The peaceful pace of the day allowed for time for homework for further practice. Our home for our stay was comfortable and Michel’s cooking was excellent. This was the perfect immersion experience, and we would love to return one day!
Paul and Susan, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“I feel I have learnt more in a week, than I would in a year of self study.”
My wife Susan and I have just spent an enjoyable week in the company of a dedicated and professional french language teacher Michel Denance. I was the one improving my French whilst Susan walked and cycled around the beautiful” Island, with me joining her in the afternoons.
Michel quickly assessed my french language abilities and my weak points. Together we agreed a plan of study for the week. I am lacking on many points of grammar, Michel worked through those weak points with me, with the aid of the book ‘ Grammaire Progressive du français’. He turned the learning of grammar into an enjoyable experience, with plenty of humour and understanding along the way.
He will give you home work to do in your own time. You don’t have to do homework but I found it a great help. We had many conversations in french, an aspect of french learning that is very lacking in England. He asked me if I minded being corrected along the way , as he understands it can upset the flow for some people.
I feel I have learnt more in a week, than I would in a year of self study.
As an intermediate student, I have come away with confidence, and a new sense of direction for future study of this beautiful language.
Thank you Michel for a great experience.
Susan, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Michel has a good sense of humor, is easy going, and his cooking was super”
An American citizen, I decided to go to Belle Isle for three weeks in January to help me jump into French before living/working in Brussels for the following four months. While at Michel’s, I spent three hours a day doing activities with him and conversing during meals; in addition, I spent many more hours doing exercises and studying on my own. Michel’s coaching on pronunciation was very helpful! By the end, I had covered a lot but didn’t ‘own’ all of it. As it turned out, the content I covered during the time on Belle Isle consolidated and expanded in the following months. For me, learning French is an on-going process, but I’ve come a long way, enjoy conversing with others, and am looking forward to making more progress. The three weeks in Belle Isle definitely helped me make the most of this time in Europe to improve my French!
In addition, Belle Isle is lovely: a truly beautiful island. Being there in the winter had its own, less touristy advantages – I enjoyed borrowing Michel’s bike to explore the countryside, coastline and towns. Further, Michel has a good sense of humor, is easy going, and his cooking was super – both tasty and healthy. One day we went to collect mussels for dinner! Another day we had crêpes on ‘Crêpe Day’ (La Chandeleur)! Plus, he generously introduced me to two of his remarkable friends – welcoming and interesting people who are extraordinary gardeners.
Don, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Michel was able to explain concepts to me where other methods had obviously failed”
Being somewhat lacking in conversation skills in French, I decided to take the plunge and join Michel for 10 days at his home on Belle Ile. The trip from Paris to Belle Ile was quite easy and seamless, consisting of TGV from Gare Montparnasse (it is possible to go direct from Roissy-CDG) to Auray, a bus from Auray to Quiberon Gare Maritime (a whole 2€!) and then the ferry to Le Palais.
Michel is able to give many insights into, and instruction in speaking the French language that you just cannot get from a book. Michel was able to explain concepts to me where other methods had obviously failed. My goal was to leave Belle Ile with a much broader and deeper understanding of French, and I succeeded. So bravo Michel!
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay with Michel and would confidently recommend him to a friend.
Mary and Mark, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“We’re huge Michel fans, this was our 3rd visit!”
My husband Mark and I spent another fabulous week learning French on beautiful Belle Isle this spring. We’re huge Michel fans, this was our 3rd visit! Our French has improved dramatically since making Michel part of the study program. He’s super friendly, easy-going and funny. We adore the simple guest house and the quiet garden. He made our favorite food–gluten free Breton crèpes with a choice of fillings. Our diet restrictions don’t faze him in the least. Michel’s immersion program would be perfect anyone who enjoys challenging study, the quiet of rural life, walking and hiking, and meeting new people. Bonne visite!
Maggie and Gareth, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“We were amazed how much we learned in a short (and completely pain-free) time”
Although we have spent many delightful holidays all over France, our level of spoken French is basic (actually, some might call that an understatement). So, determined to improve the situation, my husband and I decided to challenge ourselves to a week’s immersion in French with Michel, on Belle-Isle en Mer. We could not have made a better choice.
Michel is a delightful, charming, intelligent and talented teacher who has endless patience and, fortunately for us, a great sense of humour. He quickly assessed our levels and our priorities for learning. Each day was a joy. We had a lesson in the morning and then enjoyed eating, excursions, cycling and/or walking in the afternoons. Michel’s garden is a delight and his plans for its development make me determined to return and check out the progress.
Perhaps most importantly we were amazed how much we learned in a short (and completely pain-free) time. I just wish we had been able to stay for longer, but there is always next year and I really want to see how those roses are coming on!
Debbie & Sam, 2015 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“This is one of the most special things we’ve done together as a couple.”
We stumbled on Michel and Belle Isle via a web search for French immersion so we really weren’t sure what we were getting into. What a wonderful surprise: our 8-day stay with Michel was perfect.
The French lessons at his kitchen table were totally absorbing. They continued informally throughout the day as we ate the simple lunch and dinner he prepared for us. We were very happy in the simple accommodations in the cottage adjacent to his (they are just as pictured). A highlight for us was several social outings to visit with his friends, and to tour their remarkable gardens. In the afternoons, we hiked the cliffs of Belle Isle (breathtaking), napped or rode Michel’s bikes through the green fields and to the beaches. Several mornings we left the kitchen table and drove into le Palais for more French lessons over a café crème.
Sam and I both speak French fairly well so our goal was to hone in on details of grammar and syntax to improve. Michel quickly figured out exactly what we should focus on. We took our homework seriously and worked very hard. But it was the whole experience that made it so special. Michel is endlessly patient, generous, and flexible – and has a great sense of humor. His informal style suited us. We laughed endlessly as Sam recounted stories (in French) of remarkable moments in his medical practice. My only regret is that we were a little early in the season to see all the flowers and trees in bloom. The weather was still chilly in mid-March.
All is exactly as described by Michel. If you like islands and rural communities you will love Belle-Isle-en-Mer. As we live on an island off the coast of Maine we felt quite at home. There was more than enough to explore during one week, something I worried about in advance. We cannot recommend Michel’s French immersion experience highly enough. This is one of the most special things we’ve done together as a couple.
Mary & Mark, 2014 – French Immersion in Belle-Isle en Mer
“Belle Isle and Michel are a magical combination”
We spent another perfect week there this fall, relaxing our bodies and challenging our brains. Belle Isle is quiet, captivating and beautiful. Michel is patient, funny and charming. He has a gift for making you feel at ease and at home. He’s an excellent teacher who will quickly hone in on what you need to work on and encourage you to develop confidence in using French. N’hésitez pas !
Karen & Esmy, 2 weeks- French Immersion in Belle-Isle, 2014
“Two visits to Belle-Isle. A wonderful experience – so good we came back for more!”
We spent 14 fabulous days with Michel – 10 days followed by a second visit of 4 days, 3 weeks later. Michel is a fabulous and incredibly patient teacher, a charming host and a lot of fun to be with. Our French improved enormously – particularly our comprehension. Michel was flexible and supportive but also challenged us and pushed us to improve. With 3 hours of structured learning each morning, we built on this learning through eating together, sightseeing and meeting Michel’s friends (also utterly charming, very generous with their time and their patience!). Great to practise our french ‘for real’ – it felt like true immersion!
We loved exploring the island – on foot, by bike (courtesy of Michel) and by car. The island is beautiful – glorious coast line, pretty villages, beautiful skies, stunning gardens.
We would definitely recommend time with Michel – it’s an experience we will treasure and certainly will not forget!
Pauline, 5 days, French Immersion in Belle-Isle, 2014
“An improvement in our conversations and especially my confidence”
My husband and I had already booked our flights for a 3-week vacation in France…and then I discovered French immersion classes. I was able to only fit in five days with Michel on Belle-Isle, but they ended up being the best part of our trip.
Michel was quick to assess my level of French and we made the most of the short time that I had to learn with him. Each day was a new adventure, and with the classes and my homework, I felt like I had greatly improved my French in a short time. My French-speaking friends at home in the States immediately noticed an improvement in our conversations and especially my confidence!
We enjoyed the sightseeing Michel provided around the island, the wonderful meals he prepared, and his charming conversations and company during lunch and dinner. We also had a marvelous time at our shopping excursions at the local markets in Palais, bike riding using his bike, and walking in the garden. My only regret is that the “Côte Sauvage” was very, very calm while we were on the island. Perhaps that is a sign that I need to return to see it in its prime!
John B, 1 week French Immersion in Belle-Isle, 2014
“A new confidence and a firm foundation on which I can build new levels of skill”
Michel was a welcoming, friendly and thoughtful host throughout the week I spent with him in September 2014. More importantly, he was a natural teacher, who was quick to recognise my few strengths and many weaknesses, and to reinforce the former while addressing the latter.
It takes a lot longer than a week to master a foreign language, but Michel performed a minor miracle, giving me a new confidence and a firm foundation on which I can build new levels of skill.
Chris, 1 week French Immersion in Belle-Isle 2014
“A fantastic teacher”
I stayed for a week in Belle-Ile with Michel. He is a fantastic teacher and I felt that I made more progress with him than I had made in an intensive group class in whole months before this. I visited having recently passed my B2, but I realised how much more there was still to learn. Michel is very patient, but also very keen for you to really improve, and to get your pronunciation and grammar right!
He is also a great guy, and a great cook :) He took me on several trips around the island, to see a play, some beautiful natural sights, and into the main town on the island. He also introduced me to several different friends of his for lunch or dinner, which was very helpful for my conversational French.
Belle-Ile is very beautiful, I was fortunate enough to be there for un été indien (Indian summer) in September, and it has great beaches, rock formations and the sunsets were incredible. You can cycle around the island on one of Michel’s bikes. All in all, a great week!
Pai Pin et Kenny Lee, one week French Immersion in Belle-Isle 2014
“Our week with Michel was amazing to say the least!”
It was much more than what we had imagined as a language immersion course, it was also about immersing and learning a way of life of a local at Belle-Isle-en-Mer: getting to know the landscape, the people, the history, the ongoings… truly an experience unlike any other thanks to Michel’s generosity and hospitality. He has provided us with very cheerful company, interesting and many times sidesplittingly funny conversations as well as a week littered with activities.
Michel took us around for nature excursions, introduced the various villages and favourite spots to us, not to mention whipped up fantastic meals everyday! We also went marketing together, attended a concert and had a lovely dinner with his friends.
Michel’s French classes are very flexible and we are free to organize ourselves however we want, he is very open minded and was very happy to focus on any theme that we had in mind. I had classes that ranged from phonetics to grammar to reading a theatre piece to listening to the news, for example.
Many thanks again Michel!
James and Chiemi, 1 week French Immersion in Herblay, 2014
“He came into our daily life, fit right in”
Michel Denance was a joy to have at our house in Herblay France (near Paris).
My goals were to have a week of mostly French spoken and to focus on some difficult grammar patterns. But the week turned out even better with Michel able to spend time with my wife teaching French cooking and with all of us visiting local areas near my home such as the discovery of foot steps of Van Gogh, in Auvers-sur-Oise (sur les pas de Van Gogh).
He came into our daily life, fit right in and allowed us to experience some French culture and cuisine while helping us learn the French language.
Thank you, Michel!
Greg, 1 week French Immersion in Belle-Isle, 2014
I spent a week with Michel in late June. Not only was the learning experience fabulous and exactly what I needed to move my French along, with intense sessions each morning working on a specific part of the language as well as incorporating pronunciation and reading into the lesson, I also got to enjoy conversations over lunch and dinner with Michel as well as a variety of other French people. In the evenings we attended a music fete, a bbq, a reading, met a local author and it seemed I was speaking all the time which was just so good for being able to use my French in a real setting. Thanks Michel – à bientôt (j’espère!).
Robyn, 1 week French Immersion in Belle-Isle 2014
“Michel is very flexible with his approach to teaching, with lessons tailored to our individual needs and interests”
Belle-Isle is paradise! Michel is a kind and generous host, a talented and entertaining teacher and delightful company.
I spent a week on the island with my fifteen-year-old son and found our little cottage (next door to Michel’s house) charming and comfortable. It’s one of a small group of dwellings that make up the serene and beautiful village of Borchudan. We have been cycling and swimming, climbed the rocks of the Cote Sauvage, walked along the stunning coastal path, met some of Michel’s lovely friends…
Oh and yes, we have had daily French lessons. He is very flexible with his approach to teaching, with lessons tailored to our individual needs and interests. The timing of classes is adjusted to suit our daily activities and, with glorious June weather, there has been plenty of opportunity to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the island.
It was very easy to travel by train from Nantes to Quiberon and then take the boat to the island. Next time I would stay two weeks……
Jon & Jill – one week French Immersion in Paris 2014
“Outstanding! We hope to repeat the experience soon.”
Michel was recently kind enough to travel from Brittany to meet us in Paris where he accompanied us for 7 days as French tutor and very companionable guide.
The day comprised 5 hours a day of French with two hours of revising in the morning followed by 3 hours walking and an excellent lunch.
Outstanding! We hope to repeat the experience soon.
Yolanda, one week French Immersion in Belle-Isle 2013
“My immersion homestay with Michel holds a special place in my treasure chest of life experiences.”
Having a French Immersion experience has been a life-long dream for me. After much research, I decided to stay with Michel on Belle-Isle. Dream come true!
As a host, Michel is gracious, thoughtful, and welcoming. And fun!
As an instructor, he is encouraging and also quick to assess what you already know and what you need to work on.
The island truly is beautiful beyond words (even the photos don’t do it justice) and the people are very friendly. My immersion homestay with Michel holds a special place in my treasure chest of life experiences.
If you want to be in a French speaking environment, immersion is great. But if you want to experience the French language and actually feel like you are a part of French daily life, do an immersion homestay with Michel.
Mary & Mark, one week French Immersion in Belle-Isle, March 2013
“Michel is immensely easy to talk to and an excellent teacher, not to mention a terrific cook.”
Michel’s home stay immersion is a wonderful combination of concentrated learning and utter relaxation. My husband Mark and I stayed for one week, and we would love to come again and stay longer.
Michel is immensely easy to talk to and an excellent teacher, not to mention a terrific cook.
While I was busy taxing every brain cell with Michel’s encouragement in our morning and afternoon sessions, Mark was wandering the island’s paths or sitting in the beautiful garden.
The guest house is simple, charming and comfortable.
Jon et Jill – one week French Immersion In Belle-Isle – 2012
“Michel is an excellent French teacher and by the end of the week I felt that I had made real progress”
My wife and I spent a really excellent week with Michel Denance on Belle Isle.
Belle Isle is a fantastic place to visit and Michele’s house is just a short step from one of the main beaches. While the accommodation is quite rustic it is extremely comfortable. Most importantly, Michel’s hospitality is second to none. He is a skilled cook too, and although one can probably say that of anyone French, it certainly impressed me as someone whose only proper role in a kitchen is to wash the plates!
I spent most of the week practicing my rather poor French while Jill explored the local beaches on one of the bikes that Michel was able to lend us. Michel is an excellent French teacher and by the end of the week I felt that I had made real progress. I could do with visiting every couple of months!
Lisa et Jonas – Two Week French Immersion in Belle-Isle – 2012
“A fantastic experience”
“Att läsa franska hos Michel var en höjdarupplevelse. Den genuina och personliga miljön passade oss perfekt, liksom Michel’s lyhördhet för vilka undervisningsmetoder som passade oss bäst. Vi älskade att läsa skönlitteratur högt i den vackra trädgården och försöka förstå texterna i franska sånger. Maten smakade mums!”
“Studying French with Michel was a fantastic experience. The genuine and personal environment was perfect for us, as was Michel’s sensitivity how to best teach us French. We loved to read aloud in the beautiful garden and to try to understand the lyrics of French chansons. The food was yummy!”