This year's MFL trip returned to Normandy for the first time since 2010. 40 boys from Years 7-9 accompanied by Mr Boyd, Mr Parkinson, Miss Bailey, Mrs Campion and Miss Jones departed Bury in the early hours of Friday 25 May bound for the port of Portsmouth, from where a short onward journey took them to the Chateau du Mollay just outside Bayeux.
Upon arrival, the boys were settled into their rooms and then took part in some entertaining team games within the chateau grounds.
On Saturday morning, the first visit was to the market in Bayeux. The boys were given shopping lists and some Euros and experienced the sights, smells and sounds of a typical French market. Next was a trip to the Bayeux Tapestry museum, where an audio guide told the story of the images and explained the run-up to the Norman conquest and the Battle of Hastings. The boys were amazed at how closely they were able to examine the famous tapestry. After a spot of lunch in the park, the boys were split into 4 teams, each with a teacher mentor, and competed against each other to complete French language tasks around the town of Bayeux. Miss Jones' 'Team Tiny' emerged clear winners. The final visit of the day was to the British World War 2 cemetery on the outskirts of Bayeux. This is the largest World War 2 cemetery in Normandy and it gave the boys some idea of the scale of the conflict and the number of men who fell during Operation Overlord. 3 of the boys were told stories of the Nazi Occupation of France and the liberation by a survivor from the conflict, who was a boy himself at the time. In the evening, the boys were given the opportunity to taste snails and frogs' legs, which was met with mixed emotions to say the least.
On Sunday, we headed for Arromanches, the site of the floating 'Mulberry Harbour', the remains of which can still be seen in the bay. After visiting the 360 Cinema and watching a film depicting some of the events of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, we visited some German coastal defences before going to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville sur Mer above Omaha Beach. Here the boys were confronted with row upon row of pristine white headstones and were able to witness a ceremony of remembrance. Then we headed further along the coast to La Pointe du Hoc, the highest point between Omaha and Utah beaches, where a Nazi gun battery was located. The boys were able to clamber in and around the shell holes and concrete bunkers to get an idea of what faced the US Rangers on D-Day. We also visited a German cemetery at La Cambe, which was a much more sombre affair and reminded us all that there were tragedies and losses on both sides during the conflict. Our final visit of the day was to a goat farm, where the boys were able to watch the goats being milked before learning about the cheese-making process and getting the opportunity to taste some varieties of goat's cheese.
Our final day in Normandy was a visit to the spectacular Mont St Michel. As we approached the site, the abbey was strangely concealed by a sea fog, which only lifted late morning to reveal the truly awesome sight. The boys explored the narrow streets and shops before heading to the abbey itself for a guided tour, during which they learned about the lives of the monks and nuns and how it was used for more sinister purposes as a prison in the years following the French Revolution.
All in all, this was a truly memorable and enjoyable trip and I would like to thank all involved, boys and staff, for making it such a positive experience.