Tag Archives: classe de mer

classe de mer – update


Well, the Classe de Mer trip has finally come and gone.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read back through to figure it out yourselves:  start by reading this, then read this, then this and finally this.  Put down the Soduku and consider it your daily mental exercise to put the pieces together.

As a teaser, I’ll give you the very short story:  the school takes the kids away for a week every year, with no parent chaperones allowed, only teachers, and somehow everyone comes back alive.  How that happens is a mystery to me.

I’m not exactly sure what would possess an elementary school teacher to take away a class of kids for five days, but as a parent, I fully support this program.  I am such an enthusiastic supporter of this program, in fact, that I took all that enthusiasm and crammed it on to a train and headed to Paris for two nights with Tim during the Classe de Mer trip.  I will be the first to admit that my ensiasm for this program knows no bounds.

This year the school headed to a small town called Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France for a week at the beach.  Here are the raw facts about the trip:

  • there was a 5.5 hour bus trip to get there
  • there were sailing lessons (too chilly to surf)
  • there was a visit to a shell museum
  • there was a visit to ‘les marais salants’ where they make French sea salt (‘fleur de sel’)
  • also included was a visit to a zoo

The only minor drama in the lead up to this trip was the fact that I put Eamon on the wrong bus to start things off the morning that the trip started and there was chaos as the teachers scrambled to find me.  After all, it was 6am and completely dark out.

Aside from my trip to Paris, the highlight of the Class de Mer trip were the postcards the kids sent home.  A couple of days after they arrived back in Fontainebleau, we got an envelope with two postcards inside.  The front of the postcards were the standard tourist fare, but the backs were outstanding.

Here is what Eamon’s said:

Chers parents

Je m’amuse bien et vous me manquez.



This roughly translates to “I’m having fun and I miss you.” When I read it, I said, “Aawwwwww.  Did you miss me?” Eamon’s response:  “No I didn’t miss you at all.  The teachers made me write that.”


Then I read Owen’s postcard.  It read (in English):

Dear Mom + Dad,

It is so fun.  Can you make an extension for me to stay?  I do not miss you at all!!!! Today, “Wednesday” we went sailing I was the driver of the boat.  I got a room of two with Diego Eamon had to sleep with the cps.  We got a great view of the sea and the lake!!!! We have got to come back here.  It is a cool beach town with lots of little shops and Big WAVES.



When I asked him about his postcard, he said, “I really didn’t miss you at all.  See that ‘do not’ on the postcard that I underlined in red?  I really meant it.”

Truth be told, when I was sitting at a cafe in Paris, O &E weren’t the first things on my mind either.  Sometimes a little separation is a good thing.

This was the view from the apartment we rented in Paris:



classe de mer

Remember last year’s Classe Verte school trip to the circus that I wrote about here, here and here? You know, the trip that culminated in my kids kneeling and standing on the backs of ponies as they circled in a ring under a big top tent?  I’m pretty sure you haven’t forgotten because just the concept of taking a bunch of elementary school kids away from home for a week to do circus tricks is the kind of thing that sticks in one’s mind for a really long time.

I wasn’t sure that anything could top the big top, but now I’m not so sure.  We found out that this year’s trip is headed to the coast instead of the country.  Rather than being called Classe Verte, this year the trip is called Classe de Mer because 60+ kids and four teachers are headed out of town to learn how to surf and sail.  It’s a bit of a mindbender, I know.

I could barely handle a group of little French kids once a week and these teachers are taking 3 entire classes out of town for FIVE FULL DAYS.  Here’s a link to the place they’re going this year.  It’s five hours away from our house.  That’s about 4 hours longer than I would consider going with a group of kids that age and size.  To me, busses + kids = trouble.  I have many memories causing and witnessing mayhem on busses when I was a kid.  Although we never went farther than 1.5 hours from our school on a bus, it didn’t stop me from breaking a window with a jawbreaker I was throwing at a very cute boy sitting in the back seat (not sure you knew about that one, Ma).  Remember “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?”  Me too, but I wish I didn’t.  I can’t wait to hear how these kids manage to entertain themselves on a bus for 5 hours – EACH WAY.  I’m sure movies will play a part in the equation, but there’s a limit to how long those will keep them engaged.

Last year I spent some time wondering how my kids would do away from home for a week in a foreign country where they had few language skills and few good friends.  This year, I feel like we’re ahead of the curve because:

a) at least I know what the term Classe de Mer means when parents are chatting about it on the playground

b) my kids have many friends now and speak French with the attitude and accent that I envy, and

c) I know that my kids aren’t going to combust away from home for a week.

I’m not sure how the teachers will hold it together however.  It may take more than 99 bottles of French wine to make it through that week.

From my perspective, it’s great that there are no parent chaperones allowed on these trips, that way I don’t have to feel bad about not volunteering.  And since surfing is on the agenda that week, it only makes sense to say the two words that pop into my mind when I think about the teachers alone for a week with this crowd, “Bummer, dude.”

Guess who was crowned the king last night?