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Global Delbarton: Exploring France from Paris to Burgundy

From June 10-20, 2019, faculty member Maureen Pearsall, assisted by Marc and Cydny Voicechovski, brought an intrepid group of Delbarton students students of French – Declan Maseker ‘21, Tim Butler ‘21, Brett Cleaves ‘21, John Kapustka ‘21 and Jack Winant ‘21 – to Paris and Burgundy for a whirlwind Global Delbarton trip through French city streets and the rolling vineyards of Bourgogne...enjoy the group's wonderful photos and Pearsall's recap below.

On Tuesday, June 11, the group headed to the Latin Quarter for a lunch of Croque Madame sandwiches, French burgers and steak frites, then strolled the streets of this happening neighborhood before descending into the crypts of the Panthéon and climbing to its rooftop for breathtaking views of Paris. In the Jardin du Luxembourg, they rented a vintage wooden toy sailboat and sailed the vessel alongside French youngsters around the garden’s massive fountain in a tradition that began in 1927 when Clement Paudeau behan renting his handmade boats to children. That evening, the group climbed the hills of bohemian Montmartre to visit the Cathedral of Sacré Cœur, explore the work of local artists in the town square and enjoy a dinner of fondue and raclette.

With two more days in Paris, they visited Napoleon’s giant tomb at the Hôtel des Invalides and its military museum, enjoyed a Basque meal in the 7th arrondissement, put-putted along the streets of Paris to Notre-Dame on electric scooters, took in the stunning stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle and shopped in the lively Les Halles neighborhood. Still navigating on scooters, they sipped hot chocolate at the Place des Vosges and rode up the Champs-Élysées to climb the Arc de Triomphe and shop along Paris’ busiest avenue. They explored magnificent art at the Louvre, and viewed Paris from the soaring Eiffel Tower. They cruised and dined along the Seine and tasted savory crêpes oozing with Emmental cheese, ham, potatoes, chorizo and crème fraiche.

On to the French countryside. In a comfortable 9-passenger van, the group left Paris and drove east, stopping at the imposing château of Fontainebleau where French royalty enjoyed hunting in the local forests. The final stop was Dijon, one of Burgundy’s most charming and quaint cities renowned for its gastronomy where they sampled the region’s specialties on the first evening, everything from Bœuf bourguignon to poultry in a mushroom cream sauce. Dijon also boasts numerous high-end boutiques and shops, ideal for souvenir acquisition. Dijon is home to one of France’s largest outdoor markets with many local farmers and vendors selling their products: organic fruits and vegetables, olives oils, nuts, olives, cheeses, cured meats, fresh fish, poultry, meat. Our young men used their French abilities to bargain with local vendors, enjoyed more crêpes and spent the afternoon exploring the city’s busy streets, pedestrian walkways, monuments and shops.

Beaune was next, in the heart of French wine country, where the boys checked into an authentic Bourguignon French château in Taill:  tall ceilings, a large terrasse, marble fireplaces and canopies. Each morning, they enjoyed an authentic French breakfast of fresh croissants, crispy baguettes, jam, charcuterie, cheese and yogurt. They learned the history of Dijon mustard and how to prepare it followed by a tasting of Edmond Fallot mustards. A trip highlight was literally soaring through the skies of the region on a hot air balloon ride and landing in a wheat field surrounded by local French cows that were more than surprised at their unexpected arrival.

Boys strolled the medieval streets of Semur en Auxois and hunted for truffles with a sniffing French canine named Elf. They biked through vineyards to the local vineyard of Chassagne-Montrachet where they learned about the wine making process. At Cuisine bien-être, with the help of Alexandre Vachon, they whipped up  chocolate mousse, a Dijon-Comté cheese béchamel and chicken ballotine. In Besançon, they tasted Comté and Reblochon cheese, and sailed past the Citadel, a UN World Heritage site, on a cruise. This French city right near the Swiss border gave them a feel for Swiss architecture and an opportunity for more souvenir shopping in the city that is the French capital for clocks and watches.

What an adventure! On June 20, they boarded the plane satiated and exhausted, bags packed with regional souvenirs and phones full of photos. Pearsall says, “I hope they brought back countless stories to tell and memories they will never forget.”

Thanks to her excellent guidance, this was one outstanding Global Delbarton cultural adventure these five fortunate young men will never forget.