Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside: Boulogne-sur-Mer

Candy floss, ice creams and saucy postcards conjure up images of days out in Brighton, Bournemouth or Blackpool. Yet for a group of British schoolchildren, they summed up a day in Boulogne last Friday. The teenagers seemed to have brought more than a touch of Blighty to their field trip to France.

Like us, they were spending a day out in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The town is less than half an hour from the Channel tunnel and has a lot more to offer daytrippers than Calais.

The cobbled streets of the old fortified town are a delightful place to pass away the hours and there are plenty of restaurants to enjoy. Our first choice, L’Ilot Vert, was closed for the day, so we ate in La Grillardine. It’s Trip Advisor’s top choice in the town, so we figured we couldn’t go wrong.

The food was delicious and the owner prepared it before our eyes in the tiny restaurant’s kitchenette.

As we tucked into our meal and chatted with him, we couldn’t help but enjoy the antics of the British children in the street outside. It appeared to be their first school trip abroad. Several times during our lunch, the restaurant door was pushed open to reveal a gaggle of young people trying to work out how to ask for the toilets.

For some, it all proved too much. Lost for the right words, they left crossed-leggedly.

“The door was pushed open to reveal a gaggle of young people trying to work out how to ask for the toilets”

The owner of the restaurant was astounded that they couldn’t manage such a basic sentence – particularly as the words ‘toilets’ and ‘toilettes’ are so similar.

It was a great outing for me – and possibly for the schoolchildren too – though a rather sorry day for the British education system. These children represent the future of Britain. How can we hope to keep up at a European level, let alone a global one, without the necessary language skills?

This entry was published on Saturday, 25 April 2015 at 07:32. It’s filed under Language and culture, Places and people and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside: Boulogne-sur-Mer

  1. I love the picture, and your writing style. THe problem is worse in france, as english is spoken everywhere and is everywhere on the internet, and french children can’t manage to speak a little bit of english . Who’s fault is it ? school ?

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    • In Britain, they stopped it being compulsory for teenagers to learn a foreign language, so the blame there lies squarely with the government. You are right about French children. I can’t recall a single occasion when a child has tried out their English on me. Whereas, if I go to Germany, say, it’s the opposite.

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  2. Pingback: A euro vision: what’s another year? | A year in Périgord

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