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Ecole Des Trois Ponts: French Language School Offers Forest Bathing

Want to Improve Your Language Skills? Attend Ecole Des Trois Ponts and take a bath in the Roanne Countryside

I know I should be telling all interested parties I adore attending  Ecole Des Trois Ponts for the quality of the awesome language classes, the fantastic teachers, who have aided immeasurably my language development over the recent past, provide innovative and relevant ways to enable my skills to swiftly develop, and for the small class sizes which means more attention can be paid to the nuances of the language….But, while these statements are true, they do not tell the entire story. And it is the underlying belly of the beast, the subtle, unarticulated story, to put it succinctly, the overall learning environment that exists both within and external to The School, which is the reason I attend.

While many international French language students search for an educational establishment with the best classroom teaching, numerous accolades from official bodies endorsing their promoted stature, or the costs the establishment demands, these are not my primary objectives. I want to improve my French but at the same time I want to LIVE in the culture, meet likeminded people from other cultures who, like me, also want to speak French, and experience an entire educational French holiday. However, I do not want to get “burnt out” or stressed in the process. It should be enjoyable, not something to dread. The entire learning environment is a vital aspect to facilitate this. This total environment I have found at Ecole Des Trois Ponts.

For many, especially those who are only just starting to learn the language, five hours or more of in-depth learning can be exhausting. Returning to the classroom after decades of absence is no easy task. Add to this the stress of having to think, listen and talk in a foreign tongue every day means studying another’s language is not like taking a course in history or literature, when you are thinking in your native language. It is far more demanding. Ecole Des Trois Ponts is ideally located and provides an adjacent environment for those – like me – who need to regularly clear their minds before and after the classroom learning.

There is a considerable amount of research suggesting both the mental and physical health benefits of “getting out there” and going for a walk. These benefits  include: a boost to the immune system; a lowering of blood pressure; a decrease in stress and anxiety; the improvement of mood, and self esteem; an increase in energy levels, and the ability to absorb more information, to name but a few. Recently the term Forest Bathing has been added to our lexicon.

The notion of Forest Bathing comes from a Japanese practice known as “Shinrin yoku” and was developed in the 1980s when it was thought living in the modern world was leading to an increase in depression. Simply put, it is the method of being calm and quiet amongst trees, observing nature while at the same time paying attention to one’s breathing. This practice is said to promote mental and physical health by absorbing the atmosphere of the forest.

Ecole des Trois Ponts is a five minute walk away from a wonderful park – Parc Beaulieu, a 40000 m2 space of wooded area. The river …..runs through the park and fishermen are regularly seen, trails lead from the park are well maintained and signposted. There are sculptures, exercise equipment, organic meadows with sheep and community gardens. From here it is possible to take a small footpath and to walk along the river to The Loire and the centre of Roanne, a route which takes just under an hour.

When I attend Ecole Des Trois Ponts I make a point of each day leaving the school around 7.00am, before anyone else has risen, to undertake an hours walk in this environment. I frequently pass the time talking to myself in French (and always do this if the “devoir”I have been given is an expose). Alone as the dawn breaks, this is the perfect place to practice. I return often having only encounter two others, refreshed and ready to start the day of French learning.

If I am Forest Bathing I am not aware I’m doing so, and it certainly is not taking any conscious effort. I do know my time in the environment is an enjoyable experience, aids my learning, and is an integral part of my time at Trois Ponts. It, (along with the food, which is another story), is a reason to return.

Jayne Seagrave
May 2024

Dr Jayne Seagrave is a British Columbian Best Selling Author. The ninth edition of her book Camping in British Columbia was published by Heritage House Publishing in April 2023. Over 60,000 of her camping books have been sold. She also writes fiction, non-fiction and freelance articles and occasionally teaches writing and publishing. Recently retired, she spends her free time travelling internationally and in the province she adores, learning the French language, exercising and writing. See: www.jayneseagrave.com

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