28th April 23
Prince’s Mead pupils from Year 5 and Year 6 met excitedly under the portico at 5am on Tuesday 4th April 2023 ready to set off of on their Normandy adventure. The party were very quickly through passport control and set sail from Portsmouth to Caen. After a relaxing and enjoyable journey aboard, the group took the short coach trip to Colombiers-sur-Suelles and our wonderful accommodation for our tour, Chateau du Baffy. After settling into their rooms, the children were soon exploring the wider grounds and enjoying games of football, cricket and man hunt! A delicious three-course meal ended a busy and long first day.
After a hearty continental breakfast, the group drove to Bayeux to experience the colourful and vibrant local market. There was much haggling and practice of conversational French as the Prince’s Mead pupils loved spending their Euros on baseball caps, sunglasses and presents for loved ones at home. The group then walked to the Bayeux Museum to view the seventy metre tapestry which depicts the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, led by William, Duke of Normandy challenging Harold II, King of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The group then travelled the short distance to the British Cemetery at Bayeux to pay our respects to the 4,600 servicemen and women who were laid to rest there. The group then returned to the Chateau for another lovely meal before departing to a night of ten pin bowling with much team fun and enjoyment.
Thursday’s adventure led the group to the town of Arromanches, the historic place of the Normandy landings and in particular as the place where the Mulberry harbour artificial port were installed. This artificial port allowed the disembarkation of 9,000 tons of material per day. The group walked up to the top of the town to overlook the vista where such gallantry and combined ally efforts were focussed. The 360-cinema presentation gave the group the epic story of the D Day planning, landings and events that led to the end of the second world war.
After lunch the group made their way to the American Cemetery. Our tour guide, Mr Gleed, led the group around the site and paused overlooking Omaha beach, where over 4000 American service personnel had fallen on June 6th, 1944 -D-Day. These hallowed grounds preserve the remains of nearly 9,400 Americans who died during the Allied liberation of France.
The group returned to the Chateau du Baffy for games of cricket, football and fun in the grounds before dinner. The menu for our last night gave the Prince’s Mead pupils the chance to try some of the local delicacies of frog legs and snails, which they did in the great spirit of culinary adventure! After dessert Mr Greenaway and the teaching team of Madame Head, Matron, Mr Macdonald and our guide Mr Gleed delivered the end of tour prizes which included, tidiest room, most stylish pupils, best French speaker, the good egg award and joke of the week. The tour ended with a fabulous disco for all to enjoy before setting our alarms for an early departure back to Caen for our return home.
The tour arrived back in Winchester on Good Friday afternoon and all reflected that it had been an amazing historical and cultural adventure to one of the most important regions of Northern France. Good food, good company and great children made for a memorable Prince’s Mead tour!