A student of French immersion in Provence tells us about his experience during his stay with Celtina, and his visit to Château La Nerthe.
I would like to tell you a story about the visit during my stay with Celtina. This visit did not necessarily completely change my life, but…
So, in 2014 my level of French was ridiculous. So ridiculous so that I didn’t know how to say “ridiculous” in French. I started to learn it although it was bad and little by little I became able to read small books, maybe simple articles. On the other hand, an ordinary conversation in a store was still a problem for me. Something was blocking me inside and I couldn’t overcome it because of my lack of practice. In addition, it is always difficult to find the motivation: learning a language is usually useless if you just want to “learn a language”.
And, by chance, I came across an ad for a “language stay in Provence”. In fact, it was exactly what I needed. First of all, the Provence region is a great place. Needless to say, when you do something that requires a lot of effort and time, everything works better if you try to combine business with pleasure.
So, spending a week in Provence during the summer studying French in a daily and informal atmosphere… Not bad! Secondly, I wanted to take (and pass, which is important!) a DELF exam and for that reason, the linguistic immersion under Celtina’s pedagogical supervision seemed like a good idea. So the decision was made. Let’s go!
The immersion was going well: my classes and the daily conversations made the blockage disappear faster than I had thought and a few days later we went to Château La Nerthe. Let me tell you about it.
Wine producer since the 12th century, Château La Nerthe is located in the heart of Provence. The Château’s vineyard represents 92 hectares which are certified in organic agriculture since 1998 and which benefit from a Mediterranean microclimate with more than 200 days of sunshine per year.
It is one of the largest vineyards in Châteauneuf du Pape. The terroir is exceptional. Most of the vineyard is stony (the famous “rolled pebbles”). The wines are really good, but there’s more. The atmosphere, the history, the terroir… I was so impressed by everything, that I immediately fell in love with the world of wine. The passion and motivation to learn French that I had been looking for during a very long time was found.
So, I started reading about wines, listening to podcasts (I could recommend those of “COAM” by Yann Rousselin), watching thematic channels on Youtube, and French became an essential part of my life.
The next months I took my courses with Celtina on Skype and in December 2015 I obtained a DELF B2 diploma. It gave me a big hand in my studies.
In July 2016 I was studying at WSET (the Wines & Spirits Education Trust) and obtained an international level 2 diploma “with distinction” in French.
If I had wanted to, I could have finished my studies in English long before, but for me, it was the main challenge to finish them in French. And in June 2018 I passed level 3 “with merit” (still in French) which required hours of deep and professional learning.
My favorite wine region is Champagne, where I have been several times. I visited big houses (like “Veuve Clicquot”, “Taittinger” etc.), but not only. Personally, I prefer to have a conversation with someone who touches the vine, who can put on his rain boots, tell me “Go ahead, I’ll show you how it works in real life” and let me follow him into the vineyards.
So, I met wine-growers and I swear to you that the ability to speak French makes life way easier. First, the French (like the Russians, for example) are frank and like it if someone has made an effort to learn a few words as a sign of gratitude. And secondly, it really facilitates discussions.
I organize tastings and trips around wine. Perhaps, one day I will make wine my main profession, but at this stage, it is difficult to say. But I’m sure about both things: Celtina is a good teacher (thanks again!) and you always need to find the motivation to make things happen. You never know what might trigger the passion. If you search, you will find it…