L'institut de Français; Villefranche sur Mer, France
Copyright Millie Brown
I cannot think of one solitary thing that I do not love about the French fishing village, Villefranche sur Mer. Nestled on the shores of the mediterranean with the hills and ski slopes behind, it sits on it’s own deep harbour between the city of Nice and the Peninsula of Cap Ferrat. It is quite simply, breathtakingly beautiful.
In the twenty odd years I have been visiting, it has not lost any of its charm, soul or beauty. Maybe one small setback is that it welcomes many more visitors than it did when I first discovered it back in the 80′s.
© Millie Brown
Call me selfish and I will agree and admit, yes just a touch! When it comes to such a jewel, I am sure I am not alone in wanting to keep it all to myself (a difficult thing to do with the likes of Rick Steves and other such writers constantly having their 2 cents worth and reaching millions of potential visitors whilst doing so)! I on the other hand, can quite safely write about it to my hearts content, in the safe knowledge that my blog readership does not reach millions (as yet)!
When I first arrived in Villefranche I was full of hope and energy, intent of starting my studious journey into the french speaking world. And if any of you have the same earnest desire to learn French then I can think of no better or more beautiful place in the world to start you on your way. Learning a language is many things. Exciting, challenging and just a little bit exhausting and frustrating at times, all the more reason to make sure you are in the best of hands.
© Millie Brown
L'Institut de Français is renowned for many reasons, its incredibly effective method of teaching along with it's high teaching standards, its level of professionalism and its location etc! I can't speak more highly of this school. If you are truly motivated to learn to speak French and are prepared to put in the hard yards that are required, then you will truly be on your way when you enroll here.
The method of the Institute is audio visual and means that while you are developing your ear and your auditive memory, you will be 'breathing' the language in as you did when you were learning your maternal language.
© Millie Brown
It is intense, it is total immersion, and it is all part of their successful approach. Be ready for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and no English allowed. This may sound confronting if you are a beginner, but believe me it works, AND they make it fun.
The lunch table full of beginners is often the funniest and craziest. Do not think you can cheat at lunch with a few words of English here and there, c'est interdit (its forbidden). Even when you are desperate for some of that bread that sits 6 people away from you, do not think for one minute that it will be okay to ask for it in English, because it quite seriously is not. A teacher will be on each table to keep you under strict 'French' control (albeit in a fun French way)!
The Institute's method is also designed to give you the student the opportunity to apply what you have learnt in the real world in real situations, and where better to do that than in this divine fishing village on the mediterranean.
Unlike being in a big city (such as Paris), the locals and shop keepers in Villefranche will not help you out by practising their English. They will however encourage you and help you along with your French, and this is how you will learn to speak the language, by speaking it. Who cares what you sound like or how many mistakes you make, if you can't laugh at yourself it is just going to be all that much harder and not nearly as much fun.
Along with the stunning scenery, village life, wonderful food and beaches, I can most definitely promise you lots of laughs, fun and a great learning experience.
Closest international airport to Villefranche sur Mer is in Nice, 20 minutes by car from the airport, 10 to 15 mins by bus to Villefranche from the centre of Nice, 7 mins by train from Nice Ville station to Villefranche. Buses run between the Nice Ville train station and the airport. There is no train from Nice Ville to the airport.
Bus no 99 runs from the Nice Ville Train station to the airport (direct).
Bus no 98 runs from Place Garibaldi in Nice to the airport (it usually departs from the Gare Routière (Nice bus station)), however it is temporarily closed.
Both buses and trains run regularly to and from Villefranche to all other towns along the coast – Voyage sncf for train information.
Lignes D’Azur for bus timetables.