Once I decided to study abroad, my parents immediately started looking to see if it was possible for them to visit me while I was in France. I’m lucky enough that everything worked out and they were able to travel to Nantes during my younger brother’s spring break. In this blog, I’ll go through some of the things we did in case anyone else has visitors coming to town.
- Make a list of places to visit: Before my family arrived, I compiled a list of my favorite places in Nantes that we could visit. I also added some places where I had never been before. I found it helpful to divide them into places that I wanted to go with my family and places they could go solo while I was busy in class. Some places on my list included the Château des Ducs de Bretagne which also serves as the Nantes history museum, the Beaux Arts Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Jardin des Plantes, the Machines de l'Île (this includes seeing Nantes’ iconic elephant and other mechanical animals. The presentation was entirely in French but my family didn’t mind because the visuals were stunning enough on their own), and the Île de Versailles.
- Highlight daily life: One of my favorite parts of my family visiting Nantes was that I was able to act as a tour guide, but since I had been here for multiple months, I was able to show them much more than the standard guidebooks. One simple activity we did was taking my daily commute together and I pointed out all of my favorite shops and restaurants. It was so exciting to show them what I do every day.
- Plan trips while in class: In order to ensure that my family wouldn’t get bored, I suggested that they go on day trips to nearby towns on days that I was extra busy. They ended up going to Angers and St. Nazaire. Both of these were great to show some life outside of Nantes.
- Plan ahead with school work: I worked ahead of time on most of my classes since my family happened to be visiting during the week when a lot of papers were due. I am so glad I did this. Having my family visit was so fun, but definitely more exhausting than I thought, so I’m grateful I didn’t need to deal with schoolwork on top of planning.
- Be prepared to translate a lot: My family doesn’t speak any French. I tried to prepare them before by attempting to teach a few key vocab words, but once they arrived, I became the sole source of communication. Do not rely on the people of Nantes to speak English and do not rely on your family to remember any of the French you tried to teach them.
- Meet your host family: My absolute favorite thing I did with my family was take them to meet my host family. My host parents invited us over for wine and appetizers. I was nervous at first, especially because of the language barrier and my role as translator, but everything ended up going perfectly. It was a wonderful evening full of great conversation, and I felt a lot closer to my host family afterward.
I hope this helps you if you want to welcome any visitors to Nantes. Acting as a tour guide for my family really made me realize how familiar I now am with the city (and how much I will miss it when I leave!).
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Hi, my name is Eleanor! I am majoring in French and Psychology, and I am so excited to be participating in the Nantes immersion program in order to improve my language skills and immerse myself in French culture. I love to read, cook/bake, and spend time outdoors. I can't wait to share my experience with all of you!