Parlez-Vous Français?

The French language trip to Geneva started with our flight being cancelled! We were at Arlanda when Olivia asked, “Did they just say our flight was canceled?” 

“What?” I asked cluelessly.

“The announcement said that our flight was cancelled!”

“Are you sure?”  We looked at about five different screens, and it was cancelled. I found it surprising how there was no further information whatsoever about the flight being cancelled. We ended up going to the other side of the airport and needed to change our flight. We waited a while, not sure if and where we were going. Suddenly we had to run to catch a flight to Zurich.

Within 5 minutes after landing in Zurich, we were on a small plane on our way to Geneva. The airplane was very modern and futuristically looking. The flight itself however was not very futuristic, especially with all the turbulence. It was so bad that Olivia dropped her phone during landing. We got to the airport in Geneva, hoping to just go to the hostel and rest after the tiring flight. Unfortunately, we experienced more obstacles on our turbulent trip. Our luggage did not arrive. Fortunately, it was sent to the hostel by the airport a few hours later. However, it arrived after we came back to the hostel drenched from the heavy rain. Aside from the eventful flight, the rest of the trip was very fun and pleasant without any complications.

In the beautiful city of Geneva we went on a guided tour of the vieille ville or old town. With interesting information provided to us by our guide, we took many pictures and looked at the beautiful architecture of the town. We got to see the culture and architectural style of a very important city all whilst learning the background and stories of the buildings, natural and man-made sites.

One of the places we visited was the Red Cross museum. The museum is located on a beautiful hill overlooking the mountains. Just being outside it was an experience in itself. Given headphones, we walked around the museum’s exhibitions and listened to information in French. The exhibitions were extremely interesting, most of them being about people escaping war and dangerous situations in their home countries. Some stories were truly fascinating. The group’s favourite part of the museum was an interactive wall. When you touched the wall a projected splash of colour would appear, and when you moved your hand the colour would follow your movement across the wall. 

Our class went on a tour of the Favarger chocolate factory. On this tour all of us were required to wear hygienic paper gowns that looked like hospital gowns for health reasons. During the first part of the tour the guide explained to us how they process the cacao beans and make cacao powder and butter for the production of the chocolate. They use a mix of cacao powder, cacao butter, sugar and milk as the basic ingredients, among other things. There is a massive machine that they use to mix the chocolate and then pour it out. It is so tall that we had to climb a ladder to see into it.

We were shown how they make the flavoured chocolates and the special shapes. After that we saw the packaging area, where we got to sample some of the really delicious chocolates (both dark and milk), and we were given some free chocolates and a chocolate bar to take home. However, most people still bought some chocolate at the shop right next to the factory where they had a large variety of flavours, everything from fruits to tea-flavoured chocolate. The chocolate factory tour was the best part of our trip because as soon as you walked in you could smell the chocolate and it was very interesting to see how chocolate is made.

We also had a guided visit of the United Nations building. The newest and oldest meeting rooms were shown and the history of the United Nations was explained.

One of the most interesting excursions was a visit to the Patek Philippe Museum. The museum holds a collection of antique watches handcrafted in Geneva since 1839. It was particularly entertaining to see how watches have evolved throughout time in a country where there’s a long standing watchmaking history.

All in all the trip was a great way to practice our French and learn about a French culture.