The Château is situated in the region of La Manche in Normandy. It is 90 minutes from Cherbourg and Caen, 15 minutes from Avranches, Villedieu-les-Poëles, the local beaches and the fishing port of Granville and 30 minutes from Coutances and Le Mont St Michel.
The Château nestles in its own grounds which incorporate an orchard and cider press, boule pitch, farmyard, a lake for fishing and canoeing, a river, an assault course and climbing wall, archery range, woodland and meadows, volleyball court and stables as well a floodlit hardcourt area perfect for football, tennis and basketball.
It can accommodate a large school group plus accompanying staff in comfortable modern rooms with excellent (mostly en suite) bathroom facilities.
The Château is all about French language immersion. Everything that is done at the Chateau involves using practical spoken French to convey meaning, and the children are encouraged to speak French to get what they want. A friendly, French environment supports this philosophy.
As one of our party leaders said; "The classroom situation is always artificial to some degree. Here my pupils know its for real. If they know that when they want something, they have to ask for it in French, they will do it!"
At the end of our one week programme of French language immersion, pupils leave having had a great time in a fun but educational environment. You will see a dramatic improvement in their ability, confidence and willingness to speak French, as they come to see for themselves the practical benefits and applications of learning a new language. We believe this experience translates into pupils who are both more able and more motivated back in the classroom.
The Chateau has enjoyed a fascinating and dramatic history over the past few hundred years, from attempted murders and German occupation to its transformation into France’s premier language immersion centre for schools.
The construction of the chateau began in 1850, and was commissioned by a local wealthy landowner from Avranches, Mr Boudant, who already owned three farms in the vicinity. Unlike his other farms, it was intended that the Chateau de la Baudonnière would become his private family home, and the lake (created in 1870) was built to be his own little relaxation retreat. In 1894, he built a farm on the land adjacent to the Chateau, which he called ‘La Baudonnière!’
The jockey and the valet, who worked at the Chateau at the time, were, for reasons still unknown, insanely jealous of one another. So, one night, one surprised the other, who was sleeping, with a razor blade, intending to cut the throat of his arch-enemy! Fortunately, the man woke up and managed to assuage the assault. The doctor was called to calm both men down, as were the police from the local town of La Haye Pesnel.
In the 1900s the Chateau was bought by the Salvalette Family, but due to the poor health of the head of the family, they never officially moved in. In 1929, it was sold to a certain Mr. Queslier, who proceeded to build a hen-coop before selling it once again 1931. In 1939, the chateau was bought by the Sirot family, who were forced to flee in World War II, when the property was taken over by German military for use as a command office – Kommandatur! The chateau’s red bricks symbolised German occupation so that German bombers knew not to attack that particular area. This means the chateau was fortunate enough to be spared destruction during both World Wars.
Numerous families and individuals owned the Chateau between the end of World War II and, when Mr Lewis, Headteacher of Riverston School England, bought it in 1991. Mr Lewis transformed the stable blocks into one of the dormitory buildings, L’Ecurie, and completed many more works and renovations to the chateau and the surrounding outbuildings, before opening it up as a language immersion centre in 1992. The current owner, Mr Goddard, took over the centre in 1997, when yet more work was done and continues to be done each year, to improve the student experience. A games room was created in the old tractor shed, a hard court area was added, the Menuiserie were transformed into dormitories. The Lake was dredged so that Canoeing could be re introduced and new activities, like Fencing and Archery, were incorporated into the programme. In 2009, the Pavillion du Normandie was added with its new kitchen and dining rooms.
The Chateau’s history has been closely followed by Gérard, who arrived at the Chateau in 1966 as an agricultural worker. Today, he is responsible for the maintenance of the chateau and the surrounding grounds.