French Foundations With An English Edge
TEXT: KATIE TURNER | PHOTO © GROUPE SCOLAIRE SAINT-LOUIS NOTRE-DAME DU BEL-AIR
Just 30 miles from the centre of Paris, in the Yvelines – an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Saint-Louis Notre-Dame du Bel-Air school is a school with a difference.
Not only do English-speaking students from age six to 15 receive the benefits of a French education, but they also take part in an English-language stream, studying bilingually.
Headteacher Anna de Feydeau prides herself on the “Serene and homely environment” at the school, adding: “We are like a big family at the school, but also very open to the world around us with many opportunities to exchange and engage.”
With this in mind, the school arranges a broad range of international trips for students and, in the past, these have included visits to the United States, the UK, Spain, Germany, Lebanon and the Czech Republic.
Extracurricular activities range from drama (in both English and French) and handball, to yoga and Chinese.
Providing a rounded education means history and culture are held in extremely high regard with classes named after luminaries of French science and the arts.
Originally home to an 18th-century chateau, the grand school buildings and grounds sit amidst a national park and the air of calm which throughout the school is very much an intrinsic part of the head’s vision.
“The classrooms are the students’ own space and it’s the teachers who move round between classes, rather than having the whole school constantly on the move,” explains Anna de Feydeau.
Saint-Louis Notre-Dame du Bel-Air aims to make an initial landing in a new place that little bit softer, nurturing pupils and preparing them for an ever-changing world.
De Feydeau says, “So many of our former students come back and see us. For me, that is the most positive review of the school we could have.”