Mâcon : I’m not in Toronto anymore…

“There’s no place like home” – Dorothy couldn’t have been more correct. Mâcon is no Toronto. Located in Southern Ontario, Toronto is the province’s capital, and with a population of 2.48 million, is the largest city in Canada. Located in Southern Burgundy, Mâcon is the capital of the Mâconnais district, and of the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy, and with a population of just over 35,000, it is the 213th largest commune in France. Toronto is Canada’s economic capital. The Mâconnais district is best known for its white wines made from the Chardonnay grape; the Pouilly-fuissé cru is particularly famous. Toronto is a major centre of higher education and research. Mâcon is home to five collèges (the first level of secondary education in France; students are 11-15 years old) and four lycées (the second, and last level of secondary education in France; students are typically 15-18 years old). And it is at Lycée René Cassin where I am working as an English Language Teaching Assistant.

I’m currently in the middle of my 7 month contract (October 1st-April 30th) and I have “learned” a lot about Canada from my French students. For instance, in Canada, only one season exists: winter – my students are actually surprised when I tell them that summer temperatures sometimes reach 30 degrees Celsius! Apparently, Canada is also a land of bobsledders – I guess with snow all year round, it is the best way to travel… And when our bobsleds break down, we rely on our pet caribou to transport us from place to place… Canadian delicacies include caribou and of course, maple syrup. Only two types of people live in Canada: lumberjacks and Céline Dion (a student actually asked me one day after class if I know Céline Dion!). My favourite comment about Canada came from one of my BTS classes (post-high school, students are 18+). I was introducing myself and Canada to the class and handed out some Canadian coins and banknotes. I held up the $5 bill and asked my class why they thought the writing was in English and French. The answer I was given: “Because Canada loves the France and thinks the French is a beautiful language” – ha! Most of my students are genuinely surprised to learn that French is one of the official languages of Canada; I guess they can’t fathom the idea of their “beautiful language” being spoken anywhere but France!

How, you ask yourself, did I find myself thousands of kilometres away from home and in the middle of French wine country? The answer can be found here. I was unsure of what I wanted to do after University and had always dreamed about travelling all over Europe. Working as a Language Assistant in France has allowed me to put my French education to good use, and at the same time, I get to live my dream one weekend, and one school holiday at a time (and there are lots in France!).

Stay tuned for more notes and photographs from my recent travel adventures!

La Maison du Bois, 16th century

Eglise St. Pierre, 19th century

Old St. Vincent's Cathedral

Cathédrale St. Vincent, 19th century

Pont St. Laurent, 11th century

Statue of Alphonse Lamartine

Quai Lamartine on a sunny fall afternoon


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